While horticultural LED lighting has been commercially available for a decade, the technology is now beginning to gain market acceptance as the technology and its quality advances. LED lighting is significantly more efficient than conventional horticulture lighting. The LED-based horticulture lighting has the added benefit of being able to supply the correct wavelength range of light to improve crop yield.
Navigant Research forecasts that in some regions, LEDs will make up more than half of new horticultural luminaire sales as early as 2017.
LED lighting creates less heat than conventional lighting. This low heat output enables growers to place lights closer to plants without singeing leaves. Also, vertical farms can arrange plants more densely for greater crop yield in a given space. The reduced heat output reduces the need for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment. The reduced need for HVAC equipment leads to decreased energy consumption.
Navigant points out that fine-tuning the wavelengths of light output for specific crops can increase yield by up to 30 percent depending on the plant species.
For these reasons, installing LED-based grow lights is an economically sound investment for many types of indoor horticulture facilities. LED lighting technology can also make certain types of indoor growth applications economically viable, where they may not have been before.
“LED technology is able to greatly improve the profitability of indoor farming, which is leading to a boom in the growth of such facilities,” said Jesse Foote, senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “By increasing crop yields and allowing more efficient use of energy and space, LEDs are leading to a boom in new indoor food production facilities.”