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How Do I Create a Successful Indoor Grow Light Plan?

Indoor Grow Light Plan

If you are thinking about installing new lighting or upgrading your lights in an indoor commercial grow, a successful indoor grow light plan design is one of the key steps to getting the best outcome. When developed by an experienced professional, a successful indoor grow light plan answers many important questions regarding lighting such as:

  • What should my target average PPFD (photosynthetic photon flux density) be for each room?
  • What type of lighting will I need?
  • How many lights will I need?
  • Where should my lights be installed?
  • How high above the canopy should my lights be hung?
  • How much HVAC, ventilation, and airflow will I need to offset the heat produced?
  • Where should I have power drops installed?
  • How much power will I need for lighting?
  • What’s my power bill going to look like every month?

 

What is PPFD?

PPFD is the most useful measurement for understanding how much usable light plants receive under the glow of a specific lamp.

This is because PPFD, or photosynthetic photon flux density, defines the amount of PAR that actually reaches the canopy. This measurement is expressed in micromoles (μmol) per meter per second.

 

What Information Do I Need for a Successful Indoor Grow Light Plan?

Before a light plan can be developed for an indoor application, the designer needs to know certain variables about the grow space.

  • Room dimensions: Length, width, and height.
  • Grow cycle specification: Is the room strictly for veg, flower, propagation, mothers, or are you growing from start to finish in one room?
  • Crop layout: How are you laying out your plants? Are you using multilevel racks? Rolling benches? Static rows? Your light plan designer can also suggest several options for you if you have not decided on a layout yet.
  • Co2: Do you plan on supplementing Co2 in your grow? If the answer is yes, you will need to aim for higher PPFD averages in order to maximize the fact that Co2 will allow your plants to use more light.
  • Finished surfaces of walls, ceilings, and floors: This is important in calculating reflectivity and how much light will bounce around. Many commercial grows use flat white paint or reflective insulation on their walls and ceilings. White floors with epoxy topcoat are popular as well. Highly reflective surfaces all around improve light uniformity and reduce light loss.

 

How are Successful Indoor Grow Light Plans Developed?

Once all necessary information has been provided, the designer starts by drawing out the room in the lighting program. Walls, ceiling, and the floor will be assigned reflectivity values based on the information provided by the client.

Next, plant location is specified. Some clients may want to keep startup costs low and use static rows of plants. Others may want to invest a bit more and go with rolling benches to maximize canopy space and light footprint while keeping access flexible.

It’s important that the layout is designed so that the grower can easily access all plants at any given time.

Once plant layout is established, lighting can be added.

Based on ceiling height and/or vertical clearance above the plant canopy, the light plan designer will select one or more fixtures that fit the application. For a flower room with high ceilings and a single level canopy, a high bay fixture with high power density and plenty of red spectrum such as the SolarSystem 1100 is ideal.

How are light fixtures simulated?

When placing light fixtures into a light plan program, we use files called IES (Illuminating Engineering Society) files.

These files contain photometric data on a specific light fixture in order to simulate how it affects objects in the real world.  Official light measurement labs typically create the IES file for each fixture using large, expensive calibrated equipment such as goniometers and spheres.

Over a constant canopy of 24’ x 20’, you will get overlap footprints from one light to the next, allowing a maximum footprint from each light.

In this case, when the lighting program runs the calculation, we’re getting an average of about 800 PPFD and uniformity at 84% with lights 4’ above the canopy which will work great for flower.

If the client decides that they are wanting to supplement Co2 in their flower room, we’ll have to aim for a higher average PPFD with more lights as the plants will be able to use more light.

Now that we know which light will be needed and how many, the client has a clear picture in advance as to where to install lights and power drops, how much power they’ll need, how many tons of cooling they’ll need, and other important factors.

Being able to visualize the final result before completion is a valuable asset to any grow operation. Contact us today to get your successful indoor grow light plan free with no obligation!

 

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