Indoor plants are excellent for many reasons, from providing an air of relaxation to improved creativity and air detoxification, so there’s almost no reason not to grow at least one plant in your home. However, managing an indoor grow room or grow tent can require electrical devices like grow lights and fans. These devices can get cost intensive if you run them haphazardly, but with expert tips and proper monitoring, you can grow healthy indoor plants while saving money!
The 7 best ways to save money when growing plants indoors are:
- Use timers for your grow lights and fans.
- Use LED grow lights.
- Run your grow lights during off-peak hours.
- Run your grow lights for the least effective number of hours.
- Run your fans at slower speeds.
- Reduce your fan speed when your grow lights are off.
- Use solar panels and battery backup to power your grow operation.
This article will thoroughly explain how you can use each of these tips to save money while growing plants indoors. Keep reading to learn more!
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1. Use Timers for Your Grow Lights and Fans
Grow lights use up to 40 watts of power for every square foot of the growing area. Based on the countrywide average price of 11.18 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity in the U.S., it costs an average of 0.45 cents to power each square foot of lights for one hour.
If the lights are left unattended, it could cost up to 10.8 cents per day to power every square foot or plant in your growing area. Over a month, this cost can accumulate to over $3.3 for every square foot, punching a large hole in your pocket.
A grow fan usually has a lower power requirement than grow lights, but they can also add to the electricity bill. Most fans use up to 104 watts per hour, and at the average electricity price, that’s about 1.16 cents per hour. If you leave the fan unattended, running it will cost up to 28 cents per day or $8.40 per month!
Depending on the number of your plants, these costs can run to hundreds of dollars very quickly, and they’re not strictly necessary for your plants. Every indoor plant has a unique need at different stages of its growth process.
At each of these stages, the grow lights and fans used with them should have a defined schedule. Using your grow lights and fans on a schedule not only saves you money, it can also help to create the most appropriate conditions for your plants.
It’s a lot of work to monitor the grow lights yourself, but there are automatic timers for that purpose. When using a grow light or grow fan timer, you can set a specific routine, and the timer will automatically turn the appliances on and off according to the schedule.
Your plants should only need a maximum of 16 hours of light per day. If you set a timer for this, you can save 3.6 cents per day and up to $1.1 per month on each square foot of grow lights. The timer can also vary the strength of ventilation from the fans, ultimately saving you money over time. On average, a timer costs around $10 – $20, which is not a huge dent when you consider all costs.
The timer will also use some power, but it’ll only be a small fraction of what you would’ve needed for the lights and fans. When you use it, your plants are better and healthier, your grow lights and fans last longer, and you can save a sizable amount of money in the long run!
Our Favorite Picks for Plug-in Timers for your Grow Lights or Fans
If you’re interested in getting timers for your indoor growing devices, here are some of our favorite options that are available on Amazon.com:
BN-LINK Heavy Duty Programmable Digital Timer
This timer has two outlets, so it can be used for multiple growing devices. If your plant doesn’t have special lighting or ventilation needs, you can use the pre-programmed timing instead of setting a custom schedule yourself.
BN-LINK WiFi Heavy Duty Smart Plug Outlet
This is one of the newest models of advanced timers. It’s WiFi compatible and comes in packs of two, three, and four, so you can set up the timers in different locations without needing a hub. The Smart Plug Outlet is also compatible with Alexa, Google Assistant, and the BN-LINK mobile app. These connections give you the luxury of turning off your devices with voice control or through your smartphone, even when far away.
Nearpow Multifunctional Programmable Digital Timer Switch
The Nearpow timer is one of the best products for safety. It’s well-grounded with insulators over all conducting surfaces, a child-lock function, power-off protection, and a warning tone for safety. The timer is easy to set up, and the LCD screen has a large, readable view. Nearpow offers a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 12-month replacement or refund warranty for any defective timer.
2. Use LED Grow Lights
Besides the amount of time you run your cultivation devices for, their wattage will also determine how much power they consume and, eventually, the price of your electricity bill. LED grow lights are a smarter power choice because they can offer the same lighting for more than 30 percent less electricity cost. Let’s explore the different ways LED grow lights can help you save money.
LED Grow Lights Consume Less Power
Grow lights made from traditional bulbs can have a rating as high as 40 watts per hour for every square foot, while those with LED bulbs have a rating of about 32 watts per hour. Going by the average electricity rate, this reduced consumption can lower your electricity bill by up to 2.2 cents per day for every square foot of your growing area.
LED Grow Lights Produce Less Heat
One of the reasons LED bulbs consume less electricity than traditional ones is that they efficiently direct most of the power to producing light instead of heat. The heating effect of traditional bulbs isn’t of any use and raises the temperature of the surroundings. With the increased temperature, your grow fans and indoor cooling systems will need to work harder for longer to ventilate your plants and cool your rooms.
Using less power, LED grow lights produce much less excess heat and put less strain on your plants and your cooling devices. They also save you the extra cost of added electricity that could have been wasted on useless heat.
LED Grow Lights Last Longer
LED bulbs can have an expectancy as high as 50,000 hours. This means that while you’d need to change a traditional bulb every eight months or so, you may not need to change an LED bulb for up to 10 years. The cost of one LED bulb compared to multiple traditional ones makes LED bulbs much more cost-efficient in the long run.
LED Grow Lights Emit Light in an Efficient Direction
Traditional bulbs like High-Pressure Sodium vapor (HPS) or Metal Halide (MH) lamps emit light in all directions. Because the radiation emitted in all other directions aside from the position of your plant would be wasted, you’d need to buy a separate reflector to redirect the light.
LED grow bulbs, on the other hand, are designed to emit light in a single direction. They shine directly towards the plants, so minimal light is wasted in other directions.
LED Grow Lights Give a Better Radiation Spectrum
The spectra of light absorbed by plants are majorly red and blue light. These are different from the spectrum visible to the human eye. Many traditional bulbs are optimized to be visually bright but don’t offer much radiation value to the plants.
Full-spectrum LED grow lights can allow you to control the spectrum emitted by the bulbs and restrict it to what is useful for the plants. Other non-full-spectrum grow lights emit the specific spectra that will benefit your plants best, giving you greater value for your electricity.
3. Run Your Grow Lights During Off-Peak Hours
An expert way to save money by reducing the electricity cost of your growing operation is to opt for a plan that offers you varied electricity costs. One such plan is the Time-of-Use (TOU) system which has been gaining increasing popularity.
Unlike standard electricity plans, a TOU plan determines the rate of your electricity by the demand on the grid, which, in turn, depends on the number of appliances in your location using power at that time.
The times when there are a high demand for electricity are called peak hours. The electricity rate at these times will be higher, so it’ll cost more to use your grow lights during this period. Peak periods vary widely based on locations, seasons, and people’s general daily schedules.
In the winter, the peak hours are generally the early periods of the day, from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m., when people get ready for the day. Early to late evening, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., when most residents come home from work and school, is another peak time for electricity. In the summer, peak hours change to the afternoon and evening because of the general change in schedule.
Running your grow lights during the off-peak hours for your location and season will cost less, eventually helping you save money on power.
What Are Off-Peak Hours?
Off-peak hours fall during the times when fewer people in your vicinity are actively using electricity. In the summer, off-peak hours are generally between 5 a.m. and 2 p.m., while in the winter, the off-peak hours are in the late-night, between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
The exact times for your location and season can differ, but you can find out by contacting the local office of your electricity provider. Alternatively, you can figure out the schedule yourself by observing the daily trend in your vicinity.
4. Run Your Grow Lights for the Least Effective Number of Hours
It’s not necessary to keep your grow lights on all day, in fact, doing so could actually cause more harm than good. Plants use the lights for photosynthesis, the process of producing their food, which occurs in light and dark phases. Thus, a dark period is vital for your plants to stay healthy and nourished.
When you understand your plant’s needs, you can use the grow light for as few hours as possible while ensuring that your plants continue to thrive in good health. Plants often need between 6 to 18 hours for healthy growth. The exact number of hours will depend on the type of plant you’re growing and what stage of development it is in. Using a timer is a great way to monitor and control how often you run your grow light.
5. Run Your Fans at Slower Speeds
Ventilation is vital for regulating the condition of your indoor plants, so a grow fan is essential, especially when you are using grow lights. While most fans don’t use a lot of power relative to other devices, they still contribute a significant portion to the electricity cost of indoor gardening.
You can save some money on running your grow fans by keeping them at slower speeds. At a lower setting, the fans use less current and consume less power overall. When your plants don’t need active ventilation, it’s safe to reduce the speed to save money.
6. Reduce Your Fan Speed When Your Grow Lights Are Off
A safe time to reduce the speed of your grow fan is while the lights are off. Grow lights are a significant contributor to the heat around your indoor plants. Though LED lights produce less heat, they still emit a significant amount.
In the hours when your grow lights are turned off, there’ll be a drop in the heat around your plants. When the heat is reduced, it’s important to keep the temperature fairly constant so that a sharp fluctuation doesn’t stress the plants. To balance the heat loss, you can reduce the fan speed to a lower level, which also will help you to save money.
7. Use Solar Panels and Battery Backup to Power Your Grow Operation
A fantastic, clean way to save money on indoor growing is to explore alternative energy sources like solar power. With solar panels, you can harness the energy produced from the sun and use it to power your growing.
A common problem with solar energy is that the availability of sunlight is variable, but you can easily solve that with a battery backup. A battery stores the extra power produced when the sun shines bright and reserves it for you to use when there’s less sunshine. You can also explore hybrid solar panels to combine solar power with electricity and save even more money! While the initial cost of such a setup may be high, the savings over time make it worth the trouble and initial investment.