How to Design a Year-Round Solar Greenhouse


| 2/11/2015 10:14:00 AM


Tags: greenhouse, solar greenhouse, passive solar greenhouse, Lindsey Schiller,

Attached Solar Greenhouse Orientation

What is a solar greenhouse? Don’t all greenhouses use the sun? Well yes, but a solar greenhouse uses the sun’s energy not only for growing, but also to provide all of the greenhouse’s heating needs. In contrast to traditional all-glass or all-plastic greenhouses, which often rely on fossil fuels to grow year-round, solar greenhouses can create warm year-round growing environments using only the power of the sun, natural materials and energy-efficient design. As a result, they can grow much more --citrus, avocados, fruiting tomatoes - year-round using less energy, water and resources.

Bananas in a Solar Greenhouse 

 Here are the seven basic elements of solar greenhouse design. By following these, you can create a naturally abundant, self-sufficient growing oasis, allowing you to grow more with less energy and hassle. For more on designing your own solar greenhouse, see The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse: How to design and build a net-zero-energy greenhouse, which includes how-to info as well as many case studies for tailoring your structure to any climate.

1. Orient the Greenhouse Toward the Sun (the South)

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 (*For the rest of this article we’ll assume a location 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.

2. Insulate the North and Everywhere Else

Solar greenhouse design depends not just on capturing enough solar energy, but trapping it in order to keep the greenhouse warm enough during cold periods.

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11/13/2017 3:20:33 AM

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11/13/2017 3:20:04 AM

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fundingloan
11/13/2017 3:19:36 AM

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fundingloan
11/13/2017 3:19:30 AM

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fundingloan
11/13/2017 3:18:16 AM

Celebrate this Christmas season with joy and gladness in your heart... I would like to bring this to the notice of the public about how i met Funding Circle Loan PLC after i lost my job and been denied loan by my bank and other financial institution due to my credit score. I could not pay my children's fees. I was behind on bills, about to be thrown out of the house due to my inability to pay my rent, It was during this period my kids were taken from me by foster care. Then i set out to seek for funds online where i lost $3,670 that i borrowed from friends which i was rip off by two companies. Until i was referred to Funding Circle Plc by a very good friend, so if truly you are in need of a loan i advise you contact this Godsent lender via Email: fundingcapitalplc@gmail.com OR Call/Text +14067326622 and be free from scam' Jennie Cortez by name from United State


fundingloan
11/13/2017 3:17:13 AM

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fundingcapitalplc
11/13/2017 3:17:11 AM

Celebrate this Christmas season with joy and gladness in your heart... I would like to bring this to the notice of the public about how i met Funding Circle Loan PLC after i lost my job and been denied loan by my bank and other financial institution due to my credit score. I could not pay my children's fees. I was behind on bills, about to be thrown out of the house due to my inability to pay my rent, It was during this period my kids were taken from me by foster care. Then i set out to seek for funds online where i lost $3,670 that i borrowed from friends which i was rip off by two companies. Until i was referred to Funding Circle Plc by a very good friend, so if truly you are in need of a loan i advise you contact this Godsent lender via Email: fundingcapitalplc@gmail.com OR Call/Text +14067326622 and be free from scam' Jennie Cortez by name from United State


chimonger
11/2/2017 4:18:41 PM

About concerns over condensate on a house wall, that forms one wall of the added greenhouse: People have been adding a "greenhouse" or warming space, on the south sides of their houses, for ages. Never heard of anyone complain about condensate happening on or in the house wall. Maybe ventilation is a Thing? As for insulating the ground in a greenhouse?!? NOT! Not even for deep frost lines. Why? Because the mean-temp of earth is about 55F., about 4' down into the earth. When you park a greenhouse on top, there will be some cold encroachment where the walls meet the ground....that is where insulation is needed, vertically, below-grade....unless you earth-berm the walls 2' to 4' high above grade, and about 2' to 4' thick from the greenhouse walls. There are people in seriously cold climates, excavating 6' or more into the ground, laying the properly calculated length of 4" tubing to accommodate the cubic feet of greenhouse interior, run the tubing to manifold for intake and outlets, then back-fill half the depth of the excavation, so that the greenhouse is well-bermed, as well as recirculating the earth's mean temp, to keep the greenhouse from freezing....from the one's I've seen, those are working extremely well, with no, or little added heating....in the upper Midwestern States, where winters can drop to -50F. IF you instead isolate the greenhouse from the ground, you will have huge heating bills just for the greenhouse. Bottom line: USE the earth's mean temp to your advantage!


joseph
6/2/2016 10:21:14 AM

christopher, The frost depth where I live is 40" deep, do I want that frozen ground encroaching under the walls of my greenhouse? NO. That is why we insulate the foundation of the greenhouse to keep the frozen ground from touching the growing soil. Not insulating the bottom allows the ground heat to percolate up.


christopher
3/24/2016 3:14:53 AM

Actually, insulating the greenhouse will prohibit the thermal mass exchange in the greenhouse. It will cause your external temperature to be what it is above the earth instead of allowing the earth to regulate the greenhouse temperature during the winter. DO NOT use insulation. It work hundreds of years ago without it. And there's a reason for it!!


samdave
12/15/2015 4:34:12 AM

wow, I have never seen a underground green house before that looks great! If I had one of those I dont think id need some many http://www.twowests.co.uk/category/heaters. I would like a change from my generic green house, one of those is definitely something to look in to this summer!


jerry
3/12/2015 7:39:38 AM

A great article with lots of technical details! But it really can distract the reader's attention when authors misuse the word "loose" when it should be "lose" ; why is this so common recently?


lindseyschiller
3/6/2015 4:47:34 PM

Suzi, I agree with Scott -- if the shorter axis of the greenhouse does not face mostly South you will not have enough light in the winter and shoulder months. Furthermore, having a lot of glazing (glass or plastic) face west is dangerous in most climates: it can easily overheat the greenhouse in the afternoon.


scott
2/14/2015 11:58:53 AM

From all the information I've gathered and my own observations having the long axis of the structure going east-west (long side facing due south) is critical and the results will be unsatisfactory if it's off by too much.


suzi
2/14/2015 10:28:49 AM

would it make sense to add this on to an existing building if the length of the greenhouse faces west? south is open but would be the short section of the greenhouse.


scott
2/13/2015 8:19:20 AM

'how would you avoid mold in the shared walls? " That's a question that's been on my mind lately too since I'm building a passive solar house and will be adding a greenhouse. One factor to keep in mind is that if the attached structure is heated this will usually be one of warmest surfaces in the greenhouse. Most condensation will occur on the windows and other cooler surfaces. Just keep this moisture from running into the wall. I'm sure there's more to it than that so I hope others with more experience can add to this


couloir007
2/12/2015 11:18:53 AM

With regards to attached greenhouses, how would you avoid mold in the shared walls? Thanks!





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