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Finance

Energy Efficiency

Today’s Indoor cultivation facilities are energy intensive as they must provide every input for the plants: Light, Temperature and Humidity Control, Nutrients, and Air Flow. Indoor growing allows you to be very precise in providing these inputs at the cost of a very high energy budget. In general, indoor growing can provide very high-quality cannabis at the expense of a high energy budget. It behooves the smart growing to lower expenses, not just for economic reasons, but for ecological and global climate change reasons as well.

 

As California, Canada, and Colorado transitioned to recreational growing they saw a total power usage increase of 1-2% for the entire state considering all sources of power usage. This amount of power usage is not sustainable long term as pressure from much less expensive outdoor cultivations and societal pressure for carbon-neutral energy starts to spread. Transitioning to greenhouses will bring the greatest lowering of your energy usage, but doesn’t eliminate the need for energy or energy efficiency.

 

Light: Lights are one of the largest power users in a cultivation facility. Right now, the standard light used (1000w DE HPS) still produces over half its output as heat instead of light, requiring you to purge that heat with energy intensive cooling systems. Light Emitting Diodes(LED) are a great innovation, using about 1/3 the energy of HPS and converting a greater percentage of the total energy consumed into light energy rather than heat energy. This difference not only reduces the amount of energy spent on lighting the facility, it also reduces the cooling needs and the dehumidification needs.

 

Heating and Cooling: While heating is needed during the winter when the lights are not on, an indoor cultivation facility spends its next largest share of its energy budget on cooling. Within a sealed indoor facility, the heat emitted by your lamps and ballasts can quickly build up, light manufacturers recommend 2000-4000 BTUs of cooling for every 1000w fixture. This amount of cooling can be mitigated by running higher amounts of carbon dioxide allowing the plant to thrive at higher temperatures, but can never be eliminated entirely. As pointed out in the previous Lights section the best way to combat heat gain is to not add heat, making the efficiency of the LED lights doubly effective. A last point is having the appropriate amount of insulation in your growing area, preventing the overworking of either the heating or cooling.

 

Airflow: Cannabis plants benefit from vigorous airflow throughout the room carrying away waste oxygen and bringing fresh carbon dioxide to the stoma of the leaves. Fans are simple, just an electric motor and blades. The best way to extend the life and efficiency of your fan is by keeping them clean, the less they have to work the better the air moves and the lower the number of fans you need. This cleanliness factor plays into many other efficiencies in the grow room, cleanliness means less pest prevention sprays, less mold, and a larger healthier harvest.

 

Water Flow: Water pumps are hardworking little motors Pumps have a filter to prevent debris from damaging the impeller, this filter must be cleaned on a constant basis to lower the amount of pressure the pump needs to maintain to give a given amount of water to the plants. Not cleaning the filter means you can damage the motor, further reducing the efficiency of the pump. Not cleaning the filter can reduce the nutrients arriving to the plant, making your well-crafted nutrient mix no longer ideal. A last efficiency point of the pumps is making sure the output capability is matched to the distance the water is being pumped to the plant.

 

Energy efficiency has implications for not only your money budget, but will affect the quality of the final product. As will everything, keeping a schedule of maintenance and best practices will ensure your medicine is grown with love and care.

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