Avante` OLED Gardener

Jul 28, 2014 No Comments by

History and future of Lighting in Horticulture submitted by

Dennis McCarthy


Farm museums have these tools and pieces of equipment from bygone times. Old plows and implements were part of that scene- nowadays they’re not so relevant! People involved in horticulture are seeing a slow, incremental change in one of their trusted standbys.

Gas and glass lighting tech have long been their second choice mainstays, after the sun, as a great light source – but that paradigm is changing and it will continue to evolve. Horticulturist know this and will simultaneously dread this new technology (as they are a bit conservative as a rule) and… in time they will embrace it!

The sales of those lighting relics- MH or Sodium lights are under siege from SSL using inorganic LEDs (ILEDS) – I may be the first to say this but SSL with ILEDs, will be supplanted or made passé by a different form of solid state lighting … OLEDs – Specifically the OLEDs and other organic light emitters that will come as new color tunable lighting wares. These wares are just coming on to the scene, but take this lighting guys’ word for it the SSL of the future is going to look and perform differently than your pedestrian LED grow lights of this time frame. There is churning underway and what’s available now … it’s by no way considered the finished, perfected “be all” product in the segment.

The three or four of us who think that OLEDs will have a great role in horticulture include an internationally renowned electronics industry “super” analyst. There is a growing – no pun, idea that SSL, is nowhere near as advanced as it will become. Some folks are somewhat better prepared for the segments’ inevitable ascent. Seeing it a bit early is like knowing about this reality: People despite differences in culture, age, gender etc… use the resources that are contemporary to their times!

It seems very likely to me that the guideline applies to lighting goods too, which are already looking like they’re at a point of change and evolution. Old incandescent’s are going away, so why wouldn’t that apply to the construct and look of the average, current SSL grow light? Count on the change happening at some time in the 21st century, it might be slow to take off but it will. It will based on the rationale that the product will need to have great photometrics- and great radiometry (natch) and it will need to be suitable for its role in the old greenhouse! OLEDs can fill the bill – They have a lot of attributes that make it certain that they as a class will be desired by growers.

The credentials-

There is their voltage requirement – these types of products will need about as much electricity to operate as a pen light or a watch – if that!

These wares will be able to replicate the chromatic hues needed for a variety of crops! Whether a 2200 CCT with great R_9 ratings on up to those rarely seen 8000 CCT levels with apt SPDs– depending on crops & circumstances OLEDs can and will be the answer. These OLEDs can be easily positioned and – or tilted –  as they weigh but a couple of grams.

They are second to none in their thermal management. That’s a big plus for certain growers that dread what a four season locale, coupled with the current light ware’s heating characteristics are doing to their electric bill – the HVAC part of it! The lowering of costs there would be welcomed!

It should be mentioned that although OLEDs with their 30- 40 thousand hour lifespans are good – these lifespans for OLEDs and similar wares are set to reach 90,000 hours. That is significantly longer than a metal halide could go for – and the LED grow lights chirping about long lifespans right now… Very dubious claims (I would opine) when the LED grow lights are reliant on iffy e-caps , or drivers – or active cooling. I’m here to say, there can be a plethora of weak links in the LED grow lights vista of possible weak links!

Here’s a credential that resonates with a few of us – a look at the bill of materials in the two different subsets of SSL – one, the OLEDs will be at 30 while LED grow lights like that ufo one(ughh) have a BOMs that are well into triple digit numbers. – you have to understand – that won’t fly, especially in 2020.

There is the type of illuminance that is involved – growers would ideally want virtual natural lighting- that is going to be replicating the ambient qualities of sun light. The homogeneous light of OLEDs have the advantage there, not directional- spot lighting. Plants benefit from good PAR lighting – that’s an area where the geometry of OLEDs and their superior brilliant illuminance will be key – 800 Micromoles 2 feet deep in the thick, under canopy of vegetation is less likely to come from an array of direct light sources than it is ambient light. It goes to the geometric qualities of the flux from an emitter. Plants don’t want or need the glare from an overgrown flashlight. They cry out for hues in the right nanometer range, at the right intensity – at the right time, along with those other pre-reqs- good soil, the right nutrients, air flow, etc. etc.

Or another thought on OLED grow lights versus the incumbents – what’s involved in making the lamp? Does the grow lights’ part’s manifest entail stuff coming together from 4 continents … or just 1 , which of those seem’s more sustainable to you? Which is more profitable for grow light mfgs & distribution strategies? Guess which one will win out.

As we go forward in the 21st century where everybody is using modern era items, I’ve got a telling question–Are you using a flip phone – or are you using a smart phone? (One likely to be using OLEDs, btw) you’re probably using the thing that’s fairly in step with the tech trend of our current time frame- it’s like that! Now in the lighting realm the change is also coming in two stages <maybe more>, it was the old lighting technology, than the newer technology solid state lighting. This evolution comes with its’ own churning and advancement. OLED grow lights will definitely come along, surpass and better what’s out there.

The science part – the economics – the approach, all line up favoring the better iteration. The progression to me seems 99.9% likely – It should not be a big leap of faith to see this trend before it happens- 72 quick months have gone by since when LEDs starting being used in the automotive segment – and now they are omni-present on cars and trucks.

The same OLEDs I speak about for horticulture they will probably be seen first in devices – then cars- then in grow lighting. There will be nine different car maker’s offerings that will be using them on 2017 model year cars. It will take about 2- 5 years but you most certainly WILL see them used as grow lights. Cars + trucks too – but that’s a different article to be written

You might call me a progressive lighting guy – or as a dreamer!  I know OLEDs WILL be used in horticulture – but then I’m an Avante gardener ~~




About the author

15 years horticulture experience to draw from
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