Greenhouse Software Tool Helps Growers Calculate Grow Facility Light Distribution


Cerise365+GreenHouseDesigner is a software tool developed specifically for horticultural lighting design, including greenhouses, polytunnels, vertical farms and plant factories. It is a software-as-a-service (“SaaS”) subscription web-based application that can be accessed on any desktop, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

GreenHouseDesigner was designed keeping in mind the needs of horticulturists, farmers, greenhouse manufacturers, lighting designers and engineers. It does not require any computer-aided drawing (CAD) experience; the user only needs to enter basic building dimensions and material properties for the program to generate detailed physical models and calculate the light distribution within them.

GreenHouseDesigner also meets the needs of utility companies such as BC Hydro, whose $500,000 LED horticultural lighting incentive program aims to minimize the energy needs of greenhouses and vertical farms.

Greenhouse CAD model (generated automatically).

GreenHouseDesigner is derived from SunTracker Technologies’ Cerise365 lighting design software, which has powered standard architectural lighting design programs since 1999. Its lighting calculations have been thoroughly validated over two decades of use by dozens of thousands of users.

Greenhouses and tunnels
GreenHouseDesigner is the only lighting design software available that accurately calculates the spatial distribution of daylight inside greenhouses and polytunnels.

Given the geographic location and orientation of the building, GreenHouseDesigner can predict the monthly average distribution of integral daily light (DLI) due to daylight in a greenhouse or polytunnel during the design phase. Using patented algorithms, available daylight is determined on an hourly basis over a full year from a combination of historical weather records and weather satellite data.

Daylight – Average monthly distribution of DLI.

GreenHouseDesigner can also predict the photosynthetic photon flux density (PPFD) distribution due to additional electric lighting in a greenhouse. With this information, it is possible to determine the amount of additional lighting needed for a project, calculate the effectiveness of sunshades and light screens, estimate the electrical energy requirements for lighting on a monthly basis, plan on-demand utility pricing for electricity, and more.

Auxiliary electric lighting – PPFD distribution.

Like architectural lighting design software, GreenHouseDesigner accurately models the light distributions of commercial fixtures, ensuring horticultural fixtures approved by DesignLights Consortium Qualified Products List can be compared fairly and accurately.

Vertical farms and plant factories
In the face of climate change and food insecurity, vertical farms and plant farms are proving to be increasingly viable alternatives to open field agriculture and greenhouses. GreenHouseDesigner™ models these facilities with a focus on healthy crops and energy efficiency.

Vertical farm with stacked trays.

About a quarter of the electrical energy needed to run vertical farms and factories is consumed by lighting, and so it is essential to ensure that not only do the plants receive adequate PPFD and DLI that are evenly distributed over the plant canopy, but that as little light as possible spills over into adjacent aisles and is therefore wasted.

Vertical agricultural tray – PPFD distribution.

Finally, GreenHouseDesigner provides users with comprehensive reports for their projects.

For more information:
Shirley Lang, owner
HelioSol software solutions
[email protected]

Sun Tracker Technologies


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