A commercial lighting manufacturer created the right LED recipe for its cannabis grow product line.
Agricultural lighting technology has come a long way over the past few years, in part inspired by the needs of the cannabis industry and the demands of a complicated plant.
TruSolis Technologies, a commercial lighting company with products for agriculture spaces, large industrial operations, and gyms saw the need for better lights for growers in this new industry, and it got to work on engineering a line of LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which is a semiconductor light source.
“We had already developed a horticultural line for growing green beans and leafy greens,” says John Johnston, founder, and president of TruSolis Technologies. “So, the challenge was to create a light that would go head-to-head with some of the big sodium vapor lights that the growers are comfortable with. But those use a lot of energy. We wanted to make an LED version of that.”
About three years ago, TruSolis Technologies worked with different LED providers and came up with the “right recipe” to match what is currently available for growers. “If you want to create a real solid agriculture product, you have to replicate what the sun provides,” Johnston says. “We found that there were not any LEDs out there that would provide the full spectrum wavelength we needed.”
It’s easy to get leafy greens to go through their cycle, he says. But when you get into flowering and budding, that requires more lighting intensity. “There are different [lighting] recipes used for each stage of the flower’s growth.”
The advantages of using LEDs is threefold: light energy savings; heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) savings because less heat is generated; and maintenance. “Maintenance is really big,” Johnston says. “It’s very expensive in any operation and especially in growing. The high-pressure sodium bulbs last maybe two growth cycles, and then they have to be replaced. Our LEDs have a five- year life expectancy.”
Another advantage is the canopy height that LEDs can work in. “We are able to fit more lights into smaller spaces,” says Ken Sintchak, vice president of business development for TruSolis Technologies. “We can go much lower with our lights because a lot of people are doing smaller indoor grows. They can actually double-stack tier their grow.”
Some of the growers who use the company’s indoor grow LED lights are reporting back that the lights are positively affecting the actual flavor of the finished flower. “The flavor of the plant is so much better than under conventional lights because the lights are not burning up those flavors,” Johnston says.