Thermal Mass In Greenhouses
Thermal mass is a technique of storing heat energy in certain materials within the greenhouse. Most commonly used are water, stone, concrete, and cob. Installing thermal mass can be as simple as placing drums of water in your greenhouse. Its an essential practice for all greenhouses, but especially important in solar-electricity greenhouses.
Orient The Greenhouse Toward The Sun
This is where solar greenhouse design begins: the sun. The sun is not only your source of light for growth in the greenhouse, but your source of heat. Thus, if growing year-round in cold climates, you need to capture enough solar energy through your glazing to heat the greenhouse. Glazing is just a word for transparent materials, such as glass or clear rigid plastics. All these light-capturing materials should face where light is coming in: the South if you are in the Northern hemisphere . The sun moves higher and lower throughout the year, but it is always South. A very small percentage of light comes directly from the North, and thus these sides are better off insulated.
Maximize Light And Heat In The Winter
Solar greenhouse design and passive solar design in general relies on the premise of strategically controlling light and heat gain. Namely, you want to maximize light when it is absolutely needed and reduce light when it is abundant and creates too much heat .
Its important to keep in mind the angle of the sun during different seasons, as shown in the graphic above. In the winter, light comes in at a low angle and in the summer it is much higher in the sky . Thus, on vertical South surfaces, you want to use a high light-transmittance material, such as glass, to absorb as much of this light and heat as possible. You do sacrifice insulation at night, but at this time of year light and heat gain are the top priority. Thermal mass should be used to store some of this heat for temperature regulation. You can also angle the South face of your greenhouse so that it absorbs more light as shown in the commercial solar greenhouse below. More on choosing the best angle for your greenhouse glazing in this blog.
You May Like: How To Make Solid Background On Instagram Story
Amenities For The Greenhouse: Water Power And An Internet
We ran one-inch flexible PVC water pipe from a tee in a pipe that supplies a nearby pole barn. Water lines here have to buried below the frost line, which involved trenching deep enough to get us under the greenhouses foundation. We terminated the water line in a frost-free hydrant, even though the temperature in the greenhouse should never get below freezing.
We happen to like the height of these hydrants. We think a lot about aging in place, and any opportunity to avoid crouching or stooping is welcome.
While the whole point of the greenhouse was to avoid the use of fossil fuels, we decided to run two 20 amp circuits from the pole barn, mainly for lighting, but also to give us options if we ever needed to plug something in.
All of the wiring we used in the greenhouse is the direct burial variety, meaning that its sheathing is thick and waterproof. This made running the wiring somewhat more difficult Im speaking here as the chief electrician but I liked the idea of extra protection from the extreme humidity inside the structure. We chose heavy-duty exterior grade ceiling fixtures for the same reason.
We were keenly interested in remotely monitoring the temperature and humidity levels in the greenhouse. The SensorPush wireless thermometer has proven to be rock solid.
Solar Panels Provide An Efficient Heating Source
When the greenhouse is in use, the solar panel will heat up and release infrared radiation. This radiation will warm up the objects inside of the greenhouse. The solar panel should be placed on the roof of the greenhouse so that it can receive direct sunlight. The angle of the panel should also be adjusted throughout the day so that it can absorb as much sunlight as possible.
Recommended Reading: How Much Is The Sunflower Solar System
How Do You Power A Greenhouse With Solar Panels
Solar panels can be used to power a greenhouse by providing energy to run the lights, fans, and other equipment necessary to keep the plants growing. The amount of power required will vary depending on the size and type of greenhouse, but solar panels can be a great way to reduce or eliminate the cost of powering a greenhouse.
PV panels, or solar panels, have become a popular way to generate renewable energy. A lot of people think that you can use these panels to heat a greenhouse and you can. However, its not as simple as just slapping some PV panels on the roof of your greenhouse!
In order to produce enough power to heat a greenhouse with solar panels, you would need a lot of them and even then, it would be difficult to achieve. PV panels are designed for the production of renewable electricity, not for the generation of heat. The conversion of sunlight into electricity, then electricity into heat produces an enormous loss in energy during the process!
Batteries are great for supplementing solar panel energy at night. If you want to try and heat your greenhouse with solar power, make sure you have a large battery capacity!
The size, rating of the panels, battery capacity, and cost all depend on what youre trying to achieve in your greenhouse. Do your research before investing in any equipment its important to know what will work best for your needs.
Solar Greenhouse Ideas That Work
Want to make use of solar energy to create a warm environment for plants or your pleasure? Here are the ideas for the ultimate solar greenhouse. Read on!
You might now it as simply a greenhouse, but its referred to as solar greenhouse because it traps solar energy. Anyone can build it too. Your success will depend on how much sunlight you get in your location. If the answer is not much, dont let that discourage you there are solutions for every climate zone. Well go over that in a bit.
Why would you want a solar greenhouse anyway?
- Growing plants is an obvious one
- But you can also create a warm environment to spend time in during the cold season.
- Hang a hammock!
- Create a place for a hot tub all year round.
How To Build A Solar Greenhouse
If youre ready to get your hands dirty, heres what you need to know to build your own little piece of gardening heaven.
1. Pick the perfect spot
Before strapping on your tool belt, make sure the patch you pick receives optimal sun exposure. Situate your greenhouse so that it faces south, with a slight orientation to the east. This helps maximize early morning sunlight and offers some protection from overheating in the late afternoon. It also ensures full sun exposure during the winter when the sun rises in the southeast.
2. Create a workable footprint
Determine the square footage you need and plot out the layout of your garden. Consider things like the room you will need to comfortably move between planting beds and rows. The overall size of your greenhouse should be based on how much planting area you need to produce the amount of food you want to grow.
3. Select the right materials
Because solar power runs the whole show, you need to use a material that will let at least 70 percent of the light through while minimizing energy loss . You will maximize your gardens production when you have a balance between those two variables. Polycarbonate is a sustainable material that can provide the appropriate amount of transmissivity and R-value.
4. Insulate your space
5. Let some air in
6. Use thermal mass
7. Get soil and irrigation right
Now that you know the basics of building a solar greenhouse, look for plans that meet your needs and get started. Happy planting!
How And Why To Build A Passive Solar Greenhouse
The decision to build an eco-friendly greenhouse on our little farm in Pennsylvania was really an afterthought.
My wife Shana and I had just bought our first piece of heavy equipment, a used Caterpillar skid steer, and I was looking for a big project to teach myself how to use it.
Maybe we should build a greenhouse, she said.
Sounds good, I said. But greenhouses need to be heated. Propane is pretty expensive. Not to mention the pollution.
Take a look at this. She tilted her iPad to show me a building that looked like a cross between a glass barn and a Superfund site.
Whats inside those steel drums? I asked. Chemicals?
Nope. Fresh water. Thousands of gallons of it. The water heats the greenhouse in winter and cools it in summer.
Theres no heater? Or fans?
No fossil fuels required. Sounds good, no?
It did sound good. A little too good.
I dont know I said.
Well, I think we should build one, she said. Youll be an expert with that loader by the time its done.
And just like that, I was persuaded.
Also Check: How Long Before Solar Panels Pay Off
How The Climate Affects Your Greenhouse
Greenhouse gardening can be affected heavily by climate change. It will be easier to maintain the house in hotter climates as you only have to be alert about letting the excess heat out. In colder temperatures, it takes extra effort to maintain the heat and the plant. It might need more time in colder climates than usual to grow a plant as the weather is cold. Ensure the structure hotter in the colder climates, or tropical plants may suffer in growth. Be sensitive to the weather and climate changes.
How Do You Go About Building One Of Cords Greenhouses
For this kind of greenhouse to stay warm through the winter, it must maximize passive solar gain and minimize heat loss.
Those two simple principles drive all of the material choices and construction techniques. The water barrels are capable of acting as giant thermal batteries, but only if the greenhouse is properly sited, thoughtfully built, and extremely well insulated.
A tight building will protect your trees and plants in the winter, but in summer, the greenhouse needs to be vented like any other. In keeping with the theme of sustainability, Cord has developed a way for the greenhouses vents to open and close as the temperature rises and falls without having to rely on electric motors.
The more we learned about this crazy greenhouse that heated and cooled itself without burning a drop of fuel or using a watt of electricity, the more intrigued we were.
What Is A Solar Greenhouse
All greenhouses use the sun, but solar greenhouses harness that solar power for more than just growing tasty veggies. Traditional greenhouses made of glass or plastic usually rely on fossil fuels to provide additional heating needs during colder months. A solar greenhouse, on the other hand, creates a warm, nurturing environment all year long using nothing more than natural materials, energy-efficient design and the power of the sun.
Driftless Farm Pit Greenhouse Wisconsin Usa
The Driftless Farm greenhouse in winter
Also known as a Solar Cold Climate Greenhouse , this greenhouse is made from site-harvested black locust trees, which is fast growing, strong and rot-resistant.
The 2800 square feet greenhouse, owned by Roald Gundersen, is insulated with straw-bales and lowered into the ground for efficiency.
Inside the Driftless Farm Greenhouse
Recommended Reading: Is My Business A Sole Proprietorship Or Llc
Solar Panel Batteries For Greenhouses
Your panels are collecting the suns energy, your greenhouse is heating up from the suns raysgreat! But where is all that energy going? You need a battery!
There are an array of electricity-storing batteries on the market. Your particular choice will be determined both by what kind of solar panels you choose and how much energy youre harvest and storing.
But consider using a thermal battery for your solar greenhouse. Just as a regular battery stores and distributes electrical energy, a thermal battery stores heat. This is a little bit of a trick because thermal batteries are technically just thermal mass but with the optional addition of an extra heating device, powered by your solar power harvesting.
For example, the drums of water sitting in a passively powered greenhouse serving as thermal mass heat storage might be lined with copper coils. Another option is a cute powered heat-wrap jacket like this one.
A top-notch greenhouse design incorporation subterranean insulation with a below-ground thermal battery, whether thats made of soil, water, concrete, or even wax.
What Is The Cheapest Way To Heat A Greenhouse
A solar greenhouse is a passive form of heating that can provide enough heat to keep plants alive during winter months with little or no other energy input. A solar greenhouse is an unheated building constructed to collect, store and distribute solar energy. These greenhouses are generally made of glass or clear plastic and allow the suns light to pass through to heat the interior. The solar energy is trapped by a dark material, such as soil or water and then radiated back into the greenhouse to keep temperatures warm enough for plants to grow.
Read Also: How Much Solar Power Per Square Foot
The Sun Country Greenhouse Is Solar Ready
For those of you who have some building experience and are looking for a great woodworking project check out our detailed DIY greenhouse plans. Build your own passive solar ready 9′ x 16′ cedar wood framed greenhouse, the same durable chalet design as the hobby greenhouse Sun Country sells as a kit and featured in the photographs below. We use Lexan Corrugated however there are instructions on how to attach Lexan Thermoclear polycarbonate twin-wall or triple-wall covering to the frame as well. The Sun Country Greenhouse Plans @ $19.95 are available for download worldwide. Included is email assistance and a Telephone Help Line . For more informationpleasevisit our greenhouse plans page.
Using Passive & Active Solar Heating Systems in a Hobby Greenhouse
Let the sunshine in, using solar energy to heat your greenhouse will save you money! All greenhouses are solar heated to some extent, anyone who has been inside for a few minutes on a summer day knows how warm the sun can be. A greenhouse acts as a natural solar collector but it can’t retain the sun’s heat at night. Consequently 75% to 80% of the cost of heating a greenhouse by conventional energy sources is expended at night. To retain the sun’s heat you need something the heat can be stored in a heat sink. Heat sinks can consist of barrels of water, rocks, concrete walls or some other thermal mass. At night stored heat radiates throughout the greenhouse.
Foundations Kneewall Ventilation & Glazing Part 2 Of 4
Here we are going to talk about foundations, knee-walls, ventilation and glazing in the greenhouse.
The author in front of his passive solar greenhouse
Step 5 Foundations
Foundations are a crucial component that dictates the success of any building. It is a component and we often dont think about, yet a ton of energy goes into the design and construction of a foundation. There are literally enough foundation options out there to write about them for years so I am going to stick to my top 3 options, but first lest start with a few principles specific to greenhouses.
Principle 1) The foundation of a greenhouse should connect the greenhouse to the soil. Plants love getting into the actual earth, not growing above it. A good foundation should allow the plants to dip their roots into subsoil.
Principle 2) The greenhouse foundation should start below the frost line to prevent heaving or, should prevent the frost from entering the greenhouse.
Principle 3) The foundation option you choose should align with your goals.
Principle 4) The foundation should not be toxic to the soil.
My greenhouse ignores the first three of these three principleshere is why. I built a greenhouse on top of a car parking stall and I did not have the heart to rip up the concrete. I was also not has far along in my permaculture career and did not realize the effects of ignoring all these principles.
Step 6 The Kneewall
Step 7 Ventilation and Air Movement
Step 8 Glazing
Also Check: Are Solar Panels Worth It In Oregon
Can They Be Used In Greenhouses
Well, that all sounds pretty interesting, but what does it have to do with greenhouses and crops? Very much, actually. Greenhouses are great for conserving the heat and warming the environment, but if you want to keep your production of, for example, tomatoes all year round a simple greenhouse is not going to be enough.
Until a few years ago, agricultural companies used to use oil-fired boilers to produce energy. However, todays high oil costs and their effects on the environment have forced these companies to use other alternatives. Currently, many universities and agricultural companies are beginning to change the type of electricity they use to cause less environmental impact and conserve the beautiful blue planet we live on. An incredible example is NEIKER-Tecnalia.
NEIKER is a public institution of the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain. It focuses on research and innovation projects that seek to incorporate technology into agriculture to make it more efficient, clean, and environmentally friendly. Since 2009, they have been working on a system that incorporates solar energy to power their greenhouses.
To heat a greenhouse, they use energy from solar panels. In this experimental greenhouse, worthy of any mad scientist, researchers are constantly testing to find the best way to keep plants warmed up.
Subscribing our Newsletter