How to Heat a Greenhouse With Solar Heat

Greenhouses use glass panels to trap the heat of the sun in an enclosed area. The resulting heated space is used for growing plants. Greenhouses that use only solar heat are used to extend the growing season so that plants can be grown earlier in the spring and later into the fall. With auxiliary heat sources, a greenhouse can be used all through the winter.


  1. Orient the Greenhouse to the Sun

    • 1

      Position the greenhouse so that it makes maximum use of solar radiation. Do this by orienting the south-facing wall so that it is perpendicular to the rays of the sun when the sun is at its highest point.

    • 2

      Design the pitch of the greenhouse roof so that the rays of the sun are falling through it at a perpendicular angle when the sun is at its highest point.

    • 3

      Build the greenhouse in a location that is not shaded by trees or by other buildings.

    Insulate the Greenhouse

    • 1

      Insulate any parts of the greenhouse that are not actively receiving heat from the sun, so that you don't lose heat through these parts. This may include the floor and the north wall of the greenhouse.

    • 2

      Make or buy a large insulated blanket to put over the greenhouse at night if you are in a cold climate or are trying to grow during the winter.

    • 3

      Maximize the amount of thermal mass inside the greenhouse in order to stabilize the interior temperature. Install 55-gallon drums painted flat black and filled with water; these will absorb the heat of the sun during the day and release the heat over the colder hours of the night.

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  • Photo Credit Metal greenhouse in summer with open door image by Scott Latham from

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