Thursday, December 29, 2011

Greenhouse Lighting

Jason and Debi setting up the light meter.
I roamed past the green house taking a break from reading the nook and noticed Lane going back and forth from the greenhouse.  Volunteers are encouraged to help plant and harvest but the unit is being refurbished for the year with few plants left (we ate them yesterday for dinner).  I was passing as he was coming out and asked if he needed any help and he accepted.  We had just started and another volunteer arrived.

The task was to measure the light intensity of two lamps.  The current lighting is by High Pressure Sodium (HPS) lamps which take an enormous amount of electricity and have a yellow/orange color to them.  One bulb was replaced by an LED lamp which has a whiter light to it, is a bit brighter and uses much less electricity.  However, the light from the LED lamp is directed downward while the HPS lamp throws light in all directions.  So the objective was to measure the amount of light just below each lamp and 1, 2 and 3 meters away.  From this, Lane can determine how many LED lamps he needs to outfit the full greenhouse, which will be more than the HPS ones but is still projected to be a significant energy savings.  And electricity - everything - is expensive around here counting the cost of getting it here and any energy needed to support it.

The greenhouse is a valuable addition to the elevated building that wasn't available in the old dome.  In the winter it is the only source of fresh vegetables and still only provides enough for a couple days a week's meals.  It was in full bloom when I arrived and was an impressive display for the many distinguished visitors coming this year.  Last night we ate it up and you can see the empty trays behind Jason and I in the picture.  We were setting the meter at the right height to take the measurements in the photo above.

Lane and a volunteer in the front section where people like to hang out when the greenhouse is in service.  I will add to the album as I go, click here for it.

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