CO2 generators can produce up to a 20% increase in plant growth and yields. It’s no wonder it’s a popular enrichment product. Knowing how and when to use it will save you big.
If you are considering enrichment with CO2 generators then you need to get the basics squared away before you begin. Most grows need to be optimized before you begin to experiment with CO2. This means making sure your nutrients, lights, water, and other constraints have already been tuned for max performance. Your growing chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
CO2 is already found in the air. Natural concentrations are about 400 ppm. Plants use CO2 during photosynthesis in order to produce energy. They key here is photosynthesis. Having an abundance of light to convert the CO2 into energy is what makes this process so effective. You need very high powered lights in order for plants to take advantage of this extra CO2. Most CFL and fluorescent bulbs will not produce enough light to truly allow plants to use the extra CO2. Having a high wattage HPS or LED light is what is required. One added side effect of adding CO2 to your grow environment is that plants are more heat and light stress resistant and can function under hotter and brighter conditions.
Another key mistake that new growers will often make is trying to use CO2 at night. Plants can only take advantage of the extra CO2 when there is enough light available to convert it to energy. At night, plants release excess CO2 so adding more to the environment at the wrong time will just waste it. Sealing your grow environment is another important step to ensure that your CO2 stays in the areas you need it. The ideal concentrations are between 1200 to 1500 ppm. Adding more beyond this point does not seem to have much if any effect and is wasteful. Some controllers use fuzzy logic in order to allow CO2 to rise to desired levels without over or undershooting targets. Some growers have claimed that their plants actually enjoy temperatures as high as 95 F under heavy CO2 conditions. CO2 is heavier than regular air so the best setups release CO2 at the top of the grow in order for it to “rain” down on the plants below through a laser cut tubing system that can be hung from the ceiling. The user of a timer and regulator allow for more controlled release of gas over time. CO2 is most effective during the vegetative phase of plant development and during the first 2 weeks of flowering. There are several ways to add CO2 to your grow room or tent. The most common ways are CO2 burners, CO2 tanks, or natural CO2 producers.
Burners are one of the easiest ways to add CO2 to your grow room or grow tent. Burners consume natural gas or propane and release heat, CO2, and water vapor. Propane heaters can be connected to a portable propane tank and natural gas burners can connect to house gas systems. Some controllers also allow for the user to specify how high their elevation above sea level is in order to more effectively release gas into the grow environment. In some cases, you may need to add a dehumidifier to your grow room in order to offset this extra humidity. Burners release CO2 in a very controlled manner so this makes them a great choice for growers looking to keep a constant level when combined with a controller. Burners also have the added benefit of consuming some of the odor produced by the grow environment.
NOTE: If you are above 5000' feet above sea level you will want to verify that your burner can support high altitude operation.
Many burners also come with safety features such as tip over switches which will turn off the flow of gas to the unit and stop it should the unit not be in the upright position. This prevents fire and damage to your grow environment. If you ever smell gas, shut off the flow of gas to the unit and discontinue use. Double check all fittings to ensure proper connection and then consult the owners manual.
This method is by far the easiest method to inject CO2 into your grow area. All that’s required is a tank and a regulator to get going. The only part that requires some attention is calculating how much CO2 is required for your environment. All CO2 tanks are sold empty. You can get them filled locally at welding shops, scuba shops and various other gas retailers. View all tank and regulator kits here.
For growers looking to try a more natural method of experimenting with CO2, natural CO2 producers are a great way to get started. This method is least expensive but offers the least amount of control over how much is released into your grow environment. Natural producers work by breaking down organic material in order to release CO2. There is no accurate way to regulate how much CO2 is released during this process other than installing a CO2 monitor inside the grow area to monitor levels. It’s a fantastic way to see what happens when you begin to add CO2 enrichment. Natural producers come in bags or buckets and many are ideal for cloning domes such as The Green Pad.
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