Let’s be realistic – there is a TON of information about this on the market (and most of it sales based)! Switching an existing grow operation to LED lighting is not a simple matter. Growers need to consider a variety of adjustments to their operations that will need to be dealt with to ensure they maintain and improve their crop performance. Retrofitting to LED lighting requires a lot of planning and consideration of ALL variables before making the switch. We think by the end of this post you’ll likely have more questions than answers (and they aren’t simple answers)! Contact us. We are here to help!
For over twenty years we’ve witnessed the technological advances in LED lighting as it relates to crop quality, yield increases, energy savings and lower maintenance costs. We’ve also seen growers struggle to “dial in” their operations after making the transition.
What to consider?
- What intensities are most ideal for my specific application? What is the point of diminishing return?
- How could that decision influence the project’s CapEx & OpEx on both lighting and HVAC?
- How important is light uniformity, and how could it impact the usage of water, nutrients, and CO2 across your canopy?
- What can be done to improve light uniformity?
- How does one interpret the data on a lighting layout?
- Is there a standardization on how all manufacturers present lighting layouts? What metrics should be reviewed to ensure the data that’s being presented is accurate?
- LEDs produce less heat than an HPS lamp, but how much less?
- How do the environmental conditions need to be changed to be ideal for plants growing under LED lighting?
- Can HVAC/D be specified/sized before lighting has been finalized?
- What do the umol/J efficiency ratings mean?
- Do different color diodes have different efficiencies?
- Can a fixture be more electrically-efficient, but have a poorer color spectrum?
- Are there state regulations in place, or soon to be implemented, for minimum efficiencies?
Spectrum, and Tunable Spectrums
- Does a good light spectrum simply just fill the PAR (photosynthetically active radiation) curve chart?
- Are there colors outside of the PAR spectrum that could be important, or colors within that are less important?
- Could it make sense to consider a fixture with a “tunable spectrum”, and alter the spectrum based on the phase of growth?
Rebates / Incentives
- If utility incentives are available, what is their “baseline” for intensity and efficiency? Is their interpretation of baseline negotiable based on your differing application or intensities?
- Are there “custom” rebates available, or just “prescriptive”?
- Does the application need to be approved before fixtures are purchased?
- What is the incentive-payment timeline or schedule?
- What incentives exist for other equipment outside of lighting?
- Should I simply use a 1:1 fixture and match the existing intensity I’m running with DE HPS fixtures?
- If there is a benefit to running at a higher intensity, how would that be best achieved while reducing equipment and installation costs, and ensuring uniform light distribution?
- Do LEDs degrade in spectrum or output over time?
- How much less are maintenance costs on LEDs compared to DE HPS fixtures, and how could I calculate the ROI from maintenance savings alone?
- Do LEDs offer any more control options than a DE HPS has?
- Dimming impacts the quality of the color spectrum with DE HPS, but does it impact LEDs?
- Dimming reduces the lifespan of DE HPS, but does it impact the longevity of an LED?
- Will an LED always turn off at 0% dimming? If not what other measures could be done to ensure your photoperiod isn’t disrupted?
Different fixture for different applications
- What’s the difference between a “panel” LED and a “high-bay” LED, and when should one be used over the other?
Brand and Cost
- Outside of different offerings in spectrum, wattage, & efficiency, how are the brands different? How does the quality of the components and support differ?
- What is the average wholesale/commercial-cost range for fixtures?
- Are there economical brands that still produce quality products? Are there certain brands that justify a premium price tag?
What else is there to consider? We’d like you to consider us. We don’t always have all the answers, but we know where to ask the questions. To ensure the room is designed for your specific application, without breaking the bank, without cutting corners.