The Nov. 8, 2016 general election brought with it a number of ballot initiatives throughout the country dealing with the use of recreational and medical cannabis. While several measures had been narrowly struck down by voters four years prior, this one was different.
California, for example, made recreational use legal while conservative Arkansas passed a measure for medical use. Since that time, companies have been trying to spread the word on the use of LED lighting for a more energy efficient way to grow cannabis.
In reality, the efficiency of LED lights are not strictly reserved for marijuana. They are favored by many greenhouses for their high-energy, low-heat output. But the marijuana industry in particular is now eyeing the lamp as something revolutionary to what is, for many states, a lucrative and burgeoning industry.
There are several reasons aspiring cannabis farmers might wish to consider the use of LED lights.
First of all, they really are cheaper.
One cannabis farmer, who lives in a desert environment, said that switching over from the longstanding HPS lights resulted in a $100 per month reduction in his electric bill, and that was producing a relatively small yield.
For the marijuana microbusiness, that is a savings of at least $1,200 per year, and it could be more when one factors in standard A/C use for hotter months. The larger yields that a farmer aims to produce, the more exponential those savings could turn out to be.
Secondly, they are cooler.
Cooler lighting is a benefit in a few different ways. For starters, it becomes much easier to go mobile — not in the smartphone sense, but in the positioning of light. Where one positions lighting in relation to the plant can have a large impact on the yield, and LED lights from popular lines like VisparSpectra, found at this link, or the Platinum LED series are cool to the touch regardless of which portion of the unit one is holding.
This mobility gives the grower a great deal of flexibility in how he chooses to arrange the environment.
Thirdly, LED lights require less maintenance and replacement.
One of the drawbacks that are frequently mentioned in regards to LED lighting for any type of growing environment is that they have a higher upfront cost than traditional HPS or MH lighting. This is undeniable. But what critics fail to confront when mentioning this drawback is that, over time, LED lights save a grower a lot of money.
Savings come not only in the form of lower electricity bills, but also through lower replacement frequency and less upkeep. “Upkeep” here refers to the need to constantly monitor temperatures for the optimum growing environment. In the case of cannabis, you want to keep things at around 85 degrees and 40 percent humidity.
LED lights are of great assistance in being able to accomplish this without having to jump through the extra cooling hoops that HPS requires. In all, LED lights use anywhere from 60 to 90 percent less energy than HPS.
Fourthly, THC levels.
There has also been some mention among HPS advocates that their LED adversaries do not perform as well on THC levels resulting in a lesser quality product. This is usually born out of the myth that the higher levels of heat intensity lead to superior production.
However, LED lights are all about efficiency, and if one checks the wattage output on many of the most popular brands, it’s easy to see this isn’t a problem. LEDs can range anywhere from 300 watts to 1,000 and beyond. They are simply better able to disperse heat issues through the integrity and materials of the design itself.
In short, there is zero evidence that THC levels suffer through an appropriately handled LED setup.
Finally, LED is better for the environment.
LED lights have been the preferred answer for many utility companies the last few years. The cannabis industry created an unexpected but inevitable demand on energy grids due to the nature of farming and the fact that changing laws opened up the floodgates to grow, thus taxing an infrastructure that wasn’t quite ready for the surge.
A switch to LED from HPS lighting is not just good for the grower on a personal level. It’s good for the energy resources of his home and his community. By going to a more energy efficient setup, growers can provide immediate relief on their utility infrastructures and keep costs down for everyone.
Again, plant farmers do not need to grow cannabis to benefit from LED lighting, but it is worth talking about because the industry is growing up overnight and will make quite an impact on energy consumption. If one is in one of the many states that now permit cannabis growth either recreationally or for medical purposes, LED is a light choice well worth considering.