Building a greenhouse is one of the biggest investments you will probably take upon yourself as a hydroponics grower.
The mere fact that you want a dedicated structure for your hydroponics system means you will be create a space that is more or less permanent, with its own power system, alarm system and the works.
Designing a greenhouse isn’t that difficult, but it requires certain parameters in order to work properly.
We will be taking care of these parameters in this article.
1. The first thing that you have to keep in mind when designing a greenhouse is to check the frost line in your locality.
What is the average frost line? The average frost line will be the basis or reference for insulation of the greenhouse.
Generally speaking, the more insulation you have in the greenhouse, the better, especially if you live in a temperate country.
One side of your greenhouse, the one that doesn’t receive as much sunlight as the rest of the sides of the structure, should be insulated fully.
Since it won’t be receiving sunlight that much, it would be better off as a full wall of insulating material, helping retain the temperature of the greenhouse.
2. What about the material of your greenhouse? Should you be using glass for the construction of your greenhouse instead of plastic?
The answer is: it depends on your budget and what your general thrust is when it comes to projects like this.
We’d like to recommend that you use salvaged or surplus materials instead of brand new materials to cut down on costs and second, to help the environment.
There are many ways to go about the construction route of a greenhouse.
Some people opt for a full glass construction, because glass has been traditionally used for walls, doors and even ceilings.
Certain grades of glass are thicker and heavier, which make them appropriate for the construction of certain structures.
Yes, some of them do crack eventually due to heavy rains and winds, or even by acts of man, but the risk of this happening is low unless you live in a locale where tropical cyclones are exceedingly common.
What about plastic or panes made of polymers and other plastic-derived materials?
These can also be used for greenhouses and we recommend that you use salvaged or recycled plastic so you can help reduce the plastic being routed to sanitary landfills or incinerators.
Every bit helps when you’re working to save the planet.
3. Let’s talk about power supply. Greenhouses made specifically for hydroponics or aquaponics systems need a steady power supply.
But not just that – the power supply needs to be constant, it needs to be fixed, too. Start thinking of how to establish a fixed line of power to your greenhouse.
The second phase is establishing a back-up power supply for all your hydroponics-related equipment.
This is where generators come in to the picture.
Generators are the easiest way to get back-up power.
Simply fill the machine with gasoline or diesel, and you’re ready to go.
Now if you want a power scheme that will save you money in the long term, then we suggest that you establish a hybrid solar setup for your greenhouse.
A hybrid solar setup is so named because it combined conventional solar panels with batteries.
The batteries are then connected to a power inverter that converts DC power to AC power.
AC power is what hydroponic equipment need, unless of course your equipment are also hybrid and can utilize both DC and AC power as needed.
4. Plumbing and drainage are also of utmost importance to greenhouses.
There has to be a way to drain water from your greenhouse.
Now we’re not just talking about draining from the nutrient reservoir itself. When there is water on the greenhouse floor, how are you going to drain that?
The flooring design of the greenhouse has to be well thought out like this.
Otherwise, in the event that there are leaks inside the greenhouse, you may be left with an extremely soggy greenhouse with no way to remove the water easily.
As for plumbing, you definitely need to tap the greenhouse with its own water source, because a hydroponics system obviously requires frequent topping up water as the plants absorb water and heat evaporates the same from the nutrient reservoir.
5. And finally, we have lighting. Lighting isn’t really part of a conventional greenhouse, but since you will be creating one for the purpose of supporting plants and possibly fish (if your setup is aquaponic instead of conventional hydroponic) then additional lighting may be necessary.
Supplementary lighting is often indicated for hydroponic systems that are not exposed to sufficient natural lighting.
Yes, systems that are already outside still need additional help in terms of lighting.
The good news here is that you have plenty of choices when it comes to artificial lighting.
Before, hydroponics growers were more or less stuck with using HID lights that were pricier and also cost more in terms of the amount of energy they actually require to run.
Energy costing becomes more palpable when you move your hydroponics system indoors and you need to run your lighting system continuously for many, many hours.
What should you be looking for in artificial lighting? Two things: how it’s going to be installed and second, lighting type.
It’s all about height and angle when you’re working with artificial lighting.
Generally speaking the effective area of light increases when you elevate it, but its intensity decreases as you take it farther away from the target area.
Second is the lighting type. There are now LED grow lights that are meant specifically for hydroponics setups.
These grow lights utilize low power but are able to amplify light intensity by using multiple-LED setups. You should definitely use low-power, high-output LED setups for your greenhouse.
This way, you will get great results, minus the exorbitant fees associated with conventional plant lighting (e.g. HID lighting).