Automate Your Indoor Grow Room - Lights

There is a huge benefit to growing plants outside, and that is the fact that you do not have to go out and turn the sun on each day. The sun is there every day, no matter what, even if clouds are blocking it. When you are growing plants indoors however, there is no sun. You are the sun.

My first days indoor gardening taught me a lot. For a while I - Geoff - was the only reason the lights would go on and off during the day. Every morning I would go down to my basement and plug the grow lights in and then in the evening shut them off. Until I forgot or had to travel…

The downside of forgetting to control the lighting is that plants will get too much light with them being on longer than 12 hours and not have time to rest and recover. The other alternative is that I don’t turn the lights on altogether and they become starved. Neither option is ideal and requires either major consistency or a better option - help.

My first thought was to turn to technology. Technology continues to improve and with it, so does the ability to automate. In the case of my grow lights, I needed something that would control this daily task and save me the burden. In the beginning I opted for a simple timer and not some Terminator/Skynet technology.

In a way it reminded me of one of those wind up timers that would count down and do something crazy once time ran out. In this case the crazy action was cut all power running through it. It worked really well for a while, but come on, we have smart phones, this is the age of mobility. I felt like I could take it up a level.

With the advent of the Internet of Things devices are becoming more and more connectable. Combine a device that has wireless access with a cellular phone and you have the ability to remotely communicate and control that device. On the market today there is what’s called a “smart outlet” named WeMo.

This outlet has built in wifi capabilities to connect to your wireless router at home. Once connected you can use the WeMo smart phone application to connect to the device from anywhere around the world. Not only can you see statistics about how much power the connected devices have used as well as the anticipated cost to run those items, but it also allows you to turn the WeMo on and off remotely.

As you can see my power usage is a bit high lately because I not only have an additional grow light going, but also heat pads for seed starting. Normally this is seven or eight dollars less for those of you that are considering an indoor garden and aren’t sure of the energy bill hike.

You can setup schedules and rules of when the power should be turned on or off, giving you even more control and automation of the device.

I will say that this has made the chore of providing light to my plants a breeze. I barely think about it anymore. And you should forget about it too. It’s been about 2 years since I started using this device and continue to recommend it today.

Although I am not affiliated with WeMo in any way, you can check out the device here:

This is the first step in automating my grow room and I hope to continue and share projects with you as they unfold.

About the Author

Geoff has been growing plants and vegetables consistently for the last 6 years and actively experiments with, and writes about, all aspects of gardening.

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