Field of sungrown hemp with the text Sungrown hemp energy needs

It takes a lot of energy to grow good, smokable hemp. Whether the energy comes from fuel, electricity, human labor, or otherwise, we should all be more aware of what it takes to grow hemp the next time we shop online for CBD. In this post, we’ll cover the differences between the energy consumed to grow indoor vs. sungrown hemp and where we get that energy.

What is Sungrown Hemp?

Sungrown (or sun-grown) hemp is grown and finished outdoors, planted in soil, and subject to natural sunlight. This might sound obvious, but “sun-grown” isn’t interchangeable with “outdoor.” According to industry terminology, sun-grown is a subcategory of outdoor hemp. It can be grown in pots, subject to light deprivation, and more.

Sungrown hemp reaches maturity in the ground under the full sun. It’s exposed to beneficial bacteria via the soil and is more resilient to molds and mildew. Additionally, sungrown hemp develops more terpenes as a natural self-defense mechanism against pests. These terpenes not only enhance the plant’s aroma and flavor but also contribute to its therapeutic properties.

The Energy Needs of Sungrown Hemp

If done correctly, sun-grown hemp is more cost-effective and less energy-intensive than either greenhouse or indoor hemp. Because sun-grown hemp utilizes soil, rain, and the sun— the latter two of which are essentially free—the price per milligram of sun-grown CBD is usually lower than its alternatives.

That’s not to say that sun-grown hemp doesn’t require power to make the best product possible. The following are the largest energy inputs needed for sun-grown hemp cultivation:


Outdoor farming requires fuel to power machinery, small engines, and farm vehicles (at least for now). Sungrown hemp is no different. Whether using a weedwhacker to keep the rows neat or driving a pickup full of bud back to the drying shed, you’ll burn some carbon-intensive fuels. The efficiency of these processes can significantly impact the overall energy consumption of sun-grown hemp farms.


While rainwater is free and preferred by farmers, especially during hemp’s vegetative phase, it’s not always the most reliable water source for your crop. That’s where irrigation comes in.

On Sunset Lake Farms, we use a simple network of plastic drip lines to feed water to our hemp plants when we experience dry summer days. Besides the plastic used to make the drip lines, we also use a small motor to pump water from our source to the plants. This system is relatively energy-efficient, but it’s still a crucial component of the overall energy footprint.

Drying & Curing

The most crucial phase of cropping out hemp is drying. If done incorrectly, mold and mildew can ruin your entire crop. To properly dry and cure sun-grown hemp, you need to store it in a darkened, humidity-controlled environment.

Maintaining the ideal drying environment takes electricity and a closed environment, both of which require energy and space. Efficient drying and curing processes can significantly affect the quality and potency of the final product.

Sunset Lake Farm sign painted on a large saw blade

The Energy Needs of Indoor Hemp

Indoor hemp can encapsulate a lot of different growing techniques, including hydroponic, container growing, and “sea of green”—all of them have their pros and cons. For this piece, we’ll use indoor cultivation as an umbrella term for hemp grown using artificial light sources.

Power Consumption

When you move plants that have evolved to grow outside indoors, you need to maintain a favorable growing environment and feed them with lights that mimic the sun. Not just one light, though. Commercial grow rooms require rows of lights per square foot of hemp— and that requires a ton of power.

According to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council (NPCC), the average indoor cannabis grow room (a commercial cultivation room set up for cannabis and hemp) consumes between 2,000 and 3,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per pound of finished cured material produced. Most of that energy goes towards lighting, temperature, and humidity control. Take that and multiply that by several pounds of hemp per indoor grow, and that power consumption piles up.

For reference, the average American household uses about 30 kWh per day, meaning that you could run your household for 100 days on the same amount of electricity that it takes to produce one pound of Indoor vs. Sungrown Hemp cannabis.

Water Purification

Indoor hemp is more susceptible to disease and infection because it isn’t regularly exposed to the elements. Therefore, the water that indoor hemp is fed needs to be more tightly controlled. Pumping in clean water and purifying it further can be both energy and water-intensive. This process ensures that the plants receive optimal nutrients without the risk of contamination, but it adds to the overall energy demands of Indoor vs. Sungrown Hemp cultivation.

Drying & Curing

Just like sun-grown hemp, you need to properly dry and cure indoor hemp to ensure quality and prevent mold and mildew. Maintaining the ideal drying environment takes electricity and a closed environment, both of which require energy and space. The controlled indoor environment allows for more precise management of these conditions but at the cost of increased energy consumption.

Indoor vs. Sungrown Hemp: A Comparison

While indoor hemp cultivation does have its pros, such as year-round harvesting and consistency, it also comes with a fair amount of energy baggage.

Environmental Impact

Is indoor hemp 18 times better than sun-grown hemp? No? Then it becomes harder to justify the fact that indoor hemp cultivation consumes 18 times more energy per gram than sun-grown hemp. This significant difference in energy consumption highlights the environmental impact of indoor cultivation.

Cost Implications

The high energy costs associated with indoor hemp cultivation translate into higher prices for consumers. In contrast, the natural advantages of sungrown hemp, such as using sunlight and rainwater, make it a more cost-effective option. This difference in production costs can influence consumer choices, especially for those who prioritize sustainability and affordability.

Quality and Potency

There is ongoing debate about whether sun-grown or indoor hemp produces better quality CBD. Sungrown hemp benefits from natural sunlight, which can enhance terpene production and overall plant health. Indoor hemp, however, allows for more controlled growth conditions, potentially resulting in more consistent cannabinoid profiles. Ultimately, the preference between sun-grown and indoor hemp may come down to individual consumer needs and values.


If you prefer greener, more environmentally-friendly CBD hemp flower, support your local sun-grown farmer. By choosing sun-grown hemp products, you can help reduce the overall energy consumption associated with hemp cultivation and promote sustainable farming practices. For more information Visit Sunset Lake CBD.


  1. What is the main difference between sun-grown and indoor hemp?
    • Sungrown hemp is grown outdoors using natural sunlight, while indoor hemp is cultivated inside using artificial light sources.
  2. Why is sun-grown hemp considered more energy-efficient than indoor hemp?
    • Sungrown hemp utilizes natural resources like sunlight and rainwater, which are essentially free, reducing the overall energy consumption compared to indoor hemp which relies heavily on artificial lighting and controlled environments.
  3. What are the energy requirements for growing indoor hemp?
    • Indoor hemp requires significant energy for lighting, temperature control, and humidity regulation. On average, it consumes between 2,000 and 3,000 kilowatt hours per pound of finished material.
  4. How does irrigation differ for sun-grown hemp compared to indoor hemp?
    • Sungrown hemp primarily relies on rainwater but may use irrigation systems during dry periods. Indoor hemp requires a controlled water supply, often involving energy-intensive purification processes.
  5. What are the environmental benefits of choosing sun-grown hemp products?
    • Sungrown hemp products generally have a lower carbon footprint due to reduced energy consumption in the cultivation process, making them a more environmentally friendly option.