Hydroponic Fire Risks in Organic Gardening
Hydroponics may seem like a god send to the organic grower, but one thing about having tons of really powerful lights inside a building is the risk of fire! If your electricity was not setup by a professional like 110220v you will always be at risk for starting a fire.
So lets take an example of a typical setup and assess the fire risk(s). A good tomato indoor grow electrical setup was like this:
- Delux Aerogarden
- One 1,000 watt metal halide
- Wall outlet with a 15-amp, 120 volt circuit
- Circuit breaker
Here is a good example of a setup of the electrical power requirements: growing under a single 23W CFL lightbulb using 25 Watts of power:
Calculates as: 12 hours/day x 7 days/week X 25watts ÷ 1000 W/kWh = 2.1 kWh per week
This is a relatively light setup, but it still has fire hazards if not setup correctly.
Also be aware of WHERE you setup your garden. If it is in closet other small enclosed space, you are heightening the risk of fire in close quarters. Also you may be plugging all your equipment like fans, lights, air conditioners and more into one sub standard wall outlet. This is not a good plan.
Now most of the time a typical wall outlet will not be able to handle the electrical load from a typical hydroponic organic vegetable grow. You’ll need a circuit breaker that actually works to spec and it is advisable that you have wiring that is not old or damaged in any way.
When your wiring is not good or the circuit breaker does not shut down correctly then you are the greatest risk for starting a fire.
Here are some further risks involved with hydroponic electricity and their fire risks:
Hydroponic systems can pose a serious fire hazard, especially when grow lights are used improperly, electrical connections are frayed,
- Poor ventilation
- Flammable materials are nearby
- Faulty metal halide lights
- Exposed wiring that could be exposed to water
- High-intensity discharge (HID) lights can explode if exposed to water
- Flammable chemicals that are used as fertilizer
One thing you might consider is having an automatic fire extinguisher. (Example of Flame Defender is a good one). These will go on automatically whether you are there or not. It dispenses dry chemical fire retardant onto a fire automatically when it senses temperatures above 155F.
Put Flame Defender above the places where fires are most likely to start, like lights, breakers, wall outlets, exposed wiring etc..
Another good safety device is a hydroponics electrical interface device. Powerbox makes a good one. These devices have GFCI circuit breaker that automatically shuts down electrical flow when it detects that risks for fire or electrocution are unsafe or overly high. Such a device will smoothly transition from safe to unsafe power loads which will also help preserve the life of your hydroponic equipment such as lights and ballasts.
Now that you have a good overview of the fire and electrical risks of a hydroponic garden, make sure you use a licensed electrician if you have any doubt about the safety of your grow.