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Can a greenhouse be made livable for people?

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chillspike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-03-11 07:59 AM
Original message
Can a greenhouse be made livable for people?

I mean, the greenhouses we normally use for growing plants? Is there a way to completely control the temperature with the right shading so people can live comfortably in a greenhouse with no danger of over heating or extreme humidity? I would like to experiment with this somewhere in the tri-state area...NY, NJ, Penn.

I would prevent the loss of heat at night with an electric or gas heater.

I ask because I think a greenhouse would be a great structure for free heating in the winter but only if it can be kept cool enough on hot days. And some of the better models are a lot cheaper than passive solar houses. Am I right?

P.S. I would like to have some shading, passive cooling and ventilation suggestions because I don't think I will have electric air conditioning.

Thanks.
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silverweb Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 12:59 PM
Response to Original message
1. I don't see why not.
The hoop house style has end doors that could be left open for through-and-through ventilation on hot days (with a fan or 2), and you could also try using retractable shade cloth on the outside during hot weather.

Actually, with a little creativity, I think a hoop house greenhouse could be made quite livable.

Good luck! If you do it, share some pictures. :)

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chillspike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 03:41 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Hoop house models are what I have in mind
Since I posted this I've hit upon some ideas and I think it is very possible now. Surprisingly, I don't think keeping the greenhouse cool will be the main problem. I can adopt various shading and, as you said, ventilation schemes. But since most greenhouses are not insulated, they will lose heat quickly at night if I don't insulate it. One of the ideas I have is homemade retractable insulation that can be raised before the greenhouse starts to lose heat on winter nights, trapping any heat built up in the day.

But, as mentioned, the ability to be able to obtain free heating from the sun is a huge draw for me. If you lose your fuel based heat source, there's less of a chance of freezing from cold living in a greenhouse than in a regular house.

Thanks!
I will surely share pictures when I do this. :)
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trud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 05:05 PM
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3. oops
I think you will freeze certain crucial appendages off in the winter at night, in NY. You would need monster insulation to avoid that.
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chillspike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 05:22 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. hmmm
Well, I'm planning to keep a wood burning stove real, real close just in case. Also various propane heat sources. And a cell phone to call in rescue workers to dig me out. :D

After all, how well insulated could an Iroquois long house have been???... and they survived.
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trud Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 07:44 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. carbon monoxide
Say, be careful about that.
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FedUpWithIt All Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-04-11 08:21 PM
Response to Original message
5. I have seen plans online for building a small house inside a greenouse.
I would think one issue would be mold.

Let us know if you decide to try it :hi:
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chillspike Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-05-11 07:49 AM
Response to Reply #5
6. Mold???!!!
:-( That would not be good. Mention mold and I'm like Ace Ventura at the mention of bats. Eww.

But I think I did find the "small house inside a greenhouse" you were talking about:

http://www.goodgreenfarm.com /

They did an amazing job! I should ask them about mold.
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txlibdem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Apr-24-11 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Mold needs moisture and darkness to take over
I like the example you've picked. That would make a warm and inviting livable and comfortable home and nature area.


Looking at the above picture I don't think you'll have any problems with mold. Definitely fewer mold problems than your neighbors will.

Just make the water heat traps 100% sealed and you'll have no problems with excess moisture or mold.

Greenhouses here in Texas generally use clear plastic sheeting to cover the hoops, which has to be replaced every 3 years or so but if you get any really cold and windy weather you'll be repairing and replacing a lot more often. Hopefully, you're going to follow the example of the goodgreenfarm and use multi-wall poly. It can withstand wind and hail and certainly a larger snow load.

Here's an example:
http://www.sundancesupply.com/FAQPolycarbonate.html
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Apr-07-11 02:45 PM
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7. The idea isn't to eliminate heat during the day and provide it at night
The idea is to have a heat sink inside it which could be as simple as steel barrels full of water that would absorb heat and cool the place by day and release it at night, warming the place. I have friends who do that in their greenhouses in New England and it works well. The most ambitious systems use fiberglass columns of water used for aquaculture.

Still, I can't imagine living in one. While it's light and bright during the day, think of the privacy issues, especially at night. You'd do much better to have a greenhouse addition on your house--or just a Trombe-Michel solar wall.
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Kennah Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jun-28-11 03:04 PM
Response to Original message
10. The outdoor environment was livable for millions of years ...
... but some corporate persons are doing their best to change that.
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