Choosing Greenhouse Heating Systems: FAQ

What factors should I consider when choosing a greenhouse heating system?

Greenhouse heating systems are a significant investment. Not only can the equipment be costly, but getting the wrong equipment could also cost the success of your crops. Greenhouse heating requirements will vary based on a multitude of factors. The local climate is one of the most critical factors to consider if you plan on growing crops year-round in your greenhouse. If your greenhouse is operating year-round in a climate that experiences several days or nights below the plant freezing temperature of 32-33°F, you will definitely need to heat your greenhouse. The more frequent and long-lasting these low temperatures are, the more you will need to invest in a greenhouse heating system.

Quick Tips on Greenhouse Heat System Considerations

  • Greenhouse Orientation, Shape, and Design
  • Greenhouse Shape
  • Greenhouse Glazing
  • Type of Crop and Growth Needs
  • Location and Climate
  • Current Trends and Technology

Greenhouse Heating FAQ With Jerad Lauzier

Your greenhouse design and maintenance will have effects on heating needs that you will have to consider. However, there are many other factors too! Hortitech's Senior Grow Expert Jerad Lauzier points out some great factors to consider when it comes to greenhouse heating.

What am I growing?

One of the first steps in planning is realizing the natural expectations of the strain you are growing. Each variety comes from different areas of the world and has different environmental defense mechanisms built into its DNA. For example, growing a native tropical variety in northern New England will require a very different set of climate controls than a variety which flowers fast and is used to cold nights.

How long does my crop take to mature?

Most genetics reach maturity after eight or nine weeks from the first day of flowering. To find local data on when that day happens each year follow this link and enter the city closest to you: Sunrise/Sunset Calculator. From there, go to the end of August and observe the point at which the days become close to twelve hours of day and night equally. Some genetics will wait until this day, others will trigger a couple of weeks earlier. Speaking with the original breeder or a friend who supplied the genetics will give great first-hand experience.

What plant hardiness zone am I located in?

"Hardiness zone" refers to the average annual extreme minimum temperature for a geographic location. The USDA has a map that is color-coded and is very easy to pinpoint your location. USDA Hardiness Map This data is more important for growers who are planning year-round cultivation facilities or planting many other types of perennial plants on their property. 

What are the average nighttime temperatures in each month of growing?

Researching local climate data can give you tons of insight as to what you may expect to see during your growing season. Be sure to also observe the number of sunny days specifically towards the end of the season to determine if supplemental lighting is necessary.

How long will I be growing in the greenhouses?

This is actually a two-part question. First how many months out of the year will you be growing in the greenhouses? Second, how many years will you be at the location?

If you are planning a licensed cultivation facility that operates as a business, you may be keen to spend more upfront for long-term energy and cost savings. If you are not planning on being at the location for over 5 years, the extra upfront costs may not pencil out.

What are other people in my area doing to have successful crops?

Nothing beats first-hand observation and experience! Reaching out to successful local farmers can save tons of time, money, and frustration.

Types of Greenhouse Heating Systems

There are many types of greenhouse heating systems to consider and each of these will have some pro's and con's to be aware of:

  • Forced Air (Propane)
  • Under-Bench Heaters
  • Radiant Heated Floors
  • Electric Heaters

Commercial greenhouse heating systems will need to rely more on larger types of greenhouse heating systems like radiant heated greenhouse floors or forced air. Small greenhouse heating systems like under-bench heaters and electric heaters may be better options for greenhouses that need some heat but do not plan on growing through cold winter months. You will also want to pay attention to steps that you can take to make sure that your greenhouse heating system is efficient and conserves energy.

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