How Do You Power a Grow Room?
Every avid gardener dreams of having a garden that’s open 24/7/365. However, owning a grow room isn’t just about having the physical space – you also need adequate power to run it. Fortunately for hobby gardeners, many power technology and efficiency advancements have been made in recent years. Let’s look at some things to consider when powering a grow room so you can do so without spending a fortune.
Grow Room Solar Technology vs. Home Circuitry
More and more growers are choosing solar power for grow lights. This option, which involves using solar panels to draw energy to batteries for storage and then converting it to AC power with an inverter, has a number of advantages. A grow room solar energy system costs almost nothing to operate and protects you from utility rate increases because it can be operated off the grid. It also works independently of local electrical circuits so the room will stay powered up without affecting your home. Last but not least, it is far more environmentally friendly.
However, there are a few potential drawbacks. For starters, solar systems cost more up front. You’re typically looking at $5,000 to $15,000 for a DIY solar panel system – plus more for professional installation. You’ll also need to make sure you’re getting enough sunlight for what you’re growing. If you live in an area with a lot of cloudy days, you may need to use home circuitry out of necessity. Some people prefer to do so anyway because this costs less up front and they don’t have a large enough grow room to make back the operating savings from solar. This also leaves you less susceptible to technology changes that could render your solar grow room system out-of-date.
Dedicated Grow Room Circuit
Regardless of whether you are using solar or electrical power for your indoor horticultural lighting, we recommend a dedicated power circuit. This means an independent circuit for the grow room with no TVs, refrigerators, washing machines or other appliances connected. This means a blown fuse or short on one circuit won’t affect the other one. You’ll also have an easier time diagnosing power problems that come up. This dedicated power grid is a built-in benefit of solar; for home circuits, you will need to wire one separately.
Electrical Consumption & Power Rating
The biggest key for how to power your grow room is how much juice you’ll actually need. A 4- by 4-ft. (16 sq. ft.) standard grow tent with drain system, oscillating fan and other supplies will use about 450kWh per month during the growing phase and half of this during the flowering phase. These power demands will increase roughly proportionally based on your square footage. For solar panels, convert your watt usage to daily kWh and then divide it by the hours of sunlight exposure. This will give you the power rating for what system you need. For home circuitry, you’ll need to convert the wattage to amps to get a power rating. To do this, divide the watts by the voltage of your power source.
In either case, it is smart to have extra power available. If your grow room lighting requires 8.3 amps of current, make sure at least 10 amps are dedicated to it; if a 3-kW solar panel set-up is required, get a 3.5-kW system. This will increase the longevity and safety of your system since you’re not constantly pushing it to capacity.