After six months or so of using the Grobo, want to quickly jot down my concerns and why I’ve come to the decision to sell it used after my current grow is over (probably soon because she’s going to die, but more on that shortly).
- Day to day care is automatic. Lights work well, but you need to have some means to confirm they’re working as others in the forum have posted issues (see SmartThings workaround in Cons).
- I haven’t had any hardware failures, which is noteworthy considering I have the unit in my garage with temp swings from (in the last 6 months) 45-105 degrees (F). Unit never stopped working.
- Instructions to start your grow are wonderful.
- The unit looks clean, but definitely stands out. People visiting your house probably wouldn’t comment, but anyone close to you is immediately going to ask “What’s that?”
- The first grow, when everything was brand new, went off pretty well despite needing a chiller. The product performed as expected, and gave me some quality bud. As soon as there started being problems though, it took a hard turn south (see below).
- No access to data. “It’s coming in a few months” isn’t good enough.
- Have to buy aftermarket supplies. Two big ones are the water chiller to keep the temp down, and SmartThings to ensure the power is working (and get alerts) plus a 4-in-1 sensor to get light/temp/humidity/motion alerts as well (I have a 1 year old and the lock is unreliable at best, don’t want to get locked out so need to know if it gets opened). Chiller ($450), Smartthings ($100) and the cloud app (InitialState) to visualize the date ($9.99/mo) round the total price for the unit to $2500+ for full functionality
- No alerts. Period. No app, no alerts, no insight into what’s going on until you open the webapp and browse. Not good for a “set and forget” unit (which this truly isn’t). Good luck around holiday travel times. Grobo, I’m in a very similar industry. There’s countless companies that you can turn an SDK over to and have them produce mobile/tablet apps. I’m sure your software team is doing all they can, but if they’re adding features to a webapp that doesn’t integrate with our lives, it’s a bit like moving around deck chairs on the Titanic.
- Connectivity issues on a regular basis. I had to buy a new mesh wifi node ($99) and put it next to the unit to alleviate it. Even with it, sometimes during a drain or fill it’ll freak out and take multiple minutes to resync. This is stressful when you have your roots hanging in the air after a drain, or when you’re going to do a quick drain and fill and now your wife is frustrated cause you can’t leave the house.
- Customer support is slow at best, and not engaged. I’ve had issues for weeks and it still takes days and days to get responses. They’ve finally given me a phone number to help. Guess the Grobo team finally got the memo that in DWC, days are an eternity. Probably going to start a 2-3 week auto-email campaign to get regular updates on my Grobo.
- Probe issues: First, nothing was said that you need to recalibrate your probe before each grow. This information would have let me get a calibration kit (with fresh storage solution) ahead of time. When drying, it doesn’t tell you not to leave pure distilled water in the tank to keep the probes wet (doesn’t tell you what to do at all - just to dry some herb). Also, when calibrating, the picture in the app looks more like the EC probe than pH. I didn’t check close enough, and wasted (expensive) calibration solution calibrating an EC probe.
- Shipping for literally ANYTHING from the store is $15. Forgot a bottle of solution? $15. Grobo screwed you over and dosed two bottles? $15. Grobo had the wrong pic of the probe and you need more solution? $15.
- The notifications you do get are awful, generic, and are in no way linked to the actual grow. Most likely, you’ll get some flowering tips in mid-Veg.
- Doesn’t tell you when your water level is actually low, despite having 3 water level sensors. Just a generic mid-week reminder to top up your grobo.
If I wasn’t traveling, and hadn’t already started my own grow in a custom built room, I’d probably be more willing to tough it out and see if this is going to turn around. But seriously, for less money I’ve been able to (with the help of 2 friends) build a system which does what Grobo does and more. Were there issues in the new build? Of course. But I corrected them in a week and I’m not selling my product for significant sums of money. Here’s what I’m using in another grow (values from the New Year to today):
Advice for those considering the Grobo: If you understand this can be an expensive hobby, and you know you’re OK tinkering with a machine to get it to work, then this can be a great introduction into growing. If you’re looking to get something that’s truly set and forget, I don’t think the Grobo is there.
If you think it’s worth it still, like I said above, keep a look out. If this plant dies because it’s pH has been off for a month, my unit will probably be posted here for sale in SoCal in the next month. If I somehow save this thing when I get back home, look for a post in ~3 months to offload.