Jan 25, 2021
 in 
Industry

1 Year / 5 Harvests with the Gavita 1700e LED Cannabis Grow Lights

T

his is a follow up to our initial impressions from Harvest #1 with the Gavitas so if you’re considering purchasing or if you’re looking to compare LED fixtures, start there.

Hi, Zach here from Montana_Canna_Co and we’re chopping down our fifth run under the Gavita LED’s. How have they performed? STUNNING.

End of article….

Cookies Kush under Gavita 1700e LED's

Oh, you want more? Ok, let’s review 2020.

I’m writing this because we had ten thousand reads of the last Gavita post and about 200 of your reached out on instagram with follow up questions so hopefully remains useful to the grow community.

I’ve already commented on the Pros and Cons of the lights in article #1 so I’m going to get more technical on costs, energy savings and plain old growing results here because that’s what really matters.

First, let’s talk power consumption. I’m running 6 lights with the coinciding adapters and master controller. I burn them 18/6 in veg and 12/12 during flower. My local electric coop charges 6 cents per Kilowatt Hour so let’s do the math.

ELECTRICITY COST

Energy Charge: $0.0642/kWh (for first 600 kWh/mo The G’s put out the equivalent of 1,000 watts but only burn 650w. (x6 = 3,900w total) at 18hrs that’s about $4.50 per day of use in Veg at 100% power and $3.00 per day in the flowering 12 hours. Keep in mind, I run my setup at 60% power in early veg and ramp up to 80% to start flower and don’t hit 100% until maybe mid-week 2. Bottom line is I’m running less than $200 a month for my 6 light setup.

FORECASTING A LARGER ROOM

We’re expanding in 2021 and will be adding a whopping 48 lights to the operation. I’m forecasting $1,100+ energy costs per month due strictly to lighting… not bad at all. For 1K HPS lights, that would be $1,800 plus the additional HVAC/cooling costs. Now, don’t forget that I have the upfront purchase expense to acquire 48 lights/adapters/controllers. That hurts no matter how I look at it at over $1,200 per light and NO seasonal sales or discounts. !!$$$$!! I’m just thankful we’ve made the progress we have in this industry. Who knows what the future holds. One thing’s for sure. This industry will be a race to the bottom so being efficient and thrifty is as much a business plan as it is a good practice.

Issues:
Broken LED’s on Gavita 1700e LED light fixtureMid way, second bar from the right (LED’s out on Gavita 1700e)

My short history is not without issues. Sometime over the summer, a small strip of 12 diodes went out on a light. While seeming to have no noticeable negative effect on my plants, I requested a replacement from my local retailer and was given one under the 5year warranty. SCORE! Additionally, I’ve had some normal but seemingly excessive wear and tear on one of the adapter cables which is causing it to not make a solid connection with the cable and thus is prone to flickering if bumped. This was not acceptable for a number of reasons but was not deemed ‘broken under warranty’ so no replacement was given. This was the policy of my local store and not the Gavita manufacturer. I’ve muscled it into place and reinforced with some electrical tape which has so far solved the problem.

Good Looking Out:
Gavita Master Controller EL2 / EL2F

Aside from the issues, the setup has also saved my garden in periods of high temperatures. Throughout 2020, we’ve been building a more appropriate grow facility while also making due with the existing infrastructure. Our air conditioning abilities are pretty much nil and we instead opt for high air flow circulation / venting. This works well in all but the hottest of months. For us in Montana, that’s August where temps can reach 100 degrees in the afternoon hours and drag on through evening. Even though the LED’s omit far less heat than comparable lighting solutions, they still radiate and will put a room inhospitable to cannabis. I personally, don’t like my plants to get warmer than 86 F at the extreme. This is where the Gavita EL2F master controller with its auto-dimming feature comes in handy. As the temps rise above a set threshold (85 degrees in my case), the light intensity is reduced down to compensate. It can go as low as 50% output. I’m sure we sacrificed a couple of days/hours of max grow potential but saved our crop from stress, herming or even death.

COMPARISONS — Gavita vs KIND vs Flexstar

Flexstars over mothers and veg plants

I’ll be honest, I’m curious about the competition… actually, let me re-phrase that. I’m curious about the cheaper competition. My veg plants likely don’t need a $1,200 state-of-the-art, osram LED, Samsung driver Gavita / Fluence monster. I grabbed an older KIND LED blurple from a friend in Los Angeles and sought out x3 of these Alibaba Flexstars for a soon-to-be-done comparison.

Manufacturer — Flexstar 645W Dimmable LED Grow Light

Shipping was $200 for each unit but they showed up safe and sound within a week. I haven’t had the opportunity to do a full life cycle comparison so it would be unfair to make assumptions at this point but if they happen to perform, I could possibly save thousands or even ten thousand on my setup.

The hardware appears to be identical to the Hawthorne/Gavitas. Truely, the cherry on top of this shake would be a 4 way light challenge with one of the Fluence Spydrx added to the mix.

KIND LED Blurple

So, I try not to look a gift horse in the mouth because just making a decision on which light solution to go with is hard enough without comparing apples to oranges BUT…. I couldn’t help myself from making a little stat vs cost on industry leading options on this. Make of it what you will but if the manufacturer stats can be believed as accurate, there is a clear winner here… hmmmm.. AND just because I can’t keep quiet, why are companies charging $1,500, $1,700 dollars for a product that can’t set a higher bar? You be the judge.

Another Bottom Line

So, as it always comes down to, specs matter not unless you have a spectacular finished product. I’ll speak little on this and let the images tell the story. I find that light penetration is great on all but the most bushy of indicas and with a bit of trimming we get universal growth throughout the plant.

LA Kush Cake, Sundae Float & Red Diesel in flower

Notice the color expressions from the different strains and the absolute knockout finale. We’ve grown a Cannarado Sundae Float strain that reached nearly 33% THC content and under the microscope, it’s clear that the plant is getting what it needs to develop world class trichomes.

Ripe trichomes under a microscope

I’ll do a part three write up when we can do our light comparison. If you have any questions, feel free to hit us with a follow and message on IG.

Until next time.

-Montana Canna