Using LED Lighting Tech in Commercial Grows
Cannabis Now - By. Dave Carpenter - 08/21/16
Indoor-grown marijuana is an energy-hungry leviathan. A national study released by the U.S. Department of Energy reports that a full one percent of the U.S. electric grid is now dedicated to growing cannabis. Equivalent to the energy output of 1.7 million American homes (and counting) the emerging industry is putting a significant strain on the national power grid and is the country’s most energy-intensive crop at a cost of nearly $6 billion annually.
For decades, the traditional indoor grow light of choice has been high-intensity discharge (HID) lamps. The same sodium lamps that illuminate a majority of world’s city streets have for years been lighting grow rooms from San Diego to Syracuse. Meant to mimic the intense rays of the sun, flowering rooms equipped with HIDs — typically outfitted with multiple lamps burning for 12 hours at a time — require continuous air conditioning and de-humidification. And all that usage translates to excessive power waste. LED lighting, on the other hand, consumes less power and emits far less heat, which means greater return to the grower’s bottom line.
Because common cultivator wisdom follows the philosophy of ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ there’s a pervasive reticence to switch to new tech and invite the high cost of re-outfitting a grow room. But with the ever-expanding evidence around global warming, and subsequent soaring cost of electricity, LEDs are in the limelight as a more sustainable approach to indoor cultivation.
Head grower Kevin Biernacki at The Grove Nevada’s 50,000-sqft. cultivation facility was interested in LED and looking for low-heat, cost-saving lights during the manufacture of their vertical-grow site in Las Vegas. “We really needed a multi-tiered system that wouldn’t cook the roots above,” he says.
Stacking grow racks in tiers means the Grove can double or triple their square footage — and vastly increase profits at the same time. Biernacki says he went through a host of LED companies, putting each to the test with side-by-side independent lamp tests. He explains why, after an exhaustive search, they ended up purchasing 650 LED grow lights from the company Heliospectra.
“It really came down to grams per watt,” he says. “Also, we liked that Heliospectra [LED] lights allow you to customize light recipes, which other people simply don’t have.”
The Grove is now able to design light combinations that mimic sunrise, mid-day and sunset, combined with a “far red push” during the last few weeks of flowering. “The last three weeks of harvest we are able to push the light spectrum a little differently,” says Biernacki. “At the very end, we are getting that far red and we are able to speed up the product to harvest.”
Affecting harvest times by as much as one full week shaved from a 10-week flowering period, the dollars saved speak for themselves. Biernacki says it was also important to the Grove to consult other commercial cultivators who use Heliospectra’s LED lights, like Pink House in Colorado, and found that the growers were “continually expanding their number of Heliospectra lights. We obviously looked at that as very positive,” he says.
“It was a little daunting at first to learn how to manipulate lighting,” says Biernacki, “but we soon learned that with the click of a button we could change the light recipes.” He adds that the Grove’s first harvest with LEDs yielded a strain with a whopping 10 percent myrcene cannabinoid level and another boasting a powerhouse 31.4 percent of THC.
The unprecedented level of control over grow rooms that LED lights give cultivators is a giant leap forward for cannabis tech. Rapid return on investment, cutting down on wasteful energy bills and increased control over cannabinoid levels could very well change the entire cannabis growing paradigm as we know it.
Would you switch from HID to LED lights in your grow room?
Is Your Neighbor Growing Marijuana?
A detective offers tips for figuring out whether a neighbor may harbor an indoor pot-growing operation in a house or apartment. Hint: It's the smell, not whether he or she is running out at all hours to buy junk food to satisfy the alleged "munchies" people.
This is the checklist the cops want your neighbors to use. Please read the list and make sure your grow isn't doing any of the blatantly dumb things this list suggests. Grow smart. - UA
A Patch site in Stow, Vt., interviewed a local detective who advises folks to use a combination of Yankee common sense and old-fashioned sleuthing to figure out whether a neighbor who acts suspicious has an illegal indoor, home-based pot-growing operation.
Det. Tom Gottas, of the police department's narcotics division, said the biggest hint to knowing if your neighbor is growing marijuana is the odor. But here are the other Top 10 Signs of Marijuana Growing Operations:
1.) Fans, scrubbers, and air fresheners running to mask the "intense robust organic" smell of marijuana.
2.) Heavy traffic in the area of the house by foot, car and bike.
3.) Groups of people staying short periods of time.
4.) People coming and going at all hours. The detective said most of the mentioned activity happens at night.
5.) Growing marijuana takes lots of power, so watch for extra power cords and generators.
6.) Look for large amounts of trash, including vegetative trash in bags.
7.) Large amounts of vegetative aids such as fertilizer and planters without seeing the landscape outside of the home to go with it.
8.) Covered exterior vents like roof gables and no open windows to keep the marijuana smell contained
9.) Power and lights are used but you never see anyone collect the mail or see a person in the yard.
10.) Specifically in Stow, Gottas said he and his crew have seen a lot of "windows covered with reflective coverings, fans constantly running exhaust air from what should be a bedroom window, basement windows covered with black plastic, subjects carrying potting soil and fertilizer into the house and garden hoses running into the house."
"If it looks suspicious and is not what normal people do, there’s probably something not right about it. And the biggest hint or clue of all is the odor," he said. "A large scale marijuana grow has a distinctive, pungent odor that’s hard to describe, but very noticeable. Sometimes they manage to mask the odor pretty well, but typically at some spot around the house there is a noticeable smell."
Living in an apartment doesn't necessarily mean someone isn't growing pot either.
"Here in Stow, we have also seen small grows in closets in apartments. They are obviously not as large and as sophisticated, but they still grow some pretty nice plants," Gottas said. "We have also seen plants growing in gardens in backyards where they can fit in nicely with corn. Some have even had potted plants on their decks figuring the neighbors won’t or don’t know what marijuana plants look like and think nobody would grow it right out in the open."
She Didn't Know They Were Marijuana Seeds
Alberta Kelley Says They Came From Stranger In Connellsville
CONNELLSVILLE, Pa. -- Alberta Kelley tried to tell police that she was just out for a walk when a bearded stranger wearing a toboggan hat gave her some seeds, and she had no idea that they would grow marijuana plants.The 67-year-old Connellsville grandmother was charged anyway with possession and manufacture of a controlled substance, but a Fayette County jury found her not guilty this week."He said they was flower seeds. Some guy just gave them to me, and I just planted them," Kelley told Channel 4 Action News reporter Ashlie Hardway. "Around here, I don't know any of the neighbors."Kelley told Hardway that when she got home with the seeds that the man had given her, she tossed them in her garden on South Cottage Avenue and didn't think anything of it -- until the police showed up months later."I was waiting to see what kind of flowers they grew, because flowers are pretty. We grow some in the front and some over there," Kelley said. "I never saw marijuana plants grow in my entire life, and I never been around marijuana, so I wouldn't know the difference. To me, weeds are weeds."Police Chief James Capitos said the charges were filed in January 2011, after they got an anonymous tip and saw seven 4-foot-tall plants of suspected marijuana growing near the tomatoes in Kelley's back yard."They had been very, very well-cultivated. They weren't small," Capitos said. "They weren't huge like cornstalks, but they were fairly nice marijuana plants."The plants were sent to a state police crime lab and positively identified as marijuana, according to the complaint."I said I took them and threw them like that and let them grow their selves. I didn't know what they were. I still don't know what they were," Kelley said."In a situation like that, we don't have much of a choice but to file the charges," Capitos said. "You don't decide whether or not you're going to charge somebody based on their age or what they look like. You're going to file based on whether or not you have probable cause to make the arrest."Kelley, who has no criminal record, said she's glad the case is over. The identity of the man who gave her the seeds remains unknown."I learned not to trust anybody ever again," she said.