8

I want to grow vegetables in my basement year round. I live in zone 3b, in a rural area and I'd like to start selling produce as well as providing food for my family as well.

Ideally, I'd like to build a DIY LED setup, with affordable 100watt LEDs from amazon, boosters, or maybe just opt to buy the rig if the price is right. However, I noticed that the boosters draw 3amps each. That means I can only hook up 5 100 watt LEDs per breaker, and I want to grow much more than that.

1 kwh is 10.9¢, so at 16 hours a day, 10 of these would cost $1.75 per day, on two breakers. The first year I'd be paying over $600 for electricity alone.

I would like to augment this with solar panels and batteries to reduce cost over time. Is there a cost effective solution to mass growing in a basement with high powered LEDs?

2
8

The cost effective solution for quite some time is and has been and probably will be to move further "towards the equator" and ship "away from the equator", or for a few things that don't ship well and have adequate profit margin grow in a greenhouse, not a basement, sometimes with supplemental lighting.

Basement growing tends to be concentrated on high-profit mostly-illicit plants. Where they are not illicit greenhouses or warehouses (high ceilings) evidently tend to be chosen over basements.

If you are connected to the power grid, batteries make virtually no sense - check your local grid-tie regulations. Short, cloudy winter days (3b) will ensure that you are buying power in winter unless the system is massively oversized.

6

Grow mushrooms? At least cool dark areas would mean less cost in LED's infrastructure etc. And a good quality product can be grown. Failing that rhubarb forced, but would need to spend at least some of the year outside building up its energy reserves in deep moist soil.

1
4

To beat USD 0.109/kWH you'd have to create a very DIY system, possibly including auction lots of seconds (damaged goods) from eBay or a similar source of solar cells from China, and install them yourself. You might check whether there are any incentives available in your area to help offset the cost of an installed solar power system. In my area (Massachusetts) solar is not beating that cost yet.

Here's a recent article about the cost of solar power in the US that you might find interesting: http://theconversation.com/when-will-rooftop-solar-be-cheaper-than-the-grid-heres-a-map-54789

That said, in practical terms, your electricity cost probably makes some high value crops economically viable already for 100% artificial light, without solar. Let's say you grow leafy herbs such as basil or high end lettuce and other salad greens. If you buy or build high efficiency LED lighting, you can expect to adequately light ~0.5m^2 with 100W. In that space you might be able to fit 6-10 plants depending on the variety. I recommend that you research crop yields from vertical hydroponic systems and talk to potential buyers in your area to gauge their demand for locally grown produce.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.