Light is the essential input for plant cultivation, as it directly determines the total intake of external energy available to a plant to convert into usable energy for the growth and maintenance of the plant. Light sets the maximum; all other factors, such as temperature, CO2, and nutrients, must be available and balanced to meet this maximum. Because of this, the design of a grow room should always start by looking at light.
In our experience, light is often something only looked at in a later stage of a project. The drawings we receive as a basis for light plans are mostly fully developed and only lack a lighting system. Often, architects have made assumptions that can make designing an excellent light system that is practical in use more complicated. One example is the misunderstood footprints of horticultural lighting fixtures, often assumed to be square. If HVAC components are designed around this, it forces us as lighting manufacturer to become creative and work around other elements. This blog is not a complaint – We happily do our best to work around this – but a moment to reflect and look at the essentials.
Light, as the determining factor in plant cultivation, should adhere to a few things; the right amount, the right spectrum, and high uniformity in distribution. The first two of these we can meet in any situation. However, light uniformity can become challenging if too much of the grow room is already set in stone. Mainly when height is limited, or row spacing is dictated by HVAC or other components. Since uniformity impacts the final product quality and, therefore, the value of the end product, which results in profit for the facility, it’s an essential factor to consider.
Another reason to look at lights first is the energy consumption. In full indoor cultivation, lights are almost always the most significant power consumer in the facility. Therefore it’s important to size HVAC components after determining the heat load from the lighting system and ensure enough overall power availability.
Luminaires also impact airflow because of the obstruction they form in a grow room but also due to the convective heat produced, resulting in upwards airflow from the fixtures. It’s easy to imagine how the climate can become less uniform if, in the design of the HVAC system, apart from the amount, no consideration is given to the location where fixtures generate the heat.
Lastly, since light is highly energy intensive, we believe in maximizing its use. Therefore we always recommend rolling benches to maximize effective space use. Any space not used for plant cultivation which is illuminated is a net loss to the overall efficiency of the grow room and overall facility.
When we receive a blank canvas to design a lighting system, we will always do our best to consider these factors. Having said all of this, We look forward to being involved in the early stages of your next project.
Written by: Jeroen Dercksen Sales Manager Indoor Cultivation.
“I’ve always been interested in Controlled Environment Agriculture and have been involved in the industry for over 15 years. If I don’t understand something, I must find out. But I also like to share knowledge. Together we can improve and revolutionize the world to make it future-proof.”