When Greenhouse Growers compiled the results of their 2013 State of the Industry report, it wasn’t surprising that of the 300 grower retailers, wholesalers, and young plant growers based in the U.S. and Canada, increasing energy costs was cited as the second biggest overall worry, with small growers expressing the most concern.
Consumers are demanding any kind of produce they want, at any time of year they want it, and at affordable prices. More people than ever are spending leisure time outdoors- connecting with nature, and are dissatisfied with just laying some sod and planting a few petunias. They want hops to brew their own beer, pollen rich plants that attract bees, succulents that amaze, and native plants that complement their current landscapes.
How to satisfy all this new demand while keeping costs down? According to a Purdue University study, by using better lighting efficiency methods, such as LED instead of high pressure sodium (HPS) lights, growers could get the same yields of fruit off tomato plants using just 25% of the energy. While only 30% of the energy going into an HPS light actually gets converted into usable light, up to 50% of the energy going into an LED light gets used, and can be optimized for different wave lengths that optimize plant growth.
The study also found that each plant grown using HPS light used 1224 kilowatt hours of energy during a season; compared to just 294 kilowatt hours for LED lighting. The incredible savings on an electric bill aren’t the only benefit. Growers can avoid local power caps during high-use times or because of inclement weather, provide uniform distribution of light, encourage flowering, and maximize crop cycles during long winters or in cloudy northern areas of the world.
Many greenhouse growers have been reluctant to invest in LED lighting because of the perceived high initial cost, but according to Green Tech Media, costs are falling and the payoff time is often less than 3 years. LED lighting is the future of greenhouse lighting!