Why Compressor Wall Technology is a True Grow Room Breakthrough

Video transcript

Hi, I’m Geoff Brown, VP of Technical Solutions with Quest, and I’m here in front of our breakthrough Compressor Wall Technology unitary HVAC systems for grow rooms. We offer these in a 36- and 45-ton footprint. The one behind me happens to be a 45-ton. This quick video here goes through the features and benefits that this product line offers.

We’re going to go through the system from the backside here, which is the dry cooler, and through every compartment, following the air flow path, over the next five or six minutes. But starting here with the packaged dry cooler – this is a package system, which means that you can put it on the roof and it’s ready to go. It comes from the factory charged, sealed, and ready to go, so there’s no mechanical work to be done on site. You’re not going to have to install a remote dry cooler or remote condensing unit and the HVAC specialties required with that. There’s no hot work permits or anything like that. Our dry feature EC fans. It’s a variable speed fan that allows that fan to spin as slowly as needed to reject the heat, so that reduces its noise footprint and increases the efficiency of that dry cooler module. You’ll notice the blue coating on these fins is a hydrophilic coating. What that means is it draws moisture into the coil. So, every time it rains, moisture gets drawn into the coil beads and actually pulls contaminants out of the coil. It’s effectively a self-cleaning coil, reducing your maintenance spend on these units. The black coating that goes underneath that hydrophilic coating is a SeaCoast rated. It’s a 5,000-hour salt spray rated coating, which means that these units can be installed anywhere from the California coast to the plains of Nebraska and literally anywhere in between. They are a great solution, regardless of where you are in North America. Let’s pop now to the return air section, and we’ll continue the walkthrough.

So, here we are in front of the return air section of this unit. This one happens to be equipped with a top return. And we offer return configurations of left, right, horizontal, top, or bottom. The bottom return is much, much more common. So, that’s a typical rooftop configuration. The reason I mentioned that this one is a top is because it’s a pad-mount. So, if you have a situation where you’re needing to put a unit next to a building, we offer an air flow configuration that works for that. In this compartment, the return air comes back into the unit, and that’s where our primary relative humidity and temperature sensor is. Most of the control of the unit is based on that sensor input – although we also have the capacity to either compare that and contrast it to a canopy sensor, or to control based on a canopy sensor instead of this one. Typically, we’ll make that decision during the integration step of a project – so, after the units are installed and once the system’s up and running and operating and we get a better handle on how the system and the room are interacting together. That’s part of our normal integration steps. In this unit, we offer MERV-13 filtration. That is our standard package for grow rooms. That provides protection against the mold and mildew that you guys are trying to avoid, while not being so air flow restrictive as HEPA filters and incurring the energy use penalty that you’d have from them. Very typical for a commercial grows at the MERV-13 level.

In this compartment – again, we’ll show it a little bit later on – but the individual pods, we call them, of the Compressor Wall modules, they pull out into this module. So, if you ever need to replace one, this is the compartment where that’ll happen. And again, it has the same coated coil that we have on the dry cooler. Let’s take a walk now, one compartment further in. We’ll take a look at the Compressor Wall more specifically.

This compartment is where the real meat of cooling and dehumidification for your grow room happens. You’ll see behind me six compressor modules, and those six modules work together to provide, in this case, 45 tons of cooling. So, those are about eight-ton modules each. You’ll notice on the opposite wall there’s the reheat coil, and we use a glycol-based, fully modulating reheat coil to provide a very stable room temperature. And a stable room temperature means that we’re able to better measure relative humidity and better control for it. Because the relative humidity is tied in lockstep to temperature, maintaining a stable temperature provides less stress to the plants, and again, gives us much better control over the dehumidification load and how we treat that load in the space. We’re going to now take a cut to the technology demonstrator for these Compressor Wall modules, where I can show them in much more detail.

So, here in front of the demo, we’re showing the six individual compressor modules. Each of those modules looks like this beside me, and it’s a two-stage compressor module, and each of them is individually controlled. That means that we’ve got 12 independent stages of cooling and dehumidification available to the grow room. It allows us to very closely match the demands of the grow room throughout the life cycle of the plant. So, from week one to week six to week 11, we’ve got the ability to very, very closely tie the unit’s performance to what the grow room needs. It allows us to keep compressors running more often and prevent the moisture re-evaporation that happens when you turn compressors on and off. And again, it’s all about providing a very stable room environment. These six modules also provide a great deal of built-in redundancy. If you lose a module, you only lose about 16% of the unit’s capacity, so you typically will still have enough to keep the grow operating at full power.

Each of these modules weighs about 200 pounds, so three robust guys can easily pull them out and replace one. It’s about a half hour process to do, so in the event that one of them does fail, it’s a very simple process to just swap it and replace it. But you’ll see it’s a very small refrigeration circuit, so there’s really not a lot to go wrong in it. One of the things that you will notice is that the PVC pipe behind me is our glycol circuit. And we talked about the dry cooler and the reheat coil earlier, but that glycol circuit captures all of the compressor energy, the waste heat from the compressor, and transfers that either to the reheat coil or to the dry cooler and modulates between the two – again, to ensure a very stable room temperature – and it ensures that each of these modules contains only about three pounds of refrigerant, which makes it very easy to manage from a refrigerant perspective and provides very little risk to the plants. They’re available with redundant pumps, if that’s something that you’re looking for, looking to increase the redundancy of the units. And this is really our breakthrough technology for this market. We’re finding that it works incredibly well and provides a very stable room environment, even in the early stages of a grow where maybe you haven’t quite caught up. Your mother clone veg isn’t quite ready to fully populate a flower room, and you’re not quite operating at a hundred percent or where we design those rooms. These work very, very well at part loads. Let’s continue the walkthrough now. We’ll look at the final compartment before we get to the fan section to wrap up this walkthrough.

So, in this last compartment, before we get to the fan section, we’ve got our auxiliary heating options. And so, on the left side of the compartment, you see a unit-mounted electric heater. That’s what typically goes into these units, just to provide that emergency heat. Typically, when a room has been dark and cold for a long time, it’s generally speaking not needed at all. These are such cooling centric rooms that the heat isn’t needed during the day to day operation – in fact, so much so that we typically interlock it with the compressors to not take the ampacity penalty of having that heater in there. On the other side of that compartment, we’ve got our backdraft dampers, so that allows the two main blowers, if one of them fails, it allows the other one to pick up the load and still provide about 80% of the nominal air flow, which will provide adequate control to the space until such a point that that fan gets replaced. You’ll also notice a couple of static tubes sticking out, and that allows our controller to vary the air flow and monitor the total static pressure of the unit and to increase the fan speed as the filter loading gets worse to ensure that the air flow through the space stays constant, keeps the canopy moving in a very consistent way, which is what you’re looking for over the course of the grow. Let’s now look at the controls panel, and then we’ll go into the fan section.

So, in this second to last section of the video, we’re showing the electrical compartment, and this is where all of the major electrical and controls components are housed. We’ve got a unit-mounted, non-fuse disconnect in these and a single point of electrical connection. We offer these units at 208, 460, and 575-volt three-phase – so, all of the major North American voltages – which allows for flexibility for your particular grow. You’ll notice behind me, all of the fuses, all of the, again, major control components are in that panel, which allows for easy maintenance if anything were to come up. And that panel is outside of the process airstream, which means that you can do those routine tasks without needing to shut down the unit. Again, this isn’t a controlled environment that needs to be operating all the time. So, ensuring those components are outside of the airstream means that you can provide the maintenance that they need without shutting the unit down. The controller in their command center provides for GrowSentry. It’s our proprietary Internet monitoring system that allows you, anyone you designate, as well as us at the factory, access to the unit to see over a hundred parameters in near real time, allowing us to provide early diagnostics on the system, allowing us to help a local service contractor or yourself at the facility diagnose any small hiccups and even fine tune the unit remotely. Again, as part of that commissioning step, it allows us to tailor the unit to the room as your room matures, and as your facility builds out to full capacity. None of our competitors offer anything near it. It’s a huge plus. And we provide this service at no cost, so there’s no subscription costs, there’s no additional cost to have that in the system. It’s included in every one. All you need to do is run an ethernet cable to the unit and provide the unit Internet access. Let’s look at the last compartment now. That’s the fans. And then we’ll do a quick wrap up on the video.

So, here we are in the last compartment of our Compressor Wall Technology unit. What you see behind me are the two big ECM plenum fans. Each one of those fans is capable of 80% of the total air flow of the unit, and then you got backdraft dampers to ensure if there’s a single fan failure, you still maintain that air flow to the room. Again, this compartment is big. There is this size because it provides a supplier plenum, which allows us to have supplier openings on the bottom, either side, or the top. This one’s configured with top.

So, that’s the conclusion of the Compressor Wall Technology unit. These units, as you can see, are a great fit. There’s a lot of interesting stuff in them that makes them really, really valuable for the grow room. This, coupled with GrowSentry, coupled with our world-class service network, make it a slam dunk. And so, we’re really excited to be able to bring these to you and look forward to working with you on the project.