Shining a light-weight on effectivity and productiveness metrics for CEA lighting

Excessive-intensity lighting performs a vital position in selling plant progress and attaining optimum yields. Nonetheless, deciding on the fitting lighting system to your CEA facility may be difficult, as there are numerous totally different gentle high quality, depth, and effectivity metrics to contemplate. Photosynthetically lively radiation (PAR), prolonged PAR (e-PAR), vitality use (in watts), photosynthetic photon flux (PPF), and photon efficacy (PPE) are all necessary gadgets to contemplate when making a lighting fixture choice.

Right here, we discover the varied lighting metrics important for CEA and their affect on the expansion and improvement of indoor- and greenhouse-grown crops and the monetary sustainability of your operation.

Mild high quality metrics for CEA operators

Mild high quality is decided by the relative quantity of blue, inexperienced, purple, far-red, and different spectra emitted from a light-weight supply. By delivering sure quantities of photons from a selected a part of the sunshine spectrum, CEA cultivators can create totally different morphological and secondary metabolite reactions inside their crops.


Historically, the spectrum of photosynthetically lively radiation (PAR)–which refers back to the portion of the sunshine spectrum that crops use for photosynthesis–ranges from 400-700 nanometers (nm) and encompasses photons within the blue (400-500 nm), inexperienced (500-530 nm), yellow/orange (530-600 nm), and purple (600-700 nm).

“What I counsel growers is, in case you are not in search of particular morphological traits, then I’d go for a fixture that’s offering extra of a white gentle,” advises Dr. Roberto Lopez, Affiliate Professor, and Managed Surroundings and Floriculture Extension Specialist at Michigan State College. White gentle, which is a extra normalized shade distribution, is “simpler in your worker’s eyes in addition to it’s simpler to determine physiological issues, ailments, and bugs,” he provides.

Nonetheless, particular crops would possibly require particular spectra to raised categorical sure traits. For instance, rising red-leaf lettuce underneath greater temperatures and white LED fixtures can scale back the expression of anthocyanins, the compounds that impart the red-purple shade to crops. With red-leaf lettuce, Dr. Lopez suggests including extra blue gentle or decreasing the air temperature within the final days of manufacturing to stimulate the manufacturing of the secondary metabolite.

Lopez warns that blue gentle can inhibit leaf enlargement and plant peak, so it is very important maintain blue gentle to the ultimate days of manufacturing or to mix it with purple photons.

It follows {that a} fixture’s gentle high quality is extra necessary to contemplate for indoor cultivators, as greenhouse cultivators “have background photo voltaic radiation,” Dr. Lopez shares.

For extra info on the impacts of particular gentle spectra on crop improvement, check with Useful resource Innovation Institute’s Lighting Greatest Practices Information.


For years, producers and researchers targeted their efforts on the established PAR vary. However current work, particularly from Utah State College, “has discovered that far-red radiation additionally contributes to photosynthesis,” Dr. Lopez shares. Far-red gentle is discovered within the 700-800 nm vary.

In response to RII’s Lighting Greatest Practices Information, within the presence of shorter wavelengths, akin to blue gentle, far-red photons improve photosynthesis and enhance extension progress, together with stem size, plant peak, and leaf dimension. Utilizing the identical red-leaf lettuce instance, Dr. Lopez notes that “when you’ve got an elevated proportion of blue gentle, you’re going to finish up with a really compact head of lettuce. In the event you needed to get some stretch and larger leaves, then including that far-red gentle is useful.”

Now that we all know that it does contribute to photosynthesis, far-red shouldn’t be ignored,” Lopez says. That stated, extra analysis is required to completely perceive the affect of far-red spectra on the manufacturing of all crops, notes Leora Radetsky, senior lighting scientist on the Design Mild Consortium, a voluntary technical efficiency necessities group. “As new metrics develop into of curiosity to scientists and probably to growers, for instance, e-PAR, we want requirements organizations to do the consensus work essential to outline these metrics,” she says.

Obtain Useful resource Innovation Institute’s Lighting Greatest Practices Information for extra info, knowledgeable insights, and tips about all the pieces that goes into creating an environment friendly and productive lighting system setup for CEA services.

Mild effectivity metrics for CEA operators

Past gentle high quality, a lighting fixture’s vitality use is one other essential issue that performs an necessary position in a CEA operation’s sustainability and profitability.

Power Use

It is a measure of the whole quantity of vitality consumed by the lighting system over a sure interval. It’s usually measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and can be utilized to estimate the working prices of the lighting system.

Nonetheless, a fixture’s vitality use shouldn’t be tied to its efficiency in plant progress or its capacity to create any gentle in any respect. For instance, a great portion of the vitality utilized by high-intensity discharge (HID) lights is misplaced to warmth manufacturing. The effectivity in changing watts to gentle is why light-emitting diode (LED) fixtures have gotten the CEA trade customary and are already established as such for crops akin to hashish.

Photosynthetic Photon Flux (PPF)

Photosynthetic Photon Flux (PPF) “is necessary as a result of it tells you the general worth of PAR photons which might be coming from that fixture,” says Casey Rivero, a hashish options architect with LED-lighting producer Fluence.

PPF signifies the quantity of PAR gentle a given fixture can produce, calculated in micromoles per second (µmol/s). This doesn’t imply it’s the quantity of complete gentle your fixtures will produce (usually measured in lumens). Mild sources supposed for use in CEA are graded on their PPF output, not their complete lumen manufacturing.

Photosynthetic Photon Efficacy (PPE)

PPE is a light-weight fixture’s capacity to transform energy from electrical vitality to attain rated PPF when delivering gentle to your crops. The efficacy of sunshine merchandise is measured in models of micromoles per joule (µmol/J). “PPE is PPF over the quantity of vitality consumed,” Rivero says.

The next PPE signifies that a lighting system is extra environment friendly at delivering gentle to crops, whereas a decrease PPE signifies that a lighting system is much less environment friendly and should require extra vitality to attain the identical stage of plant progress. By selecting lighting programs with greater PPE, CEA operators can scale back their vitality consumption and working prices whereas nonetheless offering the required gentle for wholesome plant progress.

“PPE is necessary as a result of it tells you ways efficient a fixture is at using that vitality in producing that photon, however that doesn’t inform you how environment friendly and efficient it’s regarding plant manufacturing,” Rivero notes.

For instance, “greater purple element fixtures can produce problematic responses within the plant at a better gentle stage” on sure crops, together with a phenomenon generally known as photo-bleaching. “The shortage of chlorophyll improvement is pushed by the excessive purple element within the greater depth gentle,” Rivero provides.

Photosynthetic Photon Flux Density (PPFD)

PPFD is the quantity “of photons inside the PAR vary, measured in micromoles, that hit a given space (a sq. meter) of your plant cover per second,” per RII’s Lighting BPG. Whereas fixtures have a hard and fast PPF score, PPFD may be manipulated by way of quite a few elements, together with by adjusting the gap between the fixture and crop cover.

PPFD additionally may be fine-tuned on lights which have adjustable dimming and spectrum, one other necessary trait to contemplate when deciding on a CEA lighting fixture. “We imagine that there’s an incredible worth for dimming not just for vitality and price financial savings but in addition because of the truth that you should use dimming to optimize the setting for various life phases and for various crops,” Radetsky says. “That’s necessary as a result of LED merchandise can final for a very long time–we’re not simply speaking a few season or two, they could be there for 10 or 15 years. Dimming performance provides you the flexibility to future-proof your set up as we study extra about how we will optimize lighting to profit totally different crops.”

With dimming, indoor farm operators can higher reproduce pure lighting situations, simulating sunrises, and sunsets to cut back the humidity spike that happens when the lights shut off. An added good thing about slowly turning on lights is lowering the utmost vitality load farmers placed on the grid (and for which they’re charged).

Additionally it is necessary to notice {that a} greater PPFD score shouldn’t be synonymous with greater efficiency. “We’ve seen a development when it comes to the upper PPFD that growers are using,” Dr. Lopez says. “We’re seeing individuals go all the best way as much as 800 [and 1,500] micromoles. Is that mandatory? It’s depending on the crops that you simply’re rising, however for leafy greens, now we have not seen that it’s useful.”

Mild Uniformity

This metric measures the diploma to which gentle is distributed evenly throughout the cultivation space. Uneven gentle distribution can result in uneven plant progress and decrease yields. Growers can decide a fixture’s gentle uniformity by way of the usage of a light-weight map “that reveals whether or not you’re getting a uniform PPFD within the crop space. You need a minimum of 80% uniformity,” Dr. Lopez suggests.

The place to seek out CEA lighting fixture knowledge

Lighting producers will usually share the above metrics on product packaging and their web sites. For third-party vetting, DLC gives a Certified Product Record (QPL), which gives CEA operators perception into the fixture’s “worst-case efficiency knowledge,” Radetsky explains.

“One of many advantages of the QPL is that examined product knowledge for horticultural lighting consists of a picture of the spectral quantum distribution, so you possibly can see what the spectrum is. You possibly can see what the form of the beam is by viewing the product’s photosynthetic photon depth distribution picture,” Radetsky explains, including that “many utilities use the DLC’s QPL to supply rebates.”

Lighting producers whose fixtures have been included within the DLC’s QPL usually will promote that on their product’s web page or packaging, but it surely’s nonetheless necessary to examine that the product is listed on the QPL even when the DLC brand is discovered on the packaging. DLC verifies fixtures by way of the unit’s mannequin quantity.

DLC up to date its lighting reporting necessities on March 31, so there are fixtures which may not qualify for the non-profit’s QPL in 2024. “We’re asking for lots extra reporting on the controls and likewise on the appliance so individuals can see what the product is doing extra granularly,” Radetsky says.

Rivero is a powerful proponent of DLC’s work and shares that “if a fixture shouldn’t be DLC listed, don’t even give it some thought as a result of we don’t have third-party testing on it.”

RII’s PowerScore device additionally may help CEA operators determine system inefficiencies and benchmark their facility’s efficiency in opposition to their friends. RII’s Lighting BPG additionally gives insights and tips about how CEA operators can maximize their lighting system’s effectivity and efficacy, along with noting the environmental management advantages of optimizing lighting.