Retrofitting your cannabis cultivation with LED grow lights to replace the older High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lights is advantageous for many reasons. Not only does it save on long-term costs and give you greater control over your environment, but it also helps future-proof your grow as lighting technology continues to advance.
Despite the advantages, however, many growers hold back from upgrading to LED technology, often because of myths or misconceptions about retrofitting their cultivation facility.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of switching from HPS to LED grow lights and common misconceptions that make growers hesitate to undergo a retrofit.
Retrofitting Basics: HPS to LED Grow Lights
According to Casey Rivero, Cannabis Solutions Architect on the business development team at Fluence, a leading provider of energy-efficient LED lighting solutions for commercial cannabis and food production, people generally retrofit their cannabis facilities for two main reasons:
- Upgrading outdated or non-functional equipment
- Improving the performance of a particular product, either by improving the quality of the product itself to increase production quantity or by increasing the efficiency of the overall facility
Retrofitting your cultivation with LED grow lights accomplishes both goals. Not only are HPS lights on the way to becoming obsolete, but LED technology now offers greater results at higher efficiency levels.
“Originally, we adopted HPS technology into agriculture because it was the highest intensity producing light out there,” Rivero explains. “Nowadays, the LED world has grown leaps and bounds, and we’re able to give more light than we were ever able to give, utilizing less resources, and with a technology that lasts a lot longer.”
Dr. Abhay Thosar, Director for Horticulture Services at Fluence, adds that LED grow lights have several advantages over HPS, including:
- Spectrum: Unlike HPS lights, LED lights can be designed to produce a light spectrum that is specifically conducive to photosynthetic activity in cannabis plants.
- Heat: HPS fixtures generate a lot of heat, which must then be removed from the environment. Because LED grow lights generate much less heat, they reduce the amount of energy needed to operate the facility.
- Control: With greater control over spectrum and less heat, LED lights make it easier to control and balance other environmental factors in the grow room as well.
- Cost: Not only do LED lights save on electricity costs, they also produce light that is of higher intensity than their HPS counterparts, translating to higher crop yields.
While HPS lights served their purpose in the past, LED grow lights are now your best option for quality plant growth and overall increased ROI.
The Truth About Retrofitting
Despite the many advantages of upgrading from HPS to LED grow lights, many cultivators hesitate to make the switch. Often, this hesitation is caused by misconceptions about what retrofitting entails.
Fear of the Unknown
Dr. Thosar says one of the biggest things preventing growers from embracing LED technology is simply that continuing to use HPS lights feels more comfortable.
“There is a learning curve involved when moving from HPS to LEDs,” he explains. “And they’re not sure if they will be able to steer the crops in a similar fashion as they did under the HPS lights.”
This fear of the unknown may be common, but it also limits business growth. Why keep using the same technology to achieve the same results when you can improve both the technology you use and the results you achieve?
Making Additional Changes
Another common retrofitting misconception is that changing to LED grow lights requires a complete overhaul of your facility’s infrastructure. As a result of this misconception, growers hesitate to undergo a retrofit because they can’t afford to make the other infrastructure changes at the same time.
However, Dr. Thosar explains that it often isn’t necessary to change everything at once. With the right expert help, you can update your lighting system and adjust your existing infrastructure controls to maintain a healthy vapor pressure deficit (VPD).
A final barrier preventing growers from retrofitting their facilities with LED grow lights is the cost of upgrading to new equipment. As Rivero points out, many growers lack the funds to invest in new equipment, and investors aren’t always willing to add more funds when they’ve just started seeing a return.
But while LED lighting can seem more expensive upfront than HPS lighting, Dr. Thosar says it’s a myth that LED lights are way more expensive overall. “In most cases, people can get a return on their investment in LED lights in less than one year or even six months,” he adds.
With a gradual retrofit focused on one room at a time, that quick of an ROI means many growers can generate enough additional revenue from the first room to outfit the next, and so on.
If upfront costs are stopping you from making the switch, there are also numerous utility incentives and rebates available to help offset those costs. Fluence offers a free rebate program for their customers to help you find assistance in your state.
An Inevitable & Profitable Change
Retrofitting your cultivation with LED grow lights isn’t just a wise decision that will save you money and energy — it’s an inevitable change.
Don’t let the fear of the unknown hold you back from making the switch. Work with experienced cannabis consultants and lighting experts like our partners at Fluence to do it right and get the greatest ROI — and highest yields — out of your retrofit.
At Higher Yields Consulting, we’re committed to helping you find the right solutions to suit your cannabusiness goals. Contact us today to get a custom grow design or lighting plan.