How To Build A Solar Powered Greenhouse

The first quarter of 2021 has flown by but, there’s still more than enough time to make
your resolutions come true. If your goals include living a more sustainable and
environmentally responsible life and eating healthy, you can knock out two birds with one
stone by creating a beautiful garden. It’s an ideal way for you to have fun and start living
a healthier life simultaneously.

There’s a lot more to growing your fruits and vegetables than allowing you to eat healthier
and be more sustainable. It’s ideal for your mind, body, and spirit. You can be more
environmentally sustainable by creating a solar greenhouse.

In this article, we’ll be discussing how to build a solar powered greenhouse. Keep reading!

What Is a Solar Greenhouse?

How to build a solar powered greenhouse

Every greenhouse relies on the sun because they need it to help them grow tastier veggies
and fruits. A typical greenhouse is made of either plastic or glass; they typically use fossil
fuel to help provide necessary heating and ventilation. However, a solar greenhouse will
function differently. It relies on completely natural materials, an energy-efficient design,
and power from the sun.

Different Aspects Of A Solar Powered Greenhouse

A solar-powered greenhouse follows the same structure as a regular greenhouse. The only
difference is that it features solar panels. The real trick to maximizing a solar-powered
greenhouse’s ability is utilizing the concept of passive solar greenhouses.

There are three main elements of a passive solar greenhouse. They need to feature walls
on the east, west, and north. Aside from that, they need to have a wooden carcass that
features a polythene sheet on the south side so it can pick up the most extensive amount
of solar energy. It’s essential to set the sheet at an angle to receive the maximum amount
of light from the sun. Another requirement is a solid roof covering the north side to help
limit heat loss.

The walls of a solar greenhouse need to feature insulating properties to help prevent any
form of heat loss through the walls. To achieve insulation, the walls feature three layers.
The first is an inner wall that helps store heat during the day and releases it at night.

You have the option of building the wall using mud brick, rammed earth, or stone. The
second layer needs to feature straw, sawdust, wood shavings, dry leaves, grass, or wild
bush cuttings. It will help serve as an insulating layer. The final layer is the outer load-
bearing wall that can be made using mud brick, rammed earth, or stone.

How Does A Solar Powered Greenhouse Work?

A solar greenhouse helps capture all the light energy from the sun and helps convert it to
heat energy for storage. The heat then helps keep warm-weather plants from suffering
during intensely cold winter nights. That way, greenhouses can benefit out-of-season
plants grow exceptionally well during the winter months.

Solar-powered greenhouses feature solar panels that will turn solar energy into electric
current by capturing it through PV cells. Many people are under the misconception that
solar panels need brilliant, radiant rays of sunlight to produce energy. However, that’s not
the case, and solar panels can produce electricity on the cloudiest days as they don’t
require any direct sunlight.

building solar powered greenhouse

The process works in a simple manner. It all begins with sunlight falling onto the panel,
and the PV cells convert that energy to direct current electricity. The current then travels
wildly through the wiring system until it reaches an inverter. It’s the inverter’s job to
convert the direct current into alternating current. An alternating current is the one that
powers all the everyday objects you use throughout the day.

The need for solar-powered greenhouses came about due to the increasing levels of
environmental damage caused by traditional oil-powered greenhouses. Another primary
reason for the shift towards solar-powered greenhouses is the rising cost of oil.

Step By Step Instructions To Build A Solar Powered Greenhouse

Now that you know how a solar-powered greenhouse will work let’s move towards building
one yourself. By following step-by-step instructions and using a solid plan, anyone can
develop their own solar-powered greenhouse. Here’s a detailed guide on how you can build
a solar-powered greenhouse.

Picking The Right Spot

Before you start using all your tools and working on the design, you need to ensure that
you pick the best possible spot for your greenhouse. It should be in an area that receives
optimal levels of sunlight. It would be best if you ideally placed your greenhouse in a
manner that allows it to face south with a slight tilt towards the east.

Building solar powered greenhouse

The placement will help ensure that the greenhouse receives the maximum amount of
morning sunlight and prevent any potential overheating issues late in the afternoon. It’s
also ideal for assisting capture sunlight during the winter as the sun will rise from the

Picking the correct spot is even more critical when you’re using a solar-powered
greenhouse. Unlike a passive solar house, a solar-powered greenhouse is dependent on
sunlight for both heat and electricity. Placing your greenhouse facing southwards is
essential and will allow your plants to grow in the best manner possible.

Create A Working Blueprint

Once you pick out a location for the greenhouse, you can start working on the blueprint
and design. There are several essential features that you’ll need to consider. Make sure
that while you’re drawing up the plans, you leave enough room to comfortably move
around between all the planting beds and the rows.

Please take into consideration the layout for the solar panels as well because they’ll be
responsible for powering the greenhouse. Your conservatory’s overall size will play a
significant role in deciding the whole design of the solar panels. To determine the size of
the greenhouse, be sure that you know precisely how much planting area you require.

Pick The Correct Materials

As your solar-powered greenhouse is utterly dependent on the sun, it’s essential that you
build using the proper materials. The walls should be made using material that lets at
least 70% of light through while minimizing the level of energy loss. It’s important to find
materials that help balance light transmission and energy loss. Finding the correct balance
between the properties will help maximize the output from the greenhouse.

One of the best possible materials that you can use is polycarbonate. It helps provide the
perfect balance between light transmission and energy loss.

Work On The Insulation

For a greenhouse to work effectively, it needs to be able to recreate conditions where
plants would thrive adequately. Even if outdoor conditions don’t match the same level,
the greenhouse must be capable of trapping solar energy and ensure that everything stays
warm during cold weather. That’s why it’s essential to ensure that the walls you use have
a low energy loss value. The lower the energy loss value, the more heat your greenhouse
will be able to retain.

When you’re working on the insulation, consider the number of seasons you’re going to
work on your garden. Typically, the north wall of the greenhouse is the one that requires
full insulation. However, in especially cold climates, it’s a good idea to ensure that east
and west walls also feature insulation along with the floors and the perimeter. The best
way to determine what level of insulation you need is by asking a local nursery or
greenhouse designer.

Work On The Ventilation

Proper functioning ventilation is crucial to ensuring that you can keep the plants in your
greenhouse healthy and ensure that it doesn’t get too hot. A healthy supply of fresh air
moving through the greenhouse will also help cut down on potential pests and diseases.
Maximizing the level of natural ventilation inside a house is the most sustainable solution.

how to build solar powered greenhouse

The best way to proceed is to install the intake vents in a low place and the exhaust vents
in a higher place. Cool air will move through intake vents and will rise up as it heats; that
way, it’ll naturally exit through the exhaust vents. You can also wire up the vents and
exhaust fan by connecting them to your solar panel.

Use Thermal Mass

Thermal mass is a term that refers to materials that can capably store heat and supply
thermal mass to the greenhouse. Packing the right amount of thermal mass is crucial while
using a solar-powered greenhouse. It can help supplement the greenhouse heating during
the winter months and ensure that the greenhouse remains at an optimal temperature.

There are multiple kinds of material that you can use to serve as thermal mass. These
include water, stone, used concrete, and cob. They can all serve as great sources of
thermal mass. Take a look at how much space you have and then decide whether large
drums of water, used concrete, or cob on the floor suit your needs the best.

Soil And Irrigation

How to build solar powered greenhouse

The purpose of a greenhouse is to help ensure that it creates an environment that helps
plants grow faster, more significantly, and longer. However, no greenhouse will be able to
perform that function without housing the proper soil.

Ensure that you take all the necessary steps to ensure that your soil can become as
healthy as possible. That includes laying down the soil on a neutral plane, don’t place any
soil on a concrete slab. It would be best if you built it on the ground and add compost.
That’ll help keep the soil full of nutrients.

A rainwater drip irrigation system is another sustainable way to help harness the power of
nature. It’ll ensure that your plants receive a healthy supply of water without you having to break the bank. These are all the essential steps that will help you build a solar-
powered greenhouse!

Frequently Asked Questions

How many solar panels do you need to heat a greenhouse?

The number of solar panels that you need to get depends on the size of your greenhouse.
A typical PV solar panel can generate between 10 to 35 kWh per square foot every year.
The average greenhouse consumes 1kWh per square foot every year. That can help you do
the math to determine how many solar panels you’ll need. A 10,000 square foot
greenhouse will require 25 3×5 feet solar panels that’ll help provide the necessary amount
of heat.

Can you heat and cool a greenhouse with solar panels?

Yes! You can utilize solar energy to both heat and cool your greenhouse. You’ll need to
connect the PV panels to a set of batteries, a solar charger, an inverter, and a heater.
That’ll allow you to heat a greenhouse with solar panels effectively. You can use the same
setup to cool the greenhouse as well. Replace the heater with a fan, and you’ll have a
proper cooling system in place as well!

Can you run ventilation fans with a solar-powered greenhouse?

You can run all ventilation fans that you set up with a greenhouse using solar panels. An
inverter is necessary to help convert the DC from the solar panels to AC. All everyday
appliances make use of alternating current to function, and ventilation fans are the same.
If you do the wiring, properly there should be no issue.

How many solar panels do I need to run a grow light?

Depending on the power output of the light, you’re going to need the appropriate number
of solar panels. For a typically grow light system, you’re going to need three solar panels!


2 thoughts on “How To Build A Solar Powered Greenhouse”

  1. Not sure if this title is correct for this article. Nowhere does it tell you how to build a solar powered greenhouse.

    • HI Tammy. This article tells you about the basics of building a passive solar-powered greenhouse. However, an exact detailed step-by-step tutorial would be very lengthy anda big topic by itself and outside the scope of this article. Stay safe!


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