Lighting Upgrades: A Way for Poultry Houses to Save Energy Without Affecting Productivity

Farmers throughout the U.S. are replacing their broiler house incandescent lighting. Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) have entered the market as energy efficient alternatives to incandescents, compact florescent lamps (CFLs) and cold cathode lamps, but some worry about their impact on productivity.

led installation

Research from North Carolina brings good news: Changing poultry house lighting to LEDs reduces energy consumption without affecting productivity. The report, “A Study of LED Lighting in North Carolina Poultry Houses,” details findings from a one-year study conducted by Advanced Energy and NC State University’s Prestage Department of Poultry Science.

After monitoring four flocks at two different farms, the researchers found no adverse effect on broiler grow-out performance associated with LED lighting. The study also found generally favorable results with regard to lighting energy performance.

Brood Lighting
It is important to note that the LED lighting employed in the study was not found to supply adequate light levels for use as “brood” lighting. This was partly due to the existing lighting design in the poultry houses included in the study.

Since completion of the study, LEDs of higher wattage that could be sufficient for brood lighting have entered the market. These higher-wattage LEDs were not available at the beginning of the study. Where incandescent bulbs had been used for brood lighting, CFLs were used instead, and these showed a 76 percent reduction in brood section energy consumption and improved house energy performance significantly.

Dimmers and LEDs
Some modern dimmers produce unwanted flicker in LED lighting. Optimization of LED light/dimmer interaction is being addressed in the market but was not successfully employed in the automation systems at the farms included in this study. As such, to reduce “grow” light LED flicker associated with dimming grow light output, two 75-watt incandescent lights were placed on each side of the poultry house so that each grow light circuit drew sufficient current to offset the LED flicker. Although not optimal, this solution eliminated LED light flicker during testing.

New dimmer products are entering the market that address these issues and are designed for LEDs. Several companies have introduced dimmers that may significantly improve light output consistency obtained using dimmable LED bulbs.

Estimated Payback
The test cases from the study indicate an estimated simple payback of less than six months based on energy savings only. If savings due to reduced maintenance associated with LED lighting are included, payback improves further. Figures 1 and 2 show LED payback scenarios with varying bulb and energy costs. Figure 1 shows payback based only on energy savings when comparing LED to incandescent lighting. Figure 2 shows payback based on combined energy and maintenance savings.


Figure 1


Figure 2

About the Study
Advanced Energy collaborated with NC State’s Prestage Department of Poultry Science to determine how LED lighting fixture replacement in poultry houses affected broiler grow-out and potential energy savings. Advanced Energy and NC State evaluated poultry flock performance, measured lighting energy usage and analyzed lighting performance data from four poultry houses at two farms in North Carolina. From October 2012 to October 2013, each farm proceeded with normal operations while chicken body weights, feed conversion rates, lighting energy and lamp depreciation were monitored. Three different LEDs were included to evaluate multiple options.