CO2 Safety for Indoor Cannabis Growers

CO2 levels: Good for Growing, Dangerous for Growers


Carbon dioxide, otherwise referred to as "CO2", is critical when it comes to promoting and enhancing plant yields. Hence, the reason that many indoor growers and cultivators all utilize the inert gas as a key component to their "growth recipe".


You see, CO2, along with water and light are all necessary parts of photosynthesis. A process used by plants in order to convert light energy into chemical energy that can later be released to fuel the plants metabolic activities. 


However, what indoor growers may not realize is that high levels of CO2 can also be dangerous. It's true. A sealed, closed indoor grow room can trap dangerous levels of carbon dioxide that can lead to severe negative health effects, such as dizziness, unconsciousness, and even fatality.

CO2 Generator Carbon Dioxide (CO2)


For decades, greenhouses and grow rooms have used CO2 generators that burn fossil fuels to generate carbon dioxide. Recent studies have shown that CO2 enrichment on plants at two, three, or four times the natural CO2 concentration will cause plants to grow at yields much faster and in turn promote further productivity and quality to the crop.


Additionally, growers tend to lean away from using generators and look towards CO2 enrichment because burning fossil fuels is an incomplete process leaving residue in the plants, and, the low cost of carbon dioxide makes the gas cost-effective and easier to control in facilities. 


Carbon Dioxide (CO2) Enrichment 


Indoor cannabis growers have solved the problem of burners by switching to compressed cylinders or bulk tanks of liquid CO2. One thing to note however, is that CO2 enrichment will not be as effective for your crops if your grow area or facility is not indoors. This is because the CO2 will be exhausted before the plants actually can utilize it. Furthermore, air should never be exchanged in and out of your grow environment.


For those that are working in indoor greenhouses, grow rooms, or cultivation facilities - an entry level CO2 monitor and controller will maintain the required CO2 levels - typically between 800-1,500ppm. When CO2 levels also drop below a specified level, a tank regulator with a solenoid valve is opened and releases CO2 to enrich the grow space. When the controller senses that the ppm level is at or above the prescribed high set point the controller triggers the valve to closes shutting off the supply of CO2. 


This process is repeated continuously as the plants absorb the CO2 and deplete the levels inside the room. Because the CO2 level is precisely measured and maintained, a well-designed system can save hundreds or even thousands of dollars in gas costs. For example, one CO2Meter customer reported a 30-40% reduction in gas usage when they moved to a liquid based CO2 system.


Utilizing Carbon Dioxide in Grow Rooms

First, in order to introduce CO2 it must be done in a precise, controlled, calculated, and well-planned manner. Simply opening a valve on a CO2 tank at one end of the room and hoping that the gas will evenly disperse throughout your grow room, is not an ideal scenario.


Additionally, it is as important to also recognize during what times to supplement with carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis normally occurs only during daylight, and CO2 addition is never recommended nor required during the night hours. Some controllers are designed with integrated light sensors so that the CO2 enrichment only occurs if the lights are on.


If you are getting into indoor growing you should find an experienced HVAC contractor with specific experience in commercial growing and indoor facilities to design a system for you. Simply installing fans or standard commercial HVAC systems will not result in the desired effects.


HVAC contractors with experience in this market can help design a system that will regulate temperatures, find a correct balance for fresh vs. returned air, and ensure that the CO2 is evenly dispersed in the space removing hot and cold spots inside. Finding an experienced HVAC contractor will reduce the ramp-up time for that service provider to design and implement the necessary systems. 


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