Thursday, 4 April 2013

Advice On Insulating Your Greenhouse

If you're looking to save a few pennies during winter when it comes to sustaining the temperature in your greenhouse, then make sure your insulation is up to the job or the costs of running your greenhouse heater could build up. Energy savings can add up with just a little insulation in the right places, not to mention helping to sustain the needed environment within your greenhouse for your plants and vegetables.

Working in tandem with a good greenhouse heater, good greenhouse insulation is a must if you want to protect your plants and vegetables and increase your yield.

Sometimes it's overlooked but good greenhouse insulation is a simple task and doesn't take much effort to ensure your greenhouse doesn't suffer from draughts which are one of the biggest causes when it comes to a loss of heat.

  1. Check your greenhouse structure for any holes and cracks and seal them up. Don't discount a break thinking it's not much. Even a small draught can see your greenhouse lose around 5% of its heat over time.
  2. Make sure your doors and vents fit well. Doors and vents that don't fit well can cause a surprisingly high heat loss. Replacing the seals occasionally is good idea but sometimes taping plastic sheeting across your vents and over your door can help reduce draughts.
  3. It many sound obvious, but replace any broken panes in a glass greenhouse, even cracked panes. Glasshouses with holes open to the elements don't do you many favours when it comes to insulating your greenhouse. Try to check often - especially in those places behind shelves and pots - for any broken or cracked panes.
  4. If you smash a windowpane in a greenhouse, you tend to notice at the time. But in a polythene greenhouse you might not realise you've caused damage and so it's maybe more important to check for rips or tears regularly if your greenhouse is of the plastic variety.
  5. Feel free to add a sheet of bubble wrap to your greenhouse to help protect against heat loss. You'll also get a little added protection to your glass. The wrap comes with a downside, sadly. Each layer will lessen the level of light within your greenhouse.
  6. Sensitive areas of your greenhouse can be protected by hanging a screen of polythene sheeting if your greenhouse is large enough to accommodate such action.
  7. During the night, thermal screens or blinds can offer some defense against colder temperatures. The roll-down blinds can also help limit heat-loss from any gaps within your greenhouse structure you may have missed. You need to be careful not to leave the blinds down or the thermal screens in place during day-time hours.

With a greenhouse that is insulated correctly, you can help to reduce the costs associated with maintaining a healthy temperature for your produce and give them the best environment possible to encourage growth and yield.

Monday, 11 February 2013

Are greenhouse heaters important?

During the cold weather, you have to protect the plants in your greenhouse from frost damage and one of the most overlooked pieces of kit is a decent greenhouse heating system. And the good news is is that you can pick up a decent heater for your greenhouse relatively cheaply.

Of course, 'relatively cheaply' is different for us all and dependent upon your needs. For instance, you can pick up a 2ft Tubular Hylite 80 Watt Heater for just over £20 if you shop around if you're only looking to put a bit of warmth into a small greenhouse. However, for a larger and more powerful heater, such as a Bio Green Phoenix, you could be looking close to £200. As you can see, you need to be pretty sure of what you need before dipping your hand in your pocket, otherwise you could end up spending more than what you really need to.

Most plastic greenhouse coverings have a R-Value (Insulation value) of around 2 - which isn't too great - and as such, money needs to be spent replacing the heat lost through the plastic. So when that heat is lost, you need a heating system in place to ensure you maintain the temperature you need and, in my opinion, an electric or paraffin is probably you best option. It's also wise to have a simple thermostat to adjust the greenhouse temperature to the current conditions.

I'd rule out a gas heater as the initial cost in purchasing one can be a little too high. That's purely my own personal choice and I wouldn't avoid a propane greenhouse heater on cost alone, indeed, some of the better models are the best option all round.

Talking of which, you do need to consider the running cost of your greenhouse heating system. Currently, the electricity cost in the UK of running a 1000 watt electrical heater would come out at close to 14p an hour. For the same period of one hour, paraffin supplies could cost almost two times as much. Double? Well, yeas, but you need to be aware that a paraffin greenhouse heater keeps pumping out heat after its turned off and will do until the oil inside finally cools down.

My own personal preference is an electrical greenhouse heater as I like the "cheaper now" option as I don't have a huge budget and with the inbuilt thermostats on most products these days, I can keep the temperature within my own greenhouse just right, but don't let that put you off a paraffin or gas heater if your need or budget stretches that far - each option does an excellent job of keeping the temperature of your greenhouse just right.