February 26, 2018

5 Steps for setting up an efficient grow room

February 26, 2018
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Several mini green rushes erupted across various states over the last few years as medical and recreational (adult-use) marijuana legalization spread across the US. Within these movements, interest in cultivating cannabis has grown as rapidly as the weed, while everyone from closet-sized, grow setup green thumbers to seasoned, large-scale cultivators with mammoth commercial grow room design plans are planting pot seeds

Next to labor, energy expenses are the most burdensome to indoor marijuana cultivators, comprising approximately 25-50% of their operating costs. Regardless of the size of your grow room, making efforts to reduce energy with efficient grow room design early in the building process will prevent wasteful energy consumption, problematic equipment, and crop pests- which will ultimately decrease costs. If you’re wondering how to build a grow room step-by-step, we’ll describe energy-efficient equipment and procedures to do so, enabling you to cultivate your favorite strains without breaking the bank. 

1. Plan out the Details from the Start

If you’re a first-time grower, resist the urge to make rushed decisions by carefully thinking through your grow room design plans. There’s often a hasty mentality among cultivators to hurry up and get growing, but if you pause and think critically before building your cannabis grow room, it will ultimately save you time and money. For example, decisions regarding updating or adding insulation can seem expensive at first but will lower your energy expenses and eventually increase revenue. Thinking through everything from facility to individual equipment will maximize efficiency. 

2. Grow Room Logistics: Plan Your Space

The first area where you can plan and physically improve efficiency is your grow room setup and design. Whether you’re constructing a small weed room or a commercial grow room, you want to avoid the common pitfall of overestimating the space needed to grow because it leads to substantial unnecessary energy costs. 

Consider exactly how much space your marijuana plants need based on how many you want to grow. A good rule of thumb is four large plants or nine moderately-sized plants per square yard. Keep in mind, your vegetation growth space will be about a third of the size of your flowering growth space. 

In addition to your growth space, remember to include room to walk, water, prune, and fulfill other general gardening duties. To maximize the size of your cultivation area, consider an overhead dehumidifier. If you’re short on space for plant maintenance, you will increase the time and energy needed to complete tasks, thereby increasing labor expenses. 

3. Lighting Options: LED vs. HPS

Among the myriad of debates between cultivators, lighting is often one of the most contentious subjects. Some cultivators prefer LEDs while others don’t believe LED technology is as good as high-pressure sodium lights (HPS). 

During vegetative growth, marijuana plants don’t require intense light, so many cultivators save energy by using LED lights, as they require less energy than heat-intensive HPS lights. For the flowering growth stage, however, some cultivators claim LED lights won’t facilitate as large of a yield as HPS lights. For this reason, cultivators who prefer HPS lights are willing to deal with the associated increased costs.

Of course, the biggest opposition to LED utilization comes from the initial cost. LED lights can run about $1,600 each, as opposed to $350 for traditional HPS lights. Yet, while LEDs may cost more upfront, they last 50,000 hours, require less energy, and run cooler, which results in overall savings.

4. Water and Humidity

In some states, water is inexpensive and there are no concerns about drought, but to conserve energy it’s important to identify your watering schedule early and maintain it. Overwatering is wasteful and a common rookie mistake. Determine how much water your plants need, and consider automating your water schedule if possible, especially if you’re maintaining a commercial grow room. 

Similarly, controlling humidity is important as it will prevent problems and extra expenses. Excessive humidity creates the perfect environment for pests, odor, mold, and mildew-all of which can devastate your cannabis plants. Dehumidifiers counteract these problems, but some-particularly those not designed for a cannabis grow room- use a lot of energy. The best option is to consider energy-efficient units and properly size your dehumidifier based on your grow room design. 

5. Grow Your Own Way

As marijuana legalization expands and accompanying technology advances, competition and cost challenges among cultivators will prioritize the importance of energy efficiency. Growers want energy-efficient products because they result in savings, so industry brands continuously innovate to benefit from releasing the “latest and greatest” of these products. 

The commercial grow room setup cost is exorbitant. Making all efforts to reduce expenses and developing a solid brand to increase revenue are crucial for survival in the cannabis industry. Embracing energy efficiency is a way to accomplish these goals and stay competitive because it not only helps with grow room profit, but it also boosts brand perception, especially in an industry concerned with environmentalism and energy conservation. 

For now, the best strategy for developing energy-efficient cultivation sites differs across states, regions, and climates. There are many approaches, and like a great chef, each cultivator has their own strategies, procedures, and “recipes” for their unique cannabis creations. 

Best Small Grow Room Setup and Design

An efficient grow room design and grow setup will save money in the long-term. 

  1. Find your space and design your configuration.
  2. Clean the space and acquire proper gardening tools
  3. Ensure air circulation.
  4. Identify access to a close water source.
  5. Ensure smooth flooring.
  6. Install proper lighting and electrical ballasts
  7. Install the growing system (soil, hydroponics, etc.) to accommodate specific marijuana plants.

Cannabis Grow Room Design FAQs

How Do You Set Up a Grow room with LED Lights?

First, design your grow room to accommodate the number of cannabis plants you want to grow. Make sure you have adequate ventilation and plumbing systems to properly grow your plants. Second, purchase LED lights, reflective surfaces, and other grow equipment. Be careful to place your lights far enough from the plants. Finally, place your plants and growing system (soil, hydroponics, etc.) in the grow space, but be sure to leave some room between plants so you can walk through, make observations, and perform any necessary maintenance. 

How Much AC Do I Need for My Grow Room?

HPS lights are much hotter than LED’s, so air conditioning is a greater concern when using HPS lighting. A general rule is that for every 1 watt of HPS light, the end-user will need 3 BTU’s of cooling power. Therefore, a grower utilizing four 1,000 watt HPS lights will need a minimum of 12,000 BTU’s of cooling. You’ll likely need AC as a hot, humid grow room is not ideal. 

Should I Insulate My Grow Room?

You should insulate your grow room. Updating or adding insulation may seem expensive at first, but it will lower your energy expenses overall and ultimately increase revenue. Your marijuana plants react to changing weather conditions. When temperatures drop, the plants will reduce growth which will reduce your flower yield. Installing insulation is a great strategy to combat such problems. 

How Do You Automate a Grow Room?

There are various methods and types of equipment that can be used to automate a grow room. Climate control meters can control the temperature and humidity in your grow room, while automated timers can perform cultivating tasks for you by controlling fans, lights, and other necessary equipment. You could also use automated feeding and irrigation systems, but this can be difficult due to the individual needs of your marijuana plants in varying stages of growth. 

How Do I Keep My Grow Room Cool?

There are several ways in which you can keep your grow room cool. Installing air conditioning and intermittent fans are the most common. You can also adjust your lighting so the bulbs are farther away from your cannabis plants. Finally, you can monitor and control humidity with a dehumidifier. 

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