Setting up a LED lighting system for large-scale cannabis operations

Rofianda has been a Dutch developer and supplier of LED lighting systems for heavy duty industrial purposes for more than 10 years. “We are a proud preferred supplier of e.g. Fuji Film, Heineken’s glass bottle factories and assembly plants of BMW and Mini,” Ronald Gronsveld, Rofianda founder, explains. Ronald is a bio-scientist who has also been working on lighting systems for climate chambers (plant grow research) for universities all over the world for more than 25 years. Thus, knowledge about plant growth is available within the company at a high level. This kind of knowledge is particularly necessary when it comes to lighting systems, especially if LED is involved. “We have seen a number of growers who stick with HPS,” he says. “The reason for this might be the lack of confidence due to the fact that many LED companies popped up and disappeared again because of their ‘cowboy mentality’. Another reason could be that all the promises which were made by suppliers that promote ‘red and blue’ light. Promises that can’t be kept, like a recipe for each crop resulting in high yields and good health of the plant. We have a track record of higher yield of 2.3 times more dry weight and 30% more CBDs.”

Too much focus on red and blue light
Indeed, Ronald further points out that most LED suppliers focus on red and blue light, and tend to forget about what the plant actually needs. “We wrote a white paper which is available for growers who are interested in our vision.” The high level of knowledge and research proper of Rofianda has allowed the company to carry out projects all over the world with the best horticultural professionals. “We have direct and indirect contact with customers in all parts of the world, including the Netherlands, of course,” Ronald says. “Not only in countries where medical cannabis is legalized, but also in parts of the world with mid and high-tech greenhouses and where urban or vertical farming has a solid economic basis, like in the UAE. By indirect contact, we mean business partners that represent our brand and company. Those partners have profound knowledge of horticulture and/or grow lighting.”

Setting up a lighting system for commercial cannabis operations
Thus, Rofianda are very much aware of the challenges when it comes to setting up a lighting system for controlled environment agriculture, and they leverage their 10+ years of experience to ensure that cannabis growers are on the path to success. “There are many variables that are important,” he explains. “One of them is the number of micromoles in the right spectrum, evenly spread, in order to ensure healthy plants and high-quality yields. We believe it is not so much the quantity of micromoles, but the right balance between UVA-A, red, blue, green and far red light. The quality of the light, so to speak.”

“Another factor is the technical layout, to make sure that the installation is safe and solidly built. Also, the location of the drivers that control the lighting is important; drivers generate heat, which a grower may not like to have in the growing area. Additionally, make sure to look for fixtures with a long but realistic technical lifespan, in which deterioration of the LEDs is minimized. The use of high-quality gold-plated soldering materials, for instance, is a critical factor to keep the fixture stable for a very long time.”

As Ronald has mentioned, heat is one of the most important elements to take into consideration when setting up a lighting system. “Heat is a very important thing here. LED fixtures generate heat too, but not as much as conventional HPS fixtures, say. Cooling the growing rooms costs a lot of energy and thus money and high emissions of CO2.”

“LEDs can be of use in lowering the cost of energy. On the other hand, indoor growing without natural sunlight means you need a lot of artificial light. So, don’t expect miracles in terms of energy saving. And, efficiency is one thing, but a grower should bear in mind as KPI the effectiveness of the LEDs.

In other words; if a fixture is very efficient, but the yields are poor, the lights aren’t very effective. In the end, given the fact that currently cannabis production can’t keep up with demand, growers want high quality yields. Efficiency plays a minor role.”

“Finally, it is important to point out that LED fixtures are maintenance free. HPS bulbs need to be replaced every 2-3 years, as well as the capacitors and sometimes even the reflectors. This fact is often disregarded.”

Utilizing sunlight to grow indoor
Therefore, Rofianda has developed highly technologically advanced LED lights that afford a full sunlight spectrum. “We developed a full sunlight spectrum fixture, which comes very close to natural sunlight,” Ronald says. “We did this development together with the South Korean multinational Seoul Semiconductors, the 3rd largest LED manufacturer in the world. We were the first in the world to introduce this fixture. Our philosophy: There are millions of different plant species on our planet that grow perfectly under sunlight, so why don’t we give plants that we grow indoors sunlight too?”

For more information:
Rofianda Light Solutions
Herastraat 43-07
5047 TX Tilburg, Nederland
+31-(0)13-85 00 964  

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