Comparison of Greenhouse Frame Types

Choosing a greenhouse frame depends largely on your geographic location. Other factors like growing methodology, plant count limits, and strain type can influence what interior volume your plants will require. Every greenhouse frame type has merits. Below are the pros and cons of each frame type and will help you determine what will work best for your business.

Overview of Greenhouse Frame Types

  • Gothic: Overall strongest structural strength, highest wind load capacity, highest snow load capacity, gutter connect options
  • Quonset: Approximately 13ft tall, great beginner greenhouse, economical (low material use), quick assembly
  • Semi-Gabled: Largest interior volume per sq foot, most usable grow space, highest peak height, good ease of access
  • Freestanding vs Gutter Connected Greenhouses: In addition to individual frame types, some large commercial cultivators are interested in connecting multiple greenhouses to create a very large greenhouse complex

Gothic Frame Advantages

  • Best light transmission
  • Best shape for snow load
  • Second best at withstanding strong winds
  • Can eliminate the need for structural trusses
  • Most overhead space with straight sidewalls
  • Best aesthetics because of graceful bows
  • Most durable due to the roll-off of rain, snow, and debris on steep pitch
  • Shape helps safeguard greenhouse plastic for above reason
  • Good ease of access due to straight sidewalls

Gothic Frame Disadvantages

  • Most costly to build due to complex bow shape
  • Most expensive to heat due to greatest air volume
  • Most air volume to displace requiring higher CFM exhaust fans
  • Most expensive to ship due to awkward shape
  • Tied for tallest structure and is not as discrete as some frames
  • Worst shape for "pulling tarps" ie manual light dep due to height and pointy peak

Semi-Gable Advantages

  • Second largest interior volume
  • Tied for most usable grow space with gothic w/sidewalls
  • Second highest peak height
  • Good ease of access due to straight sidewalls
  • Least expensive to ship
  • Least labor-intensive to manufacture

Semi-Gable Disadvantages

  • Not as sturdy as Gothic and Quonset frame types
  • Tied with gothic for least discrete structure due to peak height
  • Second most expensive to heat due to air volume
  • Second most air volume to displace requiring higher CFM exhaust fans

Quonset "Hoop House" Advantages

  • Lowest peak height making this structure the most discrete
  • Easiest to "pull tarps" over ie manual light dep due to peak height and curved shape
  • Best shape for withstanding high wind conditions
  • Second best frame type for snow load due to the curved shape
  • Uses the least steel in manufacturing which lowers costs
  • Easiest frame to build yourself
  • Or Least expensive to have built for you

Quonset "Hoop House" Disadvantages

  • Challenging to work in due to low peak height and no sidewalls
  • Can cramp plants vertically at the edges and be a poor fit for some strains
  • The most awkward and therefore expensive to ship due to length of bows
  • Poor snow shed capability due to shape

Quonset with Sidewalls Advantages

  • Discrete low peak height due to having flatter curved bows
  • Much better working ergonomics than a hoop house due to sidewalls
  • Uses less steel than most other frame types which saves on costs

Quonset with Sidewalls Disadvantages

  • Due to having less slope this frame type can't handle high snow loads
  • Cannot accommodate v-trusses for increased structural strength
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