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Every grower knows how critical it is to create a conducive environment. There are plenty of elements that come into play especially when growing indoors. Aside from light, air, water, and nutrients, maintaining humidity are also essential.
Humidity pertains to the moisture content in the atmosphere. It has a vital impact on the health of the plants. Thus, it is worth it to invest in a good quality device called a hygrometer to help you keep track of the levels. In that manner, you can ensure the humidity in your grow space is always on point.
In this article, we will help you understand why hygrometers are important for your grow area. We will also discuss the factors that you need to consider in choosing the best hygrometer in the market. So, let’s begin!
Why is it important to maintain moisture in the growing environment?
Humidity matters because it has a direct impact on the cultivar’s total well-being. To better understand why so, you also have to comprehend the nature of how plants breathe.
The cultivars breathe by taking in carbon dioxide from the surroundings. This type of gas is fundamental for the photosynthesis of the plants. To do this, the cultivars need to open and close their tiny pores called stomata. Thereby, allowing the entry and release of gases and as well as moisture from the leaves. This process is what we call transpiration.
So, what happens then when there is low humidity or high humidity?
In cases of low humidity, the plant is more likely to increase its transpiration rate. That is because the dry air tends to draw in more moisture from the leaves. In effect, the stomata then close as a defense to conserve water within.
Unfortunately, shutting the stomata also prevents the exchange of gases. Thus, impairing its ability to consume carbon dioxide and remove wastes. As a consequence, the plant is being forced to work harder to cope with the stress. The immense strain put upon the plant causes it to produce a smaller yield than usual.
On the other end of the story, a grow room with high humidity is a bit more favorable. There are some types of cultivars that thrive best in a humid environment. Although, too much of a good thing can also have an adverse impact.
Excessive levels of humidity can have very bad downsides. It puts you plants at risk for mold and pest infestations, diseases, and rotting. It can also cause growth stunting because of inefficient water and nutrient uptake.
The bottom line, anything in excess is not good for your cultivars. Thus, neither do we want to leave your grow space with too little or too much humidity. Always aim to achieve the right moisture levels. This is the best and safest way to ensure that plants grow in the healthiest environment.
What is a hygrometer?
A hygrometer is a device that measures the level of humidity in the surrounding air. This humidity meter is actually a weather instrument used to track atmospheric moisture. In an indoor garden, though, it helps growers to keep an eye on the moistness of the grow space.
Because we already understand how crucial the role of humidity is, we have to ensure we achieve the appropriate levels at all times. That is exactly the main purpose of this device in our grow rooms or tents.
What are the different types of hygrometers?
There are various types of hygrometers depending on the intended purpose or use. But for indoor gardening, the psychrometer, mechanical, and digital hygrometers are often used.
The psychrometer is one of the simplest ways to measure humidity. This device consists of two mercury thermometers. One with a dry bulb while the other is with a wet bulb.
The temperature reading in the wet bulb decreases as the water evaporates. This causes the levels to drop below the reading in the dry bulb. You determine the relative humidity by comparing the difference between the two thermometers.
Our top picks for psychrometers:
- Mechanical Hygrometers
The mechanical hygrometer is based on the early prototype used in 1783 by Horace Bénédict de Saussure. This age-old system uses an organic material such as the human hair as the key component of the device. The hair determines the humidity level through its natural reaction to the environment. It will either contract when there is poor humidity, and expand when it is very high. This principle also explains why we get bad hair days at certain times.
Aside from human hair, some manufacturers also make use of horsehair or synthetic hair. Because of its delicate nature, it is also bound to diminish its accuracy over time. Thus, it is a requirement for this mechanical instrument to undergo occasional calibration.
Our top picks for mechanical hygrometers:
- Digital Hygrometer
Digital hygrometers are the easiest and most convenient type of hygrometer. It uses sensors to read the humidity level and displays it in a digital gauge. This type of device no longer needs calibration. Although, it might take some time for it to pick up the sudden changes in humidity.
What sets digital hygrometers apart from other types is its capability to multi-task. Most often this device can feature more than one function. Apart from reading humidity, it is also equipped with a built-in thermometer. Moreover, it can also come with memory storage to help you record the readings over a certain period of time. In this manner, you can better keep track of the differences in the levels throughout the day or the week.
Our top picks for digital hygrometers:
What are the factors to consider when buying a hygrometer?
Among all the factors to consider, accuracy should be your top priority. The welfare of your cultivars is very much reliant on how accurate your hygrometer is. What good is a device if it is not giving you the correct results, right?
Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a perfect hygrometer. Thus, no matter what model or brand you choose, you should expect a margin of error. Your best bet here is to find the smallest percentage possible.
In general, the most accurate hygrometers are the ones with a sensor accuracy rating of +/- 1%. Although, a rating of up +/- 4% would also work fine. It is best not to go beyond this rating to ensure you’ll get the most accurate readings as possible.
Our top picks for most accurate hygrometers:
- Ease of Use
A good user interface is also an important feature to look into a hygrometer. Some devices have more than one function. Thus, it has a tendency to be quite complicated to understand the system. So, the easier it is to navigate the device, the better.
Moreover, it is also a major plus point to have a large display be it an analog or digital hygrometer. This feature is not only for aesthetics purposes. But, it is for more efficiency and convenience. Having a readable font and a well-lit display allows you to read the figures even from afar. So, you no longer have to come closer to the device every time you need to check the meter readings.
Our top picks for hygrometers with large display:
- Remote Monitoring
Another convenient feature good to have is its ability for remote monitoring. This may not be necessary for everyone. But this is a very helpful tool for those who wish to keep track of the humidity levels even from a certain distance. It also enables the user to receive alerts and make immediate changes should the need arise. The remote sensors make it possible to access details on your mobile devices via WiFi.
This advancement though is only available in hygrometers with remote sensors. So, if this feature is a big deal for you, make sure to look for a digital one rather than an analog device.
Our top picks for hygrometers with remote monitoring:
Having several functions in one device is a great advantage for every user. This enables you to get more value out of your investment. Most often, it is being coupled with temperature, calendar, clock, alarm, and timer.
Although, not all users may find these additional functionalities helpful. So, it is rather best to stick to features that you tend to use more often. In that way, it lets you focus on readings that are only significant for your needs.
Our top picks for hygrometers with multi-functionality:
- Data Logging
Hygrometers with a data logging feature enable you to store the history of your readings. Through this, you can keep track of the changes in humidity levels that took place over a certain period of time. The data is helpful to those who prefer to have an overview and analyze the trends in its grow space.
When it comes to this feature, the size of its memory capacity matters very much. Of course, the bigger it is, the more data you will be able to store. Moreover, its USB compatibility is also important to take note of. This allows you to view and download the data to your mobile device or computer.
Our top picks for hygrometers with data logger:
Calibrating the system from time to time ensures your device maintains accurate readings. But not all types of hygrometers need a tune-up. Often, it is only the mechanical or analog devices that may call for such maintenance. The digital hygrometers though rather use sensors to read the humidity. Thus, calibration is not necessary for this type.
So, keep this in mind when choosing for hygrometers. If you rather go for a mechanical system, make sure to adjust it every now and then. But, if you are not willing to go through the hassle, then a digital hygrometer is your best option.
- Power Source
This is very important to consider as this is the actual lifeline of your device. Hygrometers can either be a plug-in or a wireless type. If it needs plugging-in, you should ask yourself how long is the cord? Is it long enough to reach your power outlet?
If it is wireless, though, you should ask yourself then what kind of battery does it use? How long is the battery life? Remember that batteries are an extra cost to you. So, make sure to choose those that have an extended lifespan. In such a case, a lithium-ion battery is a good option to use.
Our top picks for plugged-in & wireless hygrometers:
- Mounting Options
It is always good to have versatility with regard to the positioning of your device. Depending on what best suits the area, you can either place it on the tabletop or mount it on the wall. There are also some hygrometers that come with a magnetic attachment. With this, you can mount it in any steel structure within your grow space.
So, before buying the device, you have to assess your space first. Decide on which particular place is it favorable to affix the hygrometer. Moreover, make sure that the position will not compromise the humidity reading in any way.
Our top picks for hygrometers with versatile mounting options:
Of course, we all want to make sure that whatever we buy will last us a long time. A good quality device is often made from premium materials. So, you can trust that it can withstand the test of time. Likewise, it also lessens the risk of unexpected pitfalls due to a faulty instrument.
Inferior quality hygrometers are more prone to water damage. Mists or moisture have higher tendencies to infiltrate a poorly-made device. Thus, humidity readings will likely become unreliable too.
- Price Point
Of course, last but not the least consideration is the price point. Not all growers have an unlimited budget to pour into their indoor gardens. Most people do keep a good track of their expenses.
So, determine how much you are willing to pay for this device. Narrowing from that price point, search for products that can give you the best accuracy. Moreover, look into the range of features it can offer as well.
Note that the more functions it has, the pricier it can get too. Unless all the features are applicable to you, you need not have them all in your device. By prioritizing what matters most, you have a better chance to save on the cost.
Among all the factors, we cannot emphasize enough how important accuracy is. Being able to get the correct humidity readings is the very essence of getting a hygrometer. If this device fails, chances are your cultivars will suffer from its mishaps too. So, regardless of how basic or high-end your device is, it is imperative for it to be accurate.
Although it is great to have all the other advantages, it is not necessary to have them in one hygrometer. Some growers are better off with a simple and straight-forward device. While others prefer to have all the complexities for some reason.
So, it is important to assess first what your needs are for your grow space. This way, you can narrow down your choices for the best hygrometer to suit your demand.