As PoE lighting becomes more popular, companies are finding applications for these technologies in more fields. One of these areas is horticulture. Plant growers use artificial lights to replace natural sunlight when the climate requires them to do so. While this is an effective growth technique, the associated energy costs can be very high. Smart lighting for horticulture is receiving more attention from businesses. Midstream Lighting, a UK-based lighting company, recently acquired Hyperion Grow and plans to combine the two brands’ products for horticultural lighting. LED smart lighting products, especially when paired with PoE, are an excellent way to provide sophisticated lighting solutions for farmers.
Many farmers are concerned about the rising price of electricity and are interested in switching to LED lighting to reduce costs. However, many of them are holding back because they’re concerned about the upfront installation costs. PoE lighting is much easier and less expensive to install than lighting powered by traditional wiring. This makes PoE a great option for budget-conscious farmers and horticulturalists. The Hyperion Grow acquisition means that Midstream will be adding a new department head position focused solely on horticultural lighting. This highlights the growing attention to horticultural lighting needs and the importance of balancing upfront and long-term costs.
How Does a PoE Work?
PoE, or power over Ethernet, is a way to send both data and electrical power over the same cable. This works by sending an electrical current from a power source to a powered device over copper wiring or another style of Ethernet cable. This has a number of benefits. First, it makes getting power into spaces that don’t have electrical wiring much simpler. These spaces, such as greenhouses, can be tricky to set up with smart lighting since they usually don’t have internet infrastructure and may not be fully wired for electricity. Because PoE uses a single cable for both electricity and ethernet, such systems are much easier and less expensive to set up. While PoE connections used to be limited to distances of 100 meters, the technology has improved, and it is now possible to secure connections over much longer distances.
How Do You Power a PoE Device?
PoE devices are usually powered by a PoE switch. PoE switches act as both a switch and a power source, and they generally have multiple Ethernet ports that users can connect devices to. For example, a greenhouse could plug all of its lights into a single PoE switch. While it is possible to connect PoE devices to a non-PoE switch, users who do this will lose some of the benefits associated with PoE. Non-PoE switches will require additional cables and power sources, which means that they take away from the simplified installation and minimal wiring that makes PoE so useful.
When a business opts to use a PoE device without a PoE switch, it will need to use a PoE injector. PoE injectors sit between a traditional switch (with separate cables for power and data transmissions) and a PoE-powered device. The PoE injector connects to the network cable to add electrical power and allow the PoE device to fully function. Depending on the overall setup and how many devices need power, adding a PoE injector can be more cost-effective than replacing a traditional switch with a PoE switch.
How Much Power Does PoE Provide?
Lighting almost always requires multiple powered devices, so it’s important for businesses to ensure that any new system will be able to power all of these devices. The latest standards for PoE cables allow for transmission at either 60W or 100W. PoE switches will be able to support a specific power budget, which is the total power it can provide to all of the connected devices. LED lights require an average of about six to eight watts per bulb. This means that a PoE switch with an 80W power budget could power 10 bulbs requiring eight watts each. Switches with much higher power budgets that can handle an entire greenhouse are available.
What Are the Benefits of PoE Lighting in Horticulture?
PoE lighting makes it easy for farmers and growers to implement energy-efficient smart lighting solutions in their greenhouses. Opting for PoE lighting allows farmers to install smart lighting quickly and easily. They don’t need to add traditional electrical wiring or worry about wifi quality. This lets them take advantage of the efficiency of LED bulbs and the precise control that smart lighting provides as soon as they decide that this is the right move for their business.
As electricity costs rise, farmers are growing more and more concerned about the cost of grow lights. PoE-based LED lights are much more cost-effective than traditional high-pressure sodium (HSP) lighting. One Polish lettuce farmer experimented by replacing half of his HSP bulbs with LED lighting and was so happy with the cost savings that he switched the remaining lights to LED bulbs the next season. The simplified infrastructure created by using PoE makes this type of transition much easier and can help manage upfront costs.
Working with smart lighting can also minimize energy usage while getting better results. Smart lighting allows farmers to make hour-by-hour adjustments to adapt to weather conditions without the need to visit each individual area. PoE lights like Midstream’s Flare series can allow for more control, which often leads to greater crop yields. Farmers can also get crops to flower or grow roots more quickly, which can help meet specific goals for a particular type of plant. PoE lighting makes setting this up much easier and less expensive. Once the system is in place, farmers can adjust their settings remotely.
PoE lighting is an effective and energy-efficient way to bring smart lighting into spaces that don’t have existing electrical wiring. Because they’re so much easier to install, PoE systems can help eliminate some of the upfront costs involved in switching to energy-saving LED lighting in greenhouses and other horticultural spaces.