Investing in LED grow lights is bound to pay off over time due to the lights’ low energy consumption, low heat emission, and light spectra optimized for efficient plant growth. However, the investment may prove to be wasteful if the crucial step of light planning is executed improperly.
According to a story posted by lighting supplier Valoya on the company’s website, it’s all about achieving the largest possible optimal light intensity area with the lowest possible number of lights. There are three steps to making this happen.
Step 1: Determining Plant Requirements
Through the process of light planning, you can determine how best to feed plants with light. Before you do that, you need to understand the plant in question and its needs:
• Daily photoperiod. The number of hours you expose the plant to light within a 24-hour period
• Intensity of lighting, or how many photons are fed to the plants, typically measured in µmol/m2/s
• Determining the right light spectrum, i.e. combinations of wavelengths for each growth phase
What makes this task challenging are different requirements for each plant variety, as well as each growth phase. Good artificial lighting is a close match to sunlight, but artificial lighting can go even a step further and feed the plants with wavelengths that could grow plants even faster and more nutrient dense than when grown under sunlight.
Step 2: The Choice of Lights
Understanding how much light a plant needs in each of its growth phases gives input to how many lights should be used, what kind of lights, and how they should be positioned. Simultaneously, the application determines the type to be used. Applications range from very low light intensity installations, such as tissue culture laboratories where the intensities range from 10 to 100 µmol/m2/s, to high light intensity installations, such as a growth chamber mimicking outdoor conditions, where light intensity could be as high as 2000 µmol/m2/s.
Step 3: Light Planning
The goals of light planning are:
• To meet the µmol/m2/s requirements for each growth phase with the lowest possible fixture number, thus helping to cut costs of the lighting system acquisition.
• To achieve the maximum light uniformity of the illuminated area. This means creating the most efficient lighting layout with which the biggest amount of crops will be covered with the required light intensity levels. This decision helps to get the most out of invested funds, as well as get the most efficient growing process.
• To reduce light loss by optimizing the spacing and height of the fixtures. This means planning the lighting configuration so that the biggest part of illumination will be directed to the crops and in a way that the optimal light intensity area is as large as it can be. This decision helps to get the most efficient use of lighting from each used watt of energy.
A mistake in any of the steps listed above, such as inadequate micromoles level, incorrectly chosen type of fixture, or badly positioned light elements, will reduce the quality and quantity of the harvest. This is why having a professional, comprehensive light plan ensures optimal returns from the grow lights investment. For researchers, it is reliable data, and for growers, it is profits.
Read the complete story here.