In recent years, the global sunshine time has been decreasing. In Taiwan, for example, the recent sunshine time is the lowest in 61 years.

The reduction in sunshine hours is very detrimental to agricultural development. With the continuous development of production technology and the increasing demand for increasing plant yield and shortening the planting cycle, artificial light sources have begun to be used in the field of plant cultivation.

"Artificial Sunshine" creates miracles

In the plant factory built by Shanghai Semiconductor Lighting Engineering Technology Research Center and Shanghai Sunqiao Agricultural Technology Company, the growth of ginseng, lettuce, chicken, tomato and other plants does not depend on sunlight, but on LED lighting.

Studies have found that many plants require only red and blue light during their growth. LEDs emit light at a variety of wavelengths, and researchers can “light” them to accept “artificial sunlight” in certain wavelength ranges compared to full-spectrum sunlight. Therefore, in this 200-square-meter “plant factory”, researchers only illuminate plants with blue and red light. LEDs are open 24 hours a day, and even at night, plants continue to use photosynthesis.

In such an environment, the growth rate of plants is greatly increased. The vegetables that originally needed 52 to 60 days to grow, matured in 20 days after using LED plant growth lamps.

Replacing sunlight with LED lights increases the cost of plant production, but does not mean that farmers benefit less. Because there is no need to rely on the day to eat, in the laboratory, the plants are vertically distributed into 2 to 5 layers, each layer has LED light source. This design mode makes the unit yield of crops also greatly increased. Researcher Li Yuzhi said that the increase in output value can offset the increase in costs and ultimately benefit farmers.

Since 2011, the Japanese Central Government and the local government (prefectural government) have been assisting local agricultural practitioners in the development of plant factories and supplementing the lack of sunshine through LED lighting. Japan has also studied the use of LED lighting in poultry farming facilities. It has been found that using yellow LED lighting can save costs and reduce the aggression of poultry.

In the Netherlands, where the “multi-layer cultivation” is actively promoted, LED auxiliary light sources are often seen in the cultivation of lettuce seedlings and tulips. Because of the multi-layer cultivation, the lower layer is harder to illuminate than the upper layer. Therefore, Dutch farmers mostly use LED lights to supplement the lack of light.

LED plant lighting advantages

Compared with traditional plant lighting, the biggest advantage of LED plant lighting is energy efficiency. For example, the Netherlands's use of LED light-filling experiments in greenhouses shows that compared with traditional high-pressure sodium lamps and metal halide lamps, LEDs can save 50% to 80%. In a plant factory, a conventional light source requires a 0.5 kW light source per square meter, while the LED requires only 0.27 kW. In the field of tissue culture, the total area of ​​tissue culture in China is more than 20 million square meters. If the annual illumination time of tissue culture is 16h/d and 300 days of production per year, the total annual electricity consumption caused by fluorescent lamps is 107.5 billion. Above the degree; after using LED, its annual power consumption is about 51.8 billion kWh, and the annual energy saving is more than 56 billion kWh.

In addition to acting as a “light fertilizer”, LED lighting also has a large application space in other aspects of the agricultural sector.

For the physical control of agricultural pests, LED light sources of specific wavelengths can be used to induce and kill pests and reduce the amount of pesticides. For animal breeding, light-emitting can be implemented with LEDs of specific wavelengths according to different breeding purposes. Animal productivity, reducing the use of feed additives and hormones; for marine fishing, LED light sources of specific wavelengths can be used to induce seafood and increase the amount of fishing; for microorganisms, specific wavelengths that promote the proliferation of beneficial microorganisms can be used. The LEDs implement illumination to achieve a highly efficient, densely produced microbial reaction process.

LED plant lighting is promising

At present, plant lighting is mainly used in three areas of plant factories, plant landscapes and breeding lighting. The plant factory is the most important and relatively mature market for plant lighting. Taking Shenzhen as an example, five plant factories can supply the daily consumption of fruits and vegetables throughout Shenzhen; the plant landscape is at the stage of entering the market; the potential of the breeding lighting market is huge. However, this market has not been developed yet.

"China is the world's fourth largest plant factory, and the future of LED plant lighting is considerable," an industry source said. According to the calculation of the research group of Nanjing Agricultural University, “only the plant factory breeding industry provides a huge consumer market for LED light sources.” Only the export of seedlings reaches nearly 10 billion, and the annual consumption of the mainland is even larger. If LED is used to replace traditional electric light source in plant factory nursery, its one-time total market size will reach 200 billion yuan.

According to Yang Deli, the chairman of Shenzhen West Deli Technology Co., Ltd., the LED replacement market for domestic breeding lighting will reach 30 billion yuan in the next few years.

As the Japanese market is progressing in plant lighting, technology is leading, and the enthusiasm is also large, Japan has estimated that in 2020, the LED lighting market value of plants can reach 300 billion yen a year (equivalent to about 23.6 billion yuan) Yuan), the overall plant breeding output value of 3 trillion yen, the growth of strength can not be underestimated.

The temptation of the market has attracted many domestic and foreign manufacturers to enter the agricultural lighting. As of the end of June 2012, there were about 40 LED plant lighting companies in China with a certain scale. In 2009, there were only two or three companies engaged in LED plant lighting in China.

The domestic market needs to be developed

Despite the good prospects, there is a long way to go before it can be realized. According to statistics from the High-tech LED Industry Research Institute (GLII), the output value of China's LED plant lighting in 2011 was only 300 million yuan. This data can only be described as "small witches" compared to hundreds of billions of ordinary lighting output values. Among the output value of 300 million yuan, more than 90% of them are exported. The sales market is mainly concentrated in countries and regions with less agricultural personnel in Japan, South Korea, Central America, Europe, etc. The domestic market for plant lighting has a lot of resistance.

"At this stage, China does not have the market soil for rapid development of the plant lighting industry." Guan Yong, general manager of Sunlight Lighting, said that unless some basic problems are solved, the plant lighting market will not explode in China.

The first issue is in promotion. At present, the concept that LED lighting can promote plant growth has not been deeply understood and accepted, and has not been widely promoted.

Guan Yong said that overseas LED plant lighting has a high degree of marketization. On the one hand, agricultural institutions and other institutions have deepened their research on this technology, and on the other hand, people in developed countries such as Europe and the United States have relatively high acceptance of popular science knowledge. In contrast to the domestic market, in addition to the theoretical popularization of scientific research institutions, enterprises must also popularize the concept of green vegetables for plant factories and consumers. For the enterprise, it seems to be weak.

Second, the entry threshold is high, and the advantages of domestic enterprises are not obvious. In order to enter the field of LED plant lighting, it must have certain technical strength and resource advantages. At present, the domestic plant lighting market model is based on the cooperation between enterprises and the Academy of Agricultural Sciences, that is, the research institutes look for some professional LED plant lighting companies, and we jointly draft some standards for product development. It takes at least three to five years for traditional LED lighting companies to successfully enter the field of plant lighting.

In addition, plant lighting costs are high and sales are low. At this stage, the investment and output of plant lighting are not directly proportional, which also allows a large number of enterprises in this market segment to “close”. In addition to Philips, Osram, Mitsubishi, Yiguang and other international lighting manufacturers are still concerned about this market, most small and medium-sized lighting companies in China rarely get involved.

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