Return to the Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Posted by fuzzymoto (My Page) on
Fri, Aug 1, 08 at 11:08

My greenhouse is finally up, and of course we're heading into winter. Since I'm in Zone 4-5, and the greenhouse is all glass, I suspect I'm in for an interesting winter. I'd like to try to keep the GH in the mid-60's range, but I suspect that won't be possible during the really cold months. With the largest wall of my greenhouse being attached to my house, I'm hoping I may have at least a small heating/insulation advantage. I do plan to monitor the tempuratures.

I plan to put up bubble wrap and have at least two electric oil-filled heaters running to balance the temperatures, especially at night. I'm hoping I'll get some solar heating during the days it is suny. My questions are:

1) Is there a good affordable source for bubble-wrap on-line?

2) How do you actually attach the bubble wrap to the walls & ceiling.

3) Should I disable the misting system during winter or will it help?

4) Is there anything else I should be doing?

I'm considering this an experimmental winter, so no valuable plants will live out there for the entire season. I'd love to extend the season for some of my tropical plans, and perhaps when the dead-winter hits, I'd love to perhaps grow some sort of cold season crops like lettuce.

Any advice for the first-winter rookie?


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

I can't answer your bubble wrap questions but I have a few observations to make. Bubble wrap will definitely cut down on the amount of light getting to your plants by reflection and because it isn't clear. Do you think it will reflect heat as well? Is the heat output of the heaters sufficient enough to heat ? What is your back-up heat source if the electric power goes out during a zone 4-5 snow storm? These are good questions to resolve in your experimental year. BTW, be sure to buy a couple of those Hi-Lo thermometers which will record the high and low temps. These are invaluable. Be sure to move the thermometers around to learn where you cold spots are located. You will also need a fan, a common household fan will do, to distribute heat evenly. Finally, you said you are heading into winter. When does your wintry weather start? I have at 10-12 more weeks before I have the first frost.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

A common household fan won`t have a sealed motor unit and could prove dangerous in a wet environment.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Sorry I replied yesterday but it looks like it never made it out. To answer your questions:

Bubble wrap was recommended on this forum as a way to insulate and still let in some light.

I haven't purchased the heaters yet so this is definitely an experimental year. I plan to get at least two of the larger 1500 watt oil-filled electric radiator type heaters. I'm not sure if they & the bubble wrap will be enough.

If the power goes out I plan to run around the yard screaming like a baby...just kidding....just inside the greenhouse door I have a gas fireplace.

I have the hi-lo thermos in place already. I do have to find a fan, but I have not identified one that will survive the wet environment yet.

I'm about the same (10-12 weeks). I'm starting the planning now.

Any bubble wrap info or answers to my questions out there??


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble = fuzzymoto

fuzzymoto: You'll pay the least amount by checking out your local mover or packing house. We found the same quality BWrp in a packing place for 2/3s less than what those catering to online GH owners charge. Since it was in a nearby city my husband passes through once a week, we also saved shipping charges. :) Every city has places that sell packing materials.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?= fuzzymoto

fuzzymoto: I have a kerosene heater as a back-up when the power goes out. It's kept in a garage about 12' from the GH.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

I was hoping to find a good on-line packing meterial source and not a greenhouse bubble-wrap on-line source. I know the greenhouse bubble wrap is way too $$. Our local packing material place is a UIPS store so I know there will be an on-line bubble wrap source cheape out there..

Anyone?

What about how to attach it?

Misting??

Anyone?


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

IF you have enough ceiling height, no floor fan will do a better job of circulating air in a GH than a ceiling fan and the ones made for outdoor use are not much more costly than the ones lacking a wet location rating.

Otherwise, no electric heater or fan not rated for wet loaction use is really, totally safe in a GH, although many people have used them without killing themselves. I personally wouldn't risk it, but also admit to being totally and possibly, irrationally- terrified of the combination of electricity and water.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

So no one is using bubble-wrap or misting?


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Is there really no one on here that uses bubble wrap or misting or just no one on here?


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

There are lots of folks on here that use bubble wrap and have different methods of attaching it. I'm sure they'll be along to help soon but meanwhile...

I have a glass house, 8x16 and use a clear, solar pool cover to insulate my GH in the winter. It is large enough to cover the whole building, is attached to the wood frame by screwed in strips of wood so the wind cannot catch it and provides a 10-15* difference in insulation. It is opaque and allows enough sunlight thru that all my plants and seedlings grow strongly with no internodal stretch at all.
In spite of the covers size, it is quite easy to put on and take off with two of us. It rolls up and fits back into the storage bag for the summer.

This was taken in the spring before the cover came off...

Solar pool cover on GH for winter.


There are a lot of threads here discussing Pool Covers. Search for the one called "Pool Covers Make a Great Sail!" Lots of good info and personal antidotes there.

How big is your GH? Is it wood framed?

I keep the GH heated all winter for my cactus, tropicals and propagation of cuttings and seeds. One oil filled space heater is used on a thermostat, with a second kept as a spare in case it is needed for extreme cold weather. I only needed to use it once for a few days last winter.

You'll be surprised at how warm the GH gets on sunny days even when the outside temps are very cold. It can easily be 80-85* in there when it is well below freezing outside. You will need some way to vent during the day when it is very sunny. I have an automatic roof vent in the ridge of the roof that opens at 85*. There is a square hole cut in the cover to acommodate it.

All the walls of my GH that are not glass are insulated with fiberglas batting, as is the north side of my roof. All operable windows are caulked shut for the winter with stripppable caulking available at HD and others.
I seal the west door shut for the winter with all-weather duct tape and hang a thick bed spread over it (bought at the Goodwill expressly for this purpose) as that is where the prevailing winds come from and use the east door only.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble - Fuzzy

Both of my GHs have inside bubble-wrap for insulation. It's probably the most commonly used insulation for GHs. Contact your local packaging or moving co. for 1" bubble wrap. It comes in 2' and 4' wide rolls and in many lengths. Don't buy from a GH supplier as they charge as much as three times more than a shipping-packing place.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Thank you. My GH is 10x16 aluminum framed with all glass (no twin-wall). I have the advantage of one side being attached to our house, so I should get some residual insulation value from that. I plan to start with bubble wrap inside (walls and ceiling and two oil-filled electric heaters. I'm in zone 4-5 so it can get really cold. I already have auto vents (2 in the roof and 2 in the front wall), but I may disable some or all of them in the winter....we'll see.

I was hoping someone had a good on-line supplier for bubble-wrap. I was also hoping someone was or was not running their misting system in the winter.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

As a follow up I did a little (OK a lot) of searching over the weekend and most places ONLY carry 1/2-inch bubble wrap, except of course the expensive greenhouse places.

Any good on-line source for 1-inch bubble wrap?

Anyone keep their misting system ON in winter?


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

I'm new to posting on here,but have been reading it for a long time now. I got my BW from a company on line & it was very reasonable. I't at www.uline.com I also went to Home Depot & got double stick carpet tape. The BW I got came in 1ft or2ft. Just call the 1-800 no. They were very helpful for me good luck


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

It sounds like you have your mind made up to use BW. If this is going to be an experimental year, I would go with out any bubble wrap or additional insulation. If you live in PA, you will need all the sun you can get in Jan and Feb, it would be a shame if you installed BW on clear glass if you did not need it. I have had four GHs in Zone 5 PA and have not needed any additional insulation. I currently heat a 81/2 X 81/2 Rion with a 10K BTU NG heater set on the lowest setting and maintain 60 deg f with no problem.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

fuzzymoto: I just reread you post. Your GH is glass? Then if you can afford it, don't waste time or money on bubble wrap. It's effective, but not a permanent solution.

Instead, check out interior mount storm window panels. If fitted correctly and sealed against the existing frames with weatherstrip, they will give you near the equivalant of thermopanes and short of having a heavy clay pot tossed at one, will last as long as your GH and unlike the bubble, will allow you to use virtually any chemical, including the cheapest and most effective; bleach, to flush away any mildew or mold, both a continual issue for many GH's, especially those with misting systems.

Sheet glass is a lot cheaper than polycarb, and the aluminum framing used to make custom fit storm windows is also not very expensive, so the cost may be less than you think. It's worth checking out.

Whatever your decision, do a cost-benefit analysis for added R Value, necessary BTU's to maintain your desired temps., and fuel costs. If ever there was a time to if necessary, cut back on some discretionary spending and put that money up-front for future savings on energy costs, it's now.

When I was choosing a heater for my 12 X 16 freestanding Cross Country GH, I spent about $200.00 more to upgrade to a direct vent dual combustion nat. gas heater, expecting a 4 - 5 year payback in heating bill savings, but due to the huge rise in fuel costs since, the payback was realized in just 2 winters.

It cost another $400.00 extra in materials to heavily insulate the floor, base and perimiter of my GH, but there too, it's paid back, with reduced heat loss and the bonus of my being able to walk around out there in bare feet in sub-0 temps.

The warmer the floor, the warmer the air above it will be, and stay. That was my thought when we mounted the heater down near the floor instead of up near the ceiling. It blows hot air down, directly at the quarry tile floor, warming it considerably, whereupon the tiles hold the warmth and help toast my tootsies.

If you don't have an insulated floor, another warm foot friendly move is washable throw rugs. In deep winter, when it's really cold, to augument the heater, I lay thick cotton throw rugs down on the floor of my GH, all old ones from the house and cheapies from a local resale shop. When they get wet, if still otherwise clean, a few minutes in the dryer, and back down they go.

The real bottom line on the subject is that whatever you can do to insulate to keep the cold out and the heat in, will have a direct impact on the size of heater you will need, and the cost of operating it, now and in the future.

BTW: The better you insulate against cold, the easier it will be to keep it cool in summer, which is in fact, far more difficult and another virtue of ceiling fans.

If you have the space to mount them, set a pair of them at each long end of your GH, preferably under your roof vents. In winter, run them in opposite directions and they will circulate warm air in the closed space, top to bottom, end to end. In summer, set them to pull up, and they will pull the cooler air from the floor up and out through the roof vents, cooling the air in the middle in the process.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Fuzzy,

You most likely won't need the misters in the winter. I turn mine completely off. The humidity tends to run high enough, and if you need a little boost you can just spray the ground.

I respectfully disagree with BW on the ceiling fans, it's not HAF; a search of this forum will turn up that lengthy discussion, no need to rehash here.

Floor insulation not necessary, search threads for those discussions also. Perimeter insulation may be quite useful, but it is not the same as insulating the floor.

I might have missed it, but in case nobody answer the ? in the OP, yes, walls and ceiling. The exception would be the north wall (in the northern hemisphere) which is most effectively treated with reflective surface and more more insulation (ie, foamboard).

SB


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Thanks to all. I have checked uline and they do have good prices, but only 1/2-inch (no 1-inch) bubble wrap.

John...wow. Actually I never even considered trying the first year with just the glass. I've been watching the temps here lately and the inside and outside temps at night are only a few degrees off. I guess I was thinking that without bubble-wrap, that even with two electric heaters, I'd still be fighting a losing BTU battle. I would definitely prefer to NOT have to deal with hanging and taping up all sorts of bubble wrap if I don't have to. I'd also consider a propane heater if it provided more BTU and I didn;t have to worry about the fumes killing my plants (we get some odd winter additives in our propane sometimes). I'll definitely have to consider the first year perhaps trying it without anything but heaters.

I can tell you the north side of the greenhouse is my house and it is well insulated and protected on that wall. The south side gets a ton of sun, enough that all 4 vents are open wide most of the day. I am up high overlooking a lake, so I do get wind. My glass is tempered, weather-stripped on the aluminum frame. Where the vertical panes overlap it is just glass-on-glass, but still pretty weather tight. I'll definitely consider no insulation as a test. I should say we don't plan to put any of our valuable plants out there this winter, we do plan to monitor the temps, and we can simply open the door & 2 windows to the house if we had to, and pump the heat out from our normal heat source (in an emergency). I'm not sure not only how I'd attach that many storm windows/frames to the existing frame in a weatherproof/cleanable manner, but I'd also be concerned about the additional weight and the custom sizes I'd have to find. perhaps I'm not understanding your suggestion.

I do have a concrete floor that has a full insulated foundation, so hopefully that helps.

birdwidow....I'm not sure I understand. The greenhouse is aluminum framing with all glass.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

SB saidFloor insulation not necessary, search threads for those discussions also. Perimeter insulation may be quite useful, but it is not the same as insulating the floor.
None of the posts that I can remember considered radiant cooling which has the opposite effect as radiant heating. Like setting beside a block of ice, an insulated floor is much better than one that is not insulated.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

I think I need to calculate the BTU's I need. Anyone have the link to do that calc?

I have a feeling the BTU's I need may preclude me using 2 electrical heaters (and not tripping breakers with 3 or 4).

This seems like it may lead me to Propane...and hopefully NO bubble wrap.

Based on that I plan to research propane heaters. I see some people use vent free. Wouldn't it be safer to have a direct-vent to the outside so as not to harm the plants with fumes?

Thanks again...


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Yes, safer to direct vent. But search, there have been many discussions on this. Every winter. Every year.

Like setting beside a block of ice, an insulated floor is much better than one that is not insulated.

Not sure what you are saying here, John. If you insulate the perimeter, then the temp differential for heat loss/gain is that between the deep ground (55 or so) and your GH temp (rarely much more than 55 in the winter, sometimes less). In other words, to insulate the floor is to insulate between the floor and 55F earth. Why bother?

Here is a heater calculator. If you have the house on one wall, you can probably subtract that out from the surface area. If you have an insulated knee wall, the caculations change a bit, let us know and we can help you.

Note that no GH heater calculator factors in the floor area. *blink*

SB

Here is a link that might be useful: GH heater calculator


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

the 1/2 in. means it's 1/2 in. thick. The bubbles are 1 in. across. That's what I got, took a long time to get it through there heads that the 1 in. diameter is what I wanted or maybe it took a long time to get it through mine ha ha. I'm really happy with mine. hope this helps.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Thanks...when I do that calculator I get an approx 30,000BTU requirement. I have a question into my supplier but they publish a calculation of..

How To Calculate Heat Requirements

The following formula can be used to determine the approximate heating requirements of your greenhouse: A X D X 1.1 = Btus. "A" is the total wall and roof surface area of your greenhouse. "D" is the difference between coldest outdoor winter temperature and the night temperature desired in your greenhouse. "Btus" is the heat requirement. Subtract 30% if greenhouse is insulated using double glazing or polyethylene liner. Subtract another 30% if it is a lean-to greenhouse on heated wall.

When I use that calculation I get a 30,000BTU number also BUT they say to subtract 30% for the home-attached. Now I assume my original calculation for the value A does not include that wall...is this correct or should I include the wall and/or not deduct the 30%?

The reason I ask (and I did ask my supplier) is that if I deduct the 30% I fall into the range of the 24,500BTU propane heaters that don;t require electricity. Seems like if I bump over 24,500BTU, I need to hire an electrician too. Also my supplier doesn't sell anything larger than 24,500BTU direct vent. Any supplier recommendations?


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Stressbaby, If the GH floor is at grade or above grade, the floor temp will be much lower than 55 deg f. in the winter and higher in summer. With air circulation, which is necessary, the floor temperature sure affects the air temperature and should be taken into consideration.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Any advice on selection of a 24,000-30,000 BTU Propane heater? Seems like the electric won't cut it.

I'd prefer not to have to run electricity to it, but so far have not found anything beyond 24,500 that does not require electricity. Seems like direct-vent is important and a thermostat seems critical.

Also seems like I'll have to replace one pane of glass with a galvanized steel-plate maybe?

So much to learn, so little tie before winter.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

You said that there was a gas fireplace close to the GH. Is it NG or propane? I have used a NG blue flame un-vented gas heater for many app. 30 yrs without a problem with veggies or tropicals. I also use a carbon monoxide detector and there is not a problem there.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

It's propane. We don't have NG available in my area. I've seen NG ventless, but I'm concerned because in our area they sometimes add funny additives to the propane, especially in colder weather. With a direct-vent I'd feel safe with none of the combustible materials entering the greenhouse.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

John, with an insulated perimeter, what makes the floor "much lower than 55F in winter?" Perimeter insulation isn't perfect, usually about R-12 with 2" foamboard, so with a small GH you still might lose a heat out of the perimeter, but the loss will be an order of magnitude less than the loss throughout the rest of the surface area of the house.

No GH heat calculators factor in the floor. There is a reason.

Fuzzy, I use a pair of 24K BTU vented propane heaters. Vented is less efficient, true, and many people will say that they have used them without problems. Again, lengthy, long discussions, esp last year. Search this forum for "Vioxx." Ugh.

SB


 o
Also...

...also, I have to question the 30% deduction for attached greenhouses.

I doubt that the attached wall accounts for 30% of the surface area of the GH. I roughly figure your surface area at 600 sq ft, and the attached wall (assuming it is a long 16' wall and about 8' high = 128 sq ft...that's 21.3% of the total surface area of the GH. A 20% deduction sounds more reasonable to me.

My heaters are Empire and they run on microvoltage thermostats so they will run even if power is lost.

SB


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

SB the frost line in Missouri runs from 15 to 25 inches below the surface. If the GH is on a slab at ground level, then under the parameter and for some distance toward the center of the GH the soil will be much less than 55 deg. The ground freezing under the parameter is what will lift the slab and usually crack it if reinforcement was not used when the concrete was poured.

John

Here is a link that might be useful: Johns Journal


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

fuzzymoto: Some folk don't want to believe that an fully insulated floor and exterior perimiter will make a difference in keeping a GH warm in extreme cold weather, but it does. Just as they don't believe that a pair of ceiling fans turning in opposite directions will serve to circulate air from floor to ceiling and end to end- but they do.

As for my storm window suggestion: I presumed that all of your glass was framed and as such, attaching aluminum framed storm panels to alumunum window frames would not be difficult. But if they are so oddly shaped that it isn't a viable option, you still have some others.

Wrap the exterior in a clear solar pool cover or- use the lightweight, clear film sold for interior windows that once mounted, shrinks to a tight fit with hot air from a hair dryer. The object is to create a sealed air space between the exterior glass and the interior.

If you still find that your best option is bubble wrap, then do check out the heavy duty bubble from Uline.

http://www.uline.com/Browse_Listing_466.asp?desc=Uline+Heavy+Duty+Bubble

The only problem with it, is the volume. I was able to split my order with a friend. If the minimum order of one bundle is too much more than you can use, it may not be for you.

SB- Our No. IL frost line goes down to 30 inches and minus 10 - 15 deg. temps, while rare, do occur. The heavy foam (Type 250) insulation both under and around the base of my GH doesn't warm the floor or air, but it does a lot to maintain the heat the furnace puts out.

In an age when the cost of heating any space, regardless if nat. or propane gas or electricity is rising near daily, virtually no amount of money spent up-front on insulation to reduce the amount of heating fuel necessary to operate a GH is really extravagant because all too soon, without it, GH's in cold country will become places usable in winter only by millionaires, or for average income folk; a place to store the lawn furniture.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

My floor is insulated already. Not sure why we're off on this insulated flooring tangent. I'd rather propane heater info.

It sound slike I'll be in the 30,000+ BTU range. Seems like the highes non-electric I see is 24,500 BTU so this means either Two 24,500BTU (or two lessser BTU totaling over 30,000) or one larger unit that requires I run power to it. Anyone have a good source for a 30,000-37,000 BTU unit?


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Fuzzy, sorry for the threadjack. We like to debate.

"If the GH is on a slab at ground level, then under the parameter [sic] and for some distance toward the center of the GH the soil will be much less than 55 deg."

"Some folk don't want to believe that an fully insulated floor and exterior perimiter will make a difference in keeping a GH warm in extreme cold weather, but it does."

BW and John, you fail to distinguish between insulation of perimeter and floor. I do not believe the perimeter losses are insignificant. In fact, I believe that most recently I pointed out (maybe here, maybe on DG, can't remember which) that the previously cited 2-3% perimeter heat loss figure was, in my estimation, low by a factor of at least 5. Further, it depends to some extent on the size of the GH.

My GH has 2" of foamboard perimeter insulation all the way down to the concrete footer.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Propane heaters....Remember? Not floors.....


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

fuzzy: Sorry. As SB noted, we sometinmes get off into debate tangents here, but it's friendly and we learn a lot from each other.

Most any gas heater will be available in either nat. or propane gas.

Check out ACF Greenhouse as a good starting point. They have a wide selection and lots of great info. on what will work best for you.

They proved the best bottom line price for me, but you may find a better deal elsewhere. I can recommend them for quality merchandise and excellent customer service.

http://www.littlegreenhouse.com/accessory/heater-compare.shtml

BTW: I went with the Sterling over the Modine on the recommendation of the long time in business local contractor who installed a new H/AC system in our house. He is exclusively a Trane dealer and doesn't sell either brand of space heaters, so I believed his expert opinion would be both useful and objective.

So far, I have had no reason to regret following his advice. I particularly appreciate the virtues of the dual combustion unit, as it burns only fresh air that is heated as it enters, so it's pretty fuel effecinet too. But then, I use my GH mostly as a tropical fish hatchery so had to be careful about what level of gasses would be released into the air. On the other hand, I spend a lot of time out there and also prefer breathing only fresh air.

I know that many GH owners have used ventless gas heaters with no problems and they are quite innexpensive. In fact, you could buy one at any big box HC for a lot less than you will pay for a good vented model. We have a big one in our tractor shed that does the job quite well and so far, my husband hasn't keeled over from the fumes, but if it's attached to your house and you want to leave the connecting door open.... It could be that I'm just overly sensitive, but wouldn't recommend it, especially if you have any small children or pets in your house, particularly birds.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Thank you. I've been looking at the ACF catalog and their prices seem good. So many things play into this decision so it is a tough one to make. I'd prefer direct-vent and no -electricity required.....which immediately puts me into the 25K BTU range only. I may do that and supplement with an electric on the nights where we drop down. We typically see so few days below zero each year that I'd hate to size a heater that will be too large or too small. Right now we're leaning toward the Empire DV series. Any good or bad experiences with Empire? How do all of thes ehold up in such a wet environment??


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

As I said, I have 2 24K BTU Empire DV heaters. They have a little rust on them, but functionally they are fine. Solid heater. Functions on a microvoltage thermostat so it is "off the grid." Also can be connected to a 24VAC low voltage controller. Installed them myself right up to the propane connections (read: installation is easy).

SB


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

fuzzy: I agree with SB's recommendation. The Empire DV is a high quality unit and would be an excellent choice for an attached GH. I needed a larger unit for a 12 X 16 X 12 H freestanding GH that simply can't be allowed to drop below 72 deg. in an area where freezing and often -zero temps can hang on for weeks every winter, so for me, intense insulation and a 45,000 btu single heater mounted down near the floor under a utility table where it's bulk doesn't impact floor space, was my most workable option.

But rust on a GH heater can be if not totally eliminated, considerably reduced. When you shut it down for the season, clean it inside and out and check for any chips to the finish that expose raw steel. If you find any, apply a dab of appliance touch up paint and when dry, treat the entire unit to a coat of car wax. Then protect it from wet/damp with a waterproof cover. Just be sure it's perfectly dry inside and out before you wrap it up.

A GH heater doesn't rust when it's in use and producing warm, dry air. That comes from it sitting cold and exposed to the wet & damp inherient in any working GH. Preventive maintenace doesn't cost- it pays, so take care of your equipment and it will take care of you.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Thanks...I just purchased an Empire propane heater and all the associated pieces to install it. I also bought a fan to keep the warm air down closer to the plants. I'll be installing it myself (other than the propane connection) next week. I'll have to take a look at how to protect it in the off season with my misting system spraying every day.

I also plan to add one small electric heater as a supplemental heat on cold days. As far as insulation, I plan to play it by ear and see how it goes. I'd rather not have to do it, but I guess I would consider a pool cover over the roof.

It's very odd to be working out so many winter details when the fact is I'm still testing summer details. I have a few test plants out there now. With the cooler night time temps, I had turned off the misting system. Of course yesterday hit 95F outside, so the GH got pretty hot even with the vents open and I fried one small test plant. Lesson learned and perhaps next summer there is shade-cloth in my future. So much to learn here in the first year.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Fuzzy: Yes, you almost have to live with a GH for a full turn of the seasons to get a real feel for how it's working. My GH is as much a tropical fish room as it is a plant glowing space and the first winter saw only a single tank in it, with java moss and red ramshorn snails, just to test my heating.

Then came the first summer and I discovered that keeping a GH warm in winter is easy compared to keeping it from becomming on oven in summer, and why I'm so much a proponent of ceiling fans.

If you have roof vents, few additions to a GH will be as cost effective and more effecient at keeping the temps in line, as the fans pull the cooler air up from the floor and force the roof vents to expell it as it heats up. Then, in winter, with the blades reversed, they push the warm air back down where you need it.

However, insulation is still the first line of defence against any extremes of temperatures, cold or hot.

I suppose some of the posters here are getting tired of my lecturing on the subject, but I truly believe that no amount of money expended on insulation is a waste, because the cost of energy to heat or cool will continue to rise and eventually render far too many home GH's virtually unusable in any but the mildest temps except by the very wealthy and I've never gotten the impression that any of the posters here are billionaire members of the private jet set.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

We currently have two large auto-opening roof vents and two auto-opening front wall vents. We also have a full misting system that I can expand as necessary. It seems to get fairly hot in the GH even with all of the above running, but not too hot that I think most plants would mind. I do believe the sun may be a problem, but we have nothing in the GH yet, no shelves, no hanging plants, nothing to create shady zones so everything is full sun. This worries me more than the actual temp. I will be playing with fans and I just did purchase on to push the heat down in winter. I'll experiment with others come summer again for cooling and air movement. I hope to not have to use shadecloth as it will obstruct the view.

I don't plan to insulate if I can avoid it. Our GH is off our house and we have a great view through the GH. We don't want to obstruct that view if we can avoid it. This is why we chose glass in the firt place. If we do insulation, I suspect it will be winter only.

I guess we'll see how the seasons go. I'm trying to put as much passive cooling in as I can (vents, misting...) that do not require power. We are monitoring temps and testing out some plants that we do not value. There is much to learn, but I'm sure we'll figure it out.

On an un-related note, we'll be getting a visit from Tropical Storm Hanna in about 24 hours so this should be interesting in the GH.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Ah, I understand. Your GH is also a sort of conservatory, so appearance and the ability to see out of it is also a consideration. But if it's in full sun, you may need to add some shade plantings in your garden, perhaps some that would add an asthetic value along with shade.

If you have the space to fit them, you might also benefit by a pair of outdoor (wet location rated) ceiling fans, to mount under the roof vents. The pair in my GH operate with very little electricity, are silent and do a great job of keeping the air moving. Not very expensive either; less than $100.00 each at the local home center. (Hunter brand)

BTW: Operating 2 ceiling fans, each turning in an opposite direction really DOES create a circular pattern of air movement, front to back, top to bottom.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Thanks...and yes we do plan to create some natural shade zones with plants and benches. I'll check into the ceiling fans. I do have electricity in the GH, but I'd have to add additional boxes for ceiling fans, not to mention the beefed up structure to support them. Not that I've sort of made some moves on heating, we're starting to look at benches, circulation fans, cooling fans and thermostats.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

The cheapest place I've found so far to buy bubble wrap is www.amazon.com. Do a search for bubble wrap. I just bought 2 rolls of 1/2" size bubble 125' x 24 " for about $40. Shipping cost to California is about $21.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Is the general conscensus on this board that all bubble wrap is equal? That is, packing BW and greenhouse BW is interchangeable? I get free BW all the time in packages.
Martha


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Martha:

No, I don't believe the general concensus declares all bubble wrap equal, because it isn't. That isn't to say that the lighter weight wrap most commonly used for shipping won't help, but it also won't last very long.

Generally, the heavier the plastic and larger the bubble, the more effective the insulating quality and the longer the material will hold up.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

Thanks for clarifying. Sometimes the "debates" make it hard to make a clarification, although I love all the info that comes out of them! The link in another post about Diamond pool covers was a good lead on them.
Martha


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

For now, I'm about to add a propane heater, a small backup electric heater and NO bubble-wrap. We'll see what sort of temps I can maintain and what sort of cost we encounter and go from there. I will say the thought of trying to reliably attach bubble wrap to the walls and ceiling of a 10x16 doesn't thrill me. Since this is my first year, we'll see how it goes.


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

I'm a newbie to gardening and live in Minnesota, and am wondering if a small insulated mini green house cover would be enough to heat/grow veggies in my garden box in zone 4? Also has anyone played around with the idea of making a solar beer can heater for their green house? I'm looking for low maintenance solutions to winter gardening. I looked at making a cold frame but I don't think my 1/3 acre suburban yard is conducive to it. Thx


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

gowera, I'd be VERY interested in learning how to make a solar beer can heater for the GH. Intriguing.
Sunny


 o
RE: My First Winter - Bubble Wrap, heat...?

I'm up for helping you out with collecting the product you need for that beer can solar heater.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Greenhouses & Garden Structures Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here