Grow light is one of the most crucial production resources for a greenhouse horticulture business, so it's only logical that, as a grower, you will want to get the maximum return from your grow light installation. Good and regular maintenance is therefore a must. It means that you are assured of the optimum quantity of grow light, and thus of maximum production.
Grow light installation performance and returns start to deteriorate gradually right from the time of installation. There are various factors involved; for example lamps, fixtures and reflectors get dirty, and there is wear and tear. "When growers purchase a new grow light installation, they often think that they won't need to worry about it for the first few years," says André Flinterman, account manager at Hortilux. “But the moment the lamps are turned on, the process of wear and tear begins. That means an annual checkup of your grow light installation is vital, to see how many micromoles of light the crop receives, as well as to carry out essential maintenance."
Good maintenance pays
According to Flinterman, growers who don't keep their grow light installations maintained are throwing money away. “It can add up to huge amounts. A new HSE NXT2 1,000-watt lamp, for example, uses 160 euros of energy per fixture each year when used for growing tomatoes. When growing roses and lisianthus, it can come to more than 350 euros per fixture. If an installation produces five percent less grow light after a couple of years, it means that when growing tomatoes you're paying eight euros per fixture in wasted energy. For roses and lisianthus it comes to 17 euros per fixture! That's obviously an enormous waste. So keeping the grow light installation properly maintained can literally make you money."
Know where you stand
Flinterman recommends having the grow light installation inspected annually by a specialist company. The lamps, drivers, fixtures and reflectors, amongst others areas, need to be checked. Hortilux provides services for these inspections.
“According to the specifications, lamps should last 10,000 to 12,000 hours. But some 1,000-watt lamps last much longer than this. It depends on various factors including the lamp quality, the power quality, and how often an installation is switched on and off. If the light output is still adequate, why would you replace it? For that reason it's crucial to have regular specialist continuity testing of each lamp – after 2,500 operating hours or once each year. The inspection gives insight into the light output in micromoles, the energy consumption and the lamp voltage. In short: you know where you stand.”
As well as having the lamps checked, it's also important to have regular continuity testing of the capacitors in conventional fixtures. “These capacitors gradually wear out, which reduces the efficiency of the grow light installation, so timely replacement is very important."
Flinterman says that all of these things contribute to ensuring that there is more grow light available for the crop, which logically benefits production. “Proper maintenance of your grow light installation saves money, because it means that the energy put into the installation is actually converted into light. You also avoid having to replace of lamps, drivers, fixtures and reflectors prematurely due to wear and tear and light loss. In short: frequent maintenance means pure profit. Grow light cultivation is top-level sport!"