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How To Build a Solar Greenhouse For Your Home

One of the most useful solar structures you can build yourself is a solar greenhouse. Solar greenhouses utilize passive solar heating to heat and cool the structure, which can be used to grow plants and vegetables all year round. Listed below are detailed instructions on how to build a small, very simple solar green house.

These plans can be tailored to fit your needs, and the size of the building is up to you. This particular type of greenhouse is called a hoop house or high tunnel, and utilizes PVC pipes and poly fabric sheeting or plastic sheeting to make an extremely simple structure. The end product will resemble a tunnel or a long arched structure.

Step by Step Instructions for Building a Solar Greenhouse

Materials Needed: 

  • 7 - 20 foot ¾ inch PVC pipe
  • 1- 14 foot 2 inch PVC pipe
  • 2- 12 foot 2x4
  • 4- 14 foot 2x4
  • 8- 10 foot 2x4
  • Screws

Step 1- Constructing the End Walls

This particular greenhouse can sit directly on the ground, or you can put a piece of plywood underneath to keep it off the ground, but it doesn’t require a traditional foundation. This makes it much more portable, and some would say temporary, but it doesn’t have to be temporary if you build it well. To build you side walls, you’ll first need to take a piece of twenty foot ¾ inch PVC pipe and bend it to form a half circle. 

solar greenhouseThe total width of this greenhouse is should be around twelve feet, so you’ll need to attach your PVC to a piece of wood twelve foot long to hold it in place. Once your PVC is bent and attached on each end, you’ll want to start building the door frame. The frame should be between three and five feet wide so you can easily pass through it. You’ll want to screw a piece of 2x4 on each side of the door opening. 

You’ll also want to screw another 2x4 across the top of the door opening to hold everything in place and make your door frame. It may also be necessary to add other bracing at angles if your frame isn’t sturdy enough. 

This will make one end of your structure, and you can repeat the steps for the other end if you wish to have a door on each side. If you want the other end to be closed, then you can simply bend your PVC to match the other side and add 2x4 vertical studs every 2 feet. These should be attached to the wood base at the bottom, and the PVC on the top. 

Step 2- Covering the Ends Walls in Plastic Sheeting

Before you attach the ends together, you’ll need to cover them with sheeting. You should measure out a piece of plastic sheeting to completely cover the end walls, and make sure that there is quite a bit of plastic overlapping. Then you can stretch the plastic tight around the wall and staple the overlapping parts to the studs and door frame on the inside. This will seal up the ends of your greenhouse. Make sure you cut out the plastic from around the door frame so you can still enter the greenhouse.

Step 3- Attaching the End Walls Together

solar greenhouseOnce you have built the end walls, you’ll need to attach them together so you can build the sides of the structure. This particular greenhouse is 14 feet long; however you can make it any length you wish. 

To attach the ends together, you’ll want to cut two 2x4s to 14 feet long each. These boards should be laid down on the small side, and then the end walls should be stood upright and screwed to the end of each board. 

You’ll need at least two people to do this, as one person will need to hold the end wall upright while the other screws the walls to the 2x4s. Once the walls are stood upright and screwed to the base boards, you’ll have a solid structure with the two ends of your greenhouse attached together. 

You should do this step in the location that you want to place the greenhouse. Also, it’s important to fasten each end wall to the ground using stakes or fence posts to ensure that the greenhouse doesn’t blow away. The stakes can be driven into the ground on the inside of the greenhouse and screwed directly into the 2x4s on the end walls.

Step 4- Constructing the Side Walls

Now that you have the ends of your greenhouse attached to each other, you’ll now need to take your remaining 20 foot PVC pipes and build the sides of your greenhouse. Bend each PVC pipe and secure it to the bottom 2x4s on each side of the structure. You should place one piece of PVC every 2 feet. After you have attached the remaining pieces of PVC pipe, you should have the basic tunnel structure of your greenhouse.

Step 5- Attaching the Top Beam

Now you will want to take your 2 foot wide, 14 foot long piece of PVC pipe and screw it to each end of your side walls at the top. This beam should rest underneath the other pieces of PVC, and it’s recommended that you wire this beam to each piece of PVC to keep the structure sturdy and hold everything together.

Step 6- Covering the Rest of the Greenhouse in Plastic

The final step will be to cover the entire remaining structure in plastic and screw or staple the plastic to the inside of the structure. Make sure that you pull the plastic tightly around the structure and that there are no gaps. It’s essential to seal it in completely, or you will lose too much heat. You should now have a sealed tunnel structure, and you’re ready to start growing plants in your solar greenhouse. 

Are you looking to buy a blueprint for your solar greenhouse? Then you'll find an experienced company in Passive Solar Greenhouse, who have been selling blueprints since 1999.

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