Greenhouse lights can greatly aid in proper plant growth. Sunlight is the best form of lighting a plant can get to grow well. But this can vary considerably based on season and region. Also, a greenhouse structure which blocks a portion of the sunlight may need a supplemental lighting medium for proper plant growth. As the necessity of greenhouse lighting arises when your greenhouse can’t get the optimal amount of light, you need to arrange for greenhouse lighting fixtures. These artificial fixtures provide enough light that enables plants to grow, flowers to bloom and fruits to ripe normally.
Let’s look at how the ideal lighting systems can create a good environment for your blooms and vegetables to grow in health.
Why Plants Need Greenhouse Lights
Grow lights or specialized artificial lights can boost the growth of the plant and its environment in more ways than one. Here are some of the top reasons why additional lighting can help your plants to grow:
- Greenhouse lights are a good investment for hobby farmers who want to extend their growing season.
- They help to either make flowers bloom early or late, depending on demand. This is especially useful when growing sensitive plants like orchids and roses in bulk.
- Seasons and daylight savings will not affect the plant growth, thereby giving you year-round blooms. This is also known as ‘photoperiod lighting’ where low intensity light creates the illusion that days are long and nights are short.
Things to consider when choosing greenhouse lights
Before deciding on the type of lighting for your greenhouse, consider the following:
- Amount of solar radiation in the atmosphere — This affects how much light is available for photo synthesis.
- Greenhouse factors — Such as the type of greenhouse, glazing used and equipment installed.
- Type of crops grown — Certain plants need high beam light, while others may grown better in shade. Choose the lighting depending on the type of plants you intend to grow.
- Space available to hang lighting — Lighting will have to be moved upward as the plant grows in height. You’ll have to account for the wiring and socket spaces also.
- Electricity and maintenance cost — Perhaps one of the most important factors when deciding your greenhouse budget.
Lighting Control Systems
Lighting is available in various forms, and a combination of lights is usually required to cover the entire light spectrum. It’s crucial to keep in mind that people perceive light differently than vegetables or plants. Another point we must remember is that although the spectral quality of the sun is constant, it is greatly variable in duration, intensity and direction.
Lots of strategies, including greenhouse lighting control systems, have been developed to deal with the unwanted indoor lighting conditions. The greenhouse lighting controls can substitute for many spectrums of sunlight needed for plant growth.
Sunlight conditions in a greenhouse structure can vary expeditiously. Humidity can affect the temperature and luminescence. To balance this effect, greenhouse ventilation, shading, heating, humidification, irrigation and lighting components should also be responsive if a controlled environment is to be achieved. This needs excellent engineering, control devices and proper selection of equipment. You might have to install timers to manage the duration of light and darkness. To save electricity, you can also try setting up solar powered greenhouses. A good lighting control system also needs an understanding of the limitations and capabilities of the greenhouse systems, controllers and sensors.
Choosing the perfect greenhouse lighting usually needs a basic knowledge of the light source. Today, there are many different types of greenhouse lights and fixtures available in the market. Let’s look at some of them:
Types of Greenhouse Lights and Fixtures:
Florescent Greenhouse Lights:
Florescent lights are the best and most cost-effective way of lighting up a greenhouse. The lights emitted by these bulbs are conducive to the normal growth of plants and flowers. The cool bulbs convey light in blue color which is effective for seedlings. The warm bulbs convey red light to help in fruiting and flowering.
Fluorescent grow lights produce very little heat. For best results, place these bulbs about two inches from the plants. What makes these grow lights the best for greenhouses is the fact that they are cheap and easy to install. Also, a typical fluorescent bulb can last for upto 20,000 hours — so it’s a great option for those looking to get value for money.
High Intensity Discharge (HID) Lamps:
High Intensity Discharge lamps are best suited for bigger plants and flowers. The light emitting spectrum per square feet is much more than those of other lights. With more light available, plants will absorb more light. The fixtures also have reflectors which reflect light back onto plants. This wide frame lighting can be costlier than others. They also produce heat and should not be kept too close to the plants for they might burn their leaves.
They are available in two types — High Pressure Sodium (HPS) and Metal Halide (MH).
Metal Halide Lamps:
The light emitted through metal halide lamps is almost similar to natural light, therefore, it tremendously aides in the vegetative growth of plants. It’s great for plants that need environments similar to the ones outdoor and do well in areas that do not get any sunlight. Moreover, these lights also create a favorable working environment in the greenhouse. Metal Halide High Intensity Discharge lights convey the blue light need for flowering and budding.
High Pressure Sodium Lamps:
These lamps emit orangish red lights which aides in the growth of flowers and fruits. High pressure sodium HIDs supply light in the red spectrum. However, they are not great for the working environment. Our eyes will have trouble adjusting to the bright red color. These lamps are a bit expensive but are as effective as fluorescent lamps. They last longer than metal halides.
These bulbs are not the natural choice for greenhouse owners as they become hot and are not as effective as other light variants. These lights emit red spectrum light. However, due to their high heat output and low intensity, conventional incandescent bulbs are usually considered a poor option for greenhouse lights. Incandescent lights may be utilized as a secondary lighting option when installed at a safe distance from vegetables or plants.
LED Greenhouse Lights:
There is no doubt that LED lighting in greenhouse has its advantages. LED plant grow lights are the newest option for lighting available for plants and vegetables. They are advertised to be the coolest and most efficient grow lights available. They can last for upto 11 years and are easy to hang and install due to their small size.
The spectral output is better in LEDs than in any other type of light. But certain researchers say that LEDs are not suggested for greenhouse lighting as they tend to give vegetables and plants an uncommon appearance if viewed in natural light.
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Greenhouse lights are an essential part of growing good crops. In many areas, sunlight may not be strong enough to supplement plant growth and farmers will have to consider installing additional lighting. Greenhouse lights can also extend the growing season of plants which in turn supplement demand and rake in profits.
Depending on the amount of solar radiation, type of greenhouse and maintenance cost, you can choose from a variety of greenhouse lights such as LEDs, fluorescent bulbs and HID lamps. Lighting costs are one of the highest expenses of a farmer. Fluorescent lighting is the most cost-efficient type of lighting. The USDA offers grants and subsidies for greenhouse growers, so while accounting for lighting expenses, you can check with them first.
Using a lighting control system can benefit your plants and pocket. You can also minimize costs by setting timers and using solar powered lighting. Using reflectors and mirrors can also help retain light within the walls of your greenhouse.