So after looking at so many different ideas on how people keep and grow their orchids I thought I could build my own. I live in the Denver, CO area and we refer to this part of the contry as a high plains desert. The average anual humidity here is about 14%. Not a lot.
So I thought, "this would be a neat project and experiment." I bought a 5 shelf, Rubber Maid plastic shelf system as the base.
I then wired up and mounted a 3 light, outdoor (water proof) base and fitted 3 GE 6500K 100 watt bulbs on each of the top two shelves. 300 watts per shelf, more if I get the 150 watt bulbs I found the other day. I tested the output of this setup and I am getting 3000 fc in the center of the 3 bulbs at less than the leaf level and then the light level falls off to 500 fc at the edges of the shelves.
I don't own a proper light meter that reads in foot candles, but I did find this wonderful online book that describes how to use the light meter in your SLR camera to get a reading in fc.
Ortho's all about orchids - Google Book Search
Nice resource btw!
The covering is simply a plastic window sealing kit I got from Home Depot. I applied the double sided tape to the shelf unit and then cut the pieces of plastic to fit. I could hit the whole thing with a hair dryer to get the plastic to pull tight. Not sure if I want to do that yet or not. The front cover is loose and can be flipped up to gain access to all the shelves.
I also put a warm mist humidifier on the lowest level and set it to a very low setting. I don't have a humidity gauge yet, but from the amount of moisture on the plastic after about an hour run time I would guess it was in the high 80s to 90s. That will need some messing with to get right. The leaves of the plants I stuck in there were moist as well as every other surface in the inside area.
I next need to fit a small fan inside the unit to get some air circulation. Not sure what I'll use for that yet. My first thought is a cheap 6" clip fan that I saw at Walmart for $10. That and a light dimmer and I'll be able to adjust the airflow perfectly.
I measured the temp inside the unit at the top self level. After about an hour run time the top shelf stablized at 85 degrees F. Nice and toasty. But I know adding a fan will cool things a bit from there. But all these results were taken at night time. The shelf with sit in front of an Easter facing window, so there will be some heat generated from that.
So far things seem to be working out, but I'm sure there will be some sort of hicup out there.