Selecting a light system is one of the most difficult capital expense decisions for greenhouse growers. While there are many considerations (including lifespan, maintenance, warranty, installation costs, etc.) two of the biggest factors are the upfront cost of the lighting fixtures and the annual electricity cost to operate lights.
In a recent e-GRO alert, Cornell University’s Neil Mattson describes a simple spreadsheet tool he developed to estimate lighting fixture upfront costs and electricity costs based on some information. The calculator tool was developed as part of the USDA Specialty Crop Research Initiative, Project LAMP (lighting approaches to maximize profit) and is available here.
In the calculator tool, you provide inputs about your crop/greenhouse such as target light intensity, area you will be lighting, and your cost of electricity per kilowatt hour (kWh). You will also need to supply some information that you can obtain from a lighting supplier (cost for lighting fixture, photosynthetic photon efficacy and power consumption). A helpful resource to identify possible lights is also the Design Lights Consortium (DLC) Qualified Product List. DLC is a third-party certifier for horticultural lights that meet certain standards for efficacy (energy efficiency), operating hours, and warranty. Many utility companies require fixtures to be listed by the DLC to qualify for energy efficiency incentives.
Read the original e-GRO alert here.
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