Saving Time & Money by Getting the Best Marijuana Grow Equipment
The cannabis cultivation industry has embraced certain products that are standard supplies and equipment for indoor grow operations, and even some particular brand names have won over most growers for various reasons. For example, all growers with open ventilation systems use carbon exhaust filters to control odors. Most of those filters are now obtained from the brand Phresh, but only recently did Phresh begin to dominate the market when the Canadian company CAN Filter was previously known as the industry standard. This is due to the combination of a competitive price and the longer lasting carbon filler that Phresh has, which saves money over time due to its reduced replacement rate.
All growers have TDS and pH meters, but only some brands last a long time, give accurate readings and don’t need frequent calibration. Bluelab is a great brand of pH and TDS measuring equipment. The higher buy-in price easily pays for itself with ease of maintenance and long operating life. I have a particular appreciation for the Bluelab Guardian.
Another big example of the importance of good equipment planning is with regard to lighting. Indoor plant lighting is a very rapidly advancing technology. Newer lights use less energy and are more tailored towards the ideal light spectrums for plants (sorry, I can't say "spectra" with a straight face). High end LEDs might not be worth the investment if your marijuana cultivation operation is in a region with electrical rates below $.10 kWh. Calculations must be done in advance to compare electrical draw and PAR output with investment cost and projected yield per watt.
Gavita Pros with 4100k bulbs are currently the industry standard with regard to indoor cultivation because of the yield and extended footprint coverage that double-ended (DE) HPS bulbs have, but this advantage is offset by extra cooling costs, the hazards associated with having a bulb surface temperature nearing 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, and the fact that you can't use them for multi-tier vertical cannabis growing. The only times I recommend Gavitas is when 1) they are already purchased 2) electricity is super cheap and 3) the region of the facility has cold winters where the heat from the lighting is an asset and 4) when the ceiling height is >14ft so that a top level of Gavitas can be paired with a lower level of LEDs in a two-tier vertical canopy setup.
Watt for watt, Ceramic Metal Halides (aka LECs) are up-and-coming for "single point" bulbs (where you have one bright spot over a section of the canopy with dimmer areas around the edges). Check them out here. Single point lighting technologies work ok if they are more than 3ft above the canopy and hung close enough together for overlapping footprints, which gives the plants more even light intensity across the entire canopy. The higher they are placed, the more even the canopy light will be, but higher placement also wastes electricity since light becomes dimmer as it gets farther away from the plants.
Also worth watching for new cannabis cultivation projects are the full-spectrum LED fixtures which are much nicer looking to the human eye and buy-in prices are getting more reasonable as well. Most marijuana industry pros agree that the future of indoor lighting is in favor of LEDs. The fact that they emit a light profile that is shaped like a spread out “panel” of diodes, rather than a high-intensity single-point light source, supports better plant growth simply due to the reduced amount of shading that the canopy and lower parts of the cannabis plants experience.
Check out the educational YouTube videos at the bottom of this page for some lighting comparisons. I'm a big fan of the Bios Icarus and Fluence SpyrdX Plus lights. One thing I really like about them is the fact that you can use DC extension cables to separate the light bars or panels from the chassis, giving you an extra vertical space and removing some heat from the canopy area.
One of the major benefit of the SpydrX design is that you can turn one flowering light into 2 veg lights by taking the 8 light bars that come with the fixture and separating them into two sets of 4 bars, give you about 340 watts per veg table, which is plenty when you are using LED light. This saves quite a bit of money on the buy-in cost for LED veg lights.
I could go on for days about the pros and cons of various equipment and supplies, but for the sake of consulting, suffice it to say that having an expert tell you which equipment is the smartest to purchase and why can save you loads of time and money, rather than having to try out products by making good guesses, only to become aware of various shortcomings weeks or months later.
Contact Jennifer Martin for support in choosing lighting, racks, media, nutrients, and all of the appropriate equipment for a commercial cannabis cultivation facility.