Greenhouses forum: Solar Covering Over Our Greenhouses

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Name: Karen
Fort Worth, TX (Zone 7b)
Plays in the sandbox Plumerias Aroids Enjoys or suffers hot summers Garden Ideas: Level 1
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Cocobid
Feb 3, 2014 6:08 PM CST
I just joined. Ken sent me over from our founders other forum DG. Seems like a very nice friendly home.

He asked that I speak a little about Solar Covers. So here goes. But first let me give you a little background into what I am using it over. I built my 1st GH in '74 I was a young laddie of course Dad jumped and we did it right!!
Fast forward today have had many GH's and currently have 2, one permanent & 1 temp.

The temp house I will be referencing regarding solar applications. The temp is on a metal frame and covered in Marine grade Shrink Wrap LOVE LOVE this material we can chat on SW later. Our temp is air tight and SQ is clear & has UV protection built it. We live in N.Texas and our temp swings are extreme. 85 one day 15 the next. Can make for a night mare with GH management. I stumbled upon Solar Covers purely by accident. Was initially looking for insulation. Well we got that and so much more. SC are sturdy, 16ml individual cells that are the difficult to pop even when you try, sandwiched between to gutsy pieces of clear plastic material. The exterior stays fluid year after year. Similar to SW meaning your cover will not become hard & brittle or difficult to handle. An added benefit we have discovered protection from Hail an ever present danger we flirt with in N.Texas. The largest hail our cover has been through was around golf ball sized....did not phase it. Would most likely have gone right through a standard clear temp cover. Has saved our plants over and again. We installed this ...best guess 2003is??
The Light...Stunning..it crates diffusion of light!! No burning or Hot spots in the house. Some years we are forced due to Hail to leave things in way past normal GH storage times in our part of the country.
What I like when ordering one you can order a size you need!!

We are fortunate to live in a time of very sophisticated technology making our simple GH's space age technology dwellings.

I have to run for now will add to this a little later.
Thank You for the invite Karen Smiling
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Feb 3, 2014 6:12 PM CST

Garden.org Admin

Thank you for sharing, Karen, and Welcome!
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Feb 3, 2014 6:23 PM CST
Thumbs up Welcome!
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Arlene
Grantville, GA (Zone 8a)
Greenhouse Region: Georgia Garden Sages Organic Gardener Beekeeper Vegetable Grower
Seed Starter Cut Flowers Composter Keeper of Poultry Keeps Goats Avid Green Pages Reviewer
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abhege
Feb 3, 2014 6:30 PM CST
I can't wait to hear more, and Welcome!
Name: James
Fabens,TX (Zone 8a)
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Txtea
Feb 3, 2014 7:39 PM CST
Thank You, can't wait for more. Hurray!
Name: Evan
Pioneer Valley south, MA, USA (Zone 6a)
Charter ATP Member Plant Database Moderator Forum moderator Aroids Irises Celebrating Gardening: 2015
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Tropicals Foliage Fan Bulbs Hummingbirder Lover of wildlife (Black bear badge)
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eclayne
Feb 3, 2014 8:36 PM CST

Plants Admin

Hi Karen. Thanks for the article. I'm not a GH grower but I did play around with tenting a few areas this past spring to jump start some tender perennials. The SC sound like they would work a charm. Are you talking about solar pool covers like these @Cocobid?
Evan
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
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drdawg
Feb 3, 2014 9:17 PM CST
I will speak for Karen on this. I bought the material last fall and she bought hers a decade ago. Mine came from "In the Swim" which looks to be the same company as your link to "Solar Covers". If they are not the same company, they have similar if not identical products. I think there will be tons of uses for this solar blanket material - almost anything we can imagine can probably be done with this material. I am waiting to hear about this shrink wrap material. That is something new to me and could possibly be a way to "seal" greenhouses and make them both water-resistant and UV protected.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Karen
Fort Worth, TX (Zone 7b)
Plays in the sandbox Plumerias Aroids Enjoys or suffers hot summers Garden Ideas: Level 1
Image
Cocobid
Feb 3, 2014 9:24 PM CST
Thank You for all the greetings. I have been in bed since 1-2 with something. Several rounds of drugs. Whatever this stuff has been YOU do not want it. I have been back out in life today and simply exhausted. Brain is off.
I'll work on more tomorrow..TY Karen Thumbs up
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 4, 2014 8:09 AM CST
I have a large porch on the back of the house and three years my wife decided to enclose it, making it a screened-in porch. If there is a single mosquito in the neighborhood, it will find her! Therefore, screening it in would allow her to spend some time "out-doors". The following year I decided to have the porch screening covered with removable, clear, marine-vinyl panels. There are three 4.5'x6.5' panels on each side and then one to cover the screening above the double doors. I can put up these panels in November and then take them down and store them when it gets warmer in the spring.

The problem is that these vinyl panels have pretty much no insulation value. The wind is certainly blocked but not the cold. Therefore I run two electric heaters, 1500 W each, to keep the porch above 55 F. My thought is to get some more solar blanket material, and cut it into three pieces. Two would cover the sides (13.5'x6.5') and one would cover the transom above the doors. I would mount the two side panels on windup rollers and screw in the transom panel. With the rollers I could raise the material when the weather is mild and lower it when it is cold. I would stretch aluminum wire across the two side panels to keep the material from flapping in the wind and also to snug it to the vinyl covering. This is what I did with the solar blanket material covering my two GH's. I would probably not cover the two, 3' doors, which are aluminum with double-pane windows.

Just a thought right now but perhaps workable. I hope the cost of the material and rollers will quickly be off-set by reduced electric usage.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Feb 4, 2014 8:12 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

I think this is a great idea. I'm looking at this one:

http://www.solarcovers.com/product/solar-covers/12-ft-x-20-f...

Covering the roof of my harbor freight greenhouse with this would provide a lot of extra insulation and would certainly extend the life of the poly panels.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 4, 2014 8:20 AM CST
Dave, in my opinion, simply covering the roof would not afford much insulation value. You would loose heat and allow in cold on the sides and front and back. There is a lot more square footage on those panels than the roof.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Feb 4, 2014 8:28 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Yes, definitely, you're right. So covering the roof will help with the UV situation and covering the rest of it will be necessary for the maximum insulation value.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 4, 2014 9:23 AM CST
Yep. I don't think you would gain much by simply covering the roof. IF you simply want UV protection, wait and see what Karen says about the shrink wrap, something I have never seen. IF you want insulation, you would have to wrap all of the GH, kind of like I did last fall.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
Image
dave
Feb 4, 2014 9:31 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

I'm wondering what to do with the roof vents, and also how to deal with the doors. You can't just cover the whole greenhouse; you'd need to find some means of cutting up this material for to fit the doors and vents.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 4, 2014 10:15 AM CST
Dave, I explained this in previous posts, but it will be easier for me to cover this again, rather than you having to search for those posts.

The material that I drape over the roof is one piece and that same piece also drapes over two sides. The weight of the material is pretty substantial but won't stay in place with winds. I used light aluminum wire (you could use twine, monofilament, or any thin wire) to hold this large panel of material down. I secured one end of the wire with a screw at the base of one side, pulled it over the roof, down the other side, and secured it with a screw. So both ends are secured with screws at the base of the sides. I did the same every 3-4'. You would then have secured this large panel with 4-5 strands of wire or other tie-down material. The material is flexible enough that roof vent(s) can still be raised. I only have one large roof vent (manual) and it raises quite easily.

I used the same technique to hold down the material going down the sides as well, and used three strands for each side. This is perhaps "over-kill", but I did not want the material to billow up in winds and wanted it close to the polycarbonate. Using the wire was far easier than having to use so many screws along the periphery of the solar blanket material. Also, with the wire, all the material can be quickly removed if I find the need to remove it when the weather is warm. I don't yet know whether that will be necessary or not. I don't think Karen ever removes her's.

For my two sliding doors, I cut out the material to fit each of the two panels. Because of the way the doors slide in, I attached the solar blanket material to the inside of the two doors with the same screws that secures the polycarbonate to the metal frame. Since my double doors face the north, I also cut a large enough piece of the solar material to cover that opening. I then attached Velcro above the door opening, one strap on each side. Now I can roll up the solar blanket during mild weather, securing it with Velcro and can release it to fall over the doors during windy cold weather. I have two pieces of that aluminum wire that crosses near the bottom and about 1/3 up to keep the flap in its place during high winds.

The solar blanket material is very easy to cut, but at 16 mil, it is durable enough to screw down, using washers to increase the surface area between screw and material.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: David Paul
(Zone 9b)
Cat Lover Hibiscus Seed Starter Native Plants and Wildflowers Vegetable Grower Region: Florida
Miniature Gardening Keeper of Poultry Herbs Foliage Fan Farmer Dragonflies
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DavidofDeLand
Feb 4, 2014 10:19 AM CST
I think this shrink wrap concept is genious indeed for creating a serious seal over our smaller greenhouses. It would be easy to use a box cutter just around the top vents in Summer so as to open them. Love this idea and will think of it more. Smiling

By the way;...You are so welcome Cocobid Welcome! Thank you!
[Last edited by DavidofDeLand - Feb 4, 2014 10:21 AM (+)]
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Name: Dave Whitinger
Jacksonville, Texas (Zone 8b)
Charter ATP Member Region: Texas Master Gardener: Texas Permaculture Raises cows I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database!
Garden Ideas: Master Level Beekeeper Garden Sages Avid Green Pages Reviewer Celebrating Gardening: 2015 Plant Identifier
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dave
Feb 4, 2014 10:23 AM CST

Garden.org Admin

Very helpful, Ken, thank you.

Do you have pictures of where you use the wire to screw down the sides?
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 4, 2014 10:26 AM CST
I am sure vents are important, but because I have three fans in each GH and during warm weather can leave the doors wide open, I don't really see much value in my vents being open or closed. That being said, my orchid GH has a total of six vents at the base of the three sides (its a lean-to) and another near the roof on the side away from the door. and they are all louvered, so the solar blanket makes no difference. Air can escape between the polycarbonate and solar blanket material quite easily.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 4, 2014 10:28 AM CST
I drew a diagram several months back for a lady and posted it. Let me see if I can find that diagram.
drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.
Name: Ken Ramsey
Starkville, MS (Zone 8a)
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]
Orchids Greenhouse Vegetable Grower Ferns Region: United States of America Hummingbirder
Composter Bromeliad Master Gardener: Mississippi Cat Lover Tropicals Plumerias
Image
drdawg
Feb 4, 2014 10:46 AM CST
Excuse my "rough" lines. I just marked up a picture I had of one of the GH's. I think you will understand the technique though.
Thumb of 2014-02-04/drdawg/adf016

drdawg (Ken Ramsey) - Tropical Plants & More
[url=www.tropicalplantsandmore.com]www.tropicalplantsandmore.com[/url]
If God wanted me to touch my toes, he would have put them on my knees.

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