Greenhouses are a way gardeners living in cold climates opt to create a different micro-climate to allow the growth of plants native to warm regions. It is like bringing in a bit of the tropics into your garden.
Greenhouse walls, glass or plastic, enable the sun’s UV rays to enter the structure and increase the air temperature. Moreover, the walls are designed to keep the warm air from escaping.
Whether you have a glass greenhouse or plastic, you might have to consider heating it, especially when residing in a colder climatic area. Heating is necessary for areas where the temperature drops below freezing point as it will let your crops grow year-round.
So how to heat your greenhouse? Let’s explore some innovative ways to heat your greenhouse during the chilly temperatures.
If you want to know more about greenhouse and how it works you can read: Greenhouse: Definition, Uses, Types, How it Works
7 Innovative Ways to Heat Your Greenhouse in Winter
This article will unveil some innovative ways to heat your greenhouse in the winter. You don’t have to depend on polluting fossil fuels to accomplish the task. Instead, you can ethically grow food all year-round during chilly weather.
Hotbeds are among the simplest ways to gentle heating of greenhouse. In addition, a hotbed is a convenient way of raising plant seedlings by providing additional heat to the soil in the cold season. So how to make a hotbed?
It’s generally a compost heap made by decomposing straw, manure, or any organic matter and forming a raised bed. Then, this bed is capped with a fine layer of soil or compost where you can place seeds or plants.
Hotbeds are typically a great alternative to more expensive ways of winter heating. They offer heat by breaking down the materials in it from beneath.
However, hotbeds should be covered with row covers or cloches inside your greenhouse to retain more heat. They keep the plants warm and toasty even during the coldest months.
Moreover, you can use materials like an old glass window pane, a glass cloche, or a plastic row cover for greenhouse that you would have otherwise thrown away.
2. Ground to Air Heating
Here’s another way to warm up the space – Plumb into the ground with pipes beneath a greenhouse to carry air.
You can employ a ground-to-air heat exchanger to collect most of the sun’s heat during the day. The fans give off warm, humid air via a web of pipes beneath the soil.
Moreover, the energy is pumped back into the space, keeping the area warmer at night. A thermostat and the right fans will adjust the temperatures inside your greenhouse.
However, if your budget supports it, you can also set up a ground-source heat pump that consumes heat energy from the ground and draw it up to the heat shield growing spaces.
3. Hot Water Heating
You can even opt for a hot water pipework heating system to heat your greenhouse. In the early days, coal boilers were used to heat the water.
However, nowadays, you can avail of more eco-friendly ways to heat the water in such a system. Have a look!
- Buy or construct solar water heating panels
These panels are actually structures that help heat the water with the sun’s ultraviolet rays. However, it’s known as hydronic heating.
- Make your DIY solar water heater
Interestingly, another low-tech and simpler way to heat water is by setting pipes inside a composting system. Like hotbeds, decomposing materials generate heat in any compost heap. So you can set the pipes within the compost heap and then run them into the polytunnel.
Together they will transfer heat, keeping soil temperatures higher than usual.
4. Renewable Electricity Heating
Those looking for a more convenient way to heat can utilize renewable energy sources. Simply install solar panels to use solar energy.
They can supply a small amount of electricity necessary to run greenhouse heaters, pumps, or fans for the heating systems mentioned above.
However, keep in mind that heating the soil beneath plants is better than heating the entire greenhouse. So look for piped heating below the soil before considering other heating options out there.
Whether water, wind, or solar, you can use renewable electricity to operate an effective electric boiler.
5. A Simple Heater With a Plant Plot & Candle
This is another innovative solution suitable to heat a small greenhouse.
Create a small space heater by keeping a candle under a ceramic plant pot. However, this process would require your sheer attention and all necessary safety caveats as it involves a naked flame.
Nevertheless, the candle would generate sufficient heat to keep your tiny greenhouse frost-free.
6. Biomass Heating
You can even warm the hot water running through the pipes to heat a greenhouse by decomposing materials. However, you can consider a boiler if the decomposing materials can’t generate enough heat to achieve the required water temperature.
Besides renewable electricity, you can run the boiler using wood or other biomass forms and warm up your greenhouse. And interestingly, you can create a simple DIY wood-fired boiler using old drums.
Nevertheless, a solid rocket mass fuel stove can be another great way to heat your greenhouse. This stove runs by combining effective combustion and heat retention.
It will have a heating shelf where you can make the planters. This solution is ideal in extremely cold weather.
This might not be the first method to strike your mind when thinking of unique ways to heat your greenhouse. But amalgamating plant production with livestock is quite an effective way to deal with winter growing.
For example, you can grow plants in one greenhouse section and keep chickens in another. The birds’ body heat and the heat generated by their manure can significantly boost the greenhouse temperature.
However, it will benefit the chickens, too, as the greenhouse will keep their coop warm by collecting heat from the sun throughout the day. Well, you can house any livestock other than chicken in a part of the greenhouse.
Heating Your Greenhouse for Free
When wondering how to heat your greenhouse in winter, you can even opt for the cost-free options.
- Set Your Greenhouse In A Proper Position: The side of your greenhouse facing south should be in direct sunlight to capture maximum solar energy. The fact is that the winter sun shines brightly in the southern part of the northern hemispheres.
- Store The Collected Heat In A Thermal Mass: Now that you have positioned your greenhouse in the right direction, think of a sustainable way to store the collected heat. Here a thermal mass will be handy! It can be a large object that can absorb a substantial amount of heat and store it.
Gardeners usually place many 55-gallon drums of water in their greenhouse to prevent temperature drop suddenly. However, you can use cinder blocks to create the greenhouse’s north wall.
Cinder blocks are good insulators that can draw in the warmth from the greenhouse’s hot air during the day.
Then, they will emit it slowly all over the night. Well, other efficient ways to reduce heat loss on chilled nights include heat sinks like large volumes of cement, stone, and water.
- Check Out For Proper Insulation: For efficient heating, you need to ensure that there are no warm air leaks in your greenhouse. However, air circulation is necessary for a certain amount inside the greenhouse.
But it doesn’t mean accidentally letting the air leak, forming cold spaces in your greenhouse.
Bubble wraps can be highly effective in insulating greenhouse walls as they have excellent insulating properties. Another effective way to keep the greenhouse warm is by covering the plants with rows of horticultural fleece.
Either way, there would be no need for additional heating sources in a temperate climate. However, some bubble wraps and water barrels are just what you need to protect supple plants in areas where the temperature doesn’t go below freezing.
So if you want to heat a greenhouse, you can opt for the options mentioned in the list above. By merging these techniques within a cost-effective budget, you can have maximum greenhouse temperature.