Using a Climate Battery or GAHT System to Heat and Cool a Greenhouse Year-round

| 7/6/2017 12:23:00 AM

Tags: greenhouses, year round greenhouse, season extension, climate battery, Lindsey Schiller,

It’s a little-known fact: Most year-round greenhouses are energy guzzlers. To grow a variety of crops through the off-season, in most climates, a standard greenhouse needs large amounts of heating – usually propane or natural gas. This makes greenhouses costly to operate year-round for many growers, and not all that green. One study found growing tomatoes locally in New York year-round created more CO2 emissions than shipping tomatoes from far-away states like Florida.

Fortunately, there are easy and affordable solutions to this challenge, allowing growers to create a lush, abundant year-round garden with a variety of crops. Using passive solar design, greenhouses can dramatically reduce energy costs by maximizing the use of free solar energy.

Glazing for Passive Solar Greenhouses

Instead of a completely plastic or glass structure, passive solar greenhouses balance the area of glazing (glass or plastic) and insulation. In the Northern hemisphere, the North wall is insulated much like a standard wall of a home. This reduces heat loss at night, and the need for fossil-fuel heating.

To compensate for the smaller area glazing area, passive solar greenhouses use glazing strategically: They are oriented so the majority of glazing faces the sun, at the right angle. Further principles include insulating underground to couple the structure to the stable temperatures of the soil, and incorporating sufficient natural ventilation for passive cooling. (For more on the principles of passive solar greenhouse design, see the book The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse, or our summary blog How to Design a Year-Round Solar Greenhouse.)


Though passive solar greenhouse design goes a long way to reducing energy costs and enabling year-round growing, some climate control is usually still needed. (The amount and cost depends on what you are trying to grow and your climate.) Fortunately, there are many sustainable options to heat and cool a greenhouse year-round. Most of them can be described with the not-so-sexy name of “thermal storage.”

11/13/2017 7:36:34 AM

My husband and I are very excited to start planning for our sunken greenhouse. Your article cleared a few things up. Thank you so much.

7/15/2017 5:55:08 AM

Good to read!

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