Vertical farming and indoor horticulture make an increasingly important contribution to the global food chain. However, the energy needed to support plant growth is significant, not least in terms of the power requirements for lighting. In recent years, this has led to the rapid growth of LED-based lighting systems, which offer inherent efficiencies over conventional incandescent or fluorescent grow lights. However, many growers are not reaping the full benefits of LED efficiency due to the energy losses incurred in the schemes that provide power to the LEDs.
For years, incandescent bulbs or fluorescent tubes were the mainstay of indoor horticulture. This is changing with the increasing prevalence of LEDs , which offer longer lifetimes, lower energy consumption, and lower maintenance costs than conventional sources. The efficacy of LED lights is also superior, which also means fixtures operate at lower temperatures than high-pressure sodium (HPS) lamps. As a result, they can be placed closer to plants and increase farming density. Less heat also means less water consumption — and lower costs.
To date, traditional greenhouses have been the primary adopters of horticultural LED lighting, which is used to supplement natural light. However, in larger greenhouses — “growing warehouses” — LED lighting can improve control of the nutrient balance and growth cycle of a wide range of crops.