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What is a Hydroponic Fan?

By Paul Scott
Updated May 16, 2024
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A hydroponic fan is a ventilation aid used to ensure optimum temperatures and humidity levels are maintained in larger or poorly ventilated hydroponic gardens. The size and capacity of the fan chosen depends on a number of factors such as the size of space, the types of plants grown, and the type of lighting used. An ideal hydroponic fan installation would consist of dual devices, one to draw fresh air in from outside the garden area, and one that serves as an exhaust point although one fan will suffice in most situations. Fan placement is also dependent on a number of factors with some gardens requiring larger built-in installations and some getting by with no more than a desk fan. Hydroponic gardeners who find they need a fan may have to engage in a little trial-and-error experimentation to find the right fan for their garden but the effort is well worth it.

Hydroponic gardening is the practice of soil-less gardening and is almost exclusively carried out in enclosed spaces. For those without the luxury of a purpose built greenhouse, a shed, basement or even a room in the house normally gets pressed into service as garden space. As the best results are gained when growing the plants in as natural an environment as possible, closed space gardening poses a number of unique challenges. The biggest issue to contend with when setting up a hydroponic garden is simulating sunlight. Ironically this usually leads to the second consideration, ventilation, as most lights generate quite a bit of heat.

For the average hydroponic gardener the easiest way to overcome this problem is to force ventilate the area using one or more fans. These can be purpose designed hydroponic gardening products or humble computer fans depending on the individual needs, and budget, of the gardener. The best choice will of hydroponic fan setup is one that draws stale, warm air out of the area rather than one that simply circulates it. For this reason ducted, extraction style fans are often the best choice with window or, if the areas construction allows, through wall installations winning first prize. A suitable inlet for fresh air should of course be supplied, ideally directly opposite the extraction point.

The size and voltage of a hydroponic fan depends on the ambient conditions, size, lighting and contents of the garden. Mains voltage fans are easier to install and require less equipment but low voltage fans are safer and equally effective. The capacity of the fan can be calculated using custom tables of floor area, lighting, plant types, and thermal insulation values; in most cases, a certain amount of trial-and-error experimentation will be necessary. The best advice in the case of new installations is go big to start off with, i.e., fans are easier to baffle than to boost. If in doubt, however, water gardeners are fortunate in having a wealth of resources and experience to draw on when choosing a hydroponic fan.

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