Our Most Complicated Job Yet! A Marijuana HVAC Installation
by The Cooling Company, on Apr 17, 2017 8:58:41 AM
With The Cooling Company, you're dealing with a company that has the integrity and experience to tackle any kind of HVAC job. In fact, our newest project was one of the most complicated we've ever had to do: a marijuana HVAC installation. And we pulled it off! a testament to the fact that we can handle practically any time of commercial HVAC installation or project.
Call Us for Marijuana HVAC Installations or Commercial HVAC Services
Here's why we're so proud of our work at the Pepper St cannabis facility:
Building a Marijuana Grow Facility Has Precise Considerations
Agriculture is a complicated business. It’s not easy to correctly grow any type of crop. In fact, according to researchers, about $10 billion worth of crops per year are lost due to drought and heat waves. What about the new marijuana industry?
In October 2016, about 23,375 patients were registered for Nevada’s medical marijuana program, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. There’s just one problem: growing cannabis can be tricky.
While most agriculture products are grown outside, marijuana is most often grown indoors to yield a greater harvest. However, indoor growing isn’t without special needs and challenges. It requires expertise, experience, and the right equipment. And a major part of that equipment is an HVAC system.
Pictured Above: Rooftop Lennox Units
Fun Fact: A building of this size for regular commercial use would need approximately 2 AC units. The Pepper Facility, because of the unique concerns of growing cannabis, requires 14 units!
The Challenges of Grow Room HVAC Design
Grow facilities for marijuana plants are relatively unique. They’re nothing like the dark and damp basements most often shown on TV. Most grows are hydroponic facilities that have specific HVAC needs focused on cooling and dehumidification.
So, what are some of the challenges to growing marijuana that have to be combatted by an HVAC system?
- Temperature: According to The Weed Blog, marijuana grown indoors functions better at moderate temperatures between 70 and 75 degrees (F) during the light period and no cooler than 60 degrees (F) during the dark period. If the temperature in a grow room reaches 80 degrees (F), the plant won’t flower, and the grower could lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- Humidity: Typically, humidity should be between 50% and 60%, but it varies based on the plant’s growth phase as well as watering. After watering, the humidity could rise as high as 75%, and an HVAC must be employed to remove the humidity quickly. If humidity is left unchecked, it could cause mold growth and render the crop unsalable.
Pictured above: Digital thermostat - able to be monitored and controlled remotely!
- Lighting: The lights required to grow marijuana can release some serious heat. For example, at the Pepper Facility—the grow based in Las Vegas we installed for—they use high-pressure sodium lights. These lights put out over 4,800 BTUs (British thermal units) of heat each. In layman’s terms, that’s hot enough to boil a gallon of water in 3 minutes. So, let’s say you have a 1,000 square foot room filled with 25 lights; you’d need a 14-ton AC unit to keep the room cool.
- Airflow: Airflow is vital to a healthy plant canopy; it also prevents hot or cold spots and keeps molds and mildews from seeding. An HVAC system should provide enough airflow to keep the plants moving and vibrating, which creates stronger stalks and heartier vegetation. In fact, airflow is so important that we installed special vents and ducts at the Pepper Facility to better facilitate a “natural breeze.”
Pictured above: Special ducts - the lines of holes help distribute cool air evenly throughout the room
- Ventilation: The HVAC system should be completely sealed with a hefty filtration system so there’s no smell outside. A high-quality air filter also helps you capture large particles like dust and sediment, keeping them off the canopy to improve photosynthesis and reduce mold spores in the air.
- Smart Technology: More so than in any other industry, a working HVAC is vital to a grower’s success. Cannabis is so finicky when it comes to temperatures, especially over 80 degrees (F) that it’s necessary to have smart technology to control all of your climate systems no matter where you might be. For example, the Pepper Facility can control all of their thermostats as long as they have access to the Internet, and their system is smart enough to send them warnings if something goes wrong: the temp rises too much or something breaks.
What Should a Cannabis Facility Look for in an HVAC Vendor?
So, now that you know the challenges that you face as a marijuana facility looking for an HVAC system. The next question is, what should you look for in an HVAC vendor?
The first thing any cannabis facility should look for in an HVAC vendor is reliability. If something goes wrong, you want to be able to call the company and have them pick up their phone at any time. The reality of the situation is that if a grow room rises above 80 degrees (F), you’ll lose the entire crop and be unable to sell it. So, having an HVAC company who will respond to any emergency is vital.
2. Ample Inventory
No HVAC system is indestructible or perfect. Things will fail. However, a lot of stress and pain can be saved if the HVAC vendor you use provides you with extra small parts or has those parts on hand. For example, at the Pepper facility, they have belts for all the units and one extra motor on site. So, if something failed, ordering parts wouldn’t be required; they would already be on site.
In addition, your HVAC company should have backups available in case of emergency. Theoretically, if your HVAC Company ordered a special system but didn’t consider having ample inventory, it could cost the grower millions of dollars while they waited for delivery.
3. 24/7 Availability
Cannabis never stops growing, which means HVAC units can never stop working. When the lights are on, an HVAC unit is running. When the lights go off, the humidifier is working. So, the units take a heavy beating. That means they can break down at any time, but there’s no such thing as waiting for business hours to fix an issue. Each grow room costs about $150,000; if an HVAC unit fails and the vendor isn’t available 24/7, that’s how much money a grower could lose.
A cannabis facility can’t get just any old HVAC. It has to be a specific HVAC that can handle the necessary controls of temperature, humidity, and airflow, which requires a level of skill and expertise from engineers that can be hard to find. You need a system that can handle 112 to 115 degree (F) temperatures outside while providing the right temperature internally.
Pictured Above: The brains behind The Cooling Co - Wellington SantanaIf you’re ready to take the next step and transform your marijuana cultivation facility into a well-oiled and cool machine, give The Cooling Company a call today at 702-567-0707.