April 28, 2017


Grow as your grow: Scaling climate control systems

As cultivators and owners know, building out a commercial sized facility takes a lot of time, patience and money but can be extremely lucrative in the long run. Large-scale commercial facilities that are up and running are generating huge profits, mostly in cash. But this type of revenue takes time. To get to a place where a facility can sustain itself financially, owners first must go through the long and expensive process of licensing, permitting, obtaining land and/or buildings and, of course, choosing lighting and environmental control. 

All this is also happening in a world without much access to financing, putting significant pressure on owners to dig into their own savings or bring in outside investors to fund start-up costs. To manage this, many cultivators and investors are opting for a phased approach to building out their facilities. They are choosing to start small with just a few rooms at first, adding more rooms once they begin turning the large profits necessary to support it.

This strategy also offers cultivators and owners a chance to prove their concept and dial in their cultivation techniques on a smaller scale, providing a smaller risk while starting out. Once cultivation practices have been proven, not only can owners attract new investors with real-life data but they can also begin the process of scaling their success with fewer unknowns.

We have seen many of our customers take this route and it has proven successful. But it requires not only a lot of planning, but also choosing the right technology for this kind of growth. Many traditional climate control solutions require each room to be tied to its own cooling system. This means that expansion involves adding more compressors and ducting to accommodate more lights in existing rooms or adding totally new compressors and air handlers to the new rooms.

In contrast, Surna provides a hydronic cooling system, allowing facilities to utilize a bank of chillers that all work together to service every fan coil in the building. This is especially beneficial for cultivators who want to have new rooms flip schedules with older rooms. When these facilities want to expand, they simply purchase additional fan coils but often do not have to purchase additional chillers which can be the largest financial burden. Because the chillers work as a bank, facilities only need tonnage for the maximum heat load at any one time. So, a facility with flipping rooms can use the same exact chillers at different times, drastically reducing costs without compromising performance.

Fortunately, Surna is a one-stop shop for the build out of a cultivation facility. Our team works with owners and cultivators to understand their current and future goals before any plans are laid out or any purchase is made. Surna engineers will then design systems to accommodate future expansion, utilizing piping that ensures no retrofitting is needed later and offering variable frequency drive pumps that will allow the adjustment of flows as needed.

Another benefit of choosing a Surna system is that they are more efficient than other options on the market. First, hydronic cooling uses liquid to remove heat from the space instead of air, offering greater efficiencies. And second, because the chillers and fan coils are separate, compressors do not necessarily have to turn on each time a fan coil does. If the water circulating through the system stays at or below the temperature dictated, the system will be cooling and dehumidifying without engaging compressors. And since compressors consume a large proportion of energy used, this can mean significant savings on operating costs. All of this adds up to mean that the next phase of a build out could come sooner than with other climate control options.

At Surna, we have significant cultivation and mechanical experience, truly making us the experts in environmental control for cannabis cultivation. This expertise affords us the ability to think like a cultivator or owner setting up a commercial facility. We can put ourselves in your shoes and we understand the needs and challenges modern cannabis cultivators face every day. So, if you’re considering a build out, either in phases or all at once, give us a call or request some information. We want to take the time to get to know you and your goals and come up with the right solution for your facility together. We love turning dreams into reality.

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