How Greenhouses Work

For a lot of folks, greenhouses are miracles of nature, enabling dramatic and constant plant growth in a controlled internal environment when outdoor temperatures don’t even approach minimal problems. The science of the way these structures produce heat and promote plant growth is not a puzzle, and greenhouses showcase some basic procedures that explain how solar heating and plant development operate.

Solar Energy

Passage of the sunlight’s warmth through steel or glass panels is vital to greenhouse operation. Most wavelengths of solar radiation, except long, thermal infrared waves, pass through the transparent panes, and convert in solar radiation into heat. Everything in greenhouses, including soil and plants, absorbs radiation, contributing to heat production. Growing plants and other things inside the greenhouse convert solar radiation to longer wavelengths that cannot escape through the transparent panes, thereby heat the greenhouse even farther. Since hot air is trapped, temperatures keep rising throughout the afternoon, also causing water to evaporate and creating high humidity that aids plant growth.


Place the Ground in the south or southwest side of a structure in order that it receives the best quantity of sunlight during the afternoon. Many hours of sunlight are essential for optimizing the conversion of solar energy to thermal energy. Do not put a greenhouse in a shady place or adjacent to constructions that will block sunlight for the majority of the day.

Heat and heat

When air begins to cool at night, water vapor condenses inside the greenhouse roof and walls. Well-constructed greenhouses have vents or fans to pull out excess moisture and heat in the interior. Fans also keep temperature even by circulating air, moving hot air upward towards roof vents and mixing it with cooler air that remains near the surface. Daytime heating might not be enough, nevertheless, during winter months when outside temperatures are low. At these times, greenhouses need heaters at night to maintain sufficient warmth.

Thermal Mass

All greenhouse components, including hardwood, water, dirt, bricks and flooring, absorb and release warmth to another extent. Metals like iron and aluminum heat up and lose heat fast, but wood, water and soil absorb and release heat slowly. Because of these different prices, greenhouse design is important in achieving optimal plant growth. Efficient design is particularly important at night when the thermal mass, or saved heat, dissipates. Components that absorb and release heat slowly are vital for maintaining continuous temperature at night.

Managing Moisture

Although greenhouse plants possess some moisture during water vapor, the water present in ambient atmosphere is insufficient to maintain a correct greenhouse atmosphere. Larger greenhouses have automatic watering systems to maintain soil moisture. Homeowners can either install an automatic system or water manually.

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