Produce Grower: What do growers need to know when upgrading from HPS or older lighting technologies to LED?
BN: The biggest thing that I think growers are already aware of is that it’s an extremely dynamic environment that we are putting a product into or switching a product out of, and there are a lot of interactive parameters taking place. Between lighting, HVAC, shading, dehumidification — all these elements — there are so many factors in a growing environment cultivators should take into consideration. Understanding it’s a dynamic environment is important. You can’t just look at one metric and say you’re going to choose a certain product because of that one metric. It’s not quite that simple. LEDs will generally help save on energy and operation costs, but at higher efficiencies, other environmental parameters will need to adjust to ensure an optimal grow.
PG: What would you say to any grower hesitant about upgrading their lights?
BN: We see a lot of people dedicating a portion of their facilities to either research and development or to trials. Members of our horticulture services and research teams actually help cultivators set up trials and dial things in before there’s a large-scale commitment. So that’s one path people can take if they’re a little more hesitant and they have space for R&D or trialing.
Additionally, there’s a comfort that some growers have with using HPS systems, or any other incumbent or legacy lighting solution. So, in those cases, a hybrid solution can be beneficial. For example, we have lighting designers that can factor in HPS lighting like a checkerboard style.
I’d say those are the two best ways for people to dip their toes in if they’re really hesitant. At the same time, I think there’s enough research available illustrating that when implemented correctly — which is a very important caveat — LEDs can perform just as well as or even outperform legacy solutions.
PG: What customer support resources are available to growers who go with Fluence for their LED upgrades?
BN: It’s very important to have a team of people behind you — rather than a salesperson who’s just selling lights — and I think this is a huge value that cultivators will find with Fluence. We have horticulture services and technical services teams ensuring that our customers are successful after implementing our products.
We have multiple team members with PhDs on our horticultural services team who have experience growing different types of crops in a variety of environments and facilities. I’ve never heard of a problem that someone on the team hasn’t previously experienced.
The technical services team also covers an umbrella of things that cultivators might not initially consider, one being rebate support. We also have a lighting design staff and a team of field applications engineers ready to guide and assist customers.