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Cheap Way To Automate Bin Fans
With a couple of temperature and humidity monitoring switches, along with a smartphone app, Adam Ehlers automatically controls fans in each of his 10 grain bins. Total cost for the equipment was $100 - much better than the $8,000/bin estimate he was given by a commercial producer says the Presho, S.D., grain farmer.
With the help of Equilibrium Moisture Content charts (available on the internet) he knows the optimum temperatures and humidity levels to turn the fan on and off to remove or add moisture.
The problem was shutting the fans off manually every time it rained or weather conditions changed.
The solution was inspired by a friend who had a system to control the humidity in his home to protect his wooden floor.
In a YouTube video, Ehlers shares the items needed - a $24 Sonoff TH16 Wi-Fi smart temperature and humidity monitoring switch, and $6 Sonoff Wi-Fi switches for each bin. They are wired into the fan controller and activated through the phone app eWeLink.
“I put the switches inside the control box for the fan and taped a magnet to the temperature/humidity sensor and put it under the control box out of the rain. You need Wi-Fi at the bins. It has to be 2.4 GHz, not 5 GHz,” he emphasizes, adding that farmers may need to work with someone who is tech savvy to set up the system, with the help of the YouTube video Ehlers made. If the bins are out of range of Wi-Fi coverage, a stronger router or an old cell phone used as a mobile hotspot may be needed.
By setting up the temperature and humidity parameters on the app for the desired moisture content, the fans will turn on and off in each bin. With a setting called “inching” the system will also regularly check the parameters to see if the fan needs to turn off.
“This is just optimizing your electric usage,” Ehlers says.
He has used the system since 2019 and noted that other than a lightning strike that knocked out the smart switches, the system has worked well. He can hear the fans run from his home, but if producers aren’t near their bins, he notes that they can plug a camera into the Sonoff system.
Ehlers created the YouTube video in response to calls after his bin control was featured in an article. It’s not an idea he can sell or profit from, but he did include information in the video about something he wants to sell. So, if you are interested in buying a 42-acre mine in Keystone, S.D. - and also want to learn how to control your grain bin fans remotely - go to https://youtu.e/iOyByxYazNU.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Adam Ehlers, P.O. Box 225, Presho, S.D. 57568 (ph 605 280-6024; adam_ehlers@hotmail.com)

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #5