21 Jan 4 Ways LEDs Enhance Environmental Control
How do LEDs Benefit Greenhouses?
A major benefit of implementing LED systems in a greenhouse is the reduction in overall operating costs. The reduction in costs can be seen in the form of energy efficiency, rebates, labor costs and enhanced control of the environment. Altogether, they represent a superior value proposition for greenhouse growers who are looking to retrofit their facilities. The ability to control the environment through lighting technology is most critical to production—and often difficult to get right.
A solid understanding of how LED lights can improve environmental control is essential before, during, and after a retrofit. Here are four ways in which LEDs enhance environmental control for improved crop quality and yield.
1. Improved Greenhouse Management
HPS lights produce a significant amount of heat. However, when they are turned off, the resulting changes in the environment can leave crops more vulnerable to condensation and pathogens as they cool faster than other surfaces. This poses obvious but avoidable risks.
Under LED lights, the environment is less affected by heat produced from lighting, relying instead on the more precise HVAC system designed exactly for the management of maintaining set points in temperature and humidity. This enhanced stability from LEDs ultimately translates to less condensation on plants, reduced water use and less dehumidification venting.
2. Efficiency in Environmental Control
The ambient temperature in a greenhouse also plays a major role in the physiological functions and pollen development of certain crops such as cucumbers and tomatoes. With HPS systems, it is far more costly and difficult to maintain adequate heat levels, leading to fluctuations that stress plants.
It is also worth noting that because LEDs emit less heat in the form of infrared radiation, LED systems provide greater opportunities to use supplemental lighting at times that wouldn’t be possible with HPS without risking plant health. While HPS lamps may perform two different tasks–both lighting and heating, they accomplish neither task particularly well and represent a far greater danger to plants should they fail. Ultimately, maintaining optimal temperatures should be the responsibility of the HVAC system.
An LED retrofit may require the addition of a heating system, but growers will often see reduced heating loads overall and, more importantly, favor their increased control of their environments.
3. Improved Environmental Safety
As PPFD increases, maintaining supplemental CO2 levels is critical to maximizing photobiological responses and overall production. A concentration of 800 to 1,000 ppm is often the optimal range for most crops to promote flowering and improve yields. However, growers who use HPS lights must vent their greenhouses either to dehumidify or cool their environments, creating wild fluctuations in temperature, humidity and CO2 levels.
LED systems decrease the need for venting, which allows for better climate control, CO2 preservation, increased photosynthesis, improved morphology and lower disease occurrence. For those dealing with light pollution regulations and/or using ceiling curtains, LEDs provide the added benefit of lowering the risk of overheating or causing fires, which can translate to reduced insurance premiums
4. Increased Profitability and Plant Growth
HPS lights in traditional greenhouses supplemented crops upwards of 200 to 250 micromoles (µmol/m2/s). However, researchers studying the effects of LEDs are increasingly noting higher saturation points of many crops, creating new pathways to improve profitability for growers. An LED retrofit facilitates higher PPFD and improved production and growth.
Studies show that increasing PPFD also increases crop weight until the saturation point. In many cases, a 1% rise in PPFD has translated to a 1% increase in yield.
Today, cultivators are tapping into these findings and pushing PPFD levels as high as 300 micromoles (µmol/m2/s). When a facility replaces an HPS system with an LED system of similar wattage, supplementation capacity nearly doubles.
Fluence Lighting Experts are Here to Help
Understanding the benefits of LED systems on crop quality and yield is simple. Identifying and deploying the cultivation strategy that is best for your greenhouse is more challenging. That’s where Fluence excels.
If you’re looking to change the lighting system in your greenhouse to enhance your environmental control capabilities, contact us so we can learn more about your current system and provide a recommendation customized to meet your goals.