One of the most recent novelties to use otherwise lost heat in a greenhouse is the LEDFan, developed by Food Autonomy for the cultivation of tomatoes in high-tech greenhouses. It replaces the traditional HPS 1:1, but instead of increased heat costs for normal LED installations, this system saves on heating. Thanks to the built-in fans, a warm air blanket is created between the crop and the luminaires, forming an invisible energy screen, which increases the efficiency of the whole heating system. The company hopes to win this year's Fruit Logistica Innovation Award with it - which it was nominated for - but finds it even more important to give growers a tool to get better control of their crops and fight high energy prices.
According to Bram Meulblok, Technical Sales Engineer at Horticulture Lighting at Food Autonomy, the LEDFan has the most potential in any country that requires artificial lighting. "LEDFan uses fans to blow the (normally lost) convection heat from the luminaires down, to warm up the air. Warming up air lowers the Relative Humidity of the air," said Bram. "This warm air is then blown down and creates slow warm air movement around the top of the crop. Both factors improve the evaporation of the crop, giving the grower the option to keep their screens and windows more closed and keep the heat in his greenhouse. "With the current energy crisis affecting energy prices, Bram notes that the LEDFan offers a solid return on investment. "LEDFan is a luminaire that saves energy not just on electricity, but also on heating.
Of course, the ROI is shorter with high energy prices, but also with 'normal' energy prices, you can achieve a good ROI," he said. "On top of the energy savings, LEDFan also has a positive influence on the greenhouse climate as it improves the evaporation of the plants giving less chance to leaf diseases and keeping the plants more active."
In terms of the Next Generation Growing, Bram states that the LEDFan is a perfect fit. "As LEDFan uses otherwise lost heat to warm up the air and lower humidity, it is a perfect fit to the Next Generation Growing," he said.
The LEDFan was co-developed with Lans Group, one of the biggest greenhouse operators in the Netherlands. Due to the positive results of the first full greenhouse installation in 2021, Lans has installed LEDFan on another 24 hectares in 2022.
The winner of the Fruit Logistica Innovation Award is due to be announced on 10 February in Berlin. Food Autonomy will be present in hall 3.1, stand A-50.
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