11 September 2019
Good and timely maintenance of grow light installation delivers pure profit
Grow light is one of the most crucial production resources for a greenhouse horticulture business, so it's only logical that, as a grower, you will want to get the maximum return from your grow light installation. Good and regular maintenance – preferably in the time around crop rotation – is therefore a must. It means that you are assured of the optimum quantity of grow light, and thus of maximum production.
Grow light installation performance and returns start to deteriorate gradually right from the time of installation. There are various factors involved; for example lamps, fixtures and reflectors get dirty, and there is wear and tear. "When growers purchase a new grow light installation, they often think that they won't need to worry about it for the first few years," says André Flinterman, account manager at Hortilux. “But the moment the lamps are turned on, the process of wear and tear begins. That means an annual checkup of your grow light installation is vital, to see how many micromoles of light the crop receives, as well as to carry out essential maintenance. Crop rotation is a logical time to do this. Growers don't always think about it."
Good maintenance pays
According to Flinterman, growers who don't keep their grow light installations maintained are throwing money away. “It can add up to huge amounts. A new HSE NXT2 1,000-watt lamp, for example, uses 160 euros of energy per m2 each year when used for growing tomatoes. When growing roses and lisianthus, it can come to more than 350 euros per m2. If an installation produces five percent less grow light after a couple of years, it means that when growing tomatoes you're paying eight euros per fixture in wasted energy. For roses and lisianthus it comes to 17 euros per fixture! That's obviously an enormous waste. So keeping the grow light installation properly maintained can literally make you money."
Know where you stand
Flinterman recommends having the grow light installation inspected annually by a specialist company. The lamps, fixtures and reflectors, amongst others areas, need to be checked. “According to the specifications, lamps should last 10,000 to 12,000 hours. But some 1,000-watt lamps last much longer than this. It depends on various factors including the lamp quality, the power quality, and how often an installation is switched on and off. If the light output is still adequate, why would you replace it? For that reason it's crucial to have regular specialist continuity testing of each lamp – after 2,500 operating hours or once each year. The inspection gives insight into the light output in micromoles, the energy consumption and the lamp voltage. In short: you know where you stand.”
As well as having the lamps checked, it's also important to have regular continuity testing of the capacitors in conventional fixtures. “These capacitors gradually wear out, which reduces the efficiency of the grow light installation, so timely replacement is very important."
Cleaning generates savings
In addition to specialist maintenance, it's important to clean lamps, fixtures and reflectors annually. “These components get dirty thanks to all sorts of factors and activities in the greenhouse. This negatively impacts the installation's efficiency. Dirty lamps and fixtures get hotter, which reduces their lifespan. Dirty reflectors have a lower reflection value. Dirt in the reflector may burn, meaning that it needs to be replaced earlier than it would otherwise. In fact, poor maintenance can halve a reflector’s lifespan. So regular cleaning really is worth the trouble – assuming, of course, that measurements indicate that cleaning is worthwhile. Specialised companies like LightShine can take this process off your hands, which guarantees maximum results.”
Power quality has an impact
Power quality is another important aspect. It also impacts the performance of the grow light installation and the light intensity in the greenhouse. “External causes mean that the power quality fluctuates throughout the year. Overcapacity, for example: this occurs when more power is returned from the CHPs to the grid than is consumed. This causes an enormous peak. And if the voltage is too high or too low, the installation will be less energy-efficient and components will wear out more quickly.”
For this reason, Flinterman advises growers to ask the grow light installation's supplier – or another specialist company – to inspect the power panel. "In new buildings, you can also choose to have power analysers built into a power panel. These provide constant monitoring of the installation's power quality."
Flinterman says that all of these things contribute to ensuring that there is more grow light available for the crop, which logically benefits production. “Proper maintenance of your grow light installation saves money, because it means that the energy put into the installation is actually converted into light. You also avoid having to replace of lamps, fixtures and reflectors prematurely due to wear and tear and light loss. In short: frequent maintenance means pure profit. Grow light cultivation is top-level sport! "
Would you like to know more?
Hortilux is happy to give you more information. You're welcome to contact us by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or phoning +31 (0) 174 286 628.