How Does a Greenhouse Work?

Glass Greenhouse

How does a greenhouse work? Once you understand how a greenhouse works, you can better utilize this tool to help you get the most out of your gardening. From simplistic to complex, greenhouses are effective at promoting plant growth and fruit production.

How Does a Greenhouse Work Scientifically

The greenhouse works by collecting light and converting it to heat. That is a simplistic view of how a greenhouse works. In addition to capturing light, the greenhouse also stores thermal energy and releases that energy properly. It can help moderate temperature and produce a controlled environment for plants to grow and thrive in. Further, a greenhouse offers protection from wind, rain, snow and other weather elements while also keeping your fruits from invading pests and animals.

Solar Collection

The main task of a greenhouse is to collect solar energy. The greenhouse captures light through its walls and converts it to heat. The effect is similar to that of a vehicle with the windows up. It takes only a few minutes for light coming in a window to warm up the vehicle to a temperature significantly higher than the outside temperature. Greenhouses work the same way. The darker material within the greenhouse helps to store heat, keeping the surrounding air warmer.

The greenhouse is a closed-in environment, which means there are no breezes to push the heat away. The structure is often made of glass, or glass-like material that helps to attract the sun's rays. Without a breeze, the air within the greenhouse heats up quickly and remains warm. This creates the ideal area for plants to grow.

Releasing Thermal Energy

As the greenhouse draws in and collects sunlight, it warms the air within. This occurs naturally. The process is releasing thermal energy. The matter within the greenhouse, such as the soil and water, will absorb the heat drawn in. Even when the sun goes down, the warmth in the soil and water continue to protect the plants because these materials release the warmth slowly.Another important factor in protecting your plants is the way greenhouses regulate temperature. The thermal mass within the greenhouse helps to keep the temperatures moderate. If your greenhouse is larger and has thermal mass within it, such as the iron found in soil, it will heat up slowly and will cool down slowly. Rather than high heat in the daytime and cold temperatures at night, the thermal mass within the greenhouse regulates the temperature evenly throughout the day and night. This provides a better atmosphere for plants to grow.

Protection from the Elements

Another way in which greenhouses work is by providing protection from the elements. In this manner, greenhouses function much as a house does for humans. Protection from the elements is critical, especially when you are gardening in the fall or winter months. Consider some of the ways a greenhouse protects.

  • The greenhouse prevents strong winds from pulling up roots or blowing seeds.
  • It allows you to control how much water your plants receive. Rain, hail and snow are unable to get in.
  • Pests, including vegetable eating pests, are kept out. You do not have to spray harsh chemicals on your plants. You control the types of insects or other pests allowed into the garden. It may not be possible to keep all pests out long term, but you will minimize the number.
  • A greenhouse keeps excess heat and cold from affecting plants. When the temperature gets too high, the fogging or misting systems within some greenhouses can help to cool down the temperature. Other systems heat up the greenhouse when there is limited sunlight.

The ability to protect plants from any of these elements is critical to helping those plants to grow successfully. Greenhouses adjust the weather conditions to allow for better growth.

Different Types of Greenhouses

When you ask, "How does a greenhouse work" keep in mind there are numerous types of greenhouses. Some are, very simply, structures with glass walls. Others have complex heating and cooling systems within them to help control temperatures. When selecting a type of greenhouse to use, focus on your budget and your needs to control the climate.

How Does a Greenhouse Work?