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The Future of Horticulture Science & Engineering

A look at LED’s and one of the top names in the game—FOHSE

LED cannabis lighting has exploded in the last 3-5 years, with many new choices in the market. Traditionally, indoor growers have relied on HPS lights, which stands for High Pressure Sodium: a type of (HID) Metal Halide light that produces a specific light spectrum intended for cannabis plants. Cannabis plants can only absorb a specific range of light spectrum through photosynthesis. Growers traditionally wanted proper light spectrums to feed the plant, and this was all that mattered. In the last few years, LED companies touted more powerful lights using a fraction of the power cost. However, there was little research to validate claims of many LED companies and even less customer service for the cannabis growers. Without proper guidance, most facilities were initially reluctant to switch from traditional HPS systems to LED lights.

Today’s LED’s can be far more powerful than traditional HPS light fixtures, producing more intense light at a specific spectrum that is able to change over the course of the growth cycle. LED fixtures in the last 2-3 years have been responsible for astonishing yields and quality. The drivers and algorithms powering the new grow lights are able to be programmed more intricately than ever before. It’s clear that LED is the future of indoor cannabis production as the industry continues advancing to grow more cannabis in larger facilities. Facility data from real time growth metrics are collected by industry leaders like FOHSE to advance light designs. Every component of a FOHSE light fixture is engineered and tested in American commercial cannabis grows before public release.

FOHSE LED fixtures line the ceilings of some amazing indoor cannabis grows. Pictured here.

  1. Green Life ProductionsLas Vegas, Nevada

  2. In The FlowTelluride, Colorado

  3. Legion of BloomOakland, California

  4. LumeEvart, Michigan 

  5. Sister Mary FarmsNorman, Oklahoma 

  6. Valley PureHumboldt, California 

  7. Belushi FarmsEagle Point, Oregon

These cannabis producers grow quality cannabis while providing data to help FOHSE further innovate lighting designs. Client relationships are the main tool used for compiling lighting data for research.

Jim Belushi has a passion for growing the best cannabis that he can for resale and for his personal stash. The Belushi Farms new facility will be lit by FOHSE O6i’s and F1Vs to maximize yields and terpene production. Belushi is used to consuming organic cannabis grown outdoors and wants his indoor flowers to contain as many flavorful terpenes as possible.

Steve Cantwell, founder of Green Life Productions, retired from a successful UFC career before growing cannabis medicine for himself and others. The GLP team is responsible for growing many of the newest hybrid strains available.

In the case of Belushi Farms, the team from FOHSE is consulting during the facility buildout to ensure the most efficient light coverage in each cubic foot of space. This is the type of customer experience CEO Brett Stevens and President Ben Arnet insisted on bringing to the LED cannabis market. Many LED companies are known for low light crops like lettuce or berries and will retrofit certain models to sell immediately in the cannabis space. They rely on the cannabis facilities to find what works through trial and error like, here’s a light that works great for growing microgreens… let us know how it works for cannabis. 

Brett explained that customer service and dedication to cannabis was lacking in the growers LED market. FOHSE dedicated a full two years to developing proprietary light designs dedicated solely to cannabis plants before ever releasing their first product.

We had to truly understand the photomorphic and genetic responses of how the red and blue light ratio was actually affecting the plant before rushing to market to just sell something. Brett Stevens, CEO Fohse

Let there be light!

A high-intensity light fixture pushes a lot of photons on the plant. Better understanding of optimal light spectrums throughout the plant’s life is causing explosions in both terpene and yield production. Light spectrum “recipes” are very expensive to look at but FOHSE spent well over a million dollars measuring light changes throughout the cannabis growth cycle. In the different growth phases such as ‘early veg’ or ‘late flower’, the plant might accept different spectrums and do different things on a cellular level. The whole time, researchers are watching the production of the mitochondria energy through adenosine triphosphates as the plant grows and grows.

Ben Arnet and Brett Stevens were successful in other businesses before LED lighting was ever a thought. They opened a 55,000 square foot grow and began due diligence to find the best LED technology on the market. They found that there was no customer service to help dial in a new LED setup.

If we were going to come to market then it had to be with more than a product. We had to establish value. There’s a big difference between selling a product and selling something that will help the people. -Brett Stevens, CEO

Nobody creates a more premium LED lighting product than FOHSE and that’s a promise. – Brett Stevens, CEO

Confidence + Results

Everybody wants to see pictures of results. The facilities shown in this article are growing monster colas on a regular basis. FOHSE is passionate about getting growers to test their equipment. This dedication to the customer experience is what established FOHSE as one of the top brands in LED lighting.

We could make this light half the weight, half the price or even less and cut corners everywhere. But we do not cut corners. Our team sat, designed, tested, and researched this technology for two solid years before we brought our first product to market. We knew when we came into the LED lighting industry that there was no room for doing things halfway. Brett Stevens, CEO Fohse

Dedication To Quality

When people wanted a home option, engineers could have cheapened out all the parts to just make a product with the FOHSE name brand on it. Instead, FOHSE re-engineered their commercial A3i fixture to be a microfit home version called the Aries. They used every single one of the same components along with new tooling to make the home Aries version.

The FOHSE product line is built to accommodate commercial clients with 1,000-5,000+ lights. Homegrows were never a thought in the boardroom but this was constantly the number one complaint from customer feedback. The A3i is so powerful that home customers needed a smaller version with the same components and technology. The team at FOHSE knew that yields over 60-70 grams per square foot were standard in a home setup with their F1V models but they wanted to see double those numbers. FOHSE likes to achieve yields that were not possible indoors before.

It seems that cannabis LED tech has been slow to develop because companies lacked cannabis focused lighting products. This dedication research and client feedback has set FOHSE on a path of exponential growth.

How can the A3i- 1500 watt LED fixture be more efficient than a lower 1000-watt HPS?

1. You’ll need less fixtures to illuminate a given area compared to 1000W DE HPS.

2. You’ll never run the A3i at full power. Growers will start off at 30% output and gradually ramp up as the plants mature, capping out around 80-85%.

So why make a 1500W fixture when you’ll never actually use all 1500 watts?

1. Diodes are actually much more efficient when running below ‘maximum capacity’.

2. Diodes will last a lot longer if they are run below max capacity.

So we packed in the extra power to gain an edge in efficiency, as well as dramatically increase the lifespan of the fixture.

And who knows, maybe someday someone will breed a freak mutant gene that’s capable of the A3i’s total power potential.

It’s easy to put a diode into a light and connect a power supply to turn a light on. It’s not easy to understand how cannabis plants digest and feed from light spectrums during every minute of the day. Brett Stevens, CEO Fohse

Cannabis Focused

Cannabis grows as big as a tree at the speed of a weed and it produces fruit that we harvest to digest. There’s not a lot of plants that will take the PPFD density (photosynthetic photon flux density) that a cannabis plant will. There’s not a lot of plants that can take as much light or grow this quickly anywhere on earth. There’s a specific light spectrum that a cannabis plant can digest for optimum growth. The spectrum of light available for photosynthesis is called Photosynthetically Active Radiation (PAR). The latest research out of the Crop Physiology Department at Utah State University led by Dr. Bruce Bugbee shows that light with wavelengths between 400 nm – 750 nm can be described as PAR. Plants can’t really do anything with the remaining light photons outside of this spectrum. The extra light photons will bounce around the room settling in pockets of black body radiation. Black body radiation is all the excess light and excess ballast heat that is trapped in the room. If the plant can’t take in the excess light then it has to protect against it. Constant changes in pressure, temperature and humidity make it difficult for an indoor cannabis garden to maintain homeostasis.

In LED rooms the plant is not only absorbing the majority of light spectrum being put out but the fixture is also running at an ambient 100 degrees fahrenheit. This allows the HVAC system to operate normally without having to battle excess heat radiation. As long as farmers maintain feedings and proper AC ventilation, plants are regularly producing over 100+ grams per sq. ft. with some grows producing astoundingly high yields.

Without constant cooling, the high pressure sodium lights can cause so much excess radiative heat that the plants will suffer. Ambient leaf surface temperature for the most cell movement in the cannabis plant is 83 to 84 degrees and quality LED’s like FOHSE can maintain this temperature without battling elements of air, heat and light.

In HPS rooms, all that radiative heat blasting the top of the canopy must be battled with cooler air pumped into the room. The result is an extreme temperature gradient between the top of the canopy and the lower canopy. This leads to lower cannabinoid & terpene production in the upper canopy (volatile compounds are degraded by excessive heat), and more larf in the lower canopy (cooler temperatures slow down photosynthesis and flower production).

This effect is diminished in an LED room, hence the better cannabinoid and terpene profiles, and better intracanopy bud development in LED rooms. This means the plants are actively growing but also calm, showing no signs of stress. By only sending the spectrum of light that the plant can readily digest, there is little excess heat and light bouncing around the room during each hour of the day.

LED Tips and Terms

There are two important pieces of equipment for measuring light during plant growth; these are integrating spheres for the manufacturer and quantum meter sensors for growers. An integrating sphere is a tool that captures and measures all photons in an area as small as a few centimeters and as big as three meters in diameter. The output figure is called PPF, a measurement of a fixture’s maximum output. These commercial industry tools do not apply to home growers and smaller light manufacturers due to the high costs. A Quantum Meter directly measures the number of photons hitting the surface of the sensor and is used to measure photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD).

A PPFD map is created by measuring many points across a room to see how efficient and effective the lighting system delivers photons to where they matter most – the crop canopy. However, it’s easy to get desired results if only a small amount of the area directly beneath each light is measured. This is where it gets tricky because companies can choose which data to show. Does a grower really need to understand how an integrating sphere works to choose a grow light?

The answer is no, but DO NOT invest in any commercial LED company who does not provide third party validation to verify their lighting spec claims.

LED Terminology

(PAR) Photosynthetically Active Radiation – This is the spectral range of light that promotes photosynthesis growth within a plant. The cannabis plant can feed on light between 400-750nm nanometers.

(PPF) Photosynthetic Photon Flux – This is the total number of photons in the PAR range that a light source emits each second. This PPF measurement is taken by a third party by a piece of equipment called an integrating sphere.

(PPFD) Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density – This is the total number of PAR photons that hit a square meter in one second. This is easier to measure from one direct source like the sun but indoors it requires readings from many more points in the room to account for multiple sources of light. 

What happens after you buy the lights?

Companies such as FOHSE include a standing offer to buy the lights back if they do not perform as specified. This type of customer service is unparalleled in the cannabis industry.

For more information on FOHSE home grow options, commercial sales or facility consultation visit


Check out more awesome local businesses.


Michael Cassini is the founder and editor in chief of The Cannabis Cactus Magazine. He focuses on community relationships with a goal to maintain a culture of love, peace and knowledge in the cannabis industry.


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