LED lighting has become a popular option for many greenhouse growers over the past several years. Greenhouse Management recently spoke to PARsource Director of Sales Jud McCall about the advantages of LEDs, the current ROI for LEDs and more.
Greenhouse Management: How have LEDs changed the lighting market for growers?
Jud McCall: Horticultural lighting options for CEA [controlled environment agriculture] growers have never been more diverse and abundant than what is available for the commercial grower today. Among the options available, LED lighting continues to gain interest and market share due the unique advantages it has to offer over older technologies. We have seen the adoption of LEDs in our homes, cars and places of work. Why would we expect it to be any different in our greenhouse or indoor farm?
GM: What are some of the key benefits LEDs have to offer over more traditional lighting options?
JM: One of the most common benefits of using LEDs is operational cost savings. This not only entails direct electrical savings, but also secondary savings when it comes to reduced heat load and optimizing environmental conditions for cultivation. However, just as important if not more so, are the benefits LEDs offer with targeted PAR and PBAR [plant biologically activated radiation] spectrums that minimize wasted photons compared to other types of lighting. There is no better option than LEDs when it comes to targeting specific parts of the light spectrum that in turn elicit the desired plant state and photomorphogenic response. This can translate into reduced harvest time, more weight and other characteristics for a crop that can command a premium when taken to market.
GM: What is the current ROI on LEDs and how does it compare to other lighting options?
JM: Return on investment for LEDs versus HID systems is a frequent debate, and beyond the potential for increased crop profits the answer depends on the particular application and usage. To be clear, LEDs are the more expensive option up front. An ROI calculation needs to take into account more than just energy savings. Very long system lifespans with no maintenance or lamp changes versus HID systems is a compelling point with regard to labor and replacement cost. Also, one must factor in seasonal usage and greenhouse DLI where they are located. For example, a greenhouse grower in the state of Washington with a February greenhouse DLI of 4 moles per a day is probably going to fully realize ROI in half the time of their counterpart in a greenhouse in South Carolina.
GM: What makes PARsource’s LEDs different than others on the market?
JM: PARsource, a Hydrofarm company, has decades of experience when it comes to horticultural lighting. Last year, we unveiled our new line of PHOTOBIO LEDs, which were met with great enthusiasm and customer interest. These lights were developed in partnership with SANANBIO, a world leader in vertical farming automation and controlled environment agriculture under SANAN Optoelectronics, one of the largest LED chip companies in the world. We combined the experience, research and expertise from both companies to bring to market a range of efficient, quality LED systems that present an unparalleled value for all types of CEA growers. Initial customer installations have gone well, and we look forward to many more as the year unfolds.