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Old 04-16-2020, 10:54 PM
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Bobcat In The Woods Bobcat In The Woods is offline
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Default Greenhouse Heating Ideas



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Greetings interneteers.

Long story short, my fiancé and I are moving from an apartment into an actual house with a bit of a yard here soon. I want to build a little greenhouse out of a white plastic 1000gal water tank just for poops and googles, and to see if it will grow things later in the Montana fall when it gets cold.

I want to also experiment with ways of heating/keeping it warm that don’t require electricity. I’ve got a couple ideas, and I want to run them by the group to see if anyone has any thought on them.

My first thought is to line the inside with acrylic sheeting about a 1/4-1/2 inch off the wall to create an air layer. I imagine doing this by drilling holes i the tank, and then using lag bolts with spacer nuts. Basically creating a double pane window effect. It should work with white plastic and clear acrylic, as far as adequate sunlight goes. Maybe adding a second layer would work even better.

My second thought is to raise the whole thing off the ground about 18”, and fill the void underneath with plant matter to compost. My theory is that the composting will give off a little heat, as well as provide a layer of insulation. If nothing else, it will keep the thing off the frozen ground.

My third idea is to line the bottom, and first few inches of the tank with black colored material. Either paper/plastic sheeting, or just some paint. THis is to absorb a little extra heat from the sunlight, which will radiate upward through the tank. Also planting in black pots would help a bit.

I would also cover the whole thing at night to conserve heat.


So what does everyone think? Has anyone done any of these before? And did it work. I’m open to constructive criticism and science lessons here.

Thanks all.
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Old 04-16-2020, 11:18 PM
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A timely post.

It appears that I started my tomato plants about a month too early this year. They have outgrown the spot inside, but its still at least a month of frost possible weather here. (Montana) so I'm facing this exact issue today.

First, don't insulate it from the ground, the ground is your best source of passive heat. In fact, the best thing you could do is half bury your tank in the side of a south or west facing hill.

Black pots don't seem to do much. I use black growbags but the temp in my greenhouse is usually the same as outside overnight, unless it gets really cold in which case I will be about ten degrees warmer. If its 40º outside it will be 40º inside at night. If its 15º outside, it will be 25º inside. etc.

A black water tank could do a lot but of course will take up space.

Second, I am skeptical that enough light will come through your tank to make your plants happy if its the kind of tank I'm thinking of, ie those white poly tanks that are about a 1/4 thick.

What I did is cheating, and I'm not happy about it...but its better than letting my plants die (if it works)

I made a tunnel, inside a tunnel in mind and stuck a little 500 watt electric heater inside. I just did this today but so far its 35º outside and 43º inside which should be enough to keep it above freezing until the temps outside warm up.





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Old 04-16-2020, 11:26 PM
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Heat transfers by three possible modes:
[] radiation (like sunlight)
[] conduction (contact)
[] convection (moving air)
- - - - -
The bulk of heat loss is via convection (moving air) thus a greenhouse building will minimize loss (trap heat).
A thermal break made of insulation panels can lower conduction losses through the ground.
Since you wish to raise plants, you will have to suffer night time radiant losses in order to have the gains of sunlight. You might look into glazing that will pass UV or rely on supplemental lighting in the red and blue spectrum.

Stored water (in barrels) may help if there are wide swings in temperature. Water has a high specific heat - moderates change as heat enters / leaves.

EDEN PROJECT

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eden_Project
The covered biomes are constructed from a tubular steel (hex-tri-hex) with mostly hexagonal external cladding panels made from the thermoplastic ETFE. Glass was avoided due to its weight and potential dangers. The cladding panels themselves are created from several layers of thin UV-transparent ETFE film, which are sealed around their perimeter and inflated to create a large cushion. The resulting cushion acts as a thermal blanket to the structure.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ETFE
Commercially deployed brand names of ETFE include Tefzel by DuPont, Fluon by Asahi Glass Company, Neoflon ETFE by Daikin, and Texlon by Vector Foiltec.
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Old 04-17-2020, 07:47 AM
RobertSWMissouri RobertSWMissouri is offline
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Enough light question ? I use 1/2 of a white poly 55gal. drum, put a gallon jug of water on each side of the plant, one plant per 1/2 drum in them and put one over each of the tomatoes and peppers a month early. They grow GREAT, so get enough light. REally warm full sun days and for some reason they don't over heat, we have had 3 hard frosts in the last week, with lows of 28 and 29 and they are doing great (they have been out about 2 weeks).
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