According to a recent article by a San Francisco-area police officer, indoor marijuana grows are proliferating and many of them are illegal. Due to their frequent use of uncertified equipment that is manufactured overseas with little to no regulatory oversight, there has been a significant amount of radio frequency interference (RFI) that leaves these operations vulnerable to discovery.
To grow marijuana indoors, you need supplemental lighting necessary for photosynthesis. These lights may be fluorescent, LED, and for larger operations, high pressure sodium (HPS) or metal halide (MH). The HPS and MH lamps may be 1,000W per lamp and require a ballast for proper operation. These ballasts were originally magnetic but in the past few years have become electronic. These devices are subject to FCC Part 18 rules, but many have not undergone FCC testing and certification.
Because of this, the lighting equipment is causing electromagnetic interference (EMI) with nearby electronics. As an example, one grow next to a CalFire station — California’s state fire agency — caused a continuous hum over the station’s callbox speaker and interfered with radio broadcasts over their station’s PA.
Many ham radio operators can locate a grow simply by taking a radio and portable antennae out into their neighborhood and using the radio to triangulate the exact location of the operation. One amateur radio operator located five marijuana grows near his house due to RFI alone!
We can’t help illegal pot growers. On the other hand, legal U.S. indoor marijuana farms should verify that grow equipment has:
- An authentic FCC sticker indicating it has undergone appropriate EMC testing
- An authentic product safety label from an NRTL like MET Labs
- Energy-saving ENERGY STAR certification for certain product categories
Are you a grower with uncertified equipment? Contact us for a quick and easy field evaluation.
Are you a marijuana industry electrical product manufacturer who wants to exploit the growing legalization of pot? Contact us today to discover what regulations apply to your product.