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The Truth About Growing Cannabis Commercially With LED Lighting

Large scale cannabis grows are being installed across the nation, and as the industry progresses, the power consumption impact is being felt, demonstrated and documented. The grow designers, consultants and cultivators with outstanding reputations are already hip to the benefits of LED, but not everyone understands why it’s so critically important.

Colorado’s consumption is up 71% since 2012. Nevada will be forced to upgrade its power grid to support the massive grows coming online in the next few months. Oregon utilities are reporting overtaxed power grid and equipment blow-outs on the demands of marijuana growers.

With an eye to reducing power costs, builders often throw on a few solar panels while grow technology has taken a sharp turn towards greenhouse, light depravation and other hybrid lighting choices to maximize the sunshine while adequately supporting the plants for maximum yield.

The tree-hugging vibes of cannabis culture are being met with the reality that growing indoors is becoming an increasingly larger environmental impact and expense. With climate consciousness becoming a non-negotiable business opportunity, combined with the outstanding technical advances of LED lighting, tree huggers and suits alike are exploring commercial lighting solutions that will truly impact the bottom line.

The good news is that LED lighting has finally arrived. The bad news is that growers can be reluctant to experiment with new tech, materials, etc – until what they’ve been doing stops working. With commercial grows under construction in nearly every 420-friendly state, consultants, growers and the bleeding edge adopters of the industry have started taking advantage of the top of the line products hitting the market to save money, maximize investments and continue reaping the benefits for years to come.

Power consumption is not the only environmentally friendly benefit LED has over High Pressure Sodium and HID bulbs.

The power bill reduction you’ll see with LED lighting is going to be a real attraction. Grows are seeing a 50-75% reduction in their power bills after swapping for LED. That’s real tasty.

But there is something else that people don’t often mention when it comes to the environmental impact of HPS. HPS bulbs have to be replaced, often, and at a very high price. Then, they have to be specially disposed of – because, HPS/HID bulbs are rife with dangerous chemicals.

So, let’s say you’ve got someone installing new HPS bulbs in your grow, and disaster of all disasters – a bulb gets dropped. If the room is full of plants, they have to be disposed of – unless someone doesn’t know better and just sweeps it up leaving the contaminated plants. If the room is empty, best case scenario – the room just needs to be professionally cleaned again. Owners must be sure no one would be a bit negligent and simply replace the bulb instead of report it. (We like to assume the best, but that isn’t always reality in this fledgling industry.)

When it comes to environmental impact, power consumption and worker safety, HPS/HID just can’t compete.

There’s more than just lighting to consider for keeping expenses low.

Energy Usage Breakdown of Commercial Grow Facility

From MJBiz Daily, chart of the week illustrating breakdown of power usage at a commercial cannabis grow facility.

Lighting, air conditioning, ventilation and dehumidification comprise nearly 80% of total energy costs for the average commercial marijuana grow. Much of the industry advances have been focused on the lighting aspect of reducing that overhead. CULTIVATE Lighting is an LED company that has started paying attention to these related opportunities, offering commercial grade lighting with ventilation and air filtration incorporated into the lamp design.

LED is not just about growing indoors anymore.

The solid beams of light created by LEDs versus the diffusion of light offered by HPS has been another point of contention amongst grow designers. But even this is no longer an issue where advanced designs are creating an arced lighting spread that sends light over a much wider and broader canopy while still offering the stronger intensity of LED.

With the growing trends of greenhouses, light depravation and other hybrid grow spaces, an adaptive lighting system is imperative. Controls to moderate the red and blue spectrums individually and add-on UV bulbs, The Cultivator Solution is a superior solution for hybrid grows for this very reason. Combining a long lasting technology that can be trusted, with the flexibility to adapt to changing light situations makes LED lighting superior.

The time has come for grow consultants, designers and leading edge growers to adopt the top of the line advances in LED technology into their own grows. As the market becomes more saturated, driving down the price of marijuana, and driving up the price of power, the best growers in the market are thinking ahead and choosing advanced lighting solutions.