5 questions with Mike Anderson

Ask the Experts - Lighting

Mike Anderson, lighting technical services manager at Hawthorne Gardening Company, sheds light on why HPS fixtures are a great option for greenhouse growing.

April 20, 2020

Greenhouse Management: What makes high-pressure sodium lighting fixtures a good choice?

Mike Anderson: For any type of growing that uses artificial lights, HPS lighting is a very mature technology that’s been around since the 1960s. The performance and consistency of that product has been maximized over the years. Because it is used so extensively, the volume of the product has gone up, which drives efficiency and drives down the cost of the product. HPS is a very cost-effective way to increase light in the greenhouse; every 1% of light increase equals a 1% increase in production. There’s a direct linkage.

GM: What factors should you keep in mind when selecting your HPS fixture?

MA: If you’re a professional grower, the No. 1 thing that you want to do is work with a company — like ours — that stands behind their products, understand the needs of the grower, with roots that go back 30 years. And if you have an existing greenhouse and want to add lighting, you really have to consider the amount of light that you need. We can do those calculations for our customers based on where they are located and the amount of available sunlight. Other considerations include the load on the structure in terms of the weight of the added lights and the load they add to the existing power supply. The light path inside the greenhouse needs to be taken into consideration as well. We can help growers with setting up their lights accordingly. When we help them get it all right, growers can really extend their growing season and add more crops to their repertoire.

“HPS is a very cost-effective way to increase light in the greenhouse; every 1% of light increase equals a 1% increase in production. There’s a direct linkage.”

GM: What percentage of greenhouses are using HPS?

MA: I’ve looked at the data from our company — we sell lights all over the world — and the numbers are in excess of 95% HPS worldwide.

GM: Are all HPS fixtures created equal?

MA: Absolutely not. You really get what you pay for. Fixtures may look similar, but the quality of the components in the fixture, the production techniques that are used to build them and the industry know-how are what matters. Those elements are what make the difference between just a lighting supplier and a company you can count on, like Hawthorne. We build on a global scale, so that brings efficiency to our ability to source the materials for the lights. Also, we buy our materials from the top suppliers. Plus, we’re working with growers every day, so we know what they’re looking for, how to interact with them and we understand their business and the fact that it’s very competitive. We make sure everything is working smoothly for every customer we service.

GM: What does the future hold for horticultural lighting?

MA: I’ve been doing this [for] 25 years [and] HPS is really the dominant product and I see that continuing in the foreseeable future.