Saturday, January 15, 2011

New Gadget: 40cm "Mist Fan"

A lot has been written about the importance of air movement and humidity for orchid culture. Our little balcony can get stiflingly hot during the day (indeed, by 8am it's often over 30ÂșC in there) and in January and particularly February, Grahamstown air temperatures can regularly reach into the 40s.

As much as I am tempted to demolish a wall/replace windows and install a massive fan in the other side or the balcony to get a wet wall evaporative greenhouse cooler up and running 1) it's very expensive 2) my landlord would have a fit 3) I suspect the Grahamstown Aesthetics Committee would object to the rather grievous alteration to a building from the 1800s! And a misting system would result in very wet floors (not to mention there's no water supply out there)...

A few weeks ago, I saw some "ultrasonic mist fans" in a shop. I decided that these might well help out, in that fans provide air movement, mist provides humidity and evaporating mist cools air. I ordered a Russel Hobbs 41cm Mist Fan from Makro online and it was delivered the other day.

After setting it up, I played with the various modes; it even has a "natural wind" function that varies the fan speed constantly. A very rudimentary trial suggests it cools the air by about one degree Celcius whilst the mister is on. The 1.5l water reservoir has to be refilled about three times a day, which is a bit of a pain. Another slight annoyance is that if there is a power cut (or you turn it off at the wall or via a timer etc) it resets itself to an "off" condition, which pretty much eliminates any hope for automation. :(

Until I receive my rather fancy LAN-enabled thermohygrometer (usually used for monitoring computer datacentres!), I'm not sure what it's doing to the humidity; I haven't been able to find even a basic hygrometer in town.

It's a bit too early to tell what the plants think of their new more "buoyant" environment, but I hope they like it...