Greenhouse Heating Techniques

Written by lee carroll
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Greenhouse Heating Techniques
Protect your greenhouse plants with additional heating. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Owning a greenhouse lets you grow flowers and vegetables throughout the year, regardless of the weather. However, a heat source is necessary in some areas with extremely cold winters with little sunlight and in others with cold nights. Heating a greenhouse is as basic or elaborate an endeavour as you choose to make it, but even the simplest methods are effective for protecting tender plants when used correctly.

Solar-Heat Sinks

Solar energy is by far the least expensive method for heating a greenhouse. It requires careful planning and a sunny area. In some cases, a solar-heated greenhouse can provide additional heat to another structure like your home, as explained by Live Science. A well-sealed greenhouse with plenty of natural light needs several heat sinks to hold heat that is collected in sunny hours. A heat sink is any dense material that can collect the sun's warmth and slowly release it into the greenhouse; 55-gallon oil barrels, usually painted black and filled with water, are effective. Bricks, also painted black, provides another option. If your area is very cold and your greenhouse is not too large, insulating thermal coverings for the windows could help minimise heat loss at night.

Root-Zone Heat

Root-zone heating helps conserve energy by providing more warmth to delicate root systems of plants instead of focusing heat on the entire greenhouse. Hydronic thermal tubing or PVC pipe carries heated water in a system designed to constantly circulate under the roots of plants that grow from the floor or on benches, warming the soil and roots. This type of heating resembles radiant underfloor heating used under ceramic tile in homes. Another benefit of root-zone heating is that a fresh supply of water is not necessary. In fact, waste water is perfectly acceptable because the water never contacts the plants. It remains enclosed in the tubing or pipe. An oil or gas furnace is the most common method for heating the water for root-zone heating.

Forced-Gas Heat

Gas is a common energy source for providing dependable, even heat for greenhouses. A system of polythene vent tubes throughout the greenhouse is connected to a gas furnace. When the furnace is producing heat, a blower fan turns on, which forces warm air through holes in the tubes and into the greenhouse. This is similar to the way ductwork within a house carries heated air from a furnace to each room with a heat register. Fans or other devices to circulate the air helps improve efficiency, according to Texas A & M University.

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