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Since plants are biologically-based and since controlled environment plant production demands significant electrical-energy inputs, the paper propose an economic comparative analysis on four growing plant lighting systems (fluorescent, metal halides, high pressure sodium and LED), in order to determine the most efficient type of lamp that can be used in a specific crop or greenhouse. As every investment in crop production has the implicit aim to reduce the electrical-power load required for plant production and to harvest as much, the analysis took into account the cost components. There were not taken into account the expenditures of heating plants in winter. There is demonstrated that the best long term investment is in LED lighting system, as predictable. Further, this study was conducted in accordance with all European norms and sustainable strategies.
Journal of Electrical Engineering
Technical University „Gheorghe Asachi”, Faculty of Electrical Engineering, Iaşi 700050, România ,
Bld. Dimitrie Mangeron 21, Fax: +40 232 237627 , Phone: +40 232 278683 (int.1235), Email:
Abstract: Since plants are biologically-based and since
controlled environment plant production demands
significant electrical-energy inputs, the paper propose an
economic comparative analysis on four growing plant
lighting systems (fluorescent, metal halides, high pressure
sodium and LED), in order to determine the most efficient
type of lamp that can be used in a specific crop or
greenhouse. As every investment in crop production has the
implicit aim to reduce the electrical-power load required for
plant production and to harvest as much, the analysis took
into account the cost components. There were not taken into
account the expenditures of heating plants in winter. There
is demonstrated that the best long term investment is in LED
lighting system, as predictable. Further, this study was
conducted in accordance with all European norms and
sustainable strategies.
Key words: Growing lamp, efficiency, lighting system, costs.
1. Introduction
In recent years, in economic developed countries
appeared a new concept regarding farming; that is
"precision agriculture". That comprises a set of
technologies combining sensors, information systems,
enhanced machinery, and informed management to
optimize production by accounting for variability and
uncertainties within agricultural systems [1]. The
incorporation of technology in farming techniques
requires effective equipment that could lead to
increased profitability overall. ESA Talking Fields
Demonstration Study from 2009 shows that traditional
farming techniques do not always make an efficient
utilization of resources, which eventually leads to an
unnecessary increase of production costs, so it is
implied that precision agriculture is related to cost
As the most ascensive form of vegetal production,
greenhouse structures are of great importance in
supporting industry of agriculture. New greenhouse
technologies contribute constantly to increasing the
production per cultivated unit area firstly by the
optimization of greenhouse structures and coverings for
better light transmissivity [2].
In winter plant growth in greenhouses is strongly
limited by the amount of solar radiation. This leads to
long propagation periods and high energy demand for
greenhouse heating. Since mechanical cooling is
expensive, both in terms of investments and running
costs, the typical modern greenhouses have a large air
exchange rate with the environment [3].
The use of artificial light can improve the growth
rate considerably but causes high consumption of
electric energy. In literature, there are simulation
models that describe the interactions between
greenhouse crop processes (photosynthesis and
transpiration) and indoor and outdoor climate,
accounting for the effects of greenhouse structure:
utilities, cover materials, light, outside weather
conditions, and action of controllers [4], such as
KASPRO [5], SERRISTE [6], HORTEX [7] or GTa-
Tools [8]. The comparison of the energy demands for
seedling production, resulted from this models above,
shows that a reduction of energy input is possible, with
no quantitative effect on harvesting.
Grow lamps are effective, energy-saving, reliable,
low heat generating, with lower operating costs for all
indoor growers. Their artificial light can be used in
three different ways:
To provide all the light a plant needs to grow.
To supplement sunlight, especially in winter months
when daylight hours are short.
To increase the length of the "day" in order to
trigger specific growth and flowering.
The optimum growing light system must be
ecofriendly and must supply only the colors of light
used by plants for healthy growth. Table 1 shows a
comparison of different light sources [9], [10] suited
for growing light.
Table 1
Characteristics of Common Light Sources
Light source
Average Lamp
ratio of
in three
ranges, %
Up to 24000
Metal Halide
High Pressure
Up to 24000
Journal of Electrical Engineering
A number of issues determine the efficiency of a
lighting system [11]. They include:
The fraction of the light used by plants
Heat generated by the bulbs
Heat generated by ballasts
Service and maintenance costs.
2. Grow lights
Investigating the effects of light intensity
(irradiance) and temperature on the rate of carbon
assimilation of the plants, it results:
At constant temperature, the rate of carbon
assimilation varies with irradiance, initially increasing
as the irradiance increases. However at higher
irradiance this relationship no longer holds and the rate
of carbon assimilation reaches a plateau.
At constant irradiance, the rate of carbon
assimilation increases as the temperature is increased
over a limited range. This effect is only seen at high
irradiance levels. At low irradiance, increasing the
temperature has little influence on the rate of carbon
The plant’s absorption spectrum is the spectrum of
radiant energy whose intensity at each wavelength is a
measure of the amount of energy at that wavelength
that has passed through a selectively absorbing
substance [12]. The similarity of the action spectrum of
photosynthesis and the absorption spectrum of
chlorophyll emphasizes the most important
wavelengths in the process (Fig. 1). Chlorophyll a, the
most common and predominant in all plants gives the
blue-green pigment. Chlorophyll b functions as a light
harvesting pigment (yellow-green) that pass on the
light excitation to chlorophyll a. Only the light
absorbed by the leaf can be used for photosynthesis.
Transmitted or reflected light will not be used. The
spectrum of light absorbed is typically measured using
a spectroradiometer and an integrating sphere. Plants
convert light into chemical energy with a maximum
photosynthetic efficiency of approximately 6%.
Fig. 1. Absorbance spectra of free chlorophyll a
(green) and b (red) [13]
Plants need both red and blue light for photosynthesis.
Red light is very important to plant reproduction and is
essential for stimulation of flowering and fruiting. Blue
light stimulates chlorophyll production more than any
other color. The amounts of blue light required for
optimum growth can depend on the variety of plant and
on the stage of growth.
Young plants like more blue light than mature
plants. Orange light stimulates creation of carotenoids,
which are required for plant health, but also add to
photosynthesis, since the carotenoids pass their
absorbed energy to chlorophyll. The green and yellow
spectrums provide very little to no benefit to growing
plants. Green light is not used or absorbed, which is
why most foliage looks green in sunlight.
The light’s wavelength is also important, as it’s
correlated with the color and light absorption (table 2).
Table 2
Influences of the light’s wavelength on plants
400-500 nm (Blue)
600-700nm (Red)
Plants also require both dark and light ("photo"-)
periods. Therefore, lights need to be timed - to switch
them on and off at set intervals after 12 hours. The
optimum photo/dark period depends specifically on the
species and variety of plant. The optimal lighting
parameters for growing plants are: photosynthetically
active radiation (PAR) and the total irradiance.
Total solar irradiance describes the radiant energy
emitted by the sun over all wavelengths (fig.2), but the
plants’ response is based only on the daily irradiance,
so they use a ratio of total irradiance to PAR [10].
Journal of Electrical Engineering
Fig. 2. PAR: V – relative luminous efficiency of
equal incident radiant fluxes as function of
wavelength; P – relative photosynthetic efficiency as
function of wavelength of the average green leaf
3. Lamps for growing light
a) Incandescent grow lights (fig.3) have a red-yellowish
tone and low color temperature (2700°K), an average
life span of 750 hours and are less energy efficient than
fluorescent or high-intensity discharge lamps,
converting much of the electricity consumed into heat
(rather than light).
b) Fluorescent grow lights (fig.4) are available in any
desired color temperature, from 2800°K to 6000°K.
This excess heat must be ventilated. Standard
fluorescents produce twice as many lumens per watt of
energy consumed as incandescent and have an average
usable life span of up to 20,000 hours.
High Output Fluorescent/HID hybrids combine cool
burning with the penetration of high intensity discharge
technology. The primary advantage to these fixtures is
their blend of light colors and broad even coverage.
c) High pressure sodium growing lamps (fig. 5) yield
yellow lighting (2200K) and have a very poor color
rendering index, that’s why the plants grown under
these lamps do not appear very healthy (although they
usually are). They are used for the second (or
reproductive) phase of the growth. Due to their high
efficiency and the fact that plants grown in greenhouses
get all the blue light they need naturally, these lamps
are the preferred supplemental greenhouse lights. High
pressure sodium lamps emit a lot of heat controlled by
using special air cooled bulb reflector/enclosures.
d) The lighting efficiency of LED growing light is
more than eight times that of incandescent lights, and
twice as high as compact fluorescent lights. LED emits
a much higher percentage of light in the desired
direction (fig. 6). All of the light output from led bulbs
can be a specific color. With other light sources, much
of the light produced consists of unwanted colors
which are filtered out. This wastes energy. Led lights
produce pure color (monochromatic light) which
requires no filtering [16].
Led lights also generate very little heat, so plants
will transpire less under LED, extending the time
between watering cycles. Led lighting instantly
achieves full brightness with no warm up time. Leds do
not contain dangerous substances. Fluorescent lights
contain mercury and must be treated as hazardous
waste. Led lighting does not produce any ultraviolet
(UV) light, so they will not cause fading and aging of
artwork or other sensitive materials. Led bulbs can
operate for 30,000 hours or more, are not affected by
frequent on-off switching. The long life of led light
bulbs reduce the time, effort and cost of replacement.
Fig. 3. Incandescent lamp performance (black curve
– lumens output, the red curve is the way a human
sees the light, the green, the way a plant sees it)
Fig. 4. Fluorescent lamp full spectrum [14]
Fig. 5. HPS Spectrum shown against the plant
sensitivity curve
Fig. 6. LED’s spectrum [15]
Journal of Electrical Engineering
4. The need for artificial production of vegetables
in the context of the food chain evolution
The greenhouse vegetables are stronglycontested by
some health and nutrition organizations because they
contain nitrates, nitrites and other toxic substances,
being defined as outcomes of a process of
"plasticulture" [17]. The disadvantage of this type of
production consists only in the fact that vegetables
don’t have the same nutritional value (vitamins and
minerals) that naturally grown vegetables, not in the
fact that they could harm human health. Furthermore,
economically and demographically annual statistics, all
sustain the need to invest financial resources and
modern technology in vegetable greenhouses to sustain
the consumption level of the population. According to
Eurostat, there is a major discordance between the
consumption of vegetables (fig. 7) and the natural crop
vegetables production (fig. 8). If we consider that [18]
defines fruit and vegetables consumption as a key
indicator for healthy eating in general and therefore it
marks the occurrence of mal nutrition as well, the need
of greenhouses that produce continuously is right
justified. Vegetable supply per capita declined by 8.3%
compared to the average of the previous five years and
reaches 81.2 kg in 2010 [19]. This arises due to
deepening of economic crisis worldwide. But if there is
taken into account the price index evolution (fig. 9),
can be seen that it is not increasing overall, so the
vegetables are still accessible for consumption. In
countries where this indicator tends upward, one can
encourage the import of vegetables. A higher
availability of vegetables in one of the EU countries not
cause an increase in local consumption, in the
advantage of those countries where the production
infrastructure is weak or where are no conditions
conducive to natural or artificial agriculture. With a
general trend of increasing consumption of vegetables,
natural or processed, regardless of economic or climatic
conditions, it is obvious that the greenhouses will have
to produce more and faster, using biological and
engineering techniques increasingly effective.
B elg i um
B ulg a ri a
C zech Re p ubli c
D en m ar k
Ge r m a n y
E sto n ia
Gr e e c e
S pa in
Ita ly
Lit h u a nia
H un ga ry
N eth e rla nd s
A us tri a
P ola n d
R om a nia
Fig. 7. Gross human apparent consumption of vegetables per capita , kg/head
Be l giu m
Bu l ga ri a
C ze ch Re p ub lic
D en m ar k
G er m any
Es ton i a
G re ec e
Sp a in
Fr a nce
Ita ly
Li thu a nia
H un g ar y
N eth e rla n ds
Au s tr ia
Po l an d
R om a ni a
Fig.8. Natural crop vegetables production in selected countries, tones/ha
Journal of Electrical Engineering
0 ,0
2 0 ,0
4 0 ,0
6 0 ,0
8 0 ,0
B e lg iu m
B u lg a r ia
C ze c h R e pu b li c
D e n m a r k
G e rm a n y
E s to n ia
G r e e c e
S p a in
F ra n c e
It a ly
L it h ua n i a
H u n g a ry
N e t h er la n d s
A u s tr i a
P o la n d
R o m a n ia
Fig. 9. Price level indices for vegetables in selected countries for the EU-27 average index value of 100
5. Cost effectiveness of tomatoes growing light
Plants "see" light differently than human , as they
use mostly blue and red light. Lumens, lux or
footcandles should not be used to measure light for
plant growth since they are measures used for human
visibility. More correct measures for plants are PAR
watts, PPF (Photosynthetic Photon Flux) PAR and
YPF (Yield Photon Flux) PAR. In addition to quantity
of light, considerations of quality are important, since
plants use energy in different parts of the spectrum for
critical processes.
Designing an efficient grow plants system concerns
the following steps:
- determine required irradiance levels in PAR
watts/square meter,
- establish the area to be illuminated in square meters,
- calculate total PAR watts required as the area x
required PAR watts per square meter,
- select a lamp of appropriate wattage and calculate its
PAR watt rating,
- calculate the total number of lamps (or fixtures)
A local farmer produces tomatoes in growing
modules of 12*3m each. His intension is to be on the
market earlier and to compete with the tomatoes
importer. Taking into account the Mediterranean
climate in Romania, he needs a growing light system
and the problem is to choose the most efficient one at
this moment. In order to simplify the modeling and the
interpretation of the results, the entire greenhouse area
is assumed to be planted with the same crop at the
same time.
For this application were compared the lighting
systems based on fluorescent, metal halides, high
pressure sodium and LED. For all this light sources,
the PAR factors are specified in the technical
brochures. There has to be calculated the light
necessary for the specified 12*3m growing area of
tomatoes, which needs 16-18 hours of light and 6 hours
of darkness daily for vegetative growth phase, and 12
hours of light combined with 12 hours of complete
darkness for the fruiting and flowering phase. These
plants will reach normally fruit bearing maturity in 40
days [20]. Tomatoes require large quantity of light to
grow into sturdy plants, so there is necessary a high
light intensity to cover all the leaves. In these
conditions, a module with the area 12*3m needs a light
covering of 4430 watts.
As tomatoes require 85 PAR watts/m2, for a plot
having the area of 36m2are needed 3060 PAR watts.
This level can be reached with 102 LED of
10Watts/30PAR, 77 fluorescent bulbs of 23Watts/
38PAR, 21 metal halide lamps of 400Watts/140PAR or
23 HPS lamps of 400Watts/130PAR, as can be seen in
table 3.
The lamp’s cost includes the accessories of all light
sources. Because the operating time is the same for all
analyzed systems, the cost of electricity was considered
0.4 $/kWh, without taking into account tariff
components and tariff differences on hourly periods.
The total cost was calculated with the formula:
edhPnC 3
C = energy cost [$],
n = number of lamps of each lighting system,
P = power of one lamp [W],
h = number of lighting hours required by the tomatoes
d = days of one flowering cycle,
e = electricity price = 0.4 $/kWh.
Results in Table 3 suggest that the most efficient
system in this case is the one based on LED’s light.
The fluorescent lamp’s operating cost includes
ancillary units’ price, respectively starter and ballast.
During operation the fluorescent lamp suffers badly
with any effort to reduce costs by turning it off due to
the fact that this function reduces the lamp life. The
LED has no such reduction in life due to re-strike and
thus picks up all the benefits of off-time energy and
cost savings.
Journal of Electrical Engineering
Table 3
Effective costs in growing application for four different
lighting systems
No. of
to PAR
Metal halides
6. Conclusions
Vegetables’ producers are more interested in
growing light systems in their competition to permeate
the specific market. Even this growing plant method is
more expensive than the classic one and sometimes
challenged as being unhealthy, using special lighting
installations in greenhouses for vegetable crop has the
advantage of continuity of harvesting in the current
context of increased demand for food. In addition,
vegetables production in greenhouses does not depend
on climatic factors and could be a continuous process.
There is a variety of sources, from incandescent
growing light to LEDs, but their efficiency must be
compared using photosynthetically parameters (PAR),
not the parameters based on the sensitivity of the
human eye.
The comparative study performed on tomatoes
growing module shows that for the same growth
conditions, the LED lighting system is the most
efficient, reducing with 51% the overall growing costs
from the case of using the fluorescent lighting system.
More, even if most conservative horticultural experts
still promote HPS lamps, it is obvious that in terms of
cost/benefit, the LED system transforms the growth
process into one with 71,5% more economical.
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Horticulture and Lithuanian University of Agr iculture.
Sodininkystė Ir Daržininkystė (2009).
... Other light sources used for plant production require filtering of unwanted colors, which wastes energy. In LEDs, pure color lights are produced without filtration (Dănilă and Lucache 2013). ...
... LED lights do not cause color fading, because they do not produce ultraviolet (UV) light. LEDs also have an operating life of more than 30,000 h and are unaffected by switching on and off (Dănilă and Lucache 2013;Piovene et al. 2015). ...
Full-text available
Light emitting diodes (LEDs) have become a promising technology for agriculture and horticulture. I investigated the effects of white (W), red (R) and blue (B) LED lights on the propagation of Limnophila aromatica (Lamk.) Merr. and Rotala rotundifolia (Buch-Ham. ex Roxb) Koehne using tissue culture. The shoot tip explants of L. aromatica and R. rotundifolia under different light environments were cultured in Murashige and Skoog (MS) basic nutrient medium with 6-benzylaminopurine (BAP) (0.05, 0.10 and 0.20 mg/l) and gibberellic acid (GA3) 0.25 mg/l) + kinetin (KIN) 0.25, 0.50 and 0.75 mg/l. The explants grown under combinations of white, red and blue LEDs were more effective for propagation of the plants in vitro. In L. aromatica, the maximum number of shoots/explant and the longest shoot lengths were obtained using the combination of white, red and blue LED lights in a 1:2:1 ratio in MS medium supplemented with 0.10 and 0.20 mg/l BAP. In R. rotundifolia, the maximum shoots/explant and shoot lengths were obtained in the explants using the combination of white, red and blue LED lights in a 1:2:1 ratio in the MS culture media fortified with 0.25 mg/l GA3 + 0.25 and 0.75 mg/l KIN. After the regenerated shoots were rooted, they were adapted successfully to external conditions. LEDs have significant advantages over fluorescent lights.
Full-text available
The thesis is about modelling technical aspects of greenhouses with - Expert Systems Rules - Simulation Tools - Database Constructions The Thesis is the base of the Software HORTEX 5.0 (C) by Ulmer Verlag
Full-text available
Precision agriculture comprises a set of technologies that combines sensors, information systems, enhanced machinery, and informed management to optimize production by accounting for variability and uncertainties within agricultural systems. Adapting production inputs site-specifically within a field and individually for each animal allows better use of resources to maintain the quality of the environment while improving the sustainability of the food supply. Precision agriculture provides a means to monitor the food production chain and manage both the quantity and quality of agricultural produce.
Full-text available
The scope of this paper is a new greenhouse design that incorporates both a filter for rejecting near infrared radiation (NIR) and a solar cooling system. Cooled greenhouses are an important issue for the combination of high global radiation and high outdoor temperatures. As a first measure, this study prevents heat entering the greenhouse by applying a NIR-reflective cover material. The special spectral selective properties of these materials will block up to 50% of the outside solar energy from entering the greenhouse, which will reduce the cooling capacity required. The second measure is the introduction of a solar driven cooling system. When the NIR reflecting coating is designed as a parabolic or circular shaped reflector integrated in the greenhouse, the reflected solar energy received by a PV cell at the focus delivers sufficient electric energy to drive a fan and pad cooling system. The excess energy can be used for desalination and/or energy supply. Parameters related to typical climate conditions and energy flows are presented.
Leaves of common plants absorb 80-95% of the blue (400-500 m(mu)), 60-80% of the green (500-600 m(mu), and 80-90% of the red (600-700 m(mu)). Absorption in the infrared is about 5% at 800 to 1,200 m(mu) and increases to near 100% beyond, 3,000 m(mu) or 3 @(mu). Absorption at 550 m(mu) by equal quantities of leaf pigments was two to six times greater for intact leaves than for methanol solutions. Shifts of the absorption bands toward shorter wavelengths, which are characteristic of chlorophyll solutions, were not observed in isolated whole or sonically disintegrated chloroplasts. Leaves in sunlight are heated from a few degrees above air temperature for thin leaves to 30 degrees C or more for very thick leaves before reaching a steady temperature. The heating and cooling curves shown by wilted leaves were not significantly different from those of transpiring leaves. Dried leaves heated less and cooled faster than normal, transpiring leaves. Leaves in sunshine were cooled quickly toward air temperature by wind at 5 mph. It is concluded that leaves tend to assume the temperature of the surrounding air; that they are heated rapidly by radiant energy, and cooled primarily by conduction of energy to the air.
SERRISTE is a decision making system that generates daily climate set points for greenhouse grown tomatoes. The system is based on the mathematical formalisation of expert practices and scientific knowledge, as a constraint satisfaction problem. The structure of SERRISTE is presented, as well as the knowledge used to describe the relationship between the crop behaviour and the greenhouse climate, and the relationship between set points and the resulting greenhouse climate. The performances of the system have been tested in three different locations in France by applying a blind reference management and SERRISTE management to two identical greenhouse compartments at each location. The main results are that SERRISTE maintains higher day to night temperature differences and lower vapour pressure deficit than the reference management, and leads to energy savings in the range of 5–20%. The SERRISTE crop yields at least the same harvest as the reference one. Moreover, the crop behaviour in summer is enhanced by the use of SERRISTE, because the plants are more vegetative and more able to endure high temperatures.
This report describes the processes that may lead to emission of Plant Protection Products (PPP) from protected cultivation, through aerial routes. The introduction gives the background for this work and the limitations, outlining in particular why receptors other than air are not explicitly addressed here. Chapters 2 discusses the physical background of greenhouse air exchanges and the factors that affect it. Existing models for estimating ventilation of the different types of greenhouses are reviewed there. Chapter 3 gives a scientific argument about the processes and the factors that may affect aerial emissions of PPP from protected cultivations. The parameters that may have an high impact on the emission are identified there as well. A review of the knowledge needed and of the models that may be available for scoring each emission route is given in Chapter 4. In Chapter 5 a strategy is proposed to reduce/group the number of factors that are important (and to score their relevance) through some model calculations. An outline of the calculations that would be needed for ranking and eventually scoring the emissions and, possibly, highlight groupings of combinations that are similar with respect to emissions, is given.
"Stellingen" inserted. Thesis (doctoral)--Landbouwuniversitet te Wageningen, 1996. Includes bibliographical references (p. 171-174).
The Canadian Encyclopedia
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Dorais, M., Gosselin, A., Trudel, M.J.: The Canadian Encyclopedia, Historica-Dominion, (2012).