When creating a cultivation center, selecting the right equipment from the start is crucial to success. This means talking to engineers who have sized climate control systems for cannabis, building the right size garden for your budget and knowing which equipment is often undervalued within a garden.
Sizing for Cannabis
Sizing systems for cannabis cultivation can be very different from sizing them for other environments due to the high heat load and water content associated with a garden. Proper climate control systems for indoor gardens are often compared to those needed for data centers, but in reality, the amount of moisture in the air in a garden makes it more similar to cooling a data center that is underwater. As you can probably imagine, this distinction makes a big difference.
When selecting climate control equipment, talk to someone who knows more than you do. This means talking to engineers who specialize in cannabis cultivation equipment sizing. While it is possible for someone with no experience to size a system correctly, more often than not, the first design someone does will be undersized. Dehumidification load alone needs to be calculated at least 5 gallons per light per day; however, it is often calculated at only 3 gallons per light per day by beginners.
Building the right sized garden
When planning a new cannabis business, it can be tempting to aim for the largest allowable square footage and plant count. However, the correct way to determine how large your operation will be is to determine the budget, determine what equipment can be bought with that money and then decide what size garden can be built within that budget.
At this point, it is important to point out that “determining what equipment can be bought” does not mean looking at the cheapest equipment and making decisions based upon that information. Instead, your business goals and monthly expenses should be considered. Energy efficient equipment is crucial to the ultimate bottom line of your business and should be considered from the start. By spending a little more money up-front to purchase good equipment, you’ll be able to save yourself time and money down the line, leading to more profits.
If you are concerned with not building a large grow to begin with, think about this: the better your start-up operation runs and the less it costs each month to keep the lights on, the more quickly you will be able to turn a profit and gain recognition for your outstanding product. Once that happens, it will be easy to find financing to expand your cultivation facility. So, start small and create the best possible grow you can with the money you have, then expand later to create the size garden you originally dreamed of.
The Most Overlooked Aspect
One of the most overlooked pieces of equipment in a garden is the dehumidifier. Dehumidification load is higher than the cooling load in a grow room due to the amount of water present. In fact, cooling is actually a byproduct of dehumidification, so if you have enough dehumidification, there will be enough cooling as well. An undersized dehumidifier can lead to moldy buds and other problems, so make sure to consider dehumidification when designing a grow.
The Most Undervalued Piece of Equipment
CO2 is one of the most undervalued aspects of an indoor garden. Plants need CO2 to grow and without sufficient levels, their growth will be stalled. In sealed grow rooms, it is critical to add CO2 in order to keep a constant supply in the room for plants to use. (Don’t worry, this won’t affect human occupation of the room as plants “inhale” CO2 and “exhale” oxygen, meaning there will be plenty of oxygen in a room full of plants.) CO2 supplementation is one of the cheapest ways to boost production and increase plant yield.
Every piece of equipment that goes into a cultivation facility affects the bottom line of the garden. Here are some quick and dirty tips to help you choose the ideal equipment.
- Never use single-ended bulbs, they are the least efficient at turning power into useable light. Instead, opt for Double-ended bulbs, Ceramic metal halide or LEDs.
- Use reflectors designed for the application. Some reflectors are designed for indoor gardens and others are designed for greenhouses. Know which application your reflector is for and choose one designed for your operation.
- Avoid air-cooled reflectors - they get dirty easily, make it difficult to contain smells and bring in air from the outside.
- Buy cooling products designed for process cooling, not comfort cooling. Comfort cooling is designed to keep humans comfortable, process cooling is designed to handle and remove large amounts of heat. Using the proper type of equipment can make your facility more efficient.
- Select energy efficient equipment. Water-cooled equipment is more efficient than traditional air conditioning. This is due to the high heat retention of water versus air. Cooling is a huge monthly expense, so do yourself a favor and pick a system that saves you money every month
- Choose redundancy. Cooling is a critical aspect of a functioning grow room, so it is important that cooling be available when needed. Choosing a system that allows for redundancy ensures your garden will always have cooling.
- Grow Room
- Avoid soil. Soil is a great way to introduce unwanted pests and pathogens into the grow. Instead, opt for hydroponics or coco or peat moss based soil.
- Grow tables should create a flat even canopy through trellising. A lot of light is lost in a garden from light meant for plants that hits the floor instead. Proper tables can help you create an even growing plane that allows plants to catch all the light.
- Dry Room
- Size for wet product. It is all too easy to lose a crop during the drying stage due to an undersized dehumidifier in the dry room. When sizing equipment for the Dry Room, be sure to consider the maximum load when the room is full of wet product.
- Choose redundancy. While this point itself may seem redundant, it is important to have a backup system for all critical pieces of equipment. Avoid crop loss or damage by having a redundant dehumidifier system for your Dry Room.
As you plan your new cultivation facility, remember these three things and you will be okay. (1) Let professionals size your equipment. (2) Build the right size garden for your budget. (3) Take care when selecting equipment and don’t overlook critical pieces.