What is a solar greenhouse?
What are the benefits of using this type of greenhouse over a traditional one?
Are there any limitations?
A solar greenhouse is a passive greenhouse system that uses solar energy and thermal mass to help plants grow. Rather than relying solely on the sun to shine through a glass greenhouse and keep it warm enough inside for plants, this type of greenhouse instead uses thermal materials to do the same.
Some of the benefits of this type of greenhouse include the following:
- These types of greenhouses can provide plenty of heat and warmth for plants all year round. They are especially beneficial in cold climates where the sun alone might not be enough at certain times of the year.
- These greenhouses also work well for anyone looking to live off the grid or reduce energy use. Since they work solely on solar power, they don’t require any gas or electricity to function.
- Solar greenhouses make an excellent addition to farms, but more and more homeowners are finding ways to fit them into their backyards as well.
They do have some limitations, however; they don’t work well on all types of soil, and they may get too hot in certain climates.
In this article, we’ll give you a simple guide that you can use to alter and tweak as needed for your own DIY solar greenhouse. By following this guide, you’ll be able to figure out the best way to install a solar greenhouse in your own backyard.
Keep in mind that this is a general guide that may not provide specific measurements. This is because everyone’s yard or land space is different, and solar greenhouses can be easily adjusted for different settings.
Read through the information below to get a good idea of where to begin on your quest to solar-powered fruits, vegetables, flowers, and more.
Building a Solar Greenhouse
Building a solar greenhouse is an extremely difficult DIY task. Keep the following in mind:
- This project should only be undertaken by those who are very experienced and know what they’re doing with power tools as well as with solar materials.
- This job is not a weekend DIY project and may take several weeks to complete.
- It’s best to work on this project with help from at least one other capable adult.
- Understand that your measurements and the materials you need will vary greatly depending on the amount of space you have to work with and the size of greenhouse you want to construct.
- Your materials may also vary depending on which ones you choose to work with.
Solar greenhouses are a lot of trial and error. By following this guide, you’ll have a simple idea of how to construct yours. However, it’s important to work with the space and materials you have and determine how to put together the best solar greenhouse for your location as well as your climate.
Don’t be afraid to make changes along the way, even after your greenhouse has been up and running for a while!
Materials and Equipment Needed
- Metal brackets and screws
- Wood glue
- Straw or other insulation
- Several large 55-gallon drums
- Reflective material
- Thermal material, such as polycarbonate sheeting or glass
- Black paint
- Garden boxes
- Vents for intake and exhaust, optionally
- Garden hose
- Power drill
- Safety gear
1. Choose a location that gets plenty of sun. Ideally, the greenhouse should face south to slightly southeast. Positioning your greenhouse this way lets it catch early morning sun while protecting it from the harsh afternoon rays.
2. Next, think about how many square feet you need. This will largely depend on the size of your garden. Take some time to plot your garden and don’t forget to add space to walk between the boxes.
3. Construct the foundation of the greenhouse. Some farmers like to build their greenhouses on top of a concrete slab, while most backyard gardeners prefer to build raised garden boxes and leave the ground as-is. This is up to you.
- Note: If you will be pouring a concrete slab, this should be complete and set before you begin construction on your greenhouse.
4. Attach pieces of lumber using metal brackets and screws. If you like, you can cut additional lumber on an angle and use it to brace this foundation.
5. Build the walls of your greenhouse by attaching crossbeams on the southern wall. These beams should be installed at an angle to make it easier to mount the glazing when the time comes.
6. The north wall should be insulated. Most DIYers insulate this wall with straw, but you can use any type of insulation you prefer.
7. Finish the structure by installing the roof. Decide whether or not you want the roof to be made of solar material or closed off.
8. Install your 55-gallon barrels. These should be positioned along the north wall. Fill them with water and stack them if necessary.
9. Position your garden boxes along the south wall.
10. Hang reflective material on the north wall and cover the south wall with thermal material. Keep in mind that you should choose a material that lets in at least 70% of the sun’s light. Most solar greenhouses use polycarbonate materials.
11. Set up your intake vents near the ground and your exhaust vents near the roof, if you choose to do so.
12. Set up your garden boxes. Plant them as desired and then watch them grow!
Solar greenhouses provide plenty of heat, sun, and water for the needs of all the plants inside. They make great additions to yards and farms in any part of the world, but they can be especially beneficial for those who live in very cold climates. These greenhouses keep plants protected, safe and warm without the need to rely on non-renewable resources.
But what kinds of plants grow best in a solar greenhouse? Because of the design of these greenhouses, it’s possible to grow a wide variety of plants. You can enjoy tropical flowers and bushes, tomatoes, citrus fruit, bananas, avocados and more without having to worry about your plants freezing or going dormant for the winter.
And how do you know a solar greenhouse is right for you and your farm or garden? If you devote a lot of resources and energy to your garden or farm, then it may be a good idea to consider a solar greenhouse. These greenhouses are a great way to help cut down on the negative impact you make on the environment and work toward an off-the-grid style of living.
If you’re concerned about the environment or you’re just looking for a way to enjoy fruit and vegetables you grow your own all year long, then you should consider using a solar greenhouse. And if you live in a cold climate, it’s an even better idea.
Now that you’ve had a chance to find out the basics of how to make a solar greenhouse, it’s time to choose whether or not you want to build or buy one. If you feel comfortable completing the task yourself, you can easily buy one. However, it may be better to have on installed if you aren’t skilled with DIY jobs. Either way, you’re sure to be pleased with the results!