Supplemental Lighting Benefits For Growing Cannabis In The Greenhouse

Supplemental Lighting Benefits For Growing Cannabis In The Greenhouse

Cannabis marijuanaGreenhouse growing, because it relies in part on the sun, can result in lower energy bills compared to indoor growing. Thus, it is becoming a popular alternative to traditional indoor growth facilities for cannabis production.

When the industry first got the green light to cultivate medical marijuana commercially, two types of High Intensity Discharge (HID) lamps were used — high pressure sodium (HPS) and pulse start metal halide (PSMH) — mainly because these were what was readily available. Most growers are still using these lamps, but they are becoming aware of the fact that an even more energy and cost-efficient alternative is available in the form of LED (light emitting diode) lighting.

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Why Use Supplemental Lighting In A Greenhouse?

Greenhouse growing is highly automated, and in greenhouses growers are able to maintain precise control over the environment (e.g., temperature, humidity, air quality, lighting, etc.). With the cannabis plant on a 12-hour photosynthesis cycle, it is critical in certain seasons and geographical locations to make up for lost daylight hours and light intensity. The sun might shine brightly in Washington state 14 hours a day in the summer, but the rest of the year supplemental lighting can be a necessity.

In addition to seasonal and geographical lighting changes, weather and particles in the atmosphere can alter the quality and quantity of light. With concerns over changes in global climate patterns and increased energy grid usage, managing greenhouse lighting systems in a responsible manner is more critical than ever before. Current indoor cannabis production estimated at 1 percent of the U.S.’s total electricity consumption per year — what roughly 2 million average households generate. With the industry expected to grow exponentially, the carbon footprint must be taken into consideration.

Cost-Saving Benefits Of LED Grow Lights

“LED costs too much upfront,” is a fear often expressed by growers.

But the upfront cost of purchasing LED grow light systems is more than worth it.

Replacing dials and filaments with a computerized interface and software, and longer lasting, customizable LED lamps translates into optimized plant growth and plant quality. LED systems can provide specialized light recipes aimed specifically at the cannabis plant’s most beneficial light range, the blue/red/far-red spectrum (400 to 735 nm). Green light is often overlooked (some say not needed at all) in supplemental lighting, but it has proven important for photosynthetic activity and overall plant health.

Some additional benefits of LED grow lights to reduce long term labor and production costs are:
• LED lights consume 50 to 60 percent less energy than HID lights
• Because there is no filament to burn, LED lights last longer (50,000+ hours, compared to the 12,000 to 13,000 hour lifecycle of most HID lamps)
• LED lights produce less heat, reducing HVAC costs and the risk of fire
• Unlike HID lamps, LED lights do not require an external ballast, further reducing power consumption
• LED lights are smaller and more robust than HID lights. They are faster to emit light requiring no warm-up time, and the light output can be concentrated onto the plants with proper optic lenses

The industry has grown at a much faster rate than expected, leaving some technologies struggling to catch up.

As medical marijuana cultivation increases and environmental stewardship is a larger focus, legislation will very likely be put into place regarding the use of energy-gobbling lighting systems. Growers using LED grow lights are already receiving subsidies and rebates.

Originally published on Heliospectra company blog. Heliospectra AB is a company that provides LED lighting solutions for plant science and horticulture applications. You can reach them at [email protected]

Read the full article “The Benefits of Supplemental Lighting in Greenhouse Cannabis Cultivation” here.