LED Grow Lights: Use in Greenhouses and Energy Efficiency

There is a growing amount of discussion about the environmental sustainability of a greenhouse or vertical farm. Most of these arguments are made about the two or three large power plants inside these generation facilities on the grounds that they consume too much energy. This waste of energy includes grow lights and climate management equipment such as heaters and cooling units. To avoid this waste, plant growers invest in LED luminaires.

We all know that LED grow lights are more efficient than legacy HPS lights that growers have been using for decades, and we must understand how this will have a direct impact not only on energy savings, but also on the operating cost of the farm. For greenhouse growers, the impact of these numbers, especially during the dark winter months, can make a big difference to their electricity bills.

So, Do LED Grow Lights Provide Enough Heat in a Greenhouse?

Adjustable LED grow lights are appreciated for providing the right spectrum to suit the varying wavelength preferences of different indoor plants. But is there a downside to LEDs that emit less heat than traditional, non-adjustable grow lights? After all, heat is essential for greenhouse-grown plants, especially during the winter months.

LED grow lights are the recipe for the right light for growing plants. But one Belgian tomato farm wasn't so sure it would be physically warm enough. So the breeders took extra steps.

Question posed by Belgian tomato growers Tomato Masters, who decided to build a 5.4-hectare indoor tomato farm in Deinze, Belgium, and illuminate it entirely with 7000 pinkish color-tuned LED fixtures instead of the high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps traditionally used by growers. that was exactly it.

Concerned that indoor temperatures would not be high enough with physically cooler LED lights during the winter months, Tomato Masters took the precaution of adding heat pipes near the top of plants 2–3m high to ensure that this vital photosynthetically active area of ​​the plant had sufficient heat.

Most of the greenhouse and lights became operational in October last year. After one winter, the Tomato Masters came to a decision that the farm didn't need to turn on the heat pipes. According to head breeder Tom Vlaemynck, these additional heating pipes turned out to be unnecessary. LEDs had already done their job perfectly in heat as well as in every other sense.

But that doesn't mean they don't have to address the heat issue. Vlaemynck explained that the company was able to retain enough heat during Belgium's cold winter by redesigning and installing two different curtains that are typically used not only to retain heat but also as sunshades, which are standard support in greenhouses during the warmer months.

Now that the season is heading towards winter, greenhouse operators will not be able to really use the sun as the main source of light for plants, typically complementary lights.

But when the darker time of year comes, the LED plant lights will be set to a combination of pink-to-the-eyes red, far red, blue and white, continuing to supply the plants with light for up to 18 hours a day. This is the recipe that Barton states is ideal for tomatoes. Tomato Masters has installed around 80% of the 7000 lights, the rest will start this month and the total price will be over €3 million. At 5.4 hectares, the Tomato Masters facility is believed to be one of the largest indoor farms using LED grow lights.

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