Most startup cannabis cultivators consider the type of lighting (LED vs. HPS) and their respective energy costs during buildout. But there are several underlying considerations that are often overlooked: power management and power quality.
Power quality is one of the least understood areas of commercial cannabis facility design, but an area that has significant implications for operations, maintenance, and ongoing operational expenses (OpEx).
Power quality is an umbrella term for the different characteristics of the power supply that affect the performance and lifespan of electrical equipment. Electrical equipment, such as computers, lights, and motors, require stable and reliable power to operate efficiently and effectively.
Generally speaking, the local electrical grid your facility is connected to is far from the stable power supply you'd imagine. No matter the jurisdiction, power grids and, therefore, cultivation facilities are prone to power quality issues, including voltage fluctuations and harmonic distortion.
Fluctuations are brief and sudden decreases or increases in voltage that jolt through the power system. These may come from lightning strikes, localized outages, electrical load changes, or other power grid problems.
Many motors and pumps are designed to operate with a very narrow and consistent energy supply. As a result, these systems are stressed and can even fail if exposed to the fluctuations typically surging through the electrical grid.
Harmonics are electrical frequencies echoed within the power system from a variety of sources, including switch-mode power supplies (SMPS), grow light drivers, variable speed motors and drives, and even your desktop computer.
Echoes happen because individual components don't draw consistent power. Instead, they pull high-amp short pulses that ripple throughout the entire network, creating significant disruptions (aka harmonic distortion) in the electrical current.
Most elements within your facility can handle a bit of harmonic distortion at low levels. But, like compounded waves on the open sea, once there is enough electrical noise traveling through the system, it will eventually interfere with all equipment connected to the power supply.
Interference may play out in several ways:
Electrical grid instability is a given. Cultivation facility design must take this stability into consideration within their internal power system. Yet, most cultivation facilities, even those newly built, haven't been designed from a power quality perspective.
This means companies draw more energy than is required and subsequently pay more for utilities than necessary. Internal equipment, like lighting, computers, and irrigation, is also at higher risk of damage and failure from the inconsistent nature of the power supply.
Even in facilities with top-of-the-line, energy-efficient fixtures, these efficiencies are lost in the distorted power quality. The internal power system may also not be optimized to handle the rush of demand after turning on a grow room full of lights.
A few dozen to a hundred grow lights, all pulling energy at slightly different times, leads to significant surges. This is a stressor on the system, blowing circuit breakers and drivers and degrading equipment.
The white noise in the system (harmonic distortion described above) makes it challenging for each piece of equipment to pull a consistent supply of energy for efficient operation.
Imagine trying to decipher what's playing on the radio when it's flooded with white noise. You'll only hear through the distortion to catch the music by turning up the volume.
Likewise, within a cultivation facility, the only way each piece of equipment can access enough power is by "turning up the volume" its power demands. Harmonic distortion translates to higher energy use and costlier utility bills.
There is no solution to the problems rippling through the external power grid. Instead, facilities must stabilize their internal system through better electrical system design and smart equipment selection. Unfortunately, not all cannabis cultivation equipment is designed with power management and power quality fluctuations in mind, even if equipment is sold as efficient.
Designing and implementing the most cost-effective lighting system actually starts with stabilizing the power system and optimizing the subsystems.
TSRgrow's TOTALgrow Solution is engineered from a power management and power quality perspective. First, TSRgrow's technology reduces harmonic distortion within the facility as a whole.
We do so by removing the individual power servers from every light fixture. Unfortunately, individual drivers end up triggering more surges within the system, and as each fixture tries to pull more power to cover the inconsistent supply, it only leads to more chaos. Remote power reduces the noise.
Secondly, de-coupling the driver from the individual lighting fixture and centralizing outside of the grow rooms, protects individual lights from these inconsistent and unpredictable power surges. With drivers condensed in a separate server room, fixtures are protected from instabilities in the power system. This innovation translates to longer fixture lifespans, less maintenance in the grow room, and less grow room downtime.
Decoupling lighting from power is a more sustainable solution for the long-term health of the power system and any subsystems. Instead of each light fixture clogging up the system with individual power servers, a single larger power supply cleans up the noise, causes less damage, costs less energy, and stabilizes the entire system.
Finally, with built-in diagnostics and continuous automated monitoring, TSRgrow ensures you are notified of power supply and fixture issues long before any abrupt failure. With systems designed to be proactive, you'll face fewer emergencies, have lower energy costs, and see more consistency in the grow room.
Discover the benefits of constructing a facility with a focus on power quality. Contact us now to explore how we can help optimize your operations and maximize efficiency.