Indoor cultivation is not what it used to be. Small, affordable environmental monitors are helping indoor operations large and small grow bigger yields and better flowers. Gardeners today are working with remote environmental controls to stay on top of their facilities — even when away from home.
And just to state the obvious, indoor plants still benefit from a human eye, a careful hand, and well-established gardening techniques. But an indoor monitor means better climate control, strict environmental parameters, and more consistent conditions for your plants.
If something goes down or doesn't meet your preset parameters - you'll get an instant notification thanks to a remote enviro monitor. These smart, connected devices reduce the risk of walking into the grow room and finding a nasty surprise.
For cannabis cultivation specifically, there are already several companies offering remote environmental monitors at a price suitable for home-growing and small-scale production. The Pulse One Environment Monitor and the Sensor Push are two of the most popular.
In another chapter of our Battle Series, we are going to put these two affordable monitors head-to-head. Let's look at the features, price, usability, and overall opinion for each of these devices. Whether you are growing for pleasure or profit, the following in-depth comparison should help you determine which device is best for your grow room.
Quick Review of the Pulse One
Pulse One is a smart environmental monitor. The device itself is a small, compact design (roughly 3" x 3" square). It connects to the cloud via a WiFi connection, with an AC-USB power connection or three AA batteries as a backup should the power go out.
The Pulse One reports findings remotely to a user-friendly dashboard and web application. Through the dashboard's interface, it's easy to look at both current and historical conditions. There is an integrated journaling feature that facilitates making data-driven decisions to improve your current grow conditions.
This small wifi-connected environmental monitor is capable of recording:
- Relative humidity
- Vapor pressure deficit
- Light intensity
- Connectivity issues
- Power outages
By setting a series of custom parameters, the Pulse One sends out notifications should the conditions in the grow room go above or below these preset ranges.
As a product designed for both residential and small-scale commercial applications, it is quite affordable: $199. At this time, no additional devices nor add-ons components are required for total connectivity and reporting.
Quick Review of the Sensor Push
A smaller and cheaper option is the Sensor Push Smart Sensor. The Smart Sensor is a tiny blue square, about half the size of the Pulse One. Alone, it connects only via a Bluetooth connection, but it has a relatively long range of upwards of 100 yards.
Paired with the additional SensorPush G1 WiFi Gateway, the Sensor instantly becomes a completely remote environmental monitor, accessible from anywhere on earth provided you have a data or internet connection. The Smart Sensor feeds environmental measurements to the WiFi Gateway, which then communicates that into the cloud.
The Sensor does not have an external power feature, instead, it relies on an internal battery (CR2477 has an expected battery life of one to two years). The WiFi Gateway connects via an AC adaptor.
The price of the Sensor component is $49.99. However, if you require remote environmental monitoring, you'll need the WiFi gateway, which brings the total to $149.99 for both components.
As a smaller and more affordable monitor, the Sensor Push only collects the following environmental conditions:
Price Point Compared to Features
Within this niche division of affordable environmental grow room monitors, the price and features of each of these devices help to differentiate them better. The Sensor Push is the most affordable option without the addition of the WiFi Gateway, but that means fewer features. Pulse one is more expensive but covers a broader scope of functions for indoor cultivation.
Unlike in the LED Light Battle, where we found a clear winner based on price point and features, with the environmental monitors, it comes down to your growing needs.
For those with a lower budget, no-remote needs, and a more hands-off approach to cultivation, the Sensor Push is the perfect starter.
For a little more upfront investment, the Pulse One offers a host of additional features beyond just temperature and humidity. Plus, it has a WiFi connection baked into the original device allowing for instant and valuable insights, no matter how far away from the grow you travel.
If an environmental monitor does anything, it should monitor the temperature. Cannabis is an extremely touchy plant, and it has a pretty exact happy place in terms of the temperature range.
If the temperatures get too cold, the temperature stunts growth. That means smaller harvests, and the plant may even suffer from frostbite (in extreme situations). Yet, if the temperatures go too high, the plant dries out, tips start to turn yellow or brown, and hydroponic growers may experience root rot.
Staying within the ideal temperature range is the number one requirement for healthy plants and plentiful harvests.
The Pulse One sensor is suitable for monitoring a range of -40°F to 185°F (-40 to 85°C). It has an accuracy of ±1%.
The Sensor One has a smaller range, but one which is useful for all but the most extreme climate failures: -40°F to 140°F (-40°C to 60°C). It has an accuracy of ±1.3°F to ±2.2°F max (or ±0.7°C to 1.2°C).
A second key component in indoor cultivation is strict humidity controls. Humidity has a crucial role in disease and pest control, as well as for overall plant health. The closer you are to harvest, the more susceptible your crop is to issues with humidity.
The most dangerous environment for an indoor cannabis crop is an overly humid one. In the blink of an eye, excess atmospheric moisture can create the ideal conditions for mold, mildew, and other fungi to take hold. In the flowering stage, high humidity can decimate the crop, making it unsuitable for human consumption.
Both the Sensor Push and the Pulse One monitor for humidity. The Pulse one has humidity settings between 0 to 100 percent relative humidity, with a ±3 percent accuracy. When humidity levels go above or below preset controls, the system has a one-second response time.
Sensor Push also monitors between 0 and 100 percent humidity, with an accuracy between ±3 to 4.5 percent.
The Added Features of Pulse One
After temperature and humidity functions, the Sensor Push tends to fall off the map in comparison to Pulse One. Pulse One monitors several additional features within a grow room environment:
- Light Intensity
- Relative Humidity
- Vapor Pressure Deficit
- Dew Point
- Power and Connection Failures
For starters, the Pulse one records light intensity. The system works to match the light intensity with your preset controls, and the schedule sticks with what is appropriate for the stage of cultivation (veg versus flower). The system has a 10ms response to relative light intensity.
Another critical parameter the device monitors is vapor pressure deficit or VPD. VPD is crucial to improved nutrient absorption and to keep plant transpiration rates in check. It's closely related to relative humidity, and for growers, it's helpful to have a check on both these climate conditions.
A third condition intimately connected to humidity and VPD is the dew point. Dew point is the precise point at which there is too much moisture in the air, at which point it begins to dew onto surfaces. The system has a ±4 percent accuracy with VPD, with a 1s response time.
Should your grow room encounter any connectivity issues or a power outage, the Pulse One instantly switches over to its battery reserve and sends out the appropriate warning notifications.
Alerts, Notifications, and User Interface
Sensor Push has a practical mobile application that pulls in the data from the sensors via Bluetooth or with the additional WiFi Gateway. The mobile app is available for iOS 8 or later and Android 5.0 or later. Devices require Bluetooth 4.0+, also known as Bluetooth LE.
Although it may lack a few of the fancier bells and whistles of the Pulse One, it is fundamentally easy to use. Buttons at the top of the screen allow users to quickly toggle between hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly views of the grow room conditions. The environmental configurations are quick to set and user-friendly.
Plus, for people who love to crunch the numbers, you can export the data into a .csv file. The mobile app sends in-app notifications.
Pulse One is in constant and active development. Meaning, they are continually listening to feedback from their users to add better features and controls. Their online community is a vibrant place where the company frequently provides updates and interacts with growers.
The Pulse One dashboard is only available as a mobile-friendly web application. Still, they are actively working on a new mobile app in response to the demands of cultivators.
The Pulse One dashboard displays current conditions, with options to review history data if needed (hourly, daily, monthly, etc.). Through the dashboard, growers easily create preset environmental parameters for all climate conditions, from temperature to the dew point. Notifications arrive via the dashboard or by email.
Who Wins the Grow Room Monitor Battle?
For a home grower who doesn't want to get bogged down in the details, the Sensor Push is the perfect introduction to grow room environmental monitoring. It's a simple, user-friendly device designed to cover the essentials.
But, if it's in the budget, the Pulse One does provide substantially more value. It is remote out of the box and doesn't require a secondary WiFi connection to make remote grow room monitoring a reality. It also goes beyond the basics (humidity and temperature) to help growers really understand their climate - VPD, dew point, light intensity, and more.
Considering the value-added options with the Pulse One, the continued development going into new functions, it's the winner in our books. For growers that care about the details, it's the grow room monitor that provides the most value.