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Can You Heat a Hoophouse? 5 Best Ways

Updated: Mar 11

Growing plants in a hoophouse is a great way to extend your growing season and protect your plants from harsh weather conditions. However, with colder temperatures approaching, many gardeners may wonder how to keep their hoophouse plants warm and thriving. In this blog, we will discuss the five best ways to heat your hoophouse to ensure you get the most out of every growing season.

What is a Hoophouse?

A hoophouse, also known as a polytunnel, is a simple structure made from a series of large hoops covered in clear plastic, creating a tunnel-like greenhouse. It's designed to trap heat and moisture, creating a microclimate that supports plant growth even in less-than-ideal weather conditions. Unlike traditional greenhouses, hoophouses are usually unheated by default and rely on passive solar energy to warm the space – making them an efficient and cost-effective option for extending the growing season. They protect plants from extreme weather, pests, and diseases, while also allowing for the cultivation of a wider variety of plants, including those not typically suited to the local climate. By maintaining a more consistent environment, hoophouses give gardeners the ability to produce higher yields and healthier plants throughout the year.

5 Best Heating Methods

Electric Heater

An electric heater is one efficient way to maintain warmth in a hoophouse during colder months. These heaters can be easily installed and set to operate only when temperatures drop below a certain point, making them energy-efficient. However, it's important to select a heater suitable for the size of your hoophouse and to ensure proper ventilation to prevent any plant damage. The initial investment and running costs are factors to consider, but for many, the benefits outweigh the expenses, ensuring a thriving garden year-round.

Solar Heating

Solar heating leverages the natural energy from the sun, making it an eco-friendly option for hoophouse warming. Systems can range from passive solar heat, such as using water barrels painted black to absorb and slowly release heat, to more sophisticated active solar heating systems involving solar panels. These methods not only reduce dependency on non-renewable energy sources but also minimize operational costs over time. While the initial setup may require a higher investment, the long-term savings and environmental benefits provide a compelling advantage. Adapting to solar heating encourages sustainable gardening practices and contributes to a healthier planet.

Water Barrels

Water can retain four times more heat compared to air. Utilizing water as a heat reservoir is a cost-effective way to warm your greenhouse. The water serves as a reservoir, storing thermal energy and gradually releasing it. The greater the water volume, the more heat energy it stores and emits. Using drums as effective heat reservoirs can also serve as table corner supports and offer extra warmth to nearby areas, benefiting delicate crops placed close by. Consider painting the drums black for optimal heat absorption. While this approach won't support tropical plants in colder regions, it can minimize nighttime temperature loss without breaking the bank.

Heating With Wood

Wood, a renewable resource, can be a budget-friendly solution for warmth when harvested sustainably. Prior to installation, seal any openings to avoid heat loss and research safe wood stove practices to prevent accidents. Take precautions with the exhaust pipe to prevent damage to plastic materials by using heat-resistant covers. Efficient wood stoves, paired with thermal mass storage, can effectively heat your crops through the night.

Compost Hot Bed

Small hoop houses can benefit from compost by placing a compost bin inside or using a hot bed technique under raised beds. Dig a pit at least 2 feet deep by 4 feet wide, ideal for compost action. Fill it with a mix of animal manure and bedding/straw for a hot base. Wet it down, let it sit for a few days with turns, cover it with removed soil, and plant seedlings once the pile heats up.

Roberts Ranch Hoophouses is Your Go-To For All Your Hoophouse Needs

At Roberts Ranch Hoophouses, we understand that each gardener's needs are as unique as their plants. Whether you're looking to implement one of these heating methods in your hoophouse or searching for more tailored solutions to optimize your growing season, we're here to help. Our team is dedicated to providing you with the best products, advice, and support to ensure your garden thrives all year round. Don't let the cold weather put a freeze on your gardening goals. Contact us today to explore the best heating options for your hoophouse and take the first step towards a more productive and efficient garden. Happy gardening!



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