Most beginners think that growing a few plants in a spare room or closet is just a matter of plugging in a few lights and fans into an outlet. However, indoor cannabis seeds growing is an “industrial” endeavor, and the electrical setup needs to be treated accordingly. Many things could go wrong when managing electricity for indoor growing, and you’ll want to make sure you take precautions.
Unfortunately, growing cannabis indoors substantially increases the risk of having a house fire. If you experience a fire and suffer the consequences, you’ll wish you had sprung for your weed at the local dispensary. Fires can not only damage your home or get you evicted from a rental, but a cannabis-related fire may result in expensive mandated electrical code updates and hefty fines.
Typical homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover cannabis-related fires, and even a relatively minor incident can lead to loss of coverage. The National Fire Protection Association offers some helpful fire safety resources for cannabis growers on their website.
Physical harm or death from electrical shock is another serious hazard of indoor cannabis growing. The combination of faulty wiring and water is a recipe for electrocution, and you’ll want to be certain that you’re setting up and managing your grow room safely to prevent accidents.
Losing Your Crop
Even if you manage to dodge the major hazards of improper electrical management, you risk damaging your crop. There’s nothing more frustrating than losing months of hard work due to a preventable power outage. Now that you have a better idea of the risks involved with indoor growing, let’s examine the dos and don’ts of managing electricity for your new grow room.
DO Hire a Professional Electrician
You can save yourself a lot of headaches by spending the cash for a professional electrician. Now that growing cannabis has become a legal endeavor in many areas, you can find qualified electricians with specialized experience in powering grow rooms. You’ll be thankful to have an expert to advise you when you run into inevitable obstacles during your first few grows.
DO Calculate Your Electrical Needs
The first step in setting up electricity for your indoor cannabis grow is to see how many amperes (amps) you have available. Check your meter cabinet and find out how much power you’re already using to run your regular household appliances. Remember to add plenty of extra amps for gadgets you only use occasionally, especially those that produce heat like irons, toaster ovens, and hair driers.
Once you have an idea of how many amps you’re currently using, you’ll be able to estimate the total amps you have left for your grow space. New growers make some common errors when calculating their electrical needs, including:
Forgetting to figure in the wattage of ballasts for grow lights: A typical ballast uses 75 watts.
Not reserving extra amps for equipment: For example, although a 200-watt ventilator is rated for one amp, you’ll have to reserve two additional amps to run it safely.
Forgetting to leave amps free for additional equipment: As your plants progress, you may need to add appliances like dehumidifiers or extra fans.
DO Install a Smoke Detector
Accidents sometimes happen in the most expertly powered grow rooms, and smoke detectors are a must for any indoor cannabis operation. You should replace the batteries regularly and keep a fire extinguisher handy in your grow space.
DO Keep All Appliances Away from Water and Humidity
When electricity is in the presence of water, it can cause leakage current. Leakage current is when water conducts electricity. Leakage current can carbonize and ignite any combustible substances in the surrounding area and start a fire.
DO Install a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI)
Also called a Residual Circuit Device (RCD), a ground fault interrupter offers some protection from fatal electric shocks and fires. Although installing a circuit breaker is a must, a GFCI is no substitute for faulty wiring and sloppy grow room practices. Unless you’re already an electrical expert, consult a professional for advice.
DO Invest in a Fuse Box
You can avoid many hassles by dividing your current with a fuse box. Make sure you connect your fuse box directly to the meter cabinet and attach the ground wire.
DON’T Use Cheap Cables
High-quality, heat-resistant cables are a must for any grow room. Cheap cables use low-quality plastic that cracks and crumbles with extreme temperature fluctuations. You should also avoid using extension cords for permanent installation and hardwire them instead. Remember to check your cables regularly to see if anything needs replacement.
DO Buy a Generator for Back-Up
A power outage can ruin months of hard work pretty quickly. With all of the crazy weather from climate change, we’re likely to be seeing more frequent and prolonged outages. Do yourself a favor, and invest in a small generator for emergencies. On a similar note, make sure you pay the power company. You’ll feel pretty silly if you damage your crop because you forgot to take care of the utility bill.
DO Consider Using LED Grow Lights
High-Intensity Discharge (HID) lights generate a ton of heat and present a fire-hazard even in a correctly wired grow space. All of that extra heat also means you’ll need additional fans to control the temperature in your grow room. Full-spectrum LED lights use a fraction of the power and generate much less heat.
Back in the day, HIDs were the standard because LED lights were expensive and didn’t produce the kind of results discerning growers expected. But times have changed, and these days, you can get excellent results from energy-saving full-spectrum LED lights. Plus, they’re way more economical than they used to be.
We’ve discussed some of the major dos and don’ts of managing electricity for indoor cannabis growing, but there are still many more factors to consider. We suggest that you take the time to thoroughly study and prepare before setting up your first grow room. Always remember the cardinal rule of powering indoor grow spaces: When in doubt, hire a professional.