Software manages light in real time

May 15, 2018
Written by Greenhouse Canada
Heliospectra has announced the official release of HelioCORE™, the lighting company’s latest light-control software.

One of HelioCORE’s main advantages comes from its ability to sense and control light levels in real time. The system can be programmed to detect and adjust to specific thresholds of natural light and/or take advantage of low-energy-pricing periods during the day. It can allow growers to adjust light settings as needed, including intensity and spectra, through their portable devices.

If the name HelioCORE sounds familiar, it may be because the system was tested by growers and researchers across the globe – and some are familiar faces in the Canadian horticultural industry.

"We want to use supplemental light and energy in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible, while also maintaining summer season crop yields and product quality with optimal light levels," said Ian Adamson, founder and CEO of Greenbelt Microgreens. The Ontario-based greenhouse operation installed HelioCORE to ensure consistent light intensity in the winter, to help deliver the same quality and flavour to their clients.

At the University of Guelph, Dr. Youbin Zheng and research associate Dave Llewellyn tested DLI-controlled LEDs with the HelioCORE system in cut gerbera, using an integrated canopy-level PPFD sensor to manage and adjust their LX602G lights. They found that this treatment used 15 per cent less energy compared to an HPS (high-pressure sodium light) treatment controlled by an outdoor radiation sensor.

According to the researchers in their article, “this trial clearly demonstrated the potential for intelligently-controlled LED systems which manage light output on an ongoing basis in real time, to maintain or even increase productivity while simultaneously reducing energy use.”

To help growers better customize their feedback programming, HelioCORE includes three control modules:
  • On Target Controller - Responds to changes in natural light levels in real-time, adjusting supplemental light intensity to maintain constant PPFD at crop level
  • DLI Control – In addition to real-time monitoring, this module takes into account the price of energy throughout the day and other factors into predictive algorithms to help meet pre-determined DLI levels
  • Schedule Controller – Growers can customize their lighting schedules throughout the production season to coincide with plant growth stages or crop needs
For more information, visit www.heliospectra.com

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