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Not all LED fixtures are created equal. When considering an investment as significant as lighting for your farm, you want to be sure you’re buying quality fixtures that are designed to last and meet the specific needs of your environment. To help make sense of this and assist you in making the right decision, we’ve put together nine questions to ask your lighting supplier to ensure that the fixtures will live up to the promises on their spec sheet.
1. What do your consultations with your customers look like?
Ideally, the supplier will sit down with you and develop a customized plan. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and light plans work best when they consider the unique characteristics of each farm.
2. How does the fixture utilize light?
A fixture with a high light output but subpar uniformity means you will have to purchase more fixtures to achieve the right amount of light levels across the entire crop. Without this even distribution of light, your crop quality and yield could be affected. An accurate light plan will show if the fixtures live up to their promise.
3. Who manufactures your diodes?
A diode is a conductor that assures that the electric current flows in the right direction. Ensure the manufacturer works with reputable, well-known suppliers and have properly vetted their chips’ IP to avoid legal trouble down the road. A reputable producer will have an advanced level of quality control in place, meaning they put their diodes through rigorous tests as well as comply with sanctioned ethical manufacturing practices. This level of quality results in lower failure rates and reduced maintenance over time.
4. At what current level are your LED chips driven relative to their maximum rating?
Some manufacturers will overdrive their LEDs, which will greatly shorten their lifespan in pursuit of meeting exaggerated marketing claims. Make sure that the fixture will not only meet claimed levels in the short term, but also that it will stand the test of time.
5. How does your fixture manage thermals?
The most important element of an LED fixture’s design is its ability to dissipate heat. Water-cooled fixtures require the installation of extra plumbing, and actively cooled fixtures rely on fans. Passively cooled fixtures, such as the Arize Element L1000, are the wisest choice as they don’t require additional infrastructure and have fewer potential failure points.
6. What is the L90 lifetime rating of your fixture?
The L90 is the point at which a fixture has lost 10% of its original light output, and this is when your crop will begin to underperform. Confirm the temperature at which tests were conducted for an apples-to-apples comparison.
7. Do you have an independent test report for your fixture?
A reputable manufacturer will have independent tests done, such as an LM-79 report, on their fixtures. (The organizations providing the report may vary by country.) An independent test report confirms that the information on the fixture’s spec sheet is accurate.
8. Is the fixture listed on the Design Lights Consortiums (DLC) Quality Products List?
A fixture must pass a range of industry tests and requirements to be listed on the DLC QPL. In North America, a fixture must be on the list to qualify for utility rebates. Current has a helpful rebate lookup tool to help you find the rebates available to you.
9. How long is the warranty?
Most reputable manufacturers will offer a five-year warranty as standard on all horticultural fixtures. The effort to replace and service low-quality LED fixtures defeats their very purpose. Thoroughly read the warranty before you buy, and work with companies that have a solid, long-running history in lighting that will answer the phone when you call.
Read the full article on the GE current site and learn more about how GE Current, a Daintree company, are helping growers start and maintain successful growing operations every step of the way.