As the indoor agriculture industry grows to meet the world’s rising food demands and consumer interest in indoor farming, indoor farmers face the challenges of maintaining the quality of their plants, maximizing the number of plants they grow and contributing to sustainability efforts.
To help farm managers improve their operations, Trane, the climate innovator that creates comfortable, energy-efficient indoor environments, offers the Horizon Thrive packaged rooftop unit. The Horizon Thrive unit is a precision cooling system that meets specific dehumidification and temperature requirements for indoor farms.
High latent capacity systems protect plant growth
The plants in indoor farms require a strategic environment to grow efficiently. Lighting, temperature, carbon dioxide levels and most importantly, humidity levels all contribute to successful plant growth. Heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems (HVAC) play a critical role in maintaining humidity levels, especially when it comes to dehumidifying the air.
The Horizon Thrive packaged rooftop unit
One square foot of plant canopy may require up to a half-gallon of water per day. For a 5,000 square-feet of canopy, that is 2,500 gallons of water delivered to the plants, and eventually to the surrounding atmosphere via transpiration. HVAC units are necessary to dehumidify and maintain a stable environment for plants to thrive.
Because indoor farms have more water circulating through them than the average building, they need cooling systems with high latent capacities. An HVAC unit with a high latent capacity can dehumidify up to 600 pounds of water per hour. The Horizon Thrive unit can reduce the air temperature lower than competing brands, which yields a more effective and energy-efficient dehumidification process.
Packaged rooftop units leave room for plants
Packaged rooftop HVAC units, like the Horizon Thrive system, are installed on the roof of a farming facility, so farmers can optimize every inch of valuable floor space for plants. Different from a “split system” that includes an air handler located inside the building and a condenser outside, a packaged system cools and rejects heat from a single unit. Packaged systems can be conveniently serviced from one spot, and do not run refrigerant fluid from system to system, which decreases the risk of leakage onto plants.
Scalable units grow as farms do
Whether operating multi-state operations or small, start-up indoor farms, farmers can match their cooling solutions to the size of their operations. With tonnage ranging from 3-80 tons, the Horizon Thrive system is scalable. As farming operations grow, farm managers can add more cooling systems to the single unit to cover more ground and more plants.
Data insights for sustainability
There are a variety of different data insights that farm managers can evaluate to perfect their environmental factors. Trane units can come with the optional Tracer SC+ Controls, a box system that gives farm personnel the ability to manage an entire cooling unit remotely or on-site. The controls connect to the Horizon Thrive unit to automate cooling operations and provide valuable data to contribute to energy efficiency. Adding controls to the HVAC system helps the farm manager maximize efficiency, plant quality and sustainability.
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