Until recently, there haven't been many ready-made lighting solutions for cannabis cultivation. In most cases, growers were using the same lighting setups that growers of other indoor crops were using, which sucked a lot of energy and were highly ineffective, Brent Perkins, President & COO of Scynce—a company that specializes in producing LED lighting solutions for cannabis farmers—told Civilized.
"Up until the last couple of years, all the lighting used in the cannabis space has been HPS or HID, which is high-pressure sodium or high-intensity discharge—ultimately these are street lights. It's stuff we use in architecture. So indoors or outdoors, but not to grow plants."
Perkins sought to solve this problem, and wanted to develop lighting solutions that would work in an evolving cannabis industry. That's where Scynce CEO Steve Adams comes in. He previously had a successful career developing LED lighting for the automotive space with Rigid Industries.
"I'm sure you've seen those light bars on everbody's cars nowadays? We started that industry, came up with the original idea of that product and then took it to market."
Perkins says it was Adams' innovative work with LED optics that has allowed Scynce to develop new forms of LED grow light that are much more effective then previous set-ups.
"Everybody would love to switch over to LEDs, the problem is that this first wave of LED lights that kind of hit the horticultural market were really bare LEDs stuck to a board with a power supply coming out of China. And people said, 'hey, use this because it saves energy.' But it was still not made well - not waterproof, blasting light all over the place because they weren't using optics. And what Steve did over the last 5 years through different R&D efforts was come up with a way to utilize his optics experience in automotive, apply it to horticulture and give lights—or give plants—something they've never seen before."
Simply developing an advanced LED lighting solution for generic indoor farming operations wasn't the end goal. "Our optics were really designed for the cannabis space," says Adams.
"We actually went backwards and looked at the lighting technologies and thought, 'how can we apply this to the problems that these guys are having?' It could be applied in tomatoes or strawberries or stuff like that but really it's optimized for a large stature plants."
The bit about large stature plants is important, as this is one of primary reasons why cannabis growers had avoided LED solutions in the past. In outdoor growing situations, the cannabis plants are bathed from all directions by natural light sources, but often indoor light doesn't penetrate beyond the canopy—it's focused on the top portion of the plants. Sycnce has developed away to get around this.
"We hang our hat on the optics—that is our key differentiator," said Perkins. "That's what our most powerful patent is around. And what it basically does is it changes the derivative light energy from being the most powerful directly underneath the light to being the most powerful on the angle."
This allows their lighting systems to have light dispersion that is much more similar to what the sun would provide outdoors than the typical indoor lighting solutions.
And while the majority of their products right now are industry-facing, Adams has smaller units intended for the home grow market in production.
"We're in the process of coming out—probably in 90 to 120 days—with a 125 watt light which is really designed for the home grow market."
These units will be built to the same standard as their commercial product and will come with the same smartphone app integration that their larger products leverage.
"They get all of the same advantages as a commercial grower would have: light spectrum tuning, scheduling, home grow designed product."