Updated: Mar 13
We met a really cool guy last week -- Jacek Helenowski at his lighting factory in Stone Park, IL, while learning about the next great thing in lighting - Plasma lights. Plasma lights are an alternative to LED or HPS and based on recent advances in the Cold Cathode technology that powers Plasma, these lights seem poised to make a difference in agriculture. They emit less heat than an LED, and use half the power (watts) of an HPS light. Most interesting, is that Jacek can manufacture his plasma light in a 360 degree lamp, meaning it can light both up and down. This feature alone might be enough to revolutionize grow room designs around the world. But enough about the lights, we were really impressed with this really amazing inventor, a few things we learned:
Jacek used over one mile of Cold Cathode Light tubing to build the world's largest illuminated American Flag. It stands over 50 feet high, weighs nearly 53,000 lbs, and it was engineered to withstand winds up to 90 mph. The flag was seen by over 3 billion people while on display at 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics. Despite its size, it can be installed by four people (and a crane) in less than a week. #MadeinAmerica
It only took ten years to build, but Jacek completed and moved into his dream home in Chicago's northside in 2011. At the time, it was called the greenest house in America and achieved the highest LEED Score in the country with a score of 119 points. Hard to believe, but it was built for only $80 bucks at foot. There are too many features to list, but our favorite is the indoor swimming pool, which stores and exchanges heat. See the video for yourself: #Green
Jacek's office is lined with a wall of patents related to LED technology, but Plasma (Cold Cathode) is his passion. He believes it is a greener technology than LED, and safer on the eyes due to its use of the 5,000 spectrum (white light). He started experimenting with Plasma nearly 25 years ago, building several secret grow rooms in Israel and Holland. Now that his relationships with those growers have ended, he is able to bring his Plasma grow lights to market.
We expect to see great things from his company, Square One Precision Lighting, in the next 12 to 18 months. Depending on timing, we might install some of these plasma lights, in the grow room we are currently building. If we do, we will publish our yield results in a future blog.