• Podcast: Our video interview between Gypsy Nirvana and Sam Skunkman is now available to watch in the podcast section. Click here to check it out.

How to fully automate reservoir top offs!

Lazyman

Overkill is under-rated.
Hey guys, after years of trying and using different systems, I think I've hit on the easiest way to automate reservoir top offs.

I pretty much always run a heavy-duty garden hose into my rooms, makes it MUCH easier to produce water in the room. I typically put them onto a 2 or 4-way splitter, so I can have a garden hose for rinsing out buckets, reservoirs, etc without using up my filters.

Once you have your line and splitter installed, pick up a Rainbird hose timer that will allow you to turn the valve ON for a set period daily. For me, 2 hours is enough time for my Tallboy filter to completely fill both of my 115gallon reservoirs.



I set the ON time to a part of the day when the pumps and timers aren't running at all, so if the reservoirs are filling they aren't pumping out at the same time. This is very important! If you set the ON time to when your lights are on and the pumps are running, you'll get floods, period. My Rainbird has a small button to activate the fill manually, which is nice for res changes and for making drinking water.

My Tallboy came with a hose end fitting for the inlet hose, so that part was easy. Lowes (or your local hydro store) carries 3/8"OD poly tubing and push fittings, so I got an array of shutoff valves and tees.

The single filter outlet runs down under my tables to a 3-way splitter:

1 line to north res
1 line to south res
1 line to drinking water/handy line.

Each reservoir has its own shutoff valve and float valve (from local hydro store) and it's ALL push fittings, no wrenches needed to connect or disconnect lines, woot!



Now I can leave my room for a week without worrying about running out of water.

If this doesn't work for your particular setup, holler and I can tell you how to do this with an inline 3/4" sprinkler valve and a programmable sprinkler timer, but it's more involved!

Hope that helps you guys out.
 

Befri

Member
I like your set up..

I have been thinking of doing this instead on having to "make" the water first and waiting to fill a trash can, then pump it across the way to the "room".
This would save a lot of work.....good write up.
 

Lazyman

Overkill is under-rated.
Hey thanks Befri, I imagine there's more than two of us who need to leave the garden alone for more than 24 hours at a time, and don't want the security issue of a babysitter! ;)
 

smoke1sun

What Goes Around Comes Around. But Am I Comming Or
Sounds like a good idea, but im a little slow, i need lots of pics and small words. k+++++
 

Lazyman

Overkill is under-rated.
Im gonna keep this in mind. Ive had a few floods and man are they costly.....

Yeah, the trick for floods is to ALWAYS have an overflow fitting at the top of each res, then tee it down into your main drain line for the res (AFTER the shutoff valve!) so it is ALWAYS open, full time. No floods, no drips, dry floors keep the dehueys happy!
 

Lazyman

Overkill is under-rated.
Sounds like a good idea, but im a little slow, i need lots of pics and small words. k+++++

You got it man, I don't have more pics, but I can just go step by step:

1) GOOD quality garden hose into room (hard to beat that!)
2) Garden hose runs to tee or splitter valve
3) Leg one of the splitter runs to another garden hose, handy for washing/rinsing stuff
4) Leg two of the splitter runs to a garden hose timer (I use a Rainbird that turns itself on daily for 2 hours during DARK period)
5) Hose timer runs to your water filter (if needed) otherwise go to step 6
6) Outlet line of filter (or timer) runs to a three way plastic compression fitting, using 3/8" OD polyhose. Similar to icemaker line, rather rigid stuff.
7) Now you have 3 outlets for water. Run one line to a shutoff valve and a good length of that 3/8" line for filling spray bottles, hand watering (flushing) or just for a cold drink! Hang somewhere handy.
8) More 3/8 line runs to the other two legs of the splitter, to shut off valves near each reservoir.
9) After the shutoff valve, run more 3/8 line to the float valve in your res, these all take 3/8 white plastic compression fittings (push fittings) available at lowes.

Turn it on, check for leaks, and you're done! Now your reservoirs will never be empty or dry, and you can make all the water you'd ever need on demand.
 

Lazyman

Overkill is under-rated.
Littlesoldier, yes I run recirculating, and yes the plants drink quite a bit of water out of the reservoir, why would I not have to worry about the level dropping? A few days and my tables wouldn't flood to the right level anymore, a week and I'd start losing roots! The daily topoff also ensure the nutes don't get stronger as the water gets used up, they tend to stay fairly steady, dropping as the plants use them up.
 

Lazyman

Overkill is under-rated.
ask and u shall receive. You are the shit my friend.

Any time bro, being a lazy guy I like to automate things that can't typically be automated.

Hey, I even can tell you guys how to do automated reservoir changes (drains and refills itself on your schedule.) Would that interest anyone? It could even be part of the above system, hell it could even run an indoor (or outdoor, A/C cooler?) misting system if you wanted. I know you can basically turn an oscillating fan into a misting cooler if you can handle the high humidity!)
 

rambam

Member
Lazyman, I'm only just now getting caught up with you after you initially mentioned this on the multiflow thread. Thanks so much for sharing you work, which is really well thought-out. If you don't mind, can I trouble you for the programmable sprinkler alternative?
 

rambam

Member
Also, re the Hydro Logic filters like your tallboy - do you find this filtration adequate? I was assuming that RO water would be ideal, but I notice that you and Micro Gro both use hydro-logic systems. They definitely have MUCH higher output per hour than the better RO systems, but are chlorine and sediments our only filtration concerns?
 

Lazyman

Overkill is under-rated.
Ya know, I'm kinda torn on the tallboy. It's fast (120gph or something) and i like the no-waste-water setup, but it doesn't get the water down to 3 or 5 PPM like an RO. My water ends up around 300ppm, which is better than the 480 it starts at, but I am thinking of trying a grow without it to see if it makes any difference.

THe programmable sprinkler option!

Yeah that was how I used to top off the two res in my old grow, took a while to tune but worth it in the end. A little more complicated, but quite a bit more flexible.

Ok, so this is a system very similar to what waters your lawns and such. Let's start with a shopping list:

1) THe timer is the key. You gotta find one that lets you do at least a weeks worth of custom programming, two weeks if you want to use it for automated draining or anything that you do that infrequently. This part alone (ok it comes with the DC 24V transformer) will probably run you close to 100 bucks. Be sure it will do a 2 hour long cycle if you need a 2-hour cycle! This takes some "box checking" at the Home Depot but you'll find what you need. Most of what you'll find at the store works with each other, they all tend to be 24VDC timers, valves and power supplies/transformers. Make sure it supports at least 6 valves, the cheap ones sometimes only do 2-3 and can only do 15 minutes cycles, etc. The more flexible it is, the trickier to configure but you want lots of options.

2) Automatic sprinkler valves. I usually go for the 3/4" electric inline ones, inline (air-break or anti-siphon ones can be used if desired, but they have to be mounted straight up and down. (They do turn off faster/better, but again, I'm lazy!) Use one valve for each "function" you want (I used one for fill, but if you want to fill two reservoirs at different intervals, or want one for misters, drains or what have you, they can be added later. More ideas on this below.

3) Adapters. This will vary depending on your setup, but I like using regular, short and high quality 3/4" garden hoses for these setups, so you'll need 3/4" female garden hose thread to 3/4" male pipe thread (NPT.) Use a little extra teflon tape or even teflon pipe seal to keep them from leaking. Connect a garden hose to one leg of your 4-way manifold, and then put the adapter on the end (with the rubber hose washer!) and then screw that into the sprinkler valve. Now you can pressure test that leg for leaks. The more valves you need, the more hoses, splitters and valves you need. Your limitations are only your imagination and ingenuity, and your timer!


4) Output: Ok here's where you can go nuts. I even set one of these up as an automatic top feed waterer for soaker hose, drip systems, etc. You can even use a siphon hose fertilizer injector, popular in agriculture and greenhouses, to siphon nutes from a reservoir, bucket, or whatever. You will have to adapt the output of the sprinkler valve to suit your needs, but here is the short list of what I've thought up so far:

A: Topping off reservoir(s)
B: Drip systems with tap or filterered water, with or without siphon feed/fert injector.
C:Soaker hose systems ,same options as above
D: Misting system to cool "hot" side of air conditioner, window or ductless.
E: Water valve to run water line for Hydrogen CO2 generator, if draining to waste (might as well, it does 46K BTU's (double the output a GEN2) so it only needs to run a few minutes a night, at 4 hour intervals or so.) Just run a valve to kick it on and off at intervals you program.
F: Adding misting fans to a greenhouse or warehouse grow environment for cooling on hot days.
G: Drain your reservoirs automagically every two weeks! Run a valve on the drain line (use NPT to 3/4" barb hose drain fittings on your reservoir drain line, and open it for an hour to do a gravity drain, connect a submerged water pump to the drain and kick it on at the exazct same time with a regular old programmable 2-week 120VAC digital timer if you need a powered drain.) Run another separate valve for your refill job, just run the output of the valve to another float valve in the res , you can use whatever size poly you like but 3/8" should be plenty for most applications. The valves only cost about $20 a piece!

Ok, so now you're ready to plumb in your accessory. I'll help where I can, but you will have to think it through yourself first!

Now just connect the transformer to the timer (just a simple + and - connection) and wire each valve (- or common is shared, so each valve only needs it's own unique + or hot wire.) Some timers will have a group for valves, so you want to put similar functions on the same group. Set the timer for each valve however you want, most can be tuned by the minute, and as long as two hours up to 4 times a day, etc...

Have fun, let me know if this makes sense or if you need more details!

Oh did I mention how to keep reservoirs from ever flooding your room?
 

Lazyman

Overkill is under-rated.
Yeah, the trick for floods is to ALWAYS have an overflow fitting at the top of each res, then tee it down into your main drain line for the res (AFTER the shutoff valve!) so it is ALWAYS open, full time. No floods, no drips, dry floors keep the dehueys happy!

Oh, DUH. Stoooooonnnner. :joint:
 

Lazyman

Overkill is under-rated.
This is fun, now I want to see if we can make this sticky-worthy (sorry, I'm a total information whore and I like helping guys make life easier!)

I was gonna see if I can change the thread title to "automating anything with water in any kind of grow room" and condense most of the tips and ideas into the first post, would that be helpful?
 

rambam

Member
Lazy, I don't know why you call yourself that, b/c these plans take so much creative effort, which everyone on this thread appreciates. I am too exhausted to absorb all the new info, but I just wanted to say thanks! Tomorrow once I've digested it and reflected on how I might be able to incorporate it, I know I'll have a couple of questions. But thanks again, bro! Peace.
 

Latest posts

Top