When running a commercial grow operation, your grow room setup and design is everything. With the right space, organization, equipment, and environment, you can maximize your yields and your profits. However, if any of these pieces aren’t done correctly, you could be leaving money on the table.

One of the biggest mistakes that I have seen is how little thought goes into a grow room setup and design. There was a time where we got most of the answers from the local grow store. Unfortunately, the grow store started on the premise of small grows that a single person would do in their house or on their property. Grow stores have improved over time and they deal with a lot more commercial growers, but they are also limited in their recommendations by their suppliers. Not saying this is true all the time, but there might be some bias on what equipment is recommended because grow rooms only supply what their suppliers let them. This isn’t always the best recommendation. I could go on and on but I will save that rant for another day.  

When designing a grow room, you need to focus on what is most important, and with the wealth of options on the web it is hard to know what will work best. Every market and supplier out there knows their product and would love to make it to the top of the list, so it can be tough to find what will work best for your operation. 

So here is a quick overview of my recommendations from my experience on how to navigate your grow room setup and design. I will be adding sub-topics in the near future to dig more into these ideas but for now here we go. 

Empty Grow Room for Setup and Design | GrowHigher

The Most Important Factors for Your Grow Room Setup and Design

Let’s assume that we have a building lined up, and it’s completely empty. Now we get to build out our grow room design from scratch. We can design everything from the floor to the ceiling (with limitations) exactly how we have always pictured it. Just remember that this takes time, and you’ll want to take things piece by piece, one foot in front of the other, or you will be waiting on doing a project because another project has been delayed. 

Here are the most important things to consider when planning for your grow room setup:

The Size of the Grow Room – Don’t Get Too Large

 Although it is tempting to make a giant grow room in a building so you don’t have to deal with a lot of walls, I think that a moderately sized grow room will have better results. Why? A grow room that is 100ft x 100ft is like one big factory full of future issues. It can be done but it is very challenging to control the environment. The larger the room, the harder it is to control humidity, temperature and airflow. 

When a 100ft x 100ft room runs into an issue (and all rooms at some point will), it is much harder to do damage remediation. Let’s say you got spider mites that snuck in on your workers pants because he took a nice siesta outside on break and laid under a tree. I realize there are ways to stop that, but people are notoriously unpredictable so, yes, it does happen. Now try to fight a large room with a spider mite infestation with limited types of pesticide that is allowed based on your state. The stress it causes the plants could ruin your grow. Yes, you can survive it but the effects are so much larger than if you can quarantine a smaller room. 

An ideal room would be roughly 30ft x 50ft. This is large enough to really show some mass production but small enough where you can close down the room and quarantine so that you do not spread the problems to other rooms. 

What about watering a large room? I have a lot to say about this but I will keep it short and save that content for another day. Simply said, trying to water a room that is large has its challenges and the best way to attack it is to set up manageable zones.  

The amount of water running into a room with 6000 plants at 2 drippers per plant and 0.5gph flowing through a 1-inch pipe is simply just not adequate and some areas will drip faster than others. A balancing act is almost impossible with some of the standard pipe sizing that I have seen, typically ¾ to 1 inch PVC. 

The simplest solution is to balance out your watering by zone and by room size. In my experience, a smaller room is just a better option. With the right equipment it can be done but with a standard set up it is very challenging.

Electrical Needs for Your Grow Room | GrowHigher

Electricity Needs for Your Grow Room

Electricity is one of the most important factors for your grow room setup and design. As always, electricity is what will make everything run smoothly, so you’ll want to make sure you get it right. Here are my best suggestions:

First, contact an electrician to see your electrical options. Find out if you are set up or need to install more power for single-phase or 3-phase power. 120, 208, 240, 277 or 480 volts, get familiar with these terms and know what your power is capable of when you are purchasing your equipment. I would recommend that if you have the option to get 480V 3-Phase power, you should absolutely get it. With this higher power factor, you use less Amps and have a more efficient power supply. 

To get the right electrical load setup, you’ll have to make a few decisions about how you’re going to set up your grow room first. You have decided what room size you are going with so now it is time to figure out how many grow tables go into that room. Are you going to double stack or use a bench system? What brand of lights, hvac, pumps, fans, dehumidifiers, humidifiers are you going to use? Your electrician will need all this information to do a load calculation. 

Pick the right electrician. It might be a little cheaper to go with a small company, but 2 people wiring your building for 2 months can really drag on your timeline for getting production started. I think a larger company that specializes in commercial operations with a dedicated large crew will do the same job in a much shorter amount of time. Don’t forget to plan ahead. With the global pandemic it could take months to get some of the transformer parts that you need to complete your buildout. 

Vertical Racking for Grow Room Design and Setup | GrowHigher

Grow Benches and Vertical Racking

Something I have often seen and heard is that figuring out the grow tables is the last step to the design process. I do think it is the overlooked part of the design and here is why. 

Most rack and bench companies design in 4’s and 8’s, with some deviation. Grow rack manufacturers either come in bench form, in a vertical form, or a mix of the two. The factories predict what sizes are standard, for example a 4’ x 8’ bench is a common size. So with this prediction they order their raw steel far in advance to get certain sizes so that they can get a discount, which means a discount to you, the customer. This is how they keep prices down. 

It’s important to know early on what dimensions your grow tables or racks will be, so you can plan ahead. Grow table manufacturers produce common sizes most likely in 4’s and 8’s. There are variations but you will be surprised how challenging it is to source the stock. Grow lights are often sized in 4 foot footprints. So it makes sense to find out what your size options are early, and I suggest sticking with the more common dimensions. It’s true that anything can be made to fit your room, but the less common the size the more likely it is to be a custom fabricated product. With a custom product now your price could be raised by 25 to 30 percent.

GrowHigher offers high-quality vertical grow racking systems, with mobile vertical grow rack options as well.

Final note on this, and it will be repeated through the blog. Plan 3 to 6 months in advance. With a global pandemic around us, shipping times and sourcing raw materials is getting harder and more expensive.

Grow Room Plumbing

Plumbing seems simple: get water to the plants. But there is so much that goes into planning an efficient plumbing layout so that all plants get the same amount of nutrients in a large production facility. 

Get with an expert on this. Plan in advance. Know how many plants go into the room, and how much water each one needs on a daily basis, based on the strains you’re using. A good plumber will ask you all these questions, so be prepared. A plumber can help design a pump that can take care of all your needs in a single location, and also plan how your pipes should be organized to keep watering consistent across all your grow tables.

Remember that contractors are notoriously late and with a global pandemic and supply shortages it is best to not be caught with your pants down and your investors wondering why your site is not making any money yet. Plan this plumbing out far in advance so you do not have any hiccups. 

I will talk about more in depth plumbing practices in a future blog. 

HVAC for Your Grow Room

You will need to contact a qualified HVAC contractor to get the right amount of cooling/heating and sometimes even humidity out of the room. If you know what lights you are using and all your other equipment, the designer can do a BTU calculation, and add 20%. This is a very crucial step to plan for the future when you do this. 

If you are single level and are planning on going to a double level, then you need to plan your HVAC for that. It is not always as simple as adding a little bit more BTU output, it could be very expensive to change it and very hard to work in a room that already is filled with equipment. When planning your HVAC, make sure you take your future growth into consideration.

Make Sure You Plan Your Grow Room Setup and Design as Far Ahead as Possible

The best piece of advice that I can give is to make sure that you plan as far ahead as possible. With sourcing and manufacturing shortages, the longer the better. Plan for delays and do your best to surround yourself with the experts in their fields. It’s worth the extra investment. They can not only help you pick the right equipment but you can build a relationship with people who have far more expertise than yourself on specific subjects. Let them figure out the small details so you can focus on what you do best. 

Build a relationship with a cannabis advisor, the amount of money you can save on design mistakes will be small in comparison to the costs of design flaws. Don’t forget to check their references. Stick to what you do best and let the experts do the rest. 

Even experienced indoor vegetable growers can face a substantial learning curve when they begin to grow cannabis. The cannabis plant has its own characteristics that are unlike those of most vegetables.

As the number of states that legalize cannabis continues to rise and growers face an increasing amount of competition, it’s more important than ever to examine its care. This article will explain the key differences between growing vegetables and cannabis in an indoor environment.

1. Irrigation.  Overwatering is one of the most common reasons for nutrient deficiencies and diseases in cannabis plants. On the other hand, underwatering can deter plant growth.

The primary difference between the water needs of cannabis and those of vegetables is that the irrigation needs of cannabis change as the plant matures.

For young cannabis seedlings and clone plants, you should avoid heavy watering. Instead, the soil only needs only a light misting once every two to three days. As the plant matures, it may be wise to switch to a drip water system. A drip system provides a slow, steady supply of water to your plant.

Vegetables can vary greatly on the amount of water they require. For example, lettuces need constant access to water. Root vegetables are more like cannabis, needing more water most during their intubation stage.

Keep in mind that, as a general rule, overwatering is more dangerous to cannabis than underwatering.

2. Environment. As any gardener knows, all plants need carbon dioxide for the process of photosynthesis. In addition, higher levels of CO²can boost the quality and quantity of both vegetable and cannabis crops.

The levels of humidity that plants need and their transpiration (moisture lost by plants) can vary from plant to plant. Once again, the needs of the cannabis plant vary according to its life cycle. The ideal humidity for cannabis seedlings is 75%. That percentage lowers to about 55% for the flowering stage.

Another factor to consider is vapor pressure deficit, or VPD, which describes the relationship between the moisture in the air and the water at the leaf’s surface. Many crops prefer a VPD between 0.65 to 1.25 kPa. Leafy greens thrive on the lower end of the range, while fruiting and flowering plants (including tomatoes and cannabis) do better on the higher end.

Temperature needs also vary among agricultural crops. Leafy greens thrive in cooler environments, while fruiting and flowering crops prefer warmth. For indoor cannabis growing, temperatures typically should be kept between 77°F to 86°F (25℃ to 30℃) to maximize yields.

3. Lighting. Another variable for indoor plants is the amount of light they receive. Most indoor vegetable growers aim for anywhere between 14 and 20 hours of light each day, which, of course, is far more than the plants would get outside.

Cannabis growers must once again consider the stage of their plants when determining lighting needs. In the vegetative stage, the plants need 18 to 24 hours of daily light, but you can reduce it to 12 hours a day during the flowering stage.

A challenge for cannabis growers is to keep the dark hours dark. Even a small amount of light leaking into the flowering room can negatively impact the process.

4. Reproduction. You can reproduce cannabis from seed or by cloning. Successful cloning can save the grower time and money.

Cloning, the process of growing a genetic duplicate of the original plant from a cutting, is not always possible or advisable with vegetable plants. For example, leafy greens and many fruiting crops do not clone. Herbs, such as rosemary and basil, do tend to clone well, though.

Whether you’re growing veggies, herbs, or cannabis, you can benefit from Our Grow Higher vertical mobile grow rack systems. We’re ready, willing, and able to design a system just for you and the needs of your operation. Just give us a call for a free consultation.

As of April 2021, 17 states, the District of Columbia, and two U.S. territories have passed legislation to regulate cannabis for adult recreational use. In fact, in the months between November 2020 and April 2021, every cannabis-related ballot measure before U.S. voters has passed.  

Whether you’re an established grower or just launching your business, you already know that It’s a competitive market out there. The question on your mind is, what can you do to boost your yields and profits.

The answer is to look up. This article will explain five advantages of mobile vertical cannabis growing.

1. Greater efficiency and higher ROI. Vertical growing with a mobile racking system allows you to create an efficient operation that runs like the proverbial well-oiled machine.

You can more than double your growing space without the expense of adding new buildings or property. You won’t need to deal with new permits, construction, or employee downtime when you add mobile racks.

Even more importantly, since custom-designed mobile racks allow you to grow more cannabis plants in less space, you can save on labor costs. Your employees will be able to spend more time tending plants rather than moving through your building.

2. Enhanced flexibility. In addition to the vertical space you gain with mobile racking, these systems also allow you to optimize your horizontal space. Your staff can move and turn racks with a simple push or pull to tend to plants, eliminating the need for space-wasting aisles in your facility.

3. Better use of resources. Plants arranged in a horizontal system often suffer from overcrowding. On the other hand, mobile vertical racks systems allow plants improved access to light, heating, and air conditioning, and airflow.

Although the initial investment for LED lighting, irrigation, and ventilation may seem daunting at first, you will more than make up for it with crop after crop of vigorous, healthy plants.

4. Create a multi-state operation to standardize and streamline your outputs. When you design a mobile vertical system, you can easily adapt it to suit your other grow room locations.

Using the same facility layout across multiple sites helps to standardize your employee training and streamline your growing and harvesting methods. Both of these factors contribute favorably to your bottom line.

5. Improve employee safety and ergonomics. To increase their canopy, some cannabis growers use wide tables and narrow aisles in their grow rooms. However, this strategy can backfire.

Employees can suffer injuries from repeatedly reaching across wide tables and navigating narrow spaces. A mobile racking system allows them to access plants safely and comfortably.

By now, you can see that mobile vertical systems are indeed the future for cannabis growers. An added bonus is that you can purchase a system that is custom-designed for your particular operation. At Grow Higher, mobile vertical growing systems are our specialty.

We like nothing better than helping our customers grow more quality plants in less space. Please give us a call today, and let’s get started on your new vertical growing system.