Grow Room Electrical Guide And Safety

Discussion in 'Cultivation Guides And Help' started by Bud, Sep 24, 2019.

  1. Bud

    Bud Administrator
    Staff Member Let Me Out

    May 17, 2017
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    BudsnBeavers Electrical Grow Guide

    One of the most important aspects of indoor growing to understand is electricity, and just how many things you can plugin and run safely. This guide is geared toward legal grows and so will focus on equipment that would be used for a 4 plant grow as this looks like it will be the legal limit for personal cultivation in Canada. This information is very important, it may well save you having a fire break out in your grow room and or house.

    In this guide I will explain the following:

    • Common household circuit capacities and how to identify what circuits you have in your planned grow area.
    • The difference between watts and amps.
    • Safe running loads for your circuit.
    • Required electrical safety certifications your grow gear must have to satisfy building code and insurance requirements.
    • A few common combinations of grow equipment and their power draw.
    • Things to watch out for and prevention.

    Common Household Circuity Capacities In Canada

    Most common are 15amp and 20amp. You will have higher capacity circuits for things like stoves, dryers, and water pumps. Some newer homes are coming with 20amp as standard but older houses mostly came with 15amp as standard. The easiest way to identify the circuit capacity is to plug something into the wall plugin(s) you plan to use, locate the breaker box and start flipping breakers off until your device goes off. Once you find the breaker it will usually be labeled as either 15amp or 20amp.

    20A receptacles require minimum #12 cable while 15A require minimum #14, this something you may want to check while you are at it, it will be stamped or printed on the cables. I have see so many houses wired with cable that does not meet regulations, it is mind blowing, so does not hurt to check.

    Repeat this process for any wall plugins that you will be using as it is good to know if they are all on one circuit or split.

    NOTE: The numbers in this guide are based on 120V. If you have 240V then you have double the amount of watts per amp. 240V is the way to go if possible.

    Difference Between Watts And Amps

    When discussing grow rooms and equipment you constantly see and hear about "watts", but what we are concerned about is amps. An easy way to think of it is that the wire is like a water hose. Watts is the amount of water passing through the hose at a given moment, and amps are the rate of actual flow.

    Safe Running Load For Your Circuit

    When you see a circuit is 15amps this is the max it is designed to handle, you DO NOT want to run it near that capacity as it will not end well. Running power through a circuit encounters resistance, and resistance causes heat. Running at max capacity or near it for long periods can cause high temperatures, failure of connections, and ultimately a fire. If you burn down your house and shop because you were running a circuit over 80% of its rating your insurance is null and void, and yes the fire inspector will and c an check for this!

    The safe running load is considered 80% of max amperage. So for a 15 amp circuit that would be 12 amps, and 20 amp circuit 16 amps, you should be safe running at those levels for the long periods your grow requires, as long as the circuit is in good shape. (see "Safety Tips" below)

    Required Electrical Safety Certifications For Your Gear

    This is extremely important and very often overlooked. All electrical products sold in Canada are required to have either of ETL, cULus or CSA safety certification.

    Intertek ETL Listed budsnbeavers electrical grow guide.jpg



    Generally electrical equipment that is certified with one of the above is a bit more expensive, you have to ask yourself, is saving a few hundred $ worth voiding your insurance?

    A Few Grow Combinations And Their Amp Requirements

    As mentioned this will be for a 4 plant grow in a 6 x 6 x 6 space.

    For the above space here is a general setup for both HID and LED.

    HID Setup

    Light: 1000w (9 amps)You may think it is a bit much but remember we are maximizing growth on short plants and we want good penetration.
    Fan: 6 inch inline CanFan (0.7 amps)
    Fan for air movement (0.5 amps)
    Hydro (if using hydro tack on another 1 amp)
    Note: Depending on the area and climate you may need an A/C unit which would need its own circuit.

    Total: 10.2 amps (Hydro not included)

    LED Setup

    Light: Mars II 1600 LED 800 watt (5.92 amps)
    Fan: 6 inch inline CanFan (0.7 amps)
    Fan for air movement (0.5 amps)
    Hydro (if using hydro tack on another 1 amp)
    Note: Depending on the area and climate you may need an A/C unit which would need its own circuit.

    Total: 7.12 amps (hydro not included)

    So both examples would run on a standard 15 amp circuit and be under the 80% safe load mark. Of course, these are just rough ideas and equipment varies greatly in its amperage draw so always check your equipment specs.

    Growroom Electrical Safety Tips

    - If you have to use a PowerBar use a high-quality power bar that is rated to handle a minimum of 8 amps over what you will be running.

    - Do your best not to use extension cords. If you have to use them make sure they are of a gauge that is rated to take at least 50% more amps then what you will actually run through them. Keep them as short as possible, the farther the electricity travels the greater the resistance and the more heat that builds up. DO NOT use extension cords for high amp equipment like A/C, dehumidifier, heaters.

    - Make sure connections are tight. Loose and bad connections cause resistance which in turn causes heat to build up. When you plug something in the plugin should not be easy to wiggle around, and it sure should not be falling out!

    - Monitor for heat. When you first plug things in monitor that first hour carefully. Check plugin connections and cords for any excessive heat. It is normal for things to get warm, wires and connections should not be hot to the touch. Usually the first couple of days I randomly check every few hours for heat buildup.

    - Mount ballasts off of the floor or set them on a something that keeps them a few inches off the floor, the same goes for any connections. If there is a spill things could go bad very fast.

    - If you have to do any wiring make sure your connections are well done. Twisting wires and using electrical tape is not acceptable, and not safe. I normally solder connections and then shrink-tube them. If you can't do this then use a proper connector like a Marrette that is rated for the gauge of wire you are using.

    Automatic Fire Suppression

    Shortly after posting this guide on Reddit user posted something extremely interesting. A very affordable, easy to install, and small automatic fire suppression system called Haven. Looks to work extremely well and I will be ordering some. It triggers at 57C (135°). Just one is more then enough to cover a four plant grow.

    Disclaimer: I am not an electrician, neither do I claim to be particularly good with electrical and wiring. I normally do my own work whether it be on cars or house and these are just some things I have learned over time. Neither myself or BudsnBeavers can be held responsible for any issues you may have with your grow! If you are not sure about anything in regards to your grows electrical please contact a licensed electrician.

    Thanks To the following people who chipped in with super useful information!
    pahl_bearer (Haven) (# cable required for 15A and 20A circuit and info on capacity rating being based on cable size not breaker, and letting me know about electrical certifications)
    #1 Bud, Sep 24, 2019
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019
    Cor and Trichs like this.
  2. Trichs

    Trichs Germinating
    Let Me Out

    Sep 29, 2019
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    Awesome guide!
    Bud likes this.
  3. Bud

    Bud Administrator
    Staff Member Let Me Out

    May 17, 2017
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    Updated, I have added a very important section regarding electrical safety certifications.
    Cor likes this.

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