How (and Why) to Use Nutrient Chillers
Surviving summer isn't just about cooling your grow room. You need to keep an eye on your nutrient solution too - you need a nutrient chiller.
Here's how (and why) to choose and use yours.
Why use a Chiller?
As your nutrient temperature rises, your oxygen level drops.
That’s a huge problem! Without enough oxygen, nutrient uptake slows, growth suffers and diseases (like Pythium!) become more of a threat.
To make matters worse, algae thrives in warm water – this’ll lower your oxygen level further.
Luckily, there’s a quick fix - a nutrient chiller.
They keep your nutrient solution inside the ideal range (18oC – 21oC). As a result, your oxygen level, nutrient uptake and resistance to diseases stay high.
During summer, it’s riskier to use a recirculating system (especially a bubbler) without one – remember, if you get a problem in one pot, it’ll quickly spread as your nutrient solution is circulated.
Even when it’s not summer, the benefits of having a consistent temperature are huge.
Choosing a Chiller
For great results, use a Hailea chiller – they’re very affordable compared to other system. They really do make a massive difference.
The exact model depends on how much water you need to cool.
- Find out what your system’s total water capacity is
- Make sure the total capacity falls under a chiller’s ‘nutrient solution capacity’
How to Get the Best Out of Your Chiller
To really get the best out of your nutrient chiller, there are 7 things you need to do.
1. Position it wisely
Nutrient chillers are basically mini fridges. Like the one in your kitchen, they do emit some heat.
So, make sure you position them in a well ventilated area, at least 40cm away from walls. Ideally, you'd place them outside your grow room.
Whatever you do, make sure the back of your chiller isn’t facing plants.
2. Point a circulator fan at your chiller
If you can't keep your chiller outside your grow tent, point an air mixing fan at it instead. This'll improve the efficiency of the chiller and help stop warm air building up around the unit.
3. Always over-spec
Chillers are best used at half their maximum capacity (e.g. the HC-100A that can do up to 220L works best when cooling up to 110L).
On top of this, when you overspec, the chiller doesn't have to work so hard to cool your nutrient. This means it emits less heat.
If you’re torn between two models, always over-spec to be safe.
4. Clean the chiller after every crop
It’s VERY IMPORTANT to clean your Hailea Nutrient Chillers after every crop to remove mineral deposits and limescale.
1. Fill the chiller with a clear pickling vinegar
2. Leave for 24 hours
3. Flush with water
If you don’t clean your chiller then the unit will start to degrade. It won't cool as well, and could eventually fail. It’s very easy to clean your nutrient chiller, so you’d be mad not to!
5. Don’t forget you need a separate pump and pipe
You need a pipe and pump to go with each chiller - here's the one you need with each model.
6. Insulate pots and nutrient tanks
Radiant heat from your grow light warms up nutrient tanks, black plastic pots and the nutrient solution in them. This undoes some of your chiller’s work!
To make sure this doesn’t happen, insulate your nutrient tank and pots (especially Oxypots). A lot of growers use reflective sheeting. Since you'll need to move it about to access your pots and tank, make sure you use really durable sheeting. We recommend using Total Blackout Sheeting - it's really robust (3 layers thick).
7. Don’t just cool the water in your brain
A lot of people using a RUSH or R-DWC system simply chill the water in the brain unit, which is then circulated round their system.
It’s fine to do this way - most people do.
However, you may end up cooling water that’s already cold. A more efficient way is to pump warm nutrient solution into your chiller from one end of your system, then pump chilled nutrient solution back out to the other end of your system.
Doing it this way makes your chiller far more effective at cooling the whole nutrient capacity in your system. It also helps keep the temperature around your system more constant and balanced.
For other systems (Gro-Tanks, Multi-Ducts or other systems with tanks), you can simply chill the nutrient in your reservoir.