Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

Sign up for our daily Newsletter and stay up to date with all the latest news!

Subscribe I am already a subscriber

How to maintain plant growth chambers

Plant growth chambers must be able to simulate a range of climatic conditions accurately and reliably in order to deliver optimal research outcomes. Thus, knowing how to maintain plant growth chambers and walk in rooms is an essential capability for phytotron and other facility managers that are tasked with keeping them in top working condition for the plant scientists that use them.

Regular plant growth chamber maintenance increases their longevity and ensures that chambers continually operate at peak performance. It goes beyond simple repairs, encompassing a proactive and holistic approach that drives cost savings and mitigates risk of down time or interruption to research.

Moreover, preventative maintenance ensures that the substantial investment required to purchase, install and operate growth chambers and rooms delivers maximum return over time for your facility and researchers over time.

In this article, we'll cover various aspects of plant growth chamber maintenance, from understanding what maintenance entails, to finding the right service provider, to future-proofing equipment and putting the right strategy in place to meet your facility's unique needs.

Understanding plant growth chamber maintenance
A helpful way to think about plant growth chamber maintenance is to compare it to that of a car. Cars need regular oil changes, tire rotations, engine and brake checks in order to continue operating efficiently and driving safely. Regular car maintenance can significantly extend the life, performance and reliability of a car.

Further, two cars manufactured in the same year, with the exact same make, model and usage patterns can be in vastly different condition years later depending on the frequency and quality of maintenance they've received.

This principle also holds true for plant growth chambers. Preventative chamber maintenance involves routine checks, adjustments, and replacements to keep chambers running smoothly and ensure they meet the precise environmental conditions needed to run experiments.

It requires inspecting mechanical equipment and functions that contribute to simulating natural environments—including lighting, refrigeration, irrigation, humidification systems, and fans—to create uniform, repeatable growing conditions in support of research objectives.

Maintenance is not just about fixing what's broken but preventing breakdowns in the first place, ensuring chambers continue to perform as expected for their intended lifespan.

The benefits of plant growth chamber maintenance
We know that planning to maintain plant growth chambers effectively is crucial for ensuring their longevity, efficiency, and reliability. The four benefits below explore some of the most impactful effects that a solid maintenance plan brings to organizations and research teams.

Cost savings
Preventative maintenance is a financial safeguard. By conducting regular checks and addressing minor issues promptly, facilities can avoid the larger expenses associated with major repairs or interruption to expensive research programs.

Well-maintained plant growth chambers are also more energy-efficient, requiring less power to operate and, as a result, reducing ongoing utility costs. A good example of this is retrofitting old chambers that are using fluorescent lighting with the latest, energy efficient LEDs. In essence, the investment in maintenance and retrofitting older generation lighting pays dividends by lowering the overall operational costs of running a chamber.

Energy savings and improved performance
Optimally performing plant growth chambers maximize efficiency, translating to consistent and reliable results with reduced energy consumption. This efficiency not only aligns with sustainability goals by lowering the facility's carbon footprint but also lowers energy bills.

At the same time, ensuring that all system components are in prime condition prevents unexpected breakdowns, making the research process smoother and more predictable.

More maintenance, less repairs
The longevity of plant growth chambers is directly tied to the rigor of their maintenance schedules. Regular preventative measures significantly extend the lifespan of a chamber by reducing the wear and tear on its components.

This approach minimizes the risk of sudden failures that could jeopardize months or even years of research. Moreover, by minimizing the need for emergency repairs, facilities can allocate their budgets more predictably and effectively.

Enhances employee satisfaction
Well-maintained plant growth chambers and growth rooms contribute to a more positive and productive research environment. It assures researchers that their experiments will not be interrupted by equipment failure, thereby fostering a sense of confidence and overall satisfaction knowing that they can depend on the equipment that is so vital to their research and the discovery process.

Further, addressing potential issues before they escalate not only prevents research timeline setbacks but also reduces stress and anxiety among staff. Consequently, a proactive maintenance plan not only benefits the plant growth chambers but also supports the well-being and morale of the researchers you have on staff.

Key strategies for success
Ensuring the longevity and efficiency of plant growth chambers requires a structured maintenance strategy. Follow these essential best practices to facilitate the preservation and optimal performance of your chambers and growth rooms.

Plan ahead
Many organizations are under the assumption that finding time for preventative maintenance would be a challenge. While it does require planning ahead, scheduled maintenance typically only takes a few hours for small or medium sized chambers, and one day for larger growing spaces. Effective maintenance scheduling can alleviate the feeling that it's hard to fit in. Consider also planning maintenance during periods of low research activity such between semester breaks or between major experiments so as to ensure minimal disruption.

Upgrade equipment proactively
Maintenance is not just about preserving the status quo but also about future-proofing your equipment. Even with preventative maintenance, all equipment requires upgrades and eventually replacement after a certain period of time.

Think of it like you would using a 20-year-old computer or mobile phone: It may be working, but it simply won't have the same capabilities or performance potential of newer models. OEMs also phase out support for older models as parts become unavailable and as older generation systems and components are replaced by state-of-the art technology. Institutional knowledge of systems that are 15, 20 years or older will also naturally fade due to the attrition of technical staff.

Waiting until a system failure can lead to rushed decisions, compromised performance, and sub-optimal research outcomes. By proactively upgrading plant growth chambers and parts, especially critical components like aged control systems for which replacement parts may no longer be available, you can prevent lengthy downtime and emergency repairs, both of which can be costly.

Keep in mind that no equipment lasts forever. Every facility reaches a decision point where continued investment in older equipment becomes less justifiable than replacement. A strategic approach, informed by proactive upgrades and regular maintenance insights, can guide this decision, ensuring investments are made wisely and align with long-term research needs.

Setting the right strategy
Developing the ideal maintenance strategy for your plant growth chambers is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. Every organization's needs, from deciding to upgrade aging equipment to timing replacements around funding availability, are distinct.

The key lies in partnering with a service provider who is well-versed in your specific equipment, has a direct line to your OEM, and is flexible enough to align with your schedule. This relationship is invaluable, offering insights that extend beyond routine maintenance to strategic advice on equipment lifecycle management.

A tailored approach that's informed by authorized OEM service providers and regular maintenance insights ensures that your investments are cost-effective and capable of supporting your research needs reliably and long into the future.

For more information:

Publication date: