Diagram of our adaptive lighting controller

LED lights are quickly gaining popularity in greenhouses. LED lights have many advantages over more traditional HPS lights, including energy efficiency and the availability of lights with various spectra. One important property of LEDs lights that the horticulture industry has not yet taken advantage of is that the light output from LED lights can easily, accurately, and cheaply be controlled in real-time. Instead, LED lights are typically used as ‘dumb’ lights and controlled in an on/off fashion, the same way HPS lights have been controlled for decades. Not taking advantage of the dimmability of LEDs results in a great untapped potential and value. We developed an LED light controller that automatically adjust its light output based on ambient light intensity. By placing a light sensor at the canopy level, this adaptive LED controller can maintain user-defined light levels at the top of the canopy. By dimming the LED lights when more ambient light is present, we make sure the LED lights never use more energy than needed. This fairly simple and cheap approach to controlling LED lights can greatly reduce energy use and costs.

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