Ask yourself at least 4 questions while choosing your agronomic lighting provider
The relationship and work with a lighting provider in a regular project such as building an office or road, industrial or commercial building will usually end once the products have been delivered to the project site. Later interaction will then be for service, warranty or other projects.
This is different with an agronomic lighting project.
Where, with office lighting, all that remains after installation is to turn the lights on and off, in agronomic lighting projects after installation, the true work begins in optimizing and maximizing the lighting ability for the best growth results.
This matters even more in cases when we use dynamic spectrums and fixtures with dimming capabilities.
With some growers this is never-ending. Agronomic lighting is used to imitate sunlight. This is dynamic lighting with changing angles, intensity and spectrum, therefore there is always room for improvement.
With this process it is necessary to select an expert to guide you and give extra professionalism to insure the success of your crop.
This does not mean removing responsibility from yourself or your grower; however I believe that if you surround yourself with experts, both providers and individuals, sooner or later you will reap the benefits.
So, to point you in the right direction, here are 4 questions worth considering before choosing your lighting provider. As always, while there are many more things that can and should be examined, the purpose is to get you thinking about these questions.
1. What is the level of expertise of the lighting provider?
You are planning to work with cutting edge technology with exciting capabilities which demand knowledge of both lighting and agronomy. First, invest in research and study as this will give you valuable knowledge. Second, choose a provider who can increase your knowledge or, at least, understand your needs.
As my father always says, "it's OK not to have all the answers, but it's important to understand the questions."
2. How professional is the manufacturer?
There are thousands of manufacturers of LED lighting and technically the assembly of an agricultural lighting fixture is no different from other lighting fixtures. The unique emphasis on plant-based lighting fixtures is on product design, deep understanding of spectrums, electrical requirements, illumination angles and characterization of lighting solutions that relate to plant illumination rather than being focused on human needs.
If the manufacture knows to add agronomic knowledge, lighting protocols and to characterize spectrum according to a specific plant and growth stages, this is a big advantage.
There are many manufactures of agricultural lights but few who specialize in it. It is worthwhile to find and work with them as they usually bring a wealth of knowledge to the table apart from supplying lighting fixtures.
3. What experience is there in the world with these products?
Checking the experience with a specific lighting fixture that is being offered to you can strengthen the impression you are trying to build up for yourself. This doesn't have to be with the specific product or exact plant, however it is always preferable. It is possible to relate to a particular range of products and families of plants. In the end this is not a critical parameter, however can strengthen your choice.
The thing is the challenge in showing product installations. As a rule, the customers in this lighting field are companies which have strict confidentiality policies, and are not interested in sharing information collected with hard work and a lot of money.
Try to obtain information, if not it's not the end of the world. If you do succeed take this as a significant reinforcement of your selection.
4. What is your impression of the service you will receive?
You are entering into a process. An agronomic lighting facility has a learning curve of adjustment and optimization that starts after installation.
If you answered the first question by finding a professional provider, now is the time to check that this is someone you can work with. The provider is neither your employee nor your partner. The provider differs from a regular office lighting supplier who sells products and takes care of replacing malfunctioning items during warranty. An agronomic lighting provider is someone who will be involved with you over time, even after purchase, in order to donate from his experience and knowledge for your success. It is preferable that this person is pleasant and you form a good relationship: that your success is important to him and that he will do all he can to insure that success.
In short, choose someone you work well with, and you are happy that he continues to be involved, not someone who just sells you a product.
In an agricultural technical project, lighting can be the most expensive element. The selection of system provider is difficult and has economic and agronomic implications for the whole project. You must ask a lot more than four questions in order to reach correct decisions. Please don't take shortcuts at this point, try to learn about your potential provider by plentiful interactions before deciding to go forward with this person.
My wish for you is to meet good professionals who will help you succeed.