What is RFI?
Have you heard someone growing marijuana say they’ve gotten a visit from the police and it was oddly just before harvest? If you’re growing marijuana and using HPS (High Pressure Sodium) lamps and ballasts, you may be playing your local police department’s favorite tune. A HPS fixture, more to the point, the ballast, could be leading law enforcement right to your door. These ballasts are emanating RFI (Radio Frequency Interference) and this RFI can be detected with ham radios. Police are reportedly utilizing ham radios to listen for electromagnetic interference (EMI) and pinpoint the exact location of a grow operation as easily as turning their radios on to an AM station.
For example, in California, a grow operation located next to a California State Fire Agency caused a continuous hum over the station’s call-box speaker and interfered with them receiving radio broadcasts over their station’s PA. The interference can sounds like pops, whistles or buzzing sounds. Tom Thompson, a ham radio operator, told a Colorado newspaper, “If I can track this down, anybody can track this down. If I listen long enough, I can tell when they turn the lights off… You can tell exactly when the harvest is.”
One amateur ham radio operator tested several HPS lights with ballasts to test for RFI. He found that one light and ballast would cause interference up to 700 meters. Each HPS light and ballast set would increase the amplification of the RFI.
How Can I Prevent This?
You may ask yourself, “How can I eliminate the possibility of my local law enforcement locating me and my grow operation?” You can solve this concern by switching away from a HPS lamp/ballast set to a more efficient method of light; such as LED (Light Emitting Diode). In addition to being vastly more energy saving, LED lighting fixtures contain no RFI to alert authorities to where you grow. By choosing the right LED, like Lush Lighting LED fixtures, you can also increase the value of your crop and fuel photosynthesis better than ever before.