Better Than The Sun

By

November 15, 2014

A grow light that can outdo the sun in terms of powering plant and fruit development? That’s what the guys at IUNU say. Whats more, they say that their new dual plasma fixture uses only half the energy, and produces only 25% of the heat that the comparable industry standard light fixtures to date. And none of the light delivered is wasted, every ounce of it is used by your plants.

That’s pretty exciting stuff. But there is more to a highly efficient grow light than how much electricity it takes to run it, and how much heat it produces.

50,000 Lumens…

Wow. There is an indoor sun! But as impressive as that sounds, unfortunately, lumens are for humans. Plants use light differently than this measure to reach their full potential. Lumens only tell you how bright the light is to the human eye, it’s got nothing to do with growing food indoors. Vegetative growth takes place in the cooler end of PAR, while flowering and fruiting takes place on the warmer end of PAR, while our eyes see light in the middle of this range. Yet, the grow light industry still for the most part only gives you the power of their lamps or fixtures in lumens. There is no regulation that provokes them to offer more, let alone measure it.

Full Spectrum: IUNU Plasma Grow LightInda-Gro has tons of info on PAR, and how important this is to your grow space, but they make induction lights, not plasma. Gavita, who does makes plasma fixtures and provides this more crop-important detail, but they supply tons of commercial growers around the world with horticultural lighting. Still, they do not have a fixture that runs two plasma lamps. Nor do they have one that allows you to program the spectrum being delivered to the garden. IUNU’s new fully optimizable light does according to the information available so far, it offers customizable PAR output in the form of light recipes. This is also super interesting. Phillips has been working on perfecting light recipes in auxiliary winter lighting with large scale growers for years, and has yet to find a total solution according to my knowledge.

One other thing to consider is that Darryl Cotton at Inda-Gro has this to say about PAR in plasma and induction grow lights:

“Both of these systems utilize electrodeless magnetic coils to excite the gas in the lamp vacuum with the main differences being that the plasma systems are clear lamps utilizing no phosphor and they have significantly higher core temperatures of over 720 celsius with lamp lifes usually around 30,000 hours. However either type of system operates at low temperatures which does not contribute added heat within the room with the lumens per watt or efficacies being similar as well.

The PAR analysis of the Plasma fixtures indicates excellent UV values for the clone and vegetative stages with sustained spectral levels up to the 550 nanometer range then rapidly falling off spectrums that are necessary for maximum chlorophyll absorption at the flowering and budding stages from the 600 -700 nanometer ranges.”

Is the same true of IUNU who has just arrived on the scene? Perhaps, but there is no way of knowing from the information they have published online so far. If you run to their website to see what they do have to say, you’ll be intrigued, but left guessing still. They aren’t worried about what you think at present, nor are they concerned about convincing you to buy their indoor sun. Between large scale indoor farmers in just 3 states and Canada the back-order waiting time is presently at 6 months, and orders continue to come in. This in itself is a sign that you might want to keep track of what’s going on with these lights and their availability.

Here’s Adam Greenberg, founding partner and CEO, telling the startup funding angels at Vator Splash in Los Angeles all about his company and product. They aren’t gardeners, these people help fund entrepreneurs with great ideas. Oh yeah, and IUNU won this year’s Vator competition.

The current retail price for 500 watt IUNU full spectrum fixtures with the lamps is $2500 each. Sounds super high, until you realize that a single lamp Gavita Pro LEP 300 watt that delivers blue spectrum at 30,000 lumens will set you back about $1200 apiece, and you still need ducting and HVAC equipment. If you didn’t there wouldn’t be an air-cooled model available.

On paper it looks like the electrical bill would stay about the same as running my T5 HOs, but give a lot more plant vigor. So, perhaps I could have fresh tomatoes all winter without breaking the budget. Plus there is the dialing in your own light recipe to hone in on in demand nutrients, flavors, and aromas? I don’t know about you, but I want one! With $56 million in back-ordered lights sold, and most by word of mouth, things have got to be worth trying out here.

Dear Santa,
All I want for Christmas is this new grow light. It’s called an IUNU.
I promise to put fresh baked cookies and milk by the tree. If you bring two of them, I’ll add a pile of fudge to your plate.

XOXOXO
Amber

P.S. Yes, I’ve been good all year. What’s your favorite cookie? Send an email so I know what kind to make, and if I need to whip up some fudge too. This isn’t a bribe or anything, I just like to be plan ahead. 🙂

More Info:

Amber

Amber

Contributing Writer at Garden Culture Magazine
The garden played a starring role from spring through fall in the house Amber was raised in. She has decades of experience growing plants from seeds and cuttings in the plot and pots.
Amber

11 Comments

  • Quote: “The current retail price for 500 watt IUNU full spectrum fixtures with the lamps is $2500 each. Sounds super high, until you realize that a single lamp Gavita Pro LEP 300 watt that delivers blue spectrum at 30,000 lumens will set you back about $1200 apiece, and you still need ducting and HVAC equipment. If you didn’t there wouldn’t be an air-cooled model available.”

    This shows how uninformed manufacturers are. The iunu fixture is air cooled as well. The standard Gavita fixture is convection cooled. For closed environment rooms however we bring a closed circulation air cooled model. Iunu does not provide one. The Topanga plasma technology used in this iunu fixture is not more efficient than the Luxim technology, so the heat load will be similar.

    Suggesting that plasma lighting saves you electricity is misleading.

    • Hi Theo,

      Nice to see you’ve stopped by, and thanks for pointing out the error of their ways. Since Santa never delivers, I have no way of knowing if this light is everything they say it is.

  • Mr. Tekstra, thanks for giving us a chance to clear up this misunderstanding.

    Sorry we’re late to the party Amber!

    First, lets talk about cooling. We design our fixtures to maximize efficiency, which means using integrated active and passive cooling to keep our internal components running perfectly. The Dual Plasma produces such a small amount of heat that, in most situations, you would create more heat by using ducting and fans than you would actually remove from the room. We don’t offer a ducted version because our customers have never asked us for one and we wouldn’t advise using one.

    As for the differences in the Dual Plasma technology compared to what Gavita uses, we picked our components for a couple reasons. First, there is more red light in our spectrum, which means better flowering. Second, despite Mr. Tekstra’s assertion, our system is more efficient. Gavita’s unit draws 270watts while the Dual Plasma draws 540watts, while producing about 3x the output (PPF).

    Most importantly though, the Dual Plasma is a 1000watt HID replacement designed for 4×4 area. Replacing a 1000watt lighting fixture with a 540watt Dual Plasma sure sounds like energy savings to me!

    Amber, we did talk to Santa last year and we thought he was bringing you a Dual Plasma, but he must have liked it so much that he kept it in the North Pole. There’s always next year. Please get in contact with us if you have more questions.

    • Hi Kyle,

      We’re glad you made it to the party, even though you’re late. Thanks for adding to the conversation, and giving us the missing information.

      Santa kept my light? Seriously disturbing. Maybe you should just send it through the mail this Christmas. The post office is more dependable. Send a note to the office on our contact form, and they’ll give you my shipping info 😀

    • Please share with Us the ppf and light maintenance of your fixture. Not The ppf of the emitter, but the fixture.

      Your fixture is air cooled, as it has a fan installed if I am not misstaken. Please share with us the dissipation of the electronics. This heat will be dissipated into the room, unlike our closed air cooled system.

      Even if you would provide 3 x the output (which would make your fixture 50% more efficient than the Luxim technology) you would not come even close to HPS efficiency of 2.1 umol s-1 per Watt. This results in much more heat load in your room per Watt than you suggest. Your comments about a closed air cooled system adding more heat to a room because of the ducting and the fan are incorrect and misleading. You use an active cooling system when using a fan, not a passive and active cooling, as you air cool the emitter and electronics actively.

      By no means plasma technology can replace HPS technology when it comes to efficacy, though the spectrum of Plasma of course is much better.

      We provide a full as well as a supplemental spectrum plasma light, but, unlike you, we would never recommend to replace a 1000W hid system by plasma. Many companies have already tried to position plasma as HID replacements for much higher wattage, but that is simply not true.

      Let’s, for argument sake, say that your fixture produces 50% more light than the Luxim technology (which is not the case, but just for the argument).

      Your fixture would then produce about 700-800 umol s-1. Now full spectrum light might be a bit more efficient than HPS (though that efficiency increase depends on the crop) but you are way short of the 2000 umol s-1 that an efficient 1000W HPS fixture produces.

      For the investment of one of your plasma systems, a customer could buy 5000W of highly efficient HPS systems, offering 10,000 umol s-1.

      We recommend plasma as supplemental lighting, not a primary lighting. We do this because we have trailed and tested plasma technology of all manufacturers of the last 5 years in controlled conditions, monitored by lighting and horticultural scientists and expert cultivators.

      So, let’s spit out the details:

      – efficacy of the fixture
      – heat load of the fixture
      – effective recommended ppfd for generative crops
      – number of fixtures you recommend per square meter

      Then let’s talk merits of plasma.

  • Theo, I’m so happy Gavita is interested in our lighting technology.

    At 12 inches from the fixture the Dual Plasma averages about 1300 umol m-2 s-1, plenty for generative crops. Though, like you said, looking at umol m-2 s-1/Watt doesn’t tell the whole story. We both know that plants utilize certain parts of the PAR spectrum more than others, and forgive me for saying, but your HPS produces a lot of light outside of the areas that promote photosynthesis. That’s why an HPS is so orange, and doesn’t look like natural sunlight. We also noticed that you didn’t disagree that your plasma produces less red light relative to the IUNU Dual Plasma, an important component for productive fruiting and flowering.

    We know purchasing our fixture is a commitment to a higher upfront investment for longer-term savings, but we believe that this is a sound business choice. Besides the outright energy savings, our customers also experience lower infrastructure costs, a higher quality harvest, and a product that was designed and manufactured in the United States. Furthermore, our product has the potential to qualify for energy efficiency incentives from utilities, substantially reducing the up-front cost.

    As for heat buildup, you’re saying that your vented plasma fixtures can remove more heat, while you’re also contending that they should be used in tandem with a HPS fixture. Our Dual Plasma will always produce substantially less heat than the combination of your air-cooled DE fixtures and a ducted plasma. Not to mention having an air-cooled plasma light alongside open air DE fixtures makes for a messy room design and limits flexibility. The reduction of heat from the Dual Plasma saves farmers money everyday.

    Regardless, I’m happy to talk about vented hoods – we’d hate to mislead anyone. Like you said, vented hoods require fans. More fans mean more infrastructure costs, more complicated room design, a larger energy draw, and more heat. A 590 cfm fan produces about 580 btus/hr in heat and consumes about 170 Watts of electricity. So, in people’s attempt to remove heat, they are also spending money to add heat. The IUNU Dual Plasma produces 1850 BTUs/hr of heat, which is a much more manageable heat load compared to an HPS’s 3600 BTUs/hr.

    But frankly, for us, it’s not about besting Gavita. It’s about transitioning away from HID technology that’s over half a century old and consumes unsustainable amounts of electricity. It’s really discouraging when market leaders are telling customers to use MORE electricity (be it by promoting DE fixtures, or supplementing with plasma) to try and compete with new innovative products like the IUNU Dual Plasma. We, as an industry, should be encouraging more sustainable farming practices and electricity usage, rather than adding additional wattage to an industry already consuming too much electricity.

  • Mike Tomlin October 12, 2015

    Hi Kyle,

    After reading the comments, I would also request that you provide what Mr. Tekstra requested to me as I’m skeptical. First, technically I’m a competitor of Mr. Tekstra. I cannot understand how the claims made by IUNU add up. Certainly you’re not saying that your light is as efficient as a DE HPS? As in your 500-watt Topanga-based technology unit, the 500 watt equals a 1,000 watt DE HPS or even close to it. Also, your unit draws around 500 watts and has 1,850 BTU’s/hr of heat and the DE HPS 1000, which is double the wattage or two of your 500-watt units, has 3,600 BTU’s/hr. So I’m confused on the per watt BTU/hr of heat with IUNU. So a lower wattage HPS could claim the same against IUNU. Also, when you say you’re not trying to best anyone the article clearly mentions Gavita in a negative way, so you are attempting to best Gavita. If you can please provide all the information Mr. Tekstra asked for to me as well, I think it appropriate. To be clear on per watt basis IUNU is not nearly as efficient as a DE HPS. I think what you’re saying is that your unit uses less wattage, so it covers a smaller space better than a 1,000 watt DE HPS. I agree. But it is less efficient on a per watt basis than DE HPS. So a customer could go buy a Gavita 600 watt HPS instead of an IUNU unit to get a lot better efficiency per watt. Congrats on having $56 million in back ordered sales, though. And I end by saying it’s not plasma lighting across the board. Thank you for your time.

    Best,
    Mike

  • so here are those questions again:

    – efficacy of the fixture
    – effective recommended ppfd for generative crops
    – number of fixtures you recommend per square meter

    as for BTU’s, every, whether it is HPS, plasma or LED, required the same cooling capacity per watt consumed. However, the lower efficacy of the plasma fixture leads to more cooling capacity required per umol s-1 output. You can never claim that, at the same ppfd, you need less cooling power for plasma, because you don’t.

    The reason why we provide an air cooled option is related to that. As a plasma fixture is already shielded by a UVC blocking filer, and it is not the light but mostly the electronics and the emitter that create the heat load, you can save on cooling power and electricity by using air cooled plasma fixtures, without suffering from lower output, which you would have with air cooled HPS.

    About the red spectrum: producing orange and red plasma light in conjunction with HPS as a supplemental source is useless. HPS is much more efficient creating that part of the spectrum.

    1200 umol s-1 m-2 does not tell the story. My 5 mW later pointer does that. it is about the ppf of the fixture, that ultimately defines how much surface you can light with that fixture at a certain ppfd. At 1200 umol s-1 m-2 you could light about 0,2 square meters with one plasma module.

    I am not here to talk down plasma, not at all. I love plasma. It is a great supplement for HPS. I just hate it when technology is positioned for something it clearly isn’t.

    In the past there were companies that even positioned a 300W LEP module as a replacement for 1000W MH. They do not exist any more. Proof is in the pudding, takes about 3 -6 month to prove your case, after that you will see the market swing to the new technology, like happened with the DE lamps.

  • one thing more about the air cooling: Our 270W LEP produces exactly the same heat load per Watt as your fixture. So defaming Gavita for having to need an air cooled version is ridiculous: your fixture produces as much heat as ours. In fact, it produces TWICE the heat load per umol compared to our 1000W HPS fixture as HPS is twice as efficient per micromole produced light.

    We know how much light is coming from our and your emitter, we sell projects of hundreds of supplemental plasma lights, and we know exactly what they bring our customers. They do not replace a 1000W, or even a 500W HPS fixture.

    Plasma is a great source of supplemental light to add quality to your crop, but it is not the most efficient technology and people should understand that. Large biochemical companies such as Bayer Cropscience and Syngenta, seed breeders, universities and research centers use our full spectrum plasma light in large installations for sunlight simulation, not for efficient grow lighting.

  • It has been a while, Kyle. We are interested in your response.

  • There is something else I wanted to ask you: you claim 1850 umol m-2 s-1 on a 3×3 surface. That would be about 1480 umol s-1 output. That is almost 3 umol per Watt, which is a bit silly to claim. What is it I do not understand about your specifications?

  • I suppose there will be no reply anymore. Unfortunately in MaxYield this month another article in which they claim that plasma is twice as efficient as HID, which is a pertinent lie and a physical impossibility. In fact it is less efficient.

    At double the efficiency a plasma lamp would emit 4.2 umol/W, meaning all electricity would be converted into light. Maybe star date 2315.3.

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