New materials from leading manufacturers are designed to maximize light diffusion and create a more efficient growing environment. Keep reading for a look at some of the latest developments (a slideshow above offers a visual look).
F-Clean Greenhouse Film (AGC Chemicals Americas, Inc.)
F-Clean film from AGC Chemicals Americas, Inc. is a covering material that provides more than 93% light transmittance and higher ultraviolet (UV) transmission than glass, polyethylene, or polycarbonate. This allows the full spectrum of solar light to pass into the growing area. It is available in clear, diffused, and UV-blocking versions. F-Clean film is designed to protect greenhouses for more than 25 years without showing signs of deterioration. With low reflection and refraction rates, it transmits more light during low sunlight periods in the morning and evening hours. Very low surface energy means that rain will wash away dirt, and snow and ice slide off easily.
Twin-Wall Solexx HDPE Panels (Adaptive Plastics)
Twin-wall Solexx HDPE panels are designed for maximum light diffusion to eliminate microclimates and plant burning in the greenhouse. Studies show diffuse light increases plant health and accelerates growth, with plants ready for market up to 25% sooner. Solexx 5-millimeter panels have a higher insulation value (2.3R) than 8-millimeter triple-wall polycarbonate, resulting in significant reductions in energy costs. The flexible material ships in rolls up to 300 feet to save money on freight, installation, and hardware costs. Solexx can be bent around corners and over roof peaks for fewer seams.
Luminance (AT Films, Inc.)
Luminance is a highly diffused thermal film that provides high PAR light transmission. The diffused light creates an even light canopy in the greenhouse, reaching the plants from all angles. This helps to eliminate stretching and produces a higher yielding crop. As it is a thermal film, it will help to retain heat in the cooler months and will also help to reduce the heat load in the warmer months, as much as 9°F.
PanePower Glass Panels (Brite Solar)
Brite Solar has developed a transparent solar cell that can be used for roofs and walls of glass greenhouses. With more than 70% visible spectrum transparency and 5% power conversion efficiency, the electricity generated by the glass can be used to offset the energy requirements of greenhouse operation. PanePower panels are designed to fit into existing greenhouse structures, eliminating the need for supporting structures for typical solar panels. The PanePower panels can be used as an upgrade to an existing structure or during initial construction. Brite Solar provides the PanePower panels, as well as the installation and all additional hardware. In the simplest configuration, the electricity output from the PanePower panels is connected to the main electricity line after the meter. If the amount of electricity generated is more than that being used, the electricity meter will run backwards. The advantage of this approach is that the economic benefit is based on the price that you are paying the utility per KWhr, not the price that the utility will pay you. The solar glass is thermally insulating (three to four times better than low E dual pane glass) in a single glass laminate. Brite Solar also has a total cost of ownership model which allows one to calculate the positive effect of energy production and energy savings.
• PanePower output: 50 watts/m2 of glass
• 10-acre greenhouse: 2.6 MWp capacity
• 20-year operation
• PanePower installation qualifies for renewable energy tax credits
• PanePower panels are bi-directional; electricity is generated by light striking the panel from any direction
• PanePower Panels block almost 100% of UV light
Makrolon 8 mm Blackout Multi Wall PC (Resolite)
The Makro 8 mm Blackout Multi Wall PC is a light deprivation panel with 0% light transmission. It features white exterior surfaces to avoid heat gain. Black interior channels lead to 0% light transmission. It also offers two-side ultraviolet (UV) protection. Custom production (10,000 square feet minimum) is available.
• U Value: 0.58
• R Value: 1.73
• UV Protection: Both Sides
• Light Transmission: 0%
• Weight: 1,500 grams per square meter (0.31 pounds per square foot)
• Colors: White/Black/White, Black/White, and Black
Multi Wall Polycarbonate Covering (Resolite)
Resolite recently introduced a 0% Light Transmission Multi Wall Polycarbonate greenhouse covering. The panels are designed for side walls and end walls on specialty greenhouses. In the past, corrugated metal panels were used for this type of application. With an 8-millimeter multi-wall polycarbonate, the greenhouse structure does not have to be altered to accommodate the metal panel. The same aluminum extrusions can be used throughout the greenhouse structure, which saves time and money. There is also a savings on freight because the entire greenhouse glazing can ship from one location and all at the same time.
• 8 mm and 16 mm panel
• 0% light transmission, available in white or black
• Used for end walls and side walls, garden center roofs, and coverings for storage areas
• Alternative to metal-corrugated panels
• Virtually unbreakable
• High insulation value
Luxous 1147 FR Climate Screen (Ludvig Svensson)
The new Luxous 1147 FR climate screen from Ludvig Svensson provides 2% more light without losing out on energy savings and humidity transport capabilities. Growers can achieve a better growth climate during the cold season when vegetable prices peak with a screen that, on average, can be closed more hours during the day.
Thanks to intensive research and product development, Luxous 1147 FR is designed to be a transparent, energy-saving climate screen. When not in use, the bundle sizes are small. The screen is suitable in both single and double layer installations, for vegetable and ornamental crops. Two percent more light from Luxous 1147 FR means earlier and more vegetable production in the winter when prices peak. The transparency of Luxous 1147 FR makes it possible to keep the screen closed for more hours during the day, leading to further energy savings.