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New Grow Chamber/Box...In Progress

Hey guys,
Back a couple months ago I made a decent sized order with wistuba, they should be here sometime this month. Not knowing where to put them I decided to build a box for them. First I needed a shelf to put into the chamber so I took steel wool to an old rusted chrome shelf. Then painted it to keep it from rusting agian.

Started off with 3 pieces of 2'x12' insulation board, a roll of duck tape, a stapler and mylar.

Attached mylar onto insulation with staples

Pieces put together by tape :) Not so pretty from the outside but hopefully it will do the trick


Shelf Added- only one light fixture, going to get bright with a T5 lol


Things that I still need to get are glass for the top, 6 bulbT5 light fixture, and two CPU fans or if I can find a small fan....The chamber is currently in my basement where hopefully it will be cool enough.
Any comments would be very helpful at this point, thanks for looking

no comments on what else you may need, but man..that looks goooood.
I'm curious to see how this works out for you. About 6 - 8 months ago I did the same on a smaller scale (only 2 shelves) and without mylar. In the long run I found it to be more cumbersome then anything else mainly due to the insulation limiting the grow space on all sides.
Granted I could have gone a size up but I did not wish to spend the funds. What are you using for the front as cover? I used a simple plastic sheet that I draped over.

Don't let my experience discourage from this, I'm certain it can work well but for my uses it did not. Keep us posted!
Thanks for the responses. I see what your talking about frenchez, for the most part I will be growing only heliamphoras and my hamata so having enough space shouldnt be a problem...hopefully ha. For the front I used the same insulation with mylar, the 4th picture shows what it looks like. Only worry atm is heat
Looks good man! I am curious how the insulation will work out for you as far as making it cool enough or instead keeping all that T5 heat in.

I'm getting my T5 lighting on monday (if the UPS delivery schedule holds). I'm fearful of the heat they may produce so I've only bought 2 twin tube T5 setups for my vivarium shelf for now. I may buy more of course for other shelves later once I see what kinda temps I'm getting with these. Since there will be lights on each shelf all the way up I will likely have to play with fans to find a way to keep temps under control.
Ha Ha. Jason 16 I too have almost the same setup and I gree with French and Swords. I have 6 48inch t12's and right now heat is being one of my concerns since I have some helis heredoxa x minor coming on wed. or thrus. I have 2 cpu fans on my chamber/ box but it surely doesn't help with heat. Upwhiz is trying to help me to create a way how to keep the helis cool enought to survive.

This is what it looks like right now:


oh yeah, I need a front cover which French just gave me! Thanks French.
Let us know how it goes with your growing chamber/ box. lol
Jayson: I'd say for Heli's that your setup will be just fine. Swords brought up the point I want to mention; heat. It will be tricky to keep the heat down all the while trying to keep the RH up. 6 T5s REALLY pack a punch heat wise but glass will help limit how much actually gets inside your setup. I tried to mess with these figures and this set up but I found it to be very difficult. I would say keep your plants cool and don't worry too much about RH. Keeping a tarp over the front only aggravated the problem and turned the setup into a miny greenhouse. I ended up sticking a $10 miny fan from walmart in mine but again the results were limited mainly because I couldn't get the night time drops. Check out Av8tors thread on To peltier or not to peltier. It's a FANTASTIC guide and he's worked me through all the do's and don'ts of such a setup and then some. Really useful, works well for Highlanders and Helis but on a small scale. Your current setup though is ideal for LLs but that's not to say it can't be tweeked around to suit your needs.

Jag: uuhhh...You're welcome lol :-D
I'm sure these are points you've already addressed but I wanted to bring them up just in case. Keep a close eye on the temps when you drape that cover over the front. As I mentioned above to Jayson, I'd be concerned about the miny greenhouse effect. It also looks like you have wood on the inside so I would keep an eye on the RH when the cover is down so that you don't get condensation and eventually wood rot, or reconsider. Looks like your hygrometer is reading 49% with the cover off; pretty similar to my readings. I was getting about 70% with the cover draped over but it doesn't look as if you have anything requiring higher RH so I would go without the front cover. 20% sounds like a lot but I saw no obvious benefits to the plants when I had the cover down. That shelf looks custom made, big props on the very neat craftsmanship, looks like the plants are happy in it! But enough babble, like I said I'm sure these are points you've already addressed.
Jag: It also looks like you have wood on the inside so I would keep an eye on the RH when the cover is down so that you don't get condensation and eventually wood rot, or reconsider. Looks like your hygrometer is reading 49% with the cover off; pretty similar to my readings. I was getting about 70% with the cover draped over but it doesn't look as if you have anything requiring higher RH so I would go without the front cover. 20% sounds like a lot but I saw no obvious benefits to the plants when I had the cover down. That shelf looks custom made, big props on the very neat craftsmanship, looks like the plants are happy in it! But enough babble, like I said I'm sure these are points you've already addressed.


I Actually the wood is already treated so that humidity will not affect it so much. Besides it was only .83 cents / 8 feet lol. The reason why I am going to need a higher humidity is because I am waiting a shipment of a pair of Heliamphora minor x heredoxa. Based on countless hours of reading :crap: it needs higher humidity than 49%. My corcern is not so much the humdity because I know that putting the drape and will most likely take care of it. My corcern is how to get lower temperatures. My room is in the south side of my house and have exterior wood siding so it really gets hot at times.
Thanks for the comment on my box. :blush: Just to add, it was only $15 dollars to build! not including the white middle rack, light fixtures, bulbs, and 3/4 sanded plywood holding the light fixtures (can't see it on the picture). But enough about me and my problems.

Jason let me add that the mylar installation is a big plus! I have mylar on my LL box and a cheapo compact fl. light and have a really nice coloration on my plants. Good choice to add that! Also, I noticed that the outside of your box has all that duct tape and mylar. If you want you can wrap 1/16" plywood and stain it whatever color you want! That way it makes your presentation look better (if you want ofcourse). If you are considering T5 light fixtures maybe I would go with a small fan.(Depending on how many lights you are plannig to have). You said 6-T5, that will produce heat. If you read from T5 users here in this forum, almost all say that heat must be considered for growing certain plants. I have 6-T12 magnetic ballast and produces a lot heat (need to upgrade!) but enough to put a small fan. I want to clarify that I do not have any experience on T5 light fixtures and heat related to those fixtures. This assuptions are all based on reading from this forum and other experienced growers. Just want to clarify before I get attacked from any of the T5 users and anything wrong that I might have said. lol Hope this helps in any way.
Jag: Like I said, one step ahead of me :-O That's the cheapest shelf I've seen yet! (I mean price cheap, not looks cheap haha) And mylar...ditto what you said. I used an emergency blanket as mine. Best way to cut back on the T5 heat I believe is with a glass layer. Filters out a large amount of heat and minimal amount of light.
  • #10
I don't know what night time temps you guys have where you are but in my area this is how I cool my plant shelf:

To explain: there is a 4" PC fan in the window blowing IN through the 4" aluminum duct and the duct empties out into the plant shelf. The fan runs day and night to supply cool air. In the above example it is not humidified because there I'm using it for my old succulent shelf.

To humidify the above setup simply get an ultrasonic humidifier from the pharmacy and put a 2" hose in the output hole. Then run the hose up to the air duct, cut a hole in the airduct and duct tape the join. You can control the humidifier with a humidistat or just a 15 minute timer, you'll have to play with the timer and find the setting that's right for your area, I like humidistats cos it's "set it and forget it". Now you have cool humid air 24/7 with no further work. Temps naturally dropping at night when the lights go off and outdoor temps drop and temps are also cooler during the day. In the hottest part of summer I put the "in" fan infront of a window A/C. In winter the temps are too cold so I close the window and the air at the window surface is cold enough to cool the chamber. Coldest I ever got was 40*F in mid winter.

That's how I did my HL neps back in the day and how I will be doing my new HL tank again.

Got my T5s today and am seeing how the heat goes with a single twin tube over a shelf tonight first then I'll try 4 tubes.

Note on the HTG Garden Supply T5 fixtures:
For anyone like Jimmy (and I) who bought the HTG garden supply T5s you can remove the reflector and drill holes for surface mounting in a wooden shelf. I just made new hanging hook holes on the very top of the casing so I can hang it closer to the top my wire shelf and reduce the wasted depth. While I had them open I could see it would also be very easy to part up these T5 fixtures and make remote ballasted units out of them. :D
  • #11
Thanks for the help guys. I have an ultrasonic humidifier that will be running when the lights are on to help cool some. I was wondering how thick the glass should be, the thicker the better? Temps get in the low 60's naturally in the basement. If I end up still having problems with heat I will run the portable AC unit...
  • #12
thinner glass is better. if you're planning on silicone sealing the glass, containing the humidity inside the glass shouldnt be a problem. however thicker glass would insulate the heat given off by the lights better than thinner glass, which would turn your tank into a nice oven (which wouldnt be bad for LLs though)
  • #13
Well here's a shot of the three temps I've taken with my twin tube T5 just a minute ago (been running some hours now):

You can't really see but the temp over the ballast housing is only 78*F(!), the temp at the tubes ontop the 10 gallon vertical tank is 93*F and temp inside the 10 gallon tank is 80*F. The glass of a 10 gallon tank is 1/8" thick.

keep in mind this is a temp test using only two T5 tubes, I don't know if the heat is cumulative will find out soon when I hang the other pair of tubes. So far it looks like a simple 1/8" of glass between the plants and tubes knocks at least 13*F off the lamps.

Also, my shelf is not enclosed but is just a wire rack full of vivariums in progress. I opted against a fully enclosed shelf since I am going to have all the shelves lit and may need all the circulation I can get, especially in summer I have a feeling.
  • #14
French: I too used the emergency blankets for my LL box but promised myself never to buy them again. They are too wrinkled and hard to make it smooth. That is why I haven't put any mylar on this other box. That is until I buy the roll. I went the cheap route to building this box because I am a college student with little money and decided that money could go to buying more CP's. :) Later in the future I will make another box much better with real stuff on it, but for now it works. :)

Swords: According to the weather channel my hottest average temperature months is July/ August/ September. Temps: highs of 84/85/83 and a average lows of 65/66/65. Do you think I have a chance without getting an AC if I copy your bright idea? (We have a central AC but my father is old school and prefers to suck it out!)
Another thing, I have never used a humidifier before. Lets say I hook everything the way you recommended me to do, do I still need to mist the Heliamphoras? Or does the humidifier take care of that? sorry its probably a stupid question, but like I said I never in my life used a humidifier before or grown Heliamphoras.
Thanks for your advice Swords this has REALLY helped me a lot. Ill be looking forward for your answers on the questions I have provided. Thanks Again,

  • #15
You could try, the AC will only pull it down to about 58-60*F and that still made finicky things like my N. aristo pout in July & august but bounced right back in Sept. when temps here start dipping again. Other HL didn't seem to care a whole lot about a dif between 50 and 60 at night. The main dif in warmer temps was older pitchers dying off faster. In cool weather pitchers last almost a year an I've heard they can last longer if they never get a heat spell but there wasn't much I could do about summer. Keep them well watered in summer that will help.

I'm not one to ask on Helis, I was strictly into Neps. I had one Heli (H. minor IIRC) but it was sent bareroot and was never happy for me, finally it went black and died. I clearly didn't do what it wanted! LOL

I watered my HL plants 2-3 times a week and misted them daily with a pump-up garden sprayer since I had to spray the mounted orchids hanging from the walls everyday so I just hosed everything down.

As far as the humidifier you want that to make fog but to shut off before actually soaking the plants all the time. That's why I like the humidistat since it shuts off at 85% and comes on at 75% (or whatever you set it for). You can get the same effect with a timer but you'll have to mess with it and figure out what works. Humidistats are about $80 here: http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/accessory/controls2.shtml scroll down to "prewired humidistat" just plug the power cord of your humidifier into the power cord of this and hang the humidistat in the tank with the plants. It turns the humidifier attached to your air input on and off as needed.
  • #16
Thanks for the info. I was aware from previous postings that your hobby was Nepenthes and you had a HL chamber. (What a stalker. LOL) But since you have some experience on HL chambers might as well ask. LOL

I think I will go with a humidistat. Its a little expensive but I guess ill be using it for many years to come so its a long run investment (My brain wants to think that. LOL)

Yes I think it is going to work. Thanks Swords. Ill be posting some pictures in the future days to see if I got it right! Thanks Again Swords. :)
  • #17
A large update- Glass is now in place, almost a quarter inch thick. New t5 6 lamp light fixture and a small fan. Found out im going to need another fan in place to help move in cool air. I have my ultrasonic humidifier going as well. A couple pics for now, will show features later

  • #18
That looks nice and bright... Those Helis oughta color up in no time now.
I would run a trial just to get a reading of how high the temps will rise with the fans on. Those T5s really pack a punch. If 75 (from that last pic) is the highest it gets you really should be in good shape. From the looks of it nice job on the setup, it's come a long way since that first post!
  • #19
Thanks Yann. Temps are constant and as of right now staying at 70 with the fan and humidifier running. I was wondering if the mist is okay with the small helis? Should I set them on the bottom shelf or dont run it as much?
  • #20
Av or Dave would probably be better able to answer that for you but here is what I would do. What does your RH hover around? Assuming it is in the 50-70% range I would run the mister in the morning and evening but not 24/7 just because I would be afraid of rot setting in.
Upwhiz (I think) set up a misting system that runs pretty frequently; you may want to ask him how it's working out for him and if he's tweeked anything.
Av had noted that young Heli pitchers by the hole where his fogger entered, would have their nectar spoons die off while older pitchers would not. I don't know if that would be relevant to your setup/humidifier but something to consider.
Again both of them can give you much better insight, I'm sure they'll chime in :p