Indoor grow rooms give you total control over your crop all year long. But all that control takes a lot of power, and electrical costs are one of the largest expenses for cultivators.
Below you’ll find some of the basics of electricity in your grow space and learn ways you can maximize the efficiency of your operation.
Cannabis Energy Consumption
As legalization expands across the country, more states are realizing the amount of energy used by the cannabis production industry for lighting, moisture control, and air conditioning.
A report from 2018 found that the legal cannabis industry annually consumed the same amount of energy that could’ve powered 92,500 homes. For a more specific example, Denver officials calculated that the industry used 4% of the city’s total power in 2018, up from 1.5% in 2012.
To secure local power grids and to offset the carbon impact, some regions are issuing growth permits with certain requirements that incentivize efficiency. For instance, Illinois caps the amount of power allowed per square foot of grow space and mandates efficiency standards.
Costs For Growers
Energy costs are the second largest expense for growers (behind labor). How does that translate to dollars spent?
The annual cost of growing varies by region, according to local energy costs and climate. The size and layout of your grow operation will also impact costs.
For an accurate estimate of your energy situation, you can use the formula below to figure annual costs for each piece of equipment in your grow operation. You will likely need to do calculations for lighting, dehumidification, and A/C equipment for a full picture of costs.
[Cost of Electricity in kWh] x [Number of Operational Hours/year] x [Wattage of Equipment / 1000] = Total Cost for that piece of equipment
Increasing Efficiency of Your Grow Room Electricity
The price tag on energy can be intimidating, but there are some smart ways to cut down on your costs and your carbon footprint.
Analyze your energy usage – Use a smart meter to get an exact calculation of the energy used by each of your systems. Some power companies will offer a free audit and tips on reducing energy consumption. This gives you a starting point for finding areas of improvement and measuring the results.
Choose the right equipment – Each space has different requirements for dialing in the perfect indoor environment. Do your research and get expert opinions on finding the right lights, dehumidifiers, and fans for your grow.
Use equipment monitors – In addition to analyzing overall energy usage, you can make your operation more efficient by using equipment with easy and accurate controls and remote monitoring capabilities.
Control Vapor Pressure Deficit (VPD) – This is essentially a measurement of the air’s ability to absorb moisture. Finding and maintaining the right VPD for the health of your plants allows you to maximize yields while using energy most efficiently.
Variable settings on equipment – Some equipment is either on or off, which limits your fine-tuned control over your operation. You can reduce your amp draw and overall power usage by using equipment with variable speeds and settings.
50-amp vs. 30-amp
When building out a commercial grow operation or expanding an existing one, you need environmental controls that can keep up with the demands of your crop.
With some industrial-sized equipment, that could require updating your electrical circuits, which can be costly. Additionally, related to the local energy ordinances mentioned above, some growers might live in areas with restrictions on how many amps of service they can access.
Most structures have access to 30-amp breakers, which are typically less expensive to install than the 50-amp breakers that are often required by large industrial units.
Anden addressed this problem with the A710 Grow-Optimized Dehumidifier with VLGR Technology. It uses Variable-Speed, Low Grain Refrigerant Technology, allowing it to safely operate on a 30-amp breaker, removing 710 pints of moisture per day at 80°F/60% RH. Competitive options top out at 500 pints before requiring a 50-amp breaker, which could dramatically increase installation costs.
This unit modulates the speed of dehumidification based on the precise load conditions of your grow environment, allowing for robust VPD performance across all grow conditions and efficient use of energy throughout the growth cycle.
Planning Your Power
For questions on electricity in your grow operation, talk with an electrician. If you have a more complex situation, try to find an electrical engineer with experience in building out grow rooms.