Input Needed

After almost a year collecting information, talking with greenhouse companies, researching energy conservation in greenhouse design, ad nausea, I have finally arrived at some semblance of a plan. I am still planning some of the heating and cooling solutions, caging, and a few loose end. However I have arrived at a model I feel satisfied with. It is based on solar greenhouse methodologies and the intention is to make it as energy efficient as possible. My wife has given me the go ahead to begin construction in the spring. I am looking for some help open brainstorming on ideas to make the design better. Please provide input on these topics or any others you may see/come up with.

1. floor to ceiling caging along the south exposure (face)
2. baby condo, and insect storage/grow-out along north wall (back)
3. heater placement
4. ground substrate, i.e. gravel, dirt, etc.
5. uses for the available overhead space

In general just give me some feed back on how you would go about handling these issues. I would also like to hear from people with construction experience, while I have plenty I am always looking for a second set of eyes to see things I missed. Anything else that comes to light.



For reference the bottom two vents open to allow cool air in and the top ridge vents open to allow hot air out creating a chimney effect. When the exhaust fans kick in these vents will close and a louvered vent at the opposite end of the greenhouse opens. It will be fitted with a 6" evaporative cooling pad. I am not 100% on the glazing material at this time. I am considering 8-mm twin-wall clear poly panels, 6mill poly "fabric", and a lexan based sheet designed for zoos that allows 100% transmission of UVB & UVA and is warranted 10 years against yellowing. While the cost of the zoo panels is the priciest of the three options, the cost of engineering the 8-mm panels to come off, or the 6mil to roll up (and having to replace it every 2 years), makes it a cost effective item, especially considering that the chams would get UVB 365 days a year rather than just when the weather was good enough to "open" the south exposure. All wall cavities will be filled with 4" foam insulation panels. Anyway thanks for the feedback.
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all i can say is thats gonna take u a year. wow.

but when its done it should be awsome.
First off great looking plans. It will be awhile but I can not wait to see this.

Well one thing I could think of that may help would be to do an underground barrier with insulation maybe 12" down. Ground temperatures are pretty stable once you go down several inches. If you have ever been in a cave it is in the 50's year round. Something like this could help to stop unwanted transfer of hot and cold top soil temperature. Someone with more education would be more helpfull. Not really sure if the benifits would warrant the extra cost or not.
I am already a step towards you. My intention is to run a two course cinder block foundation (~16" deep), this will be filled with large grade gravel rock to create a heat sink. I am tempted to build dirt beds atop the gravel well but have not decided. I may end up leaving the gravel bare for quick drainage and clean up via spray down with water hose. That is the next step to add to the plans, along with fan and vent placement.
Hi Zerah,

You might want to re-think about the gravel use for spray down. Any type of fecal matter or cysts of any parasites that may come in contact will sink between the gravel and it will be difficult to disinfect, reduce mold, bacteria, and smell. I too, had considered this option and I was thankful I did not. Instead I put in a slanted tiled flooring with an open drain at the low end of the slant to spray the water outside of the structure. This eliminated any unwanted matter in the gravel. I am able to thoroughly disinfect the flooring with a diluted bleach solution, as well as periodically hose down the flooring to keep it clean. It was a bit more money, but I have found it well worth the cost. You can purchase tile on sale fairly cheaply at home depot.

Also, make sure you treat the area for ants. I sprinkled ant killer under the foundation and around the outside of the greenhouse to prevent ants from entering the structure.

Your plans look fantastic! I can't wait to see it...
I guess it will really depend on how some of the other design works out but with some of the over head space you could set up a clone area for the plants. Ability to replinish your stalk would be great. I do not think your chameleon fascination is going away any time soon. The excess plants would help the humidity. Locally in my area alot of the chain stores (walmart..etc.) will buy these off local growers and greenhouses. Since it would not really be a substainal amount of money in or out each year you maybe able to claim it as a hobby on your taxes and write some of the stuff off. Perhaps that is to much but cloning some plants would be cool.
Thanks Jenna.
this is where my debate has been. I have thought about the problems disinfecting. However in order for the solar greenhouse effect to work I need a heat sink that will absorb heat during the day and then radiate it back during the night to help keep heating cost down. One option I have considered is to lay a brick paver floor on top of my gravel well. Pouring concrete as a slab on top may be an option but if I was to do that I would skip the tile and just slope and drain the concrete pour. The structure will be only 25' from my home so I do not know how much water I can "drain" into the yard before I need to put in a french drain of some kind to move water out of my back yard. The gravel well would slowly leach water into the yard and not cause as many drainage issue. Being that most tile and grout is porous to some extent I would think I could disinfect the gravel with bleach in the same manner as the concrete or tile. Hmm this issue will need some more thought, thanks!

Updated sketch to include gravel well, exhaust fan, & exhaust vent.

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