As an indoor grower, your job is to create the optimal environment for cannabis growth. However, making this environment comes with many elements to account for and optimize, the most critical being lighting. Below, we’ll discuss the risks of insufficient or unreliable lighting, the most important factors that contribute to lighting quality, and the top five lighting challenges indoor cannabis growers like you face.
The Risk of Poor or Unreliable Lighting
Without proper and consistent lighting, your yields will be lower, your product will be less potent, and worst of all, your plants may cease to grow. In addition, poor lighting will leave you with a more inferior product, and it will be challenging to rise above your competition. Thus, proper lighting is key to your business’s success.
Factors that Contribute to Lighting Quality
There are many factors you need to get right to consistently produce optimal lighting for your plants and profits your business. Below are a couple of the most important factors you need to ensure you get right.
Light intensity is the amount of light your fixtures produce and is measured in terms of lumens per square meter – also known as lux. Whether your plants are in the vegetation (veg) or flowering stage, they will need a specific light intensity level to facilitate proper growth. If you increase or decrease the intensity too rapidly or never reach a high enough intensity, your plants may never reach their full potential for potency.
Although light appears white to the human eye, it is made up of many different colors. You can see this in action in a rainbow, where light refracts into its individual parts. A rainbow shows you the full spectrum of colors hiding in the lights we see every day. These hidden colors, and the ratios between them, have a considerable impact on how your cannabis plants grow.
The Top 5 Lighting Challenges
Now that you understand the main factors that impact lighting, here are the top five challenges indoor cannabis growers like you have reported struggling with when lighting their facilities.
1 Managing Heat Loads
Excessive heat exposure can cause stress for your plants, which can then lead to below-target yields. If your plants start to show signs of heat stress, consider the positioning of your lighting and the types of lighting you’re using. For example, your plants may be experiencing heat stress because they are too close to the lights. In this case, the fix is as simple as moving the lights further and further away until the signs of heat stress subside. The types of lights you’re using may also play a factor. For example, LED sources put off much less heat than HID sources and are cheaper to run. If moving your lights does not work, switching up your technology may be your next best move.
2 Managing Energy Costs
Energy consumption for indoor grow operations like yours is around 10 times that of a typical office building, meaning energy efficiency is paramount to ensuring your business remains profitable. LEDs have been proven to use half the energy that standard practices require in veg rooms. Additionally, double-ended HPS fixtures can save 20-25% compared to traditional HPS fixtures when used in flower rooms. Some growers are even experimenting with hybrid LED/HPS lighting for even more energy savings. Lighting experts like GCE can help your business determine what lights you need in every room to maximize savings and profits.
3 Choosing the Right Lighting for the Growth Stage
The two stages where it is essential to monitor and control light cycles are veg and flowering.
During the vegetative stage, the stems and leaves of your plants grow larger and taller. This stage is where you will have to control the shape and size of your plant, which is why the light cycle is so important. In this stage, your plants can be manipulated to yield better growth with more lighting. Keep them under a minimum of 18 hours of growing light during this time.
To leave the veg stage and enter the flowering stage, your plants will need a minimum of 12 hours of darkness each day. Start this once your plants have reached the desired size. Typically, this takes four to eight weeks under an 18 hour a day lighting regimen.
4 Adjusting Temperature Based on Lighting
If you use LEDs, you may need to supply additional heat to your plants because when a plant is exposed to red light, which LEDs produce, the plant perceives it as heat. The plant then needs the heat it’s expecting from the red light to grow. However, do not add additional heat until you see signs that the plant is at a heat deficit.
However, if you’re using HPS lights, they cause the air temperature to rise and relative humidity to drop. In this case, you may need to add air conditioning to prevent your plants from overheating or drying out.
5 Ensuring Consistent Lighting Across Crops
The placement of your light fixtures makes all the difference in ensuring each of your plants receives an equal amount of light. When positioning, think of each of your lights like a showerhead that sprays water (light) onto your plants. Place your showerhead such that each plant receives the same amount of light. You will also want to ensure that amount is optimal for growth. Of course, your design will never be perfect, but a lighting design expert can help you get as close to perfection as possible.
Ready to optimize the lighting in your grow house and maximize profits?
Speak to one of the grow house lighting experts on the GCE National Team today.