Best Methods for Heating Small Greenhouses
Small greenhouses are a great way to extend the growing season and protect your plants from the elements, but keeping them warm during the colder months can be a challenge. There are several methods for heating a small greenhouse, each with its own pros and cons.
Some common options include using a greenhouse heater, installing grow lights, utilizing thermal mass, and maximizing solar gain. The best method for heating your small greenhouse will depend on factors such as your budget, the size of your greenhouse, and the type of plants you are growing.
Recommended Heaters for Small Greenhouses
There are several types of heaters that can be used in small greenhouses, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. Here are some of the most common options:
- Propane heaters: These are a popular choice because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. However, they do require a source of propane and proper ventilation to prevent the buildup of harmful gases.
- Electric heaters: These are another budget-friendly option, but they can be expensive to run if you are using them regularly.
- Wood-burning stoves: These can provide a more natural and eco-friendly source of heat, but they require a source of wood and need to be properly maintained to prevent fires.
- Solar heaters: These use the sun’s energy to heat the greenhouse and are a more sustainable option, but they may not provide enough heat on their own during very cold weather.
Paraffin Heaters aka Kerosene heaters
Paraffin heaters, also known as kerosene heaters, are a type of portable heater that burns kerosene fuel to generate heat. They are a popular choice for small greenhouses because they are relatively inexpensive and easy to use. However, they do have some drawbacks to consider:
- Emissions: Paraffin heaters produce emissions that can be harmful to plants and humans if not used and vented properly.
- Fuel storage: Kerosene is a flammable fuel, so it must be stored and handled with caution.
- Odor: Some people find the smell of burning kerosene to be unpleasant.
- Maintenance: Paraffin heaters require regular maintenance, such as replacing the wick and cleaning the burner, to keep them running efficiently.
- Safety: Like any heating source, paraffin heaters have the potential to cause fires if not used properly.
Overall, paraffin heaters can be a useful option for heating a small greenhouse, but it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and take proper safety precautions.
Insulating a small greenhouse can help to maintain a consistent temperature and reduce the amount of heat needed to keep the space warm. Some common options for insulating a small greenhouse include:
- Bubble wrap: This is a cheap and easy option that can be attached to the inside of the greenhouse windows with clips or tape.
- Plastic sheeting: Heavy-duty plastic sheeting can be used to cover the windows and walls of the greenhouse to create a barrier against the cold.
- Insulating blankets: These blankets, made of materials such as fiberglass or foam, can be used to cover the windows or walls of the greenhouse to provide additional insulation.
- Sprayed foam insulation: This option can be more expensive, but it provides a more durable and long-lasting solution.
It’s important to note that proper ventilation is still important in an insulated greenhouse to prevent the buildup of excess moisture and to allow for proper air circulation.
Cost of Heating a Small Greenhouse
The cost of heating a small greenhouse can vary significantly depending on factors such as the size of the greenhouse, the type of heating system used, and the local climate. Here are a few general estimates for the cost of heating a small greenhouse:
- Propane heaters: These can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the size and features of the heater. The cost of propane fuel will also vary depending on market prices and how much you use.
- Electric heaters: These can cost anywhere from $50 to $300 or more, depending on the size and features of the heater. The cost to run an electric heater will depend on your local electricity rates and how often you use it.
- Wood-burning stoves: These can cost anywhere from $500 to $1,000 or more, depending on the size and features of the stove. The cost of wood will also vary depending on local prices and how much you use.
- Solar heaters: These can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 or more, depending on the size and features of the heater. The cost to run a solar heater will depend on the efficiency of the system and how much sunlight it receives.
It’s worth noting that these estimates are just rough estimates and the actual cost of heating a small greenhouse will depend on a variety of factors. It’s always a good idea to do some research and compare costs before making a decision.
Heat Lamps and Heat Mats in the Greenhouse
Heat lamps and heat mats are two options that can be used to provide additional heat in a small greenhouse. Here’s a brief overview of how these options work:
Heat lamps: Heat lamps are a type of infrared heating element that provides heat through radiation. They can be hung from the ceiling of the greenhouse or placed on a stand and are often used to provide heat for seedlings or plants that need a little extra warmth. However, heat lamps can be energy-intensive and may not be suitable for heating a large greenhouse.
Heat mats: Heat mats are flat, electrically-heated pads that can be placed under seedlings or plants to provide a consistent source of warmth. They are often used to help stimulate germination and growth, and can be especially useful in a small greenhouse where space is limited. Heat mats are typically more energy-efficient than heat lamps and can be used to supplement other heating systems.
It’s important to note that both heat lamps and heat mats should be used with caution, as they can be a fire hazard if not used properly. It’s also important to provide proper ventilation in the greenhouse to prevent the buildup of excess heat and moisture.
In conclusion, there are several options for heating a small greenhouse, including using a greenhouse heater, installing grow lights, utilizing thermal mass, and maximizing solar gain. The best method for heating your small greenhouse will depend on factors such as your budget, the size of your greenhouse, and the type of plants you are growing.
It’s important to carefully consider the pros and cons of each option and to take proper safety precautions when using any heating source. Insulating your greenhouse can also help to maintain a consistent temperature and reduce the amount of heat needed to keep the space warm.
With careful planning and the right heating system, you can successfully keep your small greenhouse warm and comfortable for your plants throughout the year.