Intense heating and cooling needs for indoor farming operations has sparked a boom for propane fuel in both urban and rural markets that have inadequate electricity and no natural gas infrastructure.
In these markets, propane sellers are coupling volume pricing with an innovative gas heat-pump (GHP) air conditioning system that makes propane an alternative to upgrading electric utility infrastructure.
The new Sierra GHP commercial heating and cooling unit, available in the U.S. from HVAC pioneer Mestex, a division of Mestek, provides energy-efficient indoor climate management, 24/7. Sierra state-of-the-art propane-powered mechanical systems are controlling the climates of award-winning indoor agriculture facilities – cannabis, vegetables and microgreens – nationwide.
"For commercial indoor agriculture, the availability, quality and consistency of electricity for heating and cooling is often inadequate," said Sarah Swinford, vice president for engineered sales at Mestek, Inc. "The Sierra propane-fueled, industrial-grade HVAC system allows commercial indoor growers to maintain precise temperature, humidity and CO2 levels in both remote and urban areas that have limited infrastructure."
An underdeveloped area just north of Las Vegas houses a new industrial park and among the tenants are commercial indoor cannabis grow facilities. The lack of water, sewer, and natural gas line access to the area has posed problems for the developing businesses.
"There is uncertainty as to whether growers in this area will ever have access to natural gas lines, so propane is the solution," said William Platz of Delta Liquid Energy, a propane distributor in Nevada and California. "By using propane-powered HVAC systems, our fuel allows these businesses to keep their operation running efficiently at a price that's competitive with both electric and natural gas utilities."
Demand is growing in the U.S. for the Sierra GHP, which unlike any other air conditioning system on the market, uses an internal combustion engine to drive mechanical parts of the unit. Fueled by natural gas or liquefied petroleum gas (propane), the Sierra GHP is ideal for indoor agricultural applications that rely on mission-critical heating and cooling, as well as for general commercial, institutional and residential buildings.