• Lighting Technologies
  • LED Lighting
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Energy Efficient Lighting

Industry Standards Light the Way for Greener Efficiency

Nov 13, 2018


Last month, I attended the third annual Horticultural Lighting Conference in Portland, Oregon. Supported by PennWell LED & Lighting Network, the conference informed market participants of the latest innovations, LED offerings, and smart technologies for the horticulture industry. These solutions are revolutionizing the global food supply chain by making food more accessible and clean, as well as less costly. However, lack of proof points and quantitative data represent significant barriers to market adoption for the latest lighting technologies, which is why speakers at the conference focused heavily on the science behind these offerings. Along with supportive research for horticultural applications, other prominent topics discussed at the event included:

  • The process of tracking the horticultural solid state lighting (SSL) market and technology
  • The DesignLights Consortium’s (DLC’s) testing requirements and thresholds for horticultural lighting products
  • The effect of financial investment 
  • The future of smart and connected horticultural SSL

A key takeaway from these talks was understanding the market transformation of LED lighting for horticulture. While traditional lighting equipment such as high pressure sodium and fluorescent grow lights are still common among greenhouse growers today, retrofit rates of LED lights are on the rise. Increased adoption rates of LEDs have helped lower growing costs, making food more affordable for consumers. The added savings from more efficient lighting have also helped drive customer adoption. However, the hang-up for the horticultural lighting market lies in proving the efficacy of LEDs. Farmers have a difficult decision to make when it comes to determining how much it will cost to deliver X moles of light for their operations. This calls into question the economic feasibility of LEDs, which depends on several factors including grow conditions, time of year, and cost of electricity—none of which can be considered in isolation. 

Standards Seek to Raise Innovation Efficiency

Lack of industry standards for the horticulture market further complicates the issue of determining which lighting application to use, which is why the DLC recently introduced Horticulture Specs for its qualified products list (QPL). The new policy seeks to inform market participants by setting “clear definitions, performance criteria, and testing requirements to ensure listed products are high quality and energy efficient.” During the conference, DLC’s technical manager, Axel Pearson, explained that one of the primary objectives of this new policy is to support growers in the decision-making process by equipping them with the data and tools necessary to specify horticultural lighting products. Pearson went on to explain that stakeholder input is critical for finetuning the QPL, and to expect ongoing improvements as the market continues to grow and mature. 

Use cases of growers utilizing these new specs is limited, as the first approved fixtures were only posted in October 2018. However, the introduction of industry standards for the horticultural market is expected to have a significant impact on the manufacturing of energy efficient solutions as OEMs turn to these standards when designing, producing, and testing their offerings. While it is too early to predict the affects this new policy will have on the indoor farming market, growers can expect more affordable LED solutions as standards seek to raise innovation efficiency. For more information on the indoor farming market, check out Guidehouse Insights’ latest report, Energy Efficiency for Indoor Farming