Real Leaf Solutions, Kalkaska, Michigan, USA
Airflow Strategies Using Fabric Duct Promote Optimum Harvest Goals
By changing the air dispersion system from conventional metal to fabric, Real Leaf Solutions maximized their crop's potential.
Real Leaf Solutions (RLS) in Kalkaska, Michigan, is a three-year-old North American cannabis grow operation specializing in cannabis cultivation, harvest, and processing.
This state-of-the-art grow facility faced HVAC challenges that revolved around getting airflow to the plants and their soilless peat/coca mix at the right velocity, uniformity, temperature, and relative humidity. They also struggled to maintain optimum growing conditions. The all-metal building’s flowering rooms were supplied with conventional DX split systems. The ceiling-hung air handler’s metal spiral ductwork with registers every 10 feet created drafts, hot spots, and air stratification that affected yields.
The FabricAir duct solution incorporated a linear orifice array at the 4 and 8 o’clock positions on each 20-inch-diameter. The Combi 70 fabric also disperses approximately 12-percent of the airflow through the duct’s permeable surface to prevent condensation. The factory-engineered permeability and linear dispersion result in a uniform 2,500-CFM air distribution per duct run that helps plants thrive.
Each flowering room’s four ceiling-hung V-II Airstage Fujitsu evaporator units supplied by two outdoor heat pump condensers can maintain preferred +25°C (77°F) and 56-percent relative humidity within a tight ±1 tolerance. Each room was set up to provide cooling/dehumidification and heating from any of the four evaporators simultaneously if needed.
FabricAir duct’s lighter weight and easy installation enabled a two-person crew to install five 10 to 12-meter-long duct runs in less than three days and without heavy-duty lifting equipment or removing the facility’s dozens of 1,000-watt, double-ended, mixed spectrum, high-pressure sodium light fixtures. Each run is suspended on a PVC-coated metal cable hung 60 centimeters below the 4-meter-high ceilings.
The new HVAC environment not only raised yields, but the enhanced air comfort has also increased staff comfort and productivity. “It is a different environment, you get a very strange sensation when entering compared to the other rooms,” said Tyler Pickard, Real Leaf Solutions’ Lead cultivator when describing the improved air quality and subtle air movement.
Disassembling and commercially laundering FabricAir ducts requires less than a half-day for one employee.“Cleaning metal duct is difficult when they are in place and taking them down would require the added costs of a contractor with the correct equipment. Laundering the fabric duct is easy and creates a more sterile environment,” said Tom Beller, Real Leaf Solutions’ Co-owner and Chief Operations Officer.