Featured Energy & Bioproducts Impacts

STORY: LEDs a Bright Idea for Greenhouse Efficiency, Profit

Greenhouse plants need light to grow. Managers can cut costs using a unique control system for LED grow lights

For year-round production of high-quality greenhouse crops, supplemental lighting often is necessary when there’s little sunlight. Electricity costs associated with supplemental lighting may account for up to 30% of total production costs. Those costs are second only to labor costs.

Georgia researchers developed a control system for LED grow lights that automatically responds to changing levels of sunlight, assuring that the light level never drops below a grower-defined threshold. As sunlight decreases, LED lights automatically provide more light. When sunlight is plentiful, the LED lights provide less light.

This greatly reduces the cost of supplemental lighting because it is only provided when needed. Initial trials have shown that this controlled lighting approach can reduce electricity use by 60%, with little effect on crop growth.

A Georgia horticultural lighting company, PhytoSynthetix, is working with the researchers to make these adaptive lights available to the greenhouse industry.