There isn’t a grower out there who doesn’t love to discuss the types of strains they are growing, what growing methods they use and what their yields are. But one important topic that we don't talk about as often is the finances. And let's be real, this is pretty important. So what are the costs of growing cannabis on your own?
This post will outline in detail how much you can expect to spend in order to start growing cannabis plants and how much you will need to spend on each harvest thereafter.
Before we begin, it is important to note that the cost associated with your grow will vary greatly depending on various factors - for example, whether you are growing outdoors or indoors or whether you’re growing in soil or hydro. For this analysis, we assume that you are growing indoors in soil and that you’re growing four plants. We also assume that your grow area is 16 square feet in size (minimum recommended size for growing 4 plants), that there’s no need to use AC and that only one room is being used for both the vegetative and flowering phase.
So let’s begin! In order to grow cannabis you will either need to build a grow area in your residence or you can buy a grow tent instead. Tents are great for growers as they help optimize and control the indoor grow environment. In addition, you will need to purchase a light system, a fan and a carbon filter and various accessories, such as pots, water tanks, trimming scissors, trellis, zip ties, stakes, and labels. You may also want to purchase a water pump, if you want to automate the task of watering of plants.
While these costs seem high (you could buy 3 ounces of cannabis for that amount), the good news is that all of these are generally fixed in nature, meaning that they are one-time costs you won’t have to incur with each grow. It’s also worth noting that start-up costs for outdoor growers would be much lower as you would not have to spend any money on the light system and carbon filter, which are the main drivers of fixed costs. However, growing outdoors decreases the amount of control you have and may not be practical for everyone.
Variable, recurring costs include the cost of seeds, soil, nutrients and electricity. Costs which you can expect to incur with each grow total to between $110 and $220 and are mainly driven by electricity costs (see more on how to calculate electricity costs below). New growers can expect to yield at least 40 grams of dried cannabis per plant on average. This amount can easily increase to over 100 grams per plant with some time and experience. Given that average cost of cannabis in dispensaries ranges between $8 and $20 per gram, you can see that the start-up costs can be well worth it if you are willing to invest the time necessary to care for your plants.
Electricity is generally the highest variable cost and it is also one cost which can vary greatly depending on various factors (i.e. the cost of electricity in your state/province, the length of your vegetative/flowering stages, and your light cycles). As such, it is worth taking a bit more time to understand how this cost is calculated. Specifically, the cost of electricity is calculated as follows:
Cost per kWh x (Watts/1000) x Number of Hours
In the table above the price quoted is for a 400-watt HPS bulb, which is also used for this calculation. We also assume a vegetative period of 30 days (light cycle: 18h on / 6h off) and a flowering period of 60 days (light cycle: 12h on / 12h off). Finally, we will use the average electricity price in California of 15.35 cents per kWh. As such, the expected electricity cost would be as follows:
$0.1535 x (400/1,000) x [ (30x18) + (60x12) ] =
$0.1535 x 0.40 x 1,260 =
All of these factors would be adjusted to match the circumstances applicable to your grow, but once you understand the calculation you should have no trouble estimating your electricity costs.
With all of this in mind, you should have a rough estimate of what it will cost to set up your first grow, on a budget. The costs will vary depending on your environment, preferences and materials used but this will help you get started!