Farmers could reduce their greenhouse electrical costs by as much as 33% with the help of a predictive lighting control system, a new study shows.
According to a study by University of Georgia researchers a new, internet-connected lighting system for greenhouses could sharply reduce a farmer’s electrical bill. A team of University of Georgia researchers designed a new lighting system that could reduce a greenhouse’s electrical demand without hurting the plants.
This “predictive” lighting control system could optimise lighting for plants by predicting sunlight and only running the lights when needed. To achieve this, the researchers developed a control system that uses sensors to measure current weather conditions, next to light-predicting algorithms. In combination, the system can predict the amount of sunlight in the future. This allows it to optimise the lights inside the greenhouse and give plants the correct amount of light.
University of Georgia tested this system during spring and winter. While both experiments showed reduced costs while maintaining plant growth, the new system made a bigger impact during the spring. It reduced costs by 33% in the spring but only 4% in the winter. The system generates the most savings while the sun is shining. Because winter months have shorter days, the lights are required to be on more often.
According to the researchers, the actual cost savings could be higher. Their experiments assumed a fixed cost for electricity, but in reality farms are subject to variable pricing. The team has already programed the system to account for this variable and plans to publish future research that shows higher savings rates.