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Ask Erik: RAW! - Conserve Growing Electricity: Fight the Power!

Smarter power consumption means the meter reader will give you good news that affects your bank account. Smarter power consumption means the meter reader will give you good news that affects your bank account.

Q:

The more I grow, the more I pay for electricity. Where I live we pay a premium when electrical consumption is past what the power company determines to be average for residential consumption. Having a few pints with my grower buddies has revealed a pretty wide band of methods to save power - from minimal savings to what might be bordering on criminal. I want to reduce my power bill, but I also don’t want to create a situation that is going to jeopardize my grow or electrical safety. What can you recommend?

A:

As you have learned, the more electricity that you begin to use, the more you will value any percentage savings in your consumption that will be reflected in your bill from the power company. When you spent $50 per month on power, a 5% savings was only $2.50 to you; big deal! However, if you spend $500 per month on electricity, a 5% savings is $25, which over the course of a one year growing calendar is $300. While a few hundred bucks might be significant, it’s not huge when factoring in your profits.

What if you could save 15 to 25% by focusing on the areas of higher consumption in your grow? That would make a serious difference wouldn’t it?

What if you could save 15 to 25% by focusing on the areas of higher consumption in your grow? That would make a serious difference wouldn’t it? Heck, that’s enough for a nice little bonus to yourself at the end of the year for something really fun, maybe even a short getaway, which you most certainly have earned if growing is your profession.

Aside from the dollars and cents of it, reducing your electrical consumption is easier on the environment here on planet earth, which I must assume you are forced to live on - perhaps your children, too.

Low frequency digital ballasts will likely save you your first 5% where you use the juice most: lighting. Secondly, cooling is probably your second biggest area of power consumption for your indoor grow. If you run IN/OUT style ventilation, look for Energy-Star rated blower fans.

Further, if you remove the heat right at the source, i.e. HID lamps, you improve cooling efficiency, which can actually save you quite a bit. Incorporating water cooling with air-cooled lamp reflectors is a very effective way to do this. The additional investment will be re-captured relatively quickly in power savings, and after that it actually becomes increased profit in your annual bottom line.

To go further, you can look at alternative crop lighting sources like high intensity Quad Band LEDs and Plasma lighting. These types of lighting, while costly to purchase, can provide tremendous reductions in how much power you consume to light the same sized area. Because they are more efficient at turning electricity into light, they also run much cooler, which means that your AC or cooling fans will need to cycle much less frequently, significantly reducing the cost of keeping your grow running cool and comfortable.

If you use a lot of power and an older wiring service, have a qualified electrician look into your PF (Power Factor). Basically, it’s very rare that any electrical service is 100% efficient, and you can lose as much as 5% or even higher as “leaked” power into your common circuit. There are devices that can be installed to help minimize this “leak,” saving you money. These devices are 100% legit; big power consumers like saw mills use these to make sure they are not wasting power, which affects their bottom line and the environment.

Cheers, Erik Biksa

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Whether you’re Public Enemy or a hydroponics growers, you’ve got to be prepared to fight the power.
Last modified on Monday, 30 July 2012 17:47

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