Marijuana is one of the most valuable crops in the United States. The legal cannabis market grossed almost $9 billion in 2017. Analysts estimate that this industry will be worth as much as $21 billion in 2021. Like all other high-growth industries, the legal cannabis industry also presents opportunities for other businesses outside of the core cannabis growers and sellers. To benefit the industry and businesses outside the industry, grow rooms need to continue to thrive, and therefore, require specialized cannabis HVAC systems that keep this cash crop healthy and fresh, and sustainable.
State of Legal Marijuana in the United States
Currently, nine states in the United States allow for the sale and recreational use of marijuana:
Other states, including New Jersey, are likely to also begin allowing recreational marijuana sales in the next year. In addition to these nine states, 30 states have some form of legal medical marijuana program.
As a result of legalization, marijuana is in huge demand. Growers have been scrambling to keep up with the momentum and are faced with many variables themselves to succeed in the business. They not only must keep an adequate supply of premium cannabis, but the supply must also comply with state regulations to meet the new demand. Without a well-designed grow room facility these variables won’t be met and the business will inevitably fail.
Defining Grow Rooms
Most of the legal cannabis product comes from grow rooms. They are designed to produce high yields of specific strains of marijuana and are customized to meet the needs of those strains. Some are completely sealed greenhouses. Others have few windows and only use special artificial lights to stimulate plant growth.
Why use a grow room? It’s easier to control the potency and strain of the marijuana in a carefully designed grow room than it is in an open field. The product is also safer from insects, disease, errant crop dusters, and theft.
The Need for a Specialized HVAC System
There a few considerations when designing the ideal HVAC system for grow rooms. Here’s why:
- Temperature and Humidity – Grow rooms must be set with specific temperature and humidity ranges. These ranges may vary depending on the crop. But, too little or too much humidity will spoil the crop.
- Energy Consumption – Grow rooms are also extremely energy intensive. In addition to needing powerful HVAC systems to keep temperature and humidity within range, they also require an incredible amount energy for specialized lighting. The lights are often on 24-hours a day.
- Odor Management – With a high concentration of marijuana plants, grow rooms are notorious for producing an overwhelming aroma within a small space.
The ideal HVAC system must help solve, if not mitigate, the problems that arise from operating a grow room.
Why Traditional HVAC Systems Fall Short
Traditional HVAC systems are often not the best choice for grow rooms. One of the issues with these HVAC systems is that they are so energy intensive. They significantly increase the overall energy costs of the operation.
These traditional HVAC systems also create dry environments that are not optimal for the cannabis plants and lack the flexibility to properly control air flow. Newer HVAC systems are able to balance humidity levels and distribute the appropriate cooling when needed.
Hybrid and Evaporative Cooling Systems in Grow Rooms
The best alternative to traditional HVAC units for grow rooms are hybrid systems or Indirect-Direct Evaporative Cooling (IDEC) systems. These systems use up to 80% less energy. They also give growers much more flexibility to control air flow and humidity levels.
These systems also do not require as much maintenance or create environmental issues compared to traditional units because they have no GWP, CFCs, or HFCs. These units are better for the environment and better for business.
As the legal cannabis industry continues to grow, there will be increased demand for skilled HVAC technicians and designers who understand grow rooms, HVAC needs, and know the best solution to give the budding crops the chance to thrive.