As concerns grow about the long-term sustainability of conventional farming and agricultural operations in meeting the world’s future food requirements, increased attention is being given to the potential advantages of what some are calling “controlled environmental agriculture,” or “indoor farming” for short. Luminaires and grow systems specifically designed for horticultural applications are a critical technology in these innovative agricultural environments, since they are essential in achieving optimal plant development and growth. Appropriately, a new UL Standard was recently published that addresses the full range of safety issues posed by lighting technologies deployed in these environments.
About UL 8800
UL 8800, the UL Standard for Horticultural Lighting Equipment and Systems, was published on August 30, 2019. Unlike UL 1598, the UL Standard for Luminaires, UL 8800 is intended to address the unique safety issues applicable to horticultural luminaires, lighting components and grow systems, and represents the first set of standardized requirements specifically designed for horticultural lighting equipment. As a result, UL is certifying horticultural luminaires and grow systems to the safety requirements in UL 8800 for manufacturers seeking the UL safety mark for their equipment and devices.
Additionally, UL 8800 is a Standard that provides a single source of published safety requirements for horticultural luminaires and grow systems intended for installation in both the United States and Canadian markets.
Key Changes in UL 8800
The requirements of UL 8800 differ from those of UL 1598 in several significant ways. Key differences include:
- Targeted scope—The scope of UL 1598 addresses the safety requirements for luminaires that are mostly hardwired, installed in a fixed location, and designed for the purpose of general illumination. In contrast, the scope of UL 8800 specifically covers luminaires and grow systems intended for the active development and growth of plants.
- Photobiological effects—UL 8800 addresses safety considerations associated with the photobiological effects and potential hazards associated with human eye and skin exposure to light sources technology widely used in horticultural lighting systems. UL 8800 photobiological safety requirements are consistent with those found in IEC 62471, Photobiological safety of lamps and lamp systems, and provides the user with detailed information on what precautions to take regarding the potential exposure of the light output.
- Wiring and connection methods—Unlike luminaires installed in conventional industrial and commercial settings that remain fixed throughout their useful life, horticultural luminaires are typically designed to be frequently raised, lowered or repositioned in order to optimize plant growth. As such, UL 8800 allows for specialized wiring and connection methods that support the required positioning flexibility.
- Environmental considerations—General environmental conditions within indoor agricultural operations can vary widely, with high humidity levels and temperature conditions. Under UL 8800, horticultural luminaires are evaluated for their suitability in damp and/or wet environments, as well as in environments with elevated ambient temperatures. Luminaires achieving UL 8800 Certification bear markings that verify these characteristics.
- Ingress protection—Equipment used in indoor agricultural operations are also at greater risk of infiltration from dust, moisture, and water that can compromise their reliability. UL 8800 addresses these risks with ingress protection (IP) testing that classifies and rates the degree of protection afforded by the equipment against both solid objects and water.
- UV exposure of polymeric materials—Finally, in a grow environment, polymeric materials associated with the equipment can be exposed to UV from the sun, such as within a greenhouse, or UV emanating from the light source within the luminaire. In either case, this exposure can cause polymeric materials to become brittle and more susceptible to breakage. UL 8800 sets forth requirements to address these concerns.
Advantages of UL 8800 Horticultural Luminaire Certification
The failure of a horticultural lighting system design to address the safety criteria in UL 8800 can compromise the safety of the grow facility and workers in the grow environment and can have significant consequences for indoor horticultural operations.
Manufacturers who achieve certification to the requirements of UL 8800 will have met the most rigorous safety criteria currently applicable to horticultural luminaires and lighting systems. Achieving UL 8800 certification also demonstrates to prospective customers a manufacturer’s commitment to providing state-of-the-art lighting technology that meets the unique requirements of horticultural lighting applications.