Purple Frost Genetics: A Bright Way to Reduce Operational Costs



Purple Frost Genetics is a high-grade medical marijuana producer and seed distributor based out of Santa Cruz, California. Purple Frost Genetics has cultivated many award-winning strains that have placed in the Santa Cruz CannaCup, the CaliCannaCup, and HempCon. Purple Frost has even been featured in High Times! Previously, the Purple Frost facility was completely outfitted with 1200 W high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. Although these HPS lamps produced great yields, several challenges arose due to the high ambient heat levels.

To achieve optimal yields and quality, cannabis plants require high light levels. Many growers rely on HPS lamps because of their ability to deliver adequate photosynthetically active radiation. HPS lamps are only about 25% efficient and the wasted electrical energy is lost as heat. In turn, this wasted thermal energy increases the temperature of the room. Managing this excess heat requires significant cooling via the HVAC system, which can inflate operating costs. Purple Frost approached URSA Lighting to replace their facility’s HPS lamps with an LED solution that could decrease their energy bill. In many grow facilities energy is the greatest expense, next to labor costs.

“Although Purple Frost has seen benefits from the boosts in cannabis yields and quality, the outstanding value has come from the savings in energy and operational efficiency”


URSA Lighting created a lighting simulation for the Purple Frost facility to ensure that when the new LED luminaires were implemented, the photosynthetic photo flux density and efficiency surpassed that of the old HPS lamps. Using URSA Lighting’s Helios 600 W luminaire, the light output was greater and more even than before!

In the early stages of LED technology there was a surge of low quality products. Because of this, LED technology received a poor reputation due to ineffective integration of the technology. In 2008, LEDs were as electrically efficient as fluorescent lamps and slighting less efficient than HPS lamps at converting electrical energy to light1. Today, LEDs are up to 90% energy efficient, depending on the spectrum, and surpass the efficiency of both fluorescent and HPS lamps. With ongoing improvements in terms of energy efficiency and availability of photosynthesis-driving wavelengths, LEDs provide a viable solution to the profitability and sustainability issues that cannabis growers face.

Old Lights 1200 W high pressure sodium
New Luminaires Helios 600 W LED
Strain Stargate, Scrumpy, Schamell #9
Hang Height 2 ft
Veg 4 weeks, fluorescent, 24 hr day length
Flower 10 weeks, Helios 600 W, 12 hr day length


Purple Frost Genetics implemented URSA Lighting’s Helios 600 W LED luminaires in their main flowering room. The new Helios 600 W LED lights were tested using the same growing conditions as the previous setup with HPS lights, allowing for a direct comparison to be made between the two lighting options. Using URSA Lighting’s Helios 600 W LED, Purple Frost was able to increase their yields by 4% and potency (THC content) by 2%.

Although Purple Frost has seen benefits from the boosts in cannabis yields and quality, the outstanding value has come from the savings in energy and operational efficiency. Purple Frost Genetics reports that by replacing their 1200 W HPS lamps with URSA Lighting’s Helios 600 W LED, they reduced their power usage by 55%. This is attributed to the lower wattage requirements of URSA’s LED lights compared to HPS as well as energy savings from decreased HVAC use. HPS lamps have high thermal output that requires significant cooling and considerable separation distance between the lamps and plants. When switching to URSA Lighting’s Helios 600 W LED luminaires, the ambient air temperature decreased by ~6°C (10°F) and the HVAC system could be turned down. Furthermore, the switch to URSA LEDs reduced the long-term maintenance costs that are typically associated with maintaining HPS lamps, including changing the bulbs, researching bulb replacement options, and installation time.

LED lights are anticipated to replace HPS lamps in most applications as a result of their reduced electricity consumption and maintenance costs, improved quality of light, and the possibility for a customized light spectrum for increasing yields. Cannabis growers stand to greatly decrease their energy use. This directly translates into reduced operational costs for the growers and reduced carbon emissions.

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