How to Choose Grow Lights for Your Farm

How to Choose Grow Lights for Your Farm

Published Mar 15 

If you are an agricultural producer, you know that adequate lighting is essential for the optimal growth and development of your crops. That's why choosing the right grow light is one of the most important decisions you'll ever make. Here's a guide to help you select the best grow light for your plants.

1. Seven steps to choosing the best grow light

When it comes to choosing the right grow light for your plants, there are several factors to consider. Here are seven steps to help you make the right choice.

1.1 Choose your crops

Before choosing a grow light, you should know what type of plants you are going to grow. This is important because each plant has specific light needs. For example, green leafy plants like lettuce need less light than plants that produce fruits and vegetables. Additionally, the growth stage of your plants will also affect the amount and type of light they need.

1.2 Budget

Once you know what kind of plants you're going to grow, it's important to set a budget. Grow lights can range in price from a few tens of dollars to several thousand. It doesn't always mean that the most expensive lights are the best, so it's important to consider value for money.

1.3 Choose your bulb type

There are several types of grow lights on the market. Some of the most popular include Ceramic Metal Halide (CMH) fixtures, LED lights, and High Pressure Sodium (HPS) fixtures. Each one has its own advantages and disadvantages, so you should research which one is best for your needs.

1.4 Deciding on spectrum

Light spectrum is another important factor to consider when choosing a grow light. The proper light spectrum will vary depending on the growth stage of your plants. For example, young plants need more blue light, while mature plants need more red light.

1.5 Look at the intensity

Light intensity is also important for the growth of your plants. Intensity is measured in lux or in micromoles per second (μmol/s). Young plants need less intensity than mature plants, so it's important to choose a light that suits the needs of your plants.

1.6 Find out what coverage you need

Coverage is another important consideration when choosing a grow light. You want to make sure that the light covers your entire growing area evenly. This means that you should choose a light that has enough coverage for your needs.

1.7 Consider height and mobility

The height of your grow area and light mobility are also important factors to consider. If your plants are taller, you will need a light that can be adjusted to different heights. Also, if you need to move your plants frequently, it is important to choose a light that is easy to move.

2. Best types of grow lights for your farm

There are different types of artificial lights that can be used on farms to improve crops. When choosing artificial lighting, it's important to consider energy efficiency, lamp life, spectrum of light emitted, and cost.

Among the most common types of artificial lights for use on farms, we find:

  • LED: LED (light emitting diode) technology has advanced significantly in recent years, becoming one of the most popular options for artificial lighting on farms. These lights are highly efficient and have a long life, making them ideal for long-term use in agricultural facilities. Additionally, LEDs can emit different wavelengths of light, allowing for precise customization of the light your grow receives. This technology has developed so much that you will find all kinds of products such as solar powered floodlights, which not only have the advantage of being LED but also work with solar energy, thus saving twice as much energy.
  • HID: High Intensity Discharge (HID) lighting is another popular option for farm lighting. HID bulbs are energy efficient, but can be expensive to replace. Also, HID bulbs have a limited spectrum, which means they are not as versatile as other options.
  • CFLs: Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are an inexpensive lighting option, but they are not as efficient as LEDs. Also, its lifespan is relatively short compared to other lighting options. CFLs also have a limited spectrum, which means they are not ideal for customizing your grow light.

Currently these are the three most efficient lighting systems to apply in crops. I have no doubt that in time there will be other lighting systems that are even more efficient and useful for growing our plants, but for now these do their job very well.

3. How to know how many lights I will need for my farm

Calculating the amount of lights and energy needed for a farm that uses artificial lighting can be a complex process, it depends on many factors ranging from the type of lighting you select, and in turn what type of products you use. It will NOT be the same to use a halogen lamp than to choose to use others such as a 24v led flood light. Be that as it may, it is essential to ensure that the crop receives the right amount of light and energy. Here are some steps you can take to make these calculations:

  • Calculate the area of the surface that needs lighting. To do this, measure the width and length of the growing area and multiply them to get the total area in square meters.

  • Determine how much light you need. This will depend on the type of crop you are growing. In general, crops that require a lot of light, such as fruit plants, need between 800 and 1,200 micromoles per square meter per second (µmol/m2/s), while crops that need less light, such as leafy greens, only need about 400 to 600 µmol/m2/s.
  • Choose the type of lamp you want to use and calculate the number of lamps you need. This will depend on the amount of light you need, as well as the power of the lamps you choose. For example, if you choose a 600-watt LED lamp that produces 2,000 µmol/m2/s, you'll need about four lamps per square meter.
  • Calculate the amount of energy you need. This will depend on the number of lamps you use and the power of each lamp. For example, if you have four 600-watt LED light fixtures, you'll need 2.4 kilowatts (kW) of power per square meter. If your farm has an area of 1,000 square meters, you will need 2,400 kW of energy to power your lamps.
  • Consider other factors that may affect how much power you need. For example, if your farm is in an area with extreme temperatures, you may need to use additional heating or cooling systems to maintain the proper temperature, which will increase the amount of energy you need.

In general, it's important to work with a qualified electrician to ensure that your farm's electrical installation can handle the additional power load that will be needed to power your lights. You should also take into account the cost of energy in your area to estimate the total cost of lighting your farm.

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