As the nights draw in, polytunnel gardeners may like to consider lighting their polytunnels. Solar lighting can be a good, eco-friendly option. If you have not yet ‘seen the light’, now could be a great time to embrace the sustainable and make a move towards renewable energy.
Why Light a Polytunnel?
If you have a polytunnel, you may be wondering whether or not you need lighting in the first place. Whether or not you choose to light a polytunnel will, of course, depend on what exactly you are using your polytunnel for, and how and when you personally use the structure. You may decide to light a polytunnel
- To extend the length of time that you can work in the structure during each day.
(In winter especially, daylight hours can be all too short. If you work outside your home during the day, it can be tricky to get the jobs done in your polytunnel before nightfall.)
- To make it possible to harvest produce on winter evenings.
(Again, if you don’t get home from work until after it is dark, it can be tricky to harvest what you need from your polytunnel for an evening meal. Lighting allows you to see your crops and harvest them more easily in the evening.)
- To provide grow lights for plants to facilitate more effective year-round growing.
(Moving beyond basic space lighting, you could also consider running LED grow lights for your plants off a solar electrical array.)
Why Choose Solar Lighting?
If you do decide that you would like, or need, some lighting in your polytunnel, you could of course choose to light your polytunnel in a number of different ways. But if you are trying to live sustainably, ethically, and in as environmentally-friendly a way as possible, you should consider opting for a renewable energy option for your polytunnel lighting.
The sun’s energy is the most important resource in polytunnel gardening. It is a good idea to catch and store that energy in every way you can in your organic growing efforts. Solar lighting is lighting which runs off the sun’s energy, which, even during the winter, can be used to light your polytunnel or to power a grow light system in a sustainable way.
Selecting Solar Lighting
Solar lighting can be more affordable than you might imagine. In its most simple form, solar lighting could consist of low-powered lights which have in-built panels which collect the sunlight during the day and allow lamps to come on at night. You can choose from a wide range of individual solar powered garden lights, fairy lights or similar – perfect for small, domestic polytunnels and small-scale gardens.
Depending on your lighting needs, you could also consider installing one or more solar panels, which will provide electricity for a more substantial and complex lighting array. Solar panels could be a very good option for those with larger, commercial polytunnels. An investment into renewable power could be a great way to make your business more sustainable, and save money in the longer term.
Elizabeth Waddington is a writer and green living consultant living in Scotland. Permaculture and sustainability are at the heart of everything she does, from designing gardens and farms around the world, to inspiring and facilitating positive change for small companies and individuals.
She also works on her own property, where she grows fruit and vegetables, keeps chickens and is working on the eco-renovation of an old stone barn.