6 Tips to Improve Your HVAC System

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Using ground-level fans in combination with a good HVAC system can help move stale air away from the canopy.
Photo courtesy of Surna Inc.

Of all the things that can go wrong in a grow room, HVAC system failure is among the most critical. This vital system is required to manage the heat produced by the powerful grow lights we use, but it also helps to remove the humidity produced by plants. HVAC failure can greatly reduce yield, decrease quality and lead to devastating pest issues such as powdery mildew. When an HVAC system breaks, the clock is ticking to save your crop.

Here are six tips for looking after your HVAC systems, so your HVAC systems can look after your plants.

1. Set up a preventative maintenance schedule.

HVAC system filters can become clogged with dust and dirt circulating in the air, so check your system components on a pre-established schedule. More clogging makes for a less effective or even broken system, so it’s vital to check and change these filters regularly.

Setting schedule reminders on your phone or going through a checklist to assess the components of the HVAC system between each crop is a good place to start. Consider attaching a form near the system to note when maintenance was last completed and by whom.

2. Turn the system off when you don’t need it.

Don’t currently need your HVAC system? Switch it off.

When running closed-loop systems activities such as transplanting, filling pots or otherwise handling soil, you create a lot of dust and airborne particles, which will be picked up by an HVAC system. Switching off the system during these instances can help to increase the lifespan of filters and avoid unnecessary wear.

3. Have a contingency plan.

Accidents happen, hardware breaks down, and growers without contingency plans can quickly lose an entire room if the lights stay on but the HVAC switches off.

Consider checking if you can connect your HVAC to a backup generator in the case of a power outage, then ensure you and your staff know how to make this connection. Invest in a separate dehumidifier in case the HVAC goes down. And if it’s an option, choose two smaller HVAC units rather than one large one, so you’ll have a secondary unit if one experiences issues.

4. Install an internal UV light in your HVAC.

All the air in a grow room will ultimately circulate through an HVAC system; take advantage of this by adding UV light sterilization to your system.

Beyond sterilizing the air in your cultivation area, UV light can help to combat fungal spores and bacteria that could result in plant diseases or a failed micro-contamination test on the finished product. Be sure the light is properly sealed into the HVAC ducting to avoid detrimental effects to plants and workers.

5. Think about air flow; use floor fans.

Cold air and carbon dioxide naturally sink to ground level if left unchecked. Use floor fans to help redistribute the air evenly. Angle fans so they redirect stale air toward the HVAC intake to help create a more uniform temperature at the canopy level.

6. Install HVAC systems above the canopy.

Hot and cold air should be mixed above the canopy—not at the same level as the plants. This way, plants can enjoy temperate air as it falls to their level, rather than experiencing hot and cool air in turns.

David Bernard-Perron is The Green Organic Dutchman’s vice president of growing operations and an agrologist with a Master of Science in plant sciences from McGill University. Bernard-Perron worked as the lead agrologist at Whistler Medical Marijuana Corporation and designed its certified organic growing system.