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I recently purchased, or at least have sent money, for a commercial sized humidor whose dimensions are 73x48x17.  Currently I have four coolers that are packed and two desktop humidors all using beads.  I believe this humidor is simply too big to continue using beads so I have been thinking about making the switch to an active humidification system.  I have searched the forums for a noob introduction to learn the ins and outs and possibly different brands and more importantly other members experience (both good and bad) but have not found exactly what I'm looking for.  If somebody has that info and they could post it or point me in the right direction it would be greatly appreciated.

thanks

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So, I've been down this road before and you're right, beads aren't going to cut it and I see we're in Ottawa so we don't have to worry about summer temperatures.  Lucky you!

I've used both the Hydra commercial unit and the Cigar Oasis Magna units.  Both had their benefits and drawbacks.  

Hydra.  It's cheap.  It works.  The Hydra's auxiliary fans can be set up to always be on or come on only when the humidifier comes on.  This is an important feature that the Magna lacks.  In fact, the Magna's auxiliary fans only come on when the humidifier is OFF.  More on that later.  The Hydra's only drawback is that it as a consequence of it being cheap, it may fail.  I did not have mine fail, but there are plenty of stories of them failing.  I made the choice to upgrade to a Cigar Oasis Magna as I was attracted to the Wi-Fi capabilities it offered.  If you go with the Magna, I would suggest removing the florist foam and buying some floral beads instead.  It'll hold way more water.  Just add some PG to the distilled water as an anti-fungal agent and if mold does start to take hold, toss the beads and replace.  They're insanely cheap anyways.

Cigar Oasis Magna.  It's more expensive.  It's well constructed.  It has Wi-Fi reporting of temp and RH.  Now, let's talk about that.  First of all, the setup of this is a real PITA.  I'm well versed in IT and I would feel sorry for say, my dad trying to set this thing up.  I also found that it did not stay connected to my wireless network under DHCP so I had to assign it a static IP.  After I did that, my problems were solved.  If you don't understand what that means, good luck to you.  Now on to the auxiliary fans.  The Oasis' fans only come on when the Oasis humidifier is off.  This was a problem for me as I found that the humidifier would create a nice correct RH at the bottom of the humidor, then the fans would kick on, the RH would quickly drop in the bottom, the humidor would kick on, the auxiliary fans would kick off and this insane cycling of the humidifier and fans would occur.  

I eventually had to add some 12v computer fans to the humidifier on a digital timer that allowed me to set any OFF and ON cycle time I wanted to deal with that insanity.

Good luck!

 

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How hard would it be to humidify the room in which you're putting that big boy?  Not to 65%rH mind you, but to something reasonable such that beads in the cabinet could do the rest of the fine tuning?  Might be a safer way to get stability?

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16 hours ago, chris12381 said:

So, I've been down this road before and you're right, beads aren't going to cut it and I see we're in Ottawa so we don't have to worry about summer temperatures.  Lucky you!

 

I've used both the Hydra commercial unit and the Cigar Oasis Magna units.  Both had their benefits and drawbacks.  

 

Hydra.  It's cheap.  It works.  The Hydra's auxiliary fans can be set up to always be on or come on only when the humidifier comes on.  This is an important feature that the Magna lacks.  In fact, the Magna's auxiliary fans only come on when the humidifier is OFF.  More on that later.  The Hydra's only drawback is that it as a consequence of it being cheap, it may fail.  I did not have mine fail, but there are plenty of stories of them failing.  I made the choice to upgrade to a Cigar Oasis Magna as I was attracted to the Wi-Fi capabilities it offered.  If you go with the Magna, I would suggest removing the florist foam and buying some floral beads instead.  It'll hold way more water.  Just add some PG to the distilled water as an anti-fungal agent and if mold does start to take hold, toss the beads and replace.  They're insanely cheap anyways.

 

Cigar Oasis Magna.  It's more expensive.  It's well constructed.  It has Wi-Fi reporting of temp and RH.  Now, let's talk about that.  First of all, the setup of this is a real PITA.  I'm well versed in IT and I would feel sorry for say, my dad trying to set this thing up.  I also found that it did not stay connected to my wireless network under DHCP so I had to assign it a static IP.  After I did that, my problems were solved.  If you don't understand what that means, good luck to you.  Now on to the auxiliary fans.  The Oasis' fans only come on when the Oasis humidifier is off.  This was a problem for me as I found that the humidifier would create a nice correct RH at the bottom of the humidor, then the fans would kick on, the RH would quickly drop in the bottom, the humidor would kick on, the auxiliary fans would kick off and this insane cycling of the humidifier and fans would occur.  

 

I eventually had to add some 12v computer fans to the humidifier on a digital timer that allowed me to set any OFF and ON cycle time I wanted to deal with that insanity.

 

 

Good luck!

 

Thanks for the input!  Luckily I do indeed know what a static IP is so with a little luck I shouldn't have too many problems with it.  I spent some time looking into the Cigar Oasis Magna 2.0 with the WiFi attachment.  It looks like it is what I need.

 

12 hours ago, PapaDisco said:

How hard would it be to humidify the room in which you're putting that big boy?  Not to 65%rH mind you, but to something reasonable such that beads in the cabinet could do the rest of the fine tuning?  Might be a safer way to get stability?

That won't be possible.  The humidor will be in a tiny room that is already packed with computer equipment, guitar equipment, several book shelves, and cigars.  Ideally I would like to build a walk-in-humidor (but wouldn't we all?) but the house I'm in is simply too small.

 

12 hours ago, PigFish said:

What is the ambient in the room? A range will do... 

More, when I have time. -Piggy

I actually had no intentions on buying a humidor of this size in my current house but the price was such that I couldn't say no.  Ambient temperature fluctuates a bit.  The top floor, where the humidor will be, is usually around 24/25C in the summer months and closer to 18C in the winter months.  I have had the ceiling fan on low pretty much 24/7 throughout the summer months this year to help cool the room a bit and get additional air flow.  I have found that I have to add water to the beads in my current humidors and coolers more often.

Should I consider not running the ceiling fan once the humidor is setup or would it be beneficial to keep it on?  Is there a difference in techniques to season a humidor of this size vs as smaller 250 cigar count humidor?  Will temperature swings affect a larger humidor more than a smaller one?

 

I am getting this humidor second hand from a B&M that is closing down. I was originally going to wait until I had the humidor in my possession to get the humidification system but I am starting to wonder if perhaps having the humidification system prior to the humidor would be better.  Would it be easier on the wood if the humidor didn't lose all its humidity?  I am looking at close to a 7 or 8 hour drive to transport it from its current location during which time there will be no humidity added.  I do not know how long it will be sitting empty for prior to my arrival. 

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Tall Cabinet humidor:

 

I made an assumption already that there would be no temperature control in this humidor, as most commercial units rely on the air temperature of the establishment which is important to customer comfort. What I as asking mainly about was range in rH.

 

Why is that important? Well, because most humidors are ‘driven’ by a more powerful, or dominant environment. Understanding the first paragraph, there is an assumption that this will be humidor that will require the assistance of the ambient.

 

All humidors, controlled or otherwise are driven by the ambient. The difference in a controlled humidor is the control. Driving factors still need to be considered, but the controlled humidor design is such that it is supposed to take ‘control’ over the ambient and maintain the humidor, making the humidor itself the dominant force for the microclimate.

 

RH (ambient) is a factor in any humidor that does not have cooling. Why? Because humidor internal cooling is generally cross linked with dehydration, an important factor in high rH environments. That pretty much sums up the background.

 

So there you have a partial answer. Some of my customers in different parts of the world rely on cooling and my ability to separately control dehydration to control their cigar conditions. So in order for your project to work at least the majority of the year you need a net negative rH environment.

 

Small periods of net rH positive are not going to ruin your cigars, but prolonged exposure to positive rH environments will trend your cigars to higher rH and you are the only one that can judge if that means a declining smoking experience for you.

 

I made some distinctions here because you had noted that you were moving from ‘ice chests.’ These systems seal well, and passive air exchanges are minimal. Total air volume (in filled systems) are also minimal so that recoveries can be quicker.

So, as we progress with analysis it is important to understand that you will need to be working with a beneficial net rH environment, and understand that these wood humidors don’t seal especially well (they are made of semi-permeable materials) and those factors will affect your storage.

 

On to the good news. Assuming that the rH in net negative, you will require some form of active rH support and it is the only system that actually will benefit from this type of environment. It should be disclosed and understood by all that make humidors that permeable non-temperature controlled units really require a net negative rH environment, yet I seem to be the only guy that talks about it.

 

Putting an active humidifier in a humidor which resides in a net positive rH environment is stupid. Why supply rH when there is an ambient abundance and it leaches into the space via the porosity of the humidor walls and seals? That type of environment would require a dehydrator not a humidifier. Coming full circle, this is why I asked about the ambient, not just temperature.

 

Continuing on from beyond theory here is what I think you should look for.

 

Tall humidors have severe stratification problems (if you are sensitive to that) and you will get wet hot areas in the humidor. I am changing my systems now to ones where a form of convection current is used to assist in this. As warm air is constantly ascending, I vent cool air at the top and then carry it to the bottom via a circulating ducted ventilation system. Of course the water vapor moves with the air, so when you move air for temperature stabilization, you move the water with it and solve two problems at the same time. Your sensor should be located as a part of this process yet not have forced air applied to it. That is unless the sensor is really slow reacting. Forced air should not be applied directly ‘at’ humidifiers as that will cause them to leach water into the climate.

 

I think you should consider this as a problem that should be addressed (MHO).

 

Next is the rH problem, as stated it depends on the net rH of the ambient.

 

Many people make solutions for this, including me. It all depends on the depth of control that you want and what you want to spend, the accuracy you want, the precision you want, the amount of control you want. What system you buy or components you include will be up to your desired level of control and your budget as well as your perceived need.

 

Ultimately I prefer my own products but they are more expensive than most. I can solve all these issues (at least to some degree, depending on the design of the humidor itself) and that is the basis from which I give advice.

 

This does not mean to say that ‘my way’ is the only way. That is always a consumer choice.

 

I have little need for gimmicks. Real control and consummate designs are what I specialize in.

 

Since no active cooling is considered, you need to decide whether you want air circulation. With that in mind, constant is best, but timed may be required. Why? Fans cause heat. In the warm ambient months, will the generated heat make you uncomfortable with the project due to the eventual internal heat of the humidor? You have to decide this.

 

In that event you should consider a short cycle, high frequency timer module. My controller contains such a module, albeit, I don’t use it much. It would be a service to you here.

 

Do you want a sensor placed in your appliance or in a neutral (mid-span) space that will better reflect the humidor conditions as a whole? More food for thought. Building a sensor into a humidifier is (IMHO) a poor idea. Evaporative forces will make the space around the humidifier generally wetter, next to the sensor and then readings from the sensor become more or less not reflective of the overall humidor. Again, I prefer my system of separate sensor, controller and appliance, and that would be similar to what Bob Staebell also uses.

 

Do you want or need consummate solutions? Well, I like the idea! If you are not going to run fans full time, do you want them to run with the humidifier as well? One can do that with circuitry so that when the fans run, they don’t back-feed the humidifier and run it as well. This comes under the category of consummate control and it is pretty simple to accomplish with the right parts and designs.

 

Are you interesting in single point control, or do you want separate independent systems with all their power supplies and controls working at different times? Do you want more than 1 fan, 1 humidifier… etcetera… Will each work autonomously or unanimously together? These are decisions that you will make. In other words, do you want your system scalable and in turn also consummate?

 

That is all for now mate, you have decisions to make. Scalability and consummate unification is an earmark of a custom system. The cost is the obvious drawback. Individual parts not working in unison are potentially scalable, but they will never likely work well together. One-size-fits-all systems will not likely work as well as a custom one, but off-the-shelf affordably is a draw for such devices.

 

Sometimes the problem works down to understanding an issue and support. It all depends on what you have for an ambient, who understands what parts are needed to make a system work, what you want and what you can afford to get in the way of design assistance.

 

Best of luck on the project. -Piggy

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Mr Piggy, could you please recommend an accurate hygrometer please. I can never seem to find one worth a damn.

 

Also if love to hear your thoughts on bovada packs, as I use them with an active system in my wineadore.

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Exceptional prose in Piggy's feedback, probably the best observations on the topic I have ever read. It certainly puts a lot of salient points into one concise set of arguments. 

Well done PigFish! :perfect10:

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55 minutes ago, john007 said:

Mr Piggy, could you please recommend an accurate hygrometer please. I can never seem to find one worth a damn.

 

Also if love to hear your thoughts on bovada packs, as I use them with an active system in my wineadore.

There are all sorts of products out there mate and I have not tried them all. That is my first caveat.

You should understand that I specialize in controls and design. Controls contain, integral to their function, sensors (or connections to sensors) as well as a display to report readings. I think I buy (and sell) the best temp/rH transmitter for the coin but you are not going to buy one of my controls just as a sensor unless you enjoy throwing your money away. Well, I should not say it is a waste of money certainly, but not well utilized if all you want to do is monitor your environment.

Monitoring has at least two facets, what you can see and what you don't see... You see? -LOL What does this mean? I will answer that with another question. Does the humidor go instantly stable once you stop looking at it? Of course not. So what type of hygrometer will aid you during those times? Answer, a data logging hygrometer with a display.

I currently use a slew of Onset Computer data loggers. Look, guys, I make my own for serious logging based on a universal analog logger that I get from Onset. I use my own sensors. But these guys sell a nice little string of loggers for the money. They are certifiable, that means that they do have some inherent quality. You would just have to spring the extra dough for the certification. They are not instant read, but they are real time and you can scale their sample rate. Most guys don't need to sample once a second (as I do) but you can if you want.

I buy the ones with there replaceable sensors, as portables to move around. Yep, sensors creep and eventually they go bad. You can pull the sensor out of the front of these little guys and just buy a new one if you think that yours is going south.

Look, I am not in love with Onset, but it is what I use primarily. They have plenty of flaws and if you are starting with them you will need to pop for their software as well.

Here is a link: http://www.onsetcomp.com/products/data-loggers/ux100-011

I don't really want to post about them as an endorsement. Frankly their customer service stinks and their more sophisticated loggers (I own a lot of their stuff) has slews of problems, many of which I have debugged for them!!! Yet these little loggers are pretty robust and worth the money.

Is it not worth it to spend a couple hundred bucks on something that can protect your cigars? I think so, but I am a control freak.

This is a new product that I have not tested.

http://www.onsetcomp.com/products/data-loggers/mx1101

I am not a big 'blue tooth' freak but for you guys with ice chests and no means to observe your logger, this might be the ticket. The entry price, since no software is required (assuming the mobile apps are free) might also be a benefit.

All I can tell you guys is this. If you are going to pop for 'better' stuff, be prepared to spend a few dollars on it. And frankly you might want to consider looking into data logging. Data logging takes out the guesswork. You will get an understanding of how your system works and when it does or does not work. If you happen to make the link between a stable environment where you control the PMC and the smoking experience, then this will be some of the best money you ever spent.

Cheers! -Piggy

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Piggy you are too good to us. I really appreciate all the info. As someone who used to constantly have humidity problems it's great to have such a vast amount of knollwdge at my finger tips. I have definitely found ambient temp has so much to do with humidity. I used to keep my wineadore in an uncontrolled inviorment where the temp would rise into the high 80s, and I was always getting mold, then I'd run my wine Colleen  (thermoelectric) and it would always kill the humidity. Since then we have moved, and fortunately I have a temperature controlled mud room where I keep my cigars. Things have been so much better since. Still I am always looking to improve what I have.

i really like the Bluetooth one where I can check on my phone, I will be purchasing them today.

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Lots of great info here guys, thank you very much for it.  By the sounds of it I think I am going to be doing a lot of trial & error + tweaking to get things right. 

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On 8/30/2016 at 10:32 AM, PigFish said:

Real control and consummate designs are what I specialize in.

 

 

I currently have a JC Pendegast HC Series Cabinet. However the influence of you and everyone else here is encouraging my habit of buying cigars that I am not ready to smoke and thus has caused me to fill to capacity what was once a reasonable somewhat empty humidor. I am going to need now, due to my irresponsibility, another place for long term storage of 400-600 cigars. Ambient temperature in the basement is 66 degrees and RH in the Chicago winter is probably 45%. It would appear that I do not need a device that will cool the air but just add humidity. Suggestions for a second cabinet or reasonably priced alternative? How would you humidify Rob's Sticks?

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Rob sends me cigars that are too wet for my taste. This does not reflect a belief that they are stored poorly, just that I am picky about how dry my cigars are, and vendors have some concerns about shipping damage and broken cigars, where wetter cigars ship better than dry ones (when one considers fines).

You should know that I have never spent the time working on tobacco isotherms. This means that I don't have concrete answers to what percent moisture content you will get by storing at XXrH and YY˚F. All that matters to me really is my taste, and then some general guidance for the populace if they want to accept my advice. Many people will claim to have a preference for keeping cigars cold. I have no such inclination. Stability is my concern, and with it the preservation of a favored (yet unknown) PMC established by that stability.

Since I store in a very stable humidor at 70F and 60rH, if I were to attempt to emulate that PMC in your 66F conditions, I would look to reduce the rH to 59 or 58rH. I use a general rule of thumb number, not suggesting that you should.

It will take a long time to dry cigars at 66F. You might have to wait all winter to do it. Water migrates very slowly at these temps and the lower you go in temperature the more affinity tobacco has for water.

Depending on the porosity of your container, you may need zero rH support. If your container is close to airtight, you will likely find that cigar delivered form a vendor might well move the humidor conditions to 70rH or more at this temperature. This is the nature of relative humidity.

You may well find that you need to open the humidor regularly to let the water out! If I had to hazard a guess, it would be that you have the same high rH problem with vendor sticks that I do, just your numbers will be different.

In my world vendor conditions mean very little to me. I put the box in a controlled space and as they gas-off they simply force a humidor to dehydrate more. It is all lost in the wash to me. The humidor does its job and it does it without my input. If I stack it with a new load of newly acquired vendor cigars the humidor sees this as any other high rH problem and it goes to work dehydrating them by keeping them stable at my settings. It just collects the water to be used when refrigeration (cooling is required and then supplemental rH).

It is funny, this summer I actually used no distilled water. My humidors all required water removal this summer. They take the excess water that comes in new cigars and air exchanges and stores it in the humidifier for me, and as they fill up, I just dump them out...

I would not go looking for supplemental water with new cigars at this point, not at this temperature. Take readings and let them tell you what they need. They will tell you if you look, you don't need me for that. Save your money at this point, use nature and your ambient to assist you, and just remain vigilant. Things will change with temperature however, don't forget or neglect that. I say forget he specific advice here and let the humidor tell you what to do.

-Piggy

 

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17 minutes ago, PigFish said:

Depending on the porosity of your container, you may need zero rH support. If your container is close to airtight, you will likely find that cigar delivered form a vendor might well move the humidor conditions to 70rH or more at this temperature. This is the nature of relative humidity.

You may well find that you need to open the humidor regularly to let the water out! If I had to hazard a guess, it would be that you have the same high rH problem with vendor sticks that I do, just your numbers will be different.

 

 

When I mentioned that the temp of the humidor was 66% degrees, I was speaking about the new one that I will be setting up. The current cabinet is about 74 degrees and 68%Rh which I am trying to reduce to 65%. It used to be at 72% which was too much in my opinion and even caused a little mold to grow on some of the cigars in the upper parts of the humidor. However, as I keep adding more of Rob's cigars filling it up, the needle isn't moving much lower. Over time, I hope that this will improve. The problem that I have now is that I am running out of room so I am going to have to set up a new storage place for the cigars. On one hand, a cabinet is attractive and if properly built, can make long term aging easier, I feel. Just not sure I want to drop another grand into it when perhaps an Igloo cooler and some humidification beads might be all I need and as you suggest, I might not even need the beads right away. 

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