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The Benefits of Smart LED Lighting in Horticulture

Telink Staff

October 21, 2020


Plant under LED lights

Find out how smart LED lighting can help growers improve yields and set us on a path to a brighter, greener future.

From biopharmaceuticals to the agriculture industry, stakeholders in plant-based industries have a vested interest in keeping seasonal plants growing all year round. But horticulture is a delicate science. Even though industry leaders have found innovative ways to work around the global shortage of arable land and clean water, one variable remains a wild card — light.

Natural light is notoriously unpredictable but essential for plant growth and up until recently, light has largely been out of the grower’s control. By supplementing or replacing natural light with smart light-emitting diode (LED) lighting, growers can control and manipulate light to improve plant growth, increase energy efficiency, and help make agriculture more sustainable. Here’s how it works. 

How Smart LED Lighting Works

Optimal plant growth in indoor environments depends on proper lighting, and smart LED lighting improves greenhouse and indoor lighting in two ways. With LED lights, an electrical current passes through a microchip that lights up tiny light sources within the bulb. Any residual heat is safely absorbed into the heat sink. 

LED lights are 90% more energy-efficient than incandescent light bulbs and better for plant growth than high-pressure sodium lights (HPS) — the lighting method commonly used for indoor horticulture. HPS lights are affordable, easy to find, and give off an intense light ideal for growing large plants. But HPS lights also burn very hot, and the heat makes it challenging to maintain a proper grow room temperature. LED lights run much cooler, last longer, and are easier to work with in small spaces.

How Smart LED Lights Work

When LED lights are outfitted with smart sensors powered by Bluetooth® and Zigbee technology, planters can optimize their lighting strategy for improved yields. Light sensors detect color, intensity, and duration, and by connecting to an on-site network, they can send data directly to the cloud for easy monitoring. Modules on smart LED lights also allow planters to automate changes over time or make manual adjustments to the light when necessary.  

The Benefits of Smart Lighting 

Smart LED lighting gives horticulturists the ability to control the color and intensity of light, optimizing their impact on crops. As such, they offer numerous benefits for any grower in a plant-based industry. 

Plants use light to synchronize their internal clocks, and growers can use LED light to artificially “extend” daylight hours, ensuring that their plants bloom earlier in the year. Also, growers can adjust the color of the light to stimulate growth. Plants only absorb blue, orange, and red light, so LED lights that use the optimal ratio of blue to red light can fuel a plant’s growth and increase yield. By using smart sensors, growers can optimize their processes and translate these gains into a more sustainable future. Smart sensors also constantly gather real-time data about light and growth conditions. Growers can use this data to inform best practices for future planting.

From an environmental standpoint, smart LED lighting outpaces all other kinds of horticultural lighting. A 600W smart LED bulb produces the same amount of heat as a 600W double-ended HPS, but distributes that heat more efficiently across plants in small spaces. These bulbs also last longer. With LED lighting, horticulturists can achieve maximum growth with less impact on the environment. They can also optimize their smart lights for energy savings by automating their LEDs to deliver the exact amount of light the plants need — no more, no less.  

Applications of Smart Lighting 

Smart LED lighting has a variety of use-cases in common horticultural settings, including: 

  • Industrial Greenhouses: Smart LED lights make greenhouses more energy-efficient and improve yields. This means planters can get juicy peaches in winter or winter squash in the summer and overall healthy produce year-round, no matter the season.  
  • Vertical Farming: Vertical farming is the practice of growing crops in vertically stacked layers, which improves yields in small spaces and reduces farming’s negative impact on the native flora and fauna. HPS lights generate too much heat to safely grow plants in tight spaces and yields may suffer, but LED lights help horticulturists do more with less. 
  • Plant Research: Indoor research facilities benefit from the automation and data collection capabilities of today’s smart sensors. Researchers can easily manipulate variables like light color and intensity to study their effects on plant-life and pull data right from the source. Also, it’s easier to establish a control group with smart LED lighting that controls for more variables. 
  • Private Gardens: Hobbyists can also harness the benefits of smart LED lights for their private gardens and greenhouses.

Get Growing with Telink

Whether you want to grow a healthy tomato plant or grow your business by adding LED lights to your products, Telink has the smart LED lighting solution for you. Our high-efficiency, cost-effective chips power the latest smart lighting technology. Telink brings partnerships that can help developers accelerate products to market. Our SOCs enable interoperability right out of the box, and we can optimize them to fit your unique needs. Contact us today to learn more.