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Hello everyone, I live on the plains in NE Colorado and have recently decided to construct a large greenhouse (30' x 168') to start my dream of becoming an aquaponic farmer. Where I live, in the winter it can get down to -15F and in the summer above 100F. I was wondering if anyone had any ideas on how to cost effectively heat and cool the greenhouse the least amount of fossil fuels as possible. Thanks!

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Vlad Jovanovic said:

I, like Jonathan, believe that a good design will go a looong way in helping you achieve your heating/cooling goals...Heating with compost is great, but it's a fuck of a lot of work. Having an endless supply of free labor (like Growing Power) certainly helps. Still, a good idea in a particular set and setting. 

http://www.colorado.gov/cs/Satellite?blobcol=urldata&blobheader...

 

The article you have a link to is great info. Because I am in Colorado I will have to go see this one. I am sure they will charge an arm and a leg to help build this for you but I would like to look at the insulated windows for my self. If that under the ground system is really working like they said then it has to be the way to go to get some heat in there in the winter. It is February now so gowing to see it now will be great to see.

The other idea I just had was using the soapbubble concept but instead of soap use something like plastic balls in a 12" cavity. I wonder if that would work giving you a big R value and stop the heat from going out at night. I would have to invent a vacuum setup to fill and un-fill the cavity but I could do it on a small scale setup and test it and see what the temps are in a 4x4 test greenhouse.

I am planning on adding a Rocket Mass Heater (uses minimal wood and heats like crazy!) to my green house for those nights when wisconsin winter temps dip. Look into it, it's cool to learn about even if you don't actually use it :)

I do not think a rocket mass heater will work for such a large greenhouse. He is talking about a 30x168 space.  You would need several of these and you would be feeding it constantly. The rocket mass heater is best used for small greenhouses maybe. I know Rob T has made a cool pellet feeding attachment to his and maybe then you could use it easier on a greenhouse without having to be there to feed it wood constantly.

I would rather see you break up the greenhouse into 2 30x90 greenhouses. That might be easier to do.

I saw a Utube video just recently from a guy named Bobby who is called MPHGARDENER and I think his is 21 or 22 x 80. He is in Virginia and uses a double barrel wood stove to heat his and grows tomatoes all winter. I think he has to maybe go out and start it at dusk and then before he goes to bed he might load more wood into it. He said he keeps it at 60 all night long. He has it on a direct blower that comes on and off as needed to keep the 60 degrees in there.  This will work as long as it is real tight.

I wish there was a better and cheaper pellet boiler made. I would rather not have to think about going out there at all. Especially if I want 2 or 3 greenhouses.

If you do not have an automated way of adding more wood you have to tend the fire, just like you do in the house. If you are out during the daytime working in the greenhouse and have rocket mass heater that is not automated you would be heating the greenhouse while you are out there and if the sun came out like it does in Colorado it would be over 120 degrees inside. On a cloudy day here it is 55 and when the sun comes out my 2 36" fans come on just to keep it at 80.

We need the heat at night mostly that is why we need something automated but inexpensive.

Matt did you ever take the plunge on the pellet stoves or gasification stove?

Coleman Aquaponics said:

Hey Brent, 

You should look into Wood Gasifiers and Pellet Stoves. I am in the process of setting up three greenhouses each one about 30'x100'. There is a Pellet Stove made by "WiseWay" it's about $1400 but it has no moving parts and can not only heat the greenhouse but heat your water with add on pipes they offer etc. Look into them, I haven't taken the plunge yet but it looks work a little peaky peak. One bag of pellets cost about 4 bucks and will last you a night or two. Good luck!

Matt

Not sure if the original poster is still watching this thread, but we live in Northern Vermont, with average winter temps around 5 - 10 degrees, and lows of  -30 to -40 at night.  Here are some concepts that I am looking at for heating and cooling:

- Biomeiler (compost furnace) from German design.

- SCHS - subterranean cooling and heating system

- use of an advanced skin - Polydress Keder

- still looking into the possibility of using LFI - liquid foam insulation - aka soap bubbles that are blown in at night and    drained in the morning.

- a solar collector to heat water and pipe it down into the gravel floor, or exchange it into the fish water.

- lastly, piping my outdoor wood boiler into the greenhouse, or putting a pellet stove right into the greenhouse

- Rocket Mass Heater, with a heat exchanger to add heat to the fish tank.

Scott LeFoll

The Farm ARound the Corner

Maidstone VT

Brent.

I live not to very far from ya....Okie panhandle here this is our first year with a green house and have not went through a winter. we are also looking to run year round and I came across this design on you tube. recycled soda can solar heaters there are a ton of videos out there on how to build them. I was thinking of building one and using something to store the heat such as a pile of stone for example....for lack of a better idea at the moment. it is not a total fix but every bit of free or nearly free heat helps out here on the prairie.

I just linked this video I do not, recommend or not recommend how he is doing it......just a idea

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpG5sIm7AWE

i have a 20 by 50 green house and was going to build 3 and see how it works

Grant, look at the Univerisity of Missouri "passive solar" green house.  It is about the same size as what you are making.  They claim to heat it with 20 55 gal barrell of water, that have never frozen.  They have had it for several years also.

 

Good luck

 

This may be unrealistic but it's a cool idea. My dad and I put in a 300 ft long 2 ft wide pipe under our horse pasture to control run off. The pipe drops 40ft in elevation. In the heat of summer at the bottom of the pipe a lot of really cool air comes blasting out of this pipe. Air goes in cools off. Sinks then pulling more air in too cool off.Geothermal ventilation. A free AC and fan pretty cool. But holy crap was that some back breaking work putting that pipe in.

We just held a Biomeiler construction workshop on our farm, with Heiner Cuhls from Hanover, Germany as instructor.  We had good turnout (25 people), and over two days constructed a large compost furnace.  We will be piping this into our new seed starting greenhouse.

The Biomeiler is 18 feet in diameter, 12 feet high and contains 40 yards of wood chips (60%), sawdust (30%) and manure (10%).  The water in the 1,000 feet of 1" heat exchange pipes that run throughout it will heat to 130 F and stay there for 12 months continuously, and then be piped to the greenhouse.  Its heat output is the equivalent of about 1,000 gallons of heating oil or propane ($3,500 - $4,000) for a 6 month heating season, and it also produces about 30 yards of nicely finished, very high quality compost at the end of the year (@ $1,000).  The unit cost about $800 to construct, and most of those costs are for hardware (piping, fittings, etc...) which will be reused for following years.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.450057481774774.107374182...

Very cool Scott.  After poking around for a bit I found this talk.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jRAWKSst72Y&feature=share&li...

I am amazed that this technology, like aquaponics has been hiding in the background for 40 years. I was also stunned to learn about the humus (the byproduct of the composting) and that it gives plants the ability to make their own water!

Let us know how your Biomeiler preforms.

Hey Scott, 

Really was impressed after hearing about the Biomeiler. You mentioned it would cost around 800 bucks or so. 

My name is Matt, I'm in the process of buying some land in Lynchburg Virginia to set up a large Aquaponic Farm. Would love to talk to you about the set up and results. Have a great day.

Matt

Scott LeFoll said:

We just held a Biomeiler construction workshop on our farm, with Heiner Cuhls from Hanover, Germany as instructor.  We had good turnout (25 people), and over two days constructed a large compost furnace.  We will be piping this into our new seed starting greenhouse.

The Biomeiler is 18 feet in diameter, 12 feet high and contains 40 yards of wood chips (60%), sawdust (30%) and manure (10%).  The water in the 1,000 feet of 1" heat exchange pipes that run throughout it will heat to 130 F and stay there for 12 months continuously, and then be piped to the greenhouse.  Its heat output is the equivalent of about 1,000 gallons of heating oil or propane ($3,500 - $4,000) for a 6 month heating season, and it also produces about 30 yards of nicely finished, very high quality compost at the end of the year (@ $1,000).  The unit cost about $800 to construct, and most of those costs are for hardware (piping, fittings, etc...) which will be reused for following years.

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.450057481774774.107374182...

Thank you to everyone for your input, there are definitely a few of these ideas that I am looking into.

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