How A Solar Greenhouse Works

ABEST1 How A Solar Greenhouse Works

Article by Dave Pierson

Solar Greenhouses:

Though all greenhouses are designed to collect and utilize solar energy, solar greenhouses are specifically designed to trap and store thermal energy from the sun. This stored energy can be used later at night, or when it is cloudy outside. Solar greenhouses can be in the form a of gabled or arched structures, cold frames or even subterranean pits. Large scale solar greenhouses are usually freestanding while backyard solar greenhouses are attached to the main living structure.

Solar houses can be of two different types: Active or passive.

Passive Solar Greenhouses:

These kind of solar houses work absorbing solar radiation through glazing, converting it into heat and limiting it’s leakage back to the outside. Much of the sun’s energy is absorbed by the plants that occupy the greenhouse, which then radiate it back into their surroundings. this radiated heat is absorbed by surfaces such as soil, water, rock and other inexpensive materials.

When temperatures fall, these materials passively allow heat to flow into the greenhouse environment to keep it suitably warm. No External energy is needed to maintain an ambient temperature in this type of greenhouse except in extremely cold conditions when electric or gas heat may be needed to supplement solar heating.

Active Solar Greenhouses:

Active solar greenhouses also collect, store and deliver energy like passive one’s except that they need supplemental energy to direct the thermal energy from storage areas to the greenhouse environment. Of the two types of solar greenhouses, the passive one’s are the least expensive to operate.

Sun-pit Greenhouse:

It’s advantageous to think of using the natural warmth of the soil if you are looking at a greenhouse that does not place a major drain on your monetary resources. A few inches below the surface, the soil maintains a relatively stable temperature of around 55 degrees F. If you were to construct a pit greenhouse that is sunk into the ground to retain warmth, you would find that they stay about 10 degrees warmer than a greenhouse built on the surface. The pit greenhouse may be freestanding or attached.

Sun-pit houses may also be made by planting your crops at ground level and excavating a 3 ft. deep deep walkway around and between the beds. You will need to line the walls of the walkway with plywood to maintain structural integrity. Ans because it comes in panels of various sizes, you would need to replace only individual damaged panels without effecting the rest of the glazing web.

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For more in depth information and ideas showing how to make your own solar greenhouse, please visit solar greenhouse plans

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