Interview with Rami Vardi CEO of Spectrum King LED

Spectrum King LED offers those involved in cultivation a product line of state-of-the-art full spectrum grow lights manufactured by growers, for growers. In 2014, Rami Vardi founded Spectrum King LED and has created his technology company to focus on providing cultivators with efficient and long lasting LED grow lights that will lower growers overall cost and help them maintain a safely run operation.

1) What was the motivating factor that lead to the start of Spectrum King LED? What in your career lead you to working with grow light technology?

I started working with Grow Light Technology a couple of years prior to working with Spectrum King. I felt that LED technology will help underline and solve the problem that is behind the production of cannabis, the fact that at the end of the day it’s expensive. I’ve always looked at cannabis in the sense that utilizing cannabinoids like Advil at the CVS Pharmacy.  I always thought to myself “How are we going to get similar prices of cannabis when compared to Advil if the cultivation of cannabis costs this much to produce?” So, the whole incentive of starting Spectrum King LED was trying to reduce the cost of producing cannabis. As my research went on, I realized that I can use light to exploit the plant to produce more cannabinoids by impacting it with certain spectrums of light. Really, an overall efficiency of producing medicine for less cost.


2) Is Spectrum King LED a publicly traded or privately held company?

It is currently a private company. We have, and are entertaining, current offers to join some additional companies and possibly going public ourselves. It is very interesting from a sense of raising capital because with this business, at least for us being a technology company, unlike nutrients or some other components in this industry that have a high markup or gross profit margin, we are a technology company and we deal with standard types of revenues, from the thirty-forty percent range, so we can’t go from one million to one hundred million year after year without some sort of infusion of capital. For us to enter into the public market would a great way to access that capital so we can actually support what is being fed to us from the industry because we are growing exponentially.


3) What are some of the defining characteristics of Spectrum King LED grow lights? What makes them unique to others on the market?

One of the things that I think have given us the edge over a lot of companies is that, one, we have growers’ roots. Before even getting into the lighting industry we have always been growers at heart and we used traditional lighting technologies, and our company was developed as a financial means for us. So, when we got into the LED business in 2008 it was to create commercial lighting. I used to make, and still do, lights for babies with Jaundice Disease and Crigler-Najjar for phototherapy, all the way to lights that have been used inside nuclear reactors and I have current lighting at the colosseum at the Rose Bowl facility.

Again, I think what ‘s giving us the edge is the fact that we are growers by roots, but we also have a very vast expertise in the manufacturing of such a vast array of LED products that, all together, have allowed us to make the perfect grow light.

From a company perspective we are manufacturing lights created by growers, for growers. From an offering perspective I can sit here and dissect the technical aspects of all our competitors and I can say that our light is the only light that offers, truly, what a commercial grower would need.


4) Do you mind going into detail what it means to grow with a Full Spectrum grow light? What are the benefits of uses this technology?

When you think about indoor cultivation, or cultivation at all, you think about farming and the what Mother Nature has given us, which is the sun, and replacing that sun with artificial light indoors whether via greenhouse or in a complete indoor structure. The essential benefits of Full Spectrum Lighting is bringing the sun indoors, minus the harmful effects because at the end of the day the sun is not one hundred percent beneficial. So, we filtered out the negative aspects of the sun to only provide the beneficial parts of it and, therefore, made a beneficial Full Spectrum product.

By expanding the spectrum, you get to exploit different traits of the plant. So, you grow with sun quality light, but you don’t have the harmful effects of the environment. You’re growing indoors so by having that you’re able to exploit the plant and create the best quality medicine one can ever make compared to outside in the sun by doing it indoors with quality sunlight.


5) Grow lights end up costing growers heavily on their energy bill. Do your Full Spectrum LED Grow light help to minimize this cost for cultivators?

There are two scenarios I like to think of.

There is the guy that’s just setting up the operation from scratch. To those guys I will say that even though sometimes the LED, as an individual component of the overall scope of a grow room sounds expensive, it’s not when you start to add everything else. For example, if I had 40 lights that were double ended ramps I would need to put approximately twenty tons of air conditioning in that room but with LEDs, if I took forty lights I would run five tons in that room. So, the a/c cost is drastic in change that it offsets the cost of the LED. The number of breakers, electrical and everything that you need if you compare light for light in a new installation the LEDs will also wash out as they same cost, if not be a little bit cheaper, because of the infrastructure that the HPS’ require.

If you’re an existing growing operation, then you’re talking a return on investment of about 6 to 9 months. Now, what are those savings? Of course, energy. Immediately you have a reduction of your power usage from about sixty to seventy percent. Your air conditioners get reduced by about seventy percent, so now you’re a/c is seventy percent less which translates into less wear and tear on your air conditioners which translates into less energy requirement as well.

What happens with the high intensity discharge bulbs is the light degradation is pretty rapid. After six to eight months the lamps lose more than ten percent of the original light output. This is a problem because you start reducing your light output by ten percent you start to impact the yield on your total crop and so many companies today go and change their lamps after one or two cycles. That’s very costly, think about a big operation with a thousand lights and sending employees up there to remove these thousand bulbs, which are hazardous material. If one of them breaks you have to actually shut down your entire facility and call a hazmat team to clean up all the material. If you think about how many growers actually did that, out of the people that actually broke a bulb in their facility, it’s probably none. Which is where regulation comes into effect from the bulb perspective because one thing that people don’t realize is that you have to recycle these bulbs and often time that does not happen. So, they end up in our land waste and then we are talking about more mercury and aluminum oxide and that is poisonous to our environment.

So, there’s that maintenance perspective, but you also have to change the reflectors once a year. The high intensity of the double ended bulbs completely destroys the deflectors after a year. And now you have another cost.

Overall, you spend about $1500 to $2000 per lamp in maintenance costs for five years, which is the minimum warranty that we get on our product, and I can tell you that with our product it is 6 ½ years until you degrade ten percent of the light output. Our lamp completely washes out, just when you look at the maintenance perspective, when you look at your long-term business cost.


6) Describe how much safer the Spectrum King LED brand is to use than your standard grow light sold on the market.

When we built our product, we knew cannabis was going to be medicine. What is medicine? It is something we are ingesting into our body. It’s no different from food production. Therefore, we knew that in a production facility of cannabis you need to wash down all the equipment for safety reasons.  You cannot necessarily take out bulbs for all of these activities because you run the risk of damaging or breaking the bulbs, because they are extremely poisonous. We made our LED’s waterproof so that you could water them down with a hose because we thought about the guys producing this stuff. We also know, from a technology perspective, that having the LED sealed is more beneficial because of environmental issues, and as far as efficiency and longevity is concerned. It is a lot less intensive compared to a HID bulb, and not as hot so it does not burn just from touch.


7) In your opinion, what would be the best grow light your company sells for a small scale grow operation? Also, what would be the best option for a larger scale operation?

We’ve expanded our growing line to bring our benefits to smaller companies and home growers with the same quality and expectations of performance with our commercial lights.

We have a lower wattage product line ranging from 50 watts all the way up to 650 watts for different stages of growing and different plant sizes.


8) Does Spectrum King LED ship to all 50 states? Does your company over assistance to growers to help setup their lights for their grow operation?

We do ship to ship to all 50 states and internationally. In the US, we do our own distribution and we work with wholesale stores. We do same day shipping for smaller qualities, for large orders it could take 2-3 days.

Currently the adaption rate is probably five or seven percent because many people are still stuck on the old technology but, as more and more regulations happen, and you see the price per pound going down, people are starting to be more conscientious about their costs and expenses.

I expect that over the next four or five years that you’re going to see a crazy increase. We are probably going to be stay steady at five or ten, and then fifteen, percent adoption rate as the next three years go on. Then all of a sudden, you’re going to have a huge surge because the bulbs are going to be very expensive, unsafe bulbs are going to get banned or delisted and, I believe, LED technology will get a little cheaper. We are doing some developments on the R&D stage that are a couple years out and are also going to impact the community in a beneficial way by helping to reduce costs further. That’s also the reason I made my product an upgradeable one, the only one in the industry. This is taking experience from street lighting and commercial lighting and being able to upgrade product on the field without having to disassemble the products.

I think that the LED industry will be the dominant technology for horticulture, there’s no doubt about that, it’s just a matter of time.


Cash Crop Today would like to give a special thanks to Rami Vardi and the whole team at Spectrum King LED.

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