What is a Passive Solar Greenhouse?

Sara Pegarella

A passive solar greenhouse is a more cost-effective and energy-efficient rendition of the regular greenhouse. While most greenhouses use natural energy from the sun as their main source of heating, a passive solar greenhouse does not use any sort of artificial heating sources to supplement this solar energy at night or on cloudy days. Instead, a passive solar greenhouse relies solely on heat generated by the sun and heat-storing objects to maintain a consistent temperature within the greenhouse.

Passive solar greenhouses rely on heat and light from the sun, while traditional greenhouses rely also on gas, propane or electric heating systems.
Passive solar greenhouses rely on heat and light from the sun, while traditional greenhouses rely also on gas, propane or electric heating systems.

A regular greenhouse uses solar power and an artificial heat source such as propane to maintain heated temperatures on non-sunny days and at night. Instead of this artificial heat supplement, a passive solar greenhouse uses solar energy to heat the building during the day and heat-storing objects placed within the greenhouse to continue to emit leftover heat throughout the night. Heat-storing and heat-emitting objects that will store heat during the day and keep the greenhouse warm at night include objects such as large barrels of water, areas of concrete, and large bales of hay.

A passive solar greenhouse is much more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly than a traditional greenhouse.
A passive solar greenhouse is much more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly than a traditional greenhouse.

A passive solar greenhouse is much more cost-effective and environmentally friendly than a regular greenhouse. For the person running the greenhouse, no heating fuels such as propane tanks or electricity need to be purchased. Not only does this save money, but it creates less waste and less material requirements for operating and maintaining the greenhouse. One common problem with passive solar greenhouses is that they tend to overheat, especially in the warmest summer months. This problem can be remedied by installing a fan and ventilation system or by making some sort of removable wall or panel in the greenhouse that can be used to regulate temperatures during the hottest hours of the day.

Passive solar greenhouses are mostly used by small-scale growers. They use them to grow produce or plants for their own personal use or for supplying a small store or marketplace. These greenhouses can be very beneficial to people who live in rural areas with poor soil or very cold temperatures.

There are a number of sources available for finding passive solar greenhouse plans and blueprints describing the architecture, requirements, and building techniques for these greenhouses. The construction of these greenhouses is not overly expensive, nor overly complicated, and can easily be completed by a basic team of builders. Those people not interested in building one themselves can also find places to buy them. The efficient and economical nature of passive solar greenhouses has increased their popularity, and they are becoming more widely used by personal growers all over the world.

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