By Maura Forrest
February 13, 2014
LED lights are being designed to go much further than providing light in the dark. The next generation of technology is set to influence our mood and energy levels, amongst other things.
American LED manufacturer Lighting Science has recently released its Awake and Alert lamp, which gives off a blue light similar to midday sunlight. The light reduces melatonin production to keep people awake and energetic. The company’s Good Night light emits a warmer glow, similar to the evening sun, which helps put people to sleep.
The science behind this technology seems to be supported by a recent study from the Netherlands showing that patients in a hospital experienced better sleep and reduced depression when exposed to an LED lighting system that simulated natural variation in light temperature.
Glenwood Valley Farms in Langley, BC is participating in a pilot project run by Philips, designed to test whether high-efficiency LED lights in its greenhouses can improve its yield of mini-cucumbers.
“Our limiting factor here in this part of the region is light,” said Ken Ng, the farm’s head grower. “We don’t get a lot of light in the wintertime.”
The LED lights at Glenwood Valley have been placed between individual plants, and act as a supplement to conventional high-pressure sodium lights overhead. Mr. Ng says he has seen about a 10 per cent increase in productivity since the lights were installed in late 2013.
“It’s been positive in terms of the amount of energy LED uses,” said Ng. “It is the future of lighting technology because of its efficiency.”
Rob Huston, founder of LED Canada, says that LED technology is changing the way we think about lighting. “The future of lighting is going to be controlling those colour temperatures,” he said. “LED is changing the face of the planet.” But Huston believes that Canada has a long way to go before LED lighting becomes the norm. Huston says that cheap electricity and few government incentives make people reluctant to pay the upfront cost of LED lighting.
Ng voices similar concerns for his operation at Glenwood Valley Farms: “The only issue is the cost of the LED lights,” he said. “Anything that is new right now is expensive.”