Grow Tips For Load Shedding
For outdoor growers, Eskom’s recent return to load shedding won’t come into play too much with their grow. For indoor growers however, this return to frequent blackouts is met with anxiety over the potential negative impact on their plants. An anxiety that is well founded, given how light cycle changes are able to effect one’s grow.
There are ways to protect yourself from load shedding and decrease the risks of your plant stress and subsequent hermaphroditism. Below, we’ll take a look at the ways in which you can help ensure your plants don’t fall victim to our country’s shortfall in the distribution of electricity.
Run Your Lights at Night
For those already in a grow, this may not be the best solution, but for those starting their grows still, a light-on cycle at night will save you some pain. Eskom mostly sheds between 8:00 and 22:00 at night, so if you run your lights (for flowering plants) from 22:00 until 10:00, your grow will only be affected at those times that you fall into the 8:00 schedule, whereas day time hours, you are likely to be affected each day that there is shedding.
Open Your Tent & Let In Light
When the lights go off during day time hours when you’re in a “lights on” phase, you can keep your plants going on their cycle by opening the tent and curtains of your room and letting in some sunlight. While your plants won’t be getting direct sunlight in most cases, even the increase in the ambient lighting will result in the plant keeping its cycle running, they don’t require much light to keep them ‘awake’. You can then just close them up again after the load shedding has completed.
Check/Adust Your Timers After Each Outage
Something simple, yet extremely vital, is understanding the importance of adjusting your timer after each outage. Most timers will stop moving when the power dies, meaning your timers will adjust themselves incorrectly each time you are load shed. This is a serious problem and one that I’ve seen many new growers be unaware of. As soon as your electricity returns, make sure that you go and adjust your timers, you will just need to move the timer forward to the correct time, as they will likely be about 2 hours and 15 minutes behind, after each load shedding. If forgotten about for even 1 day, this can cause huge problems for your garden, as your light cycle is then constantly changing with each load shedding situation.
Invest in Backup Power
This is an option for those growing commercially, or those with a big budget to spare. UPS options aren’t ideal, as they tend to be suited to low watt usage for shorter periods of time, they are great if you’re looking to avoid surges, but are an expensive option compared to surge protectors. If you’re looking to keep your lights running during load shedding, you’re going to need a rather expensive generator to do the job, diesel generators are a common choice for those looking to avoid load shedding, but these do not come cheap and you will likely be looking in excess of R20 000, with additional running costs due to the diesel being used.
Get Some Surge Protectors
The reality is, during load shedding there are power surges which have the potential to cause huge economic loss to your gear. Grow lights are especially at risk to surges and can lose you a huge amount of money in less than a second. Because of this, it may be wise to invest in some surge protectors. Surge protectors are generally quite cheap in comparison to other equipment you’re running in your tent, and are definitely worth picking up in order to save you from having to splash out for new lights.
Use Your Main Switch To Avoid Surges
Power surges tend to occur most frequently when the electricity resumes after a load shedding schedule. One way to help prevent the surge on your gear, is to turn the power off on your house’s main switch. I tend to try and do this 30 minutes before load shedding is scheduled to return. I then wait until the power is back on, heard usually by alarms from nearby houses. I will then wait 5 minutes, then resume power. The reason I prefer to wait, is that there are cases where the power trips during the restoration process. This is something small, but can also just assist on erring on the side of caution when it comes to power surges.
Put Your Plants Outside
If you’re away from home during most of the load shedding and are unable to open your tents during outages, one option is to move your plants outdoors. Flowering outdoors may be best done in a dry climate, and this option may be less suitable for those in the subtropical summer rainfall areas, but if your options are between hermaphrodites and outdoor flowering, the latter seems preferable. Just make sure that if you do this, that the outside light cycle is inline with that of flowering, as placing them outdoors with too much sunlight time can cause revegging, something you also want to avoid.
One more option is simply to place your plants outdoors for the duration of your electrical downtime. There are some negatives to this, as moving plants between indoors and outdoors can introduce unwanted pests to your controlled tents. However, it still remains an option should one wish to take that risk.