Have a greenhouse question? Learn all about our grow facilities, environmental controls, and patented technologies by clicking on the topic related to your query. We have compiled the most commonly asked questions here. Don’t see the answer to your questions? Reach out for more information.
How can we help?
- Ceres designs highly efficient grow environments, leading to higher yields, lower operating costs, and better quality plants
- Ceres uses the most durable and highest quality materials in order to allow for longevity for the life of the greenhouse
- Ceres cares about client success, providing support from the build through operations and beyond
- Modular greenhouse design enables unlimited future expansion and total biosecurity
- Ceres offers a variety of Standard Kits with customizable solutions
- Devoted to ongoing innovation with the intention of providing the most energy efficient solutions out there
- Data Monitoring and Grow Optimization services for the most productive grow environments
This varies by your climate and your desired indoor growing temperatures. (An energy-efficient greenhouse has a much greater payoff if you need a warm, year-round growing environment and/or have very harsh climate). We can provide an energy analysis to calculate your energy savings, or provide more information on energy savings if you send us an email with your location and growing goals.
At this time, we are not designing custom residential greenhouses. However, if an attached greenhouse is a preferable option and you do not have a house yet, consider opting for our Vesta™ house kit, which is a pre fab house/greenhouse kit.
Your options for building a greenhouse depend on, the size and complexity of the project, and whether you doing the work yourself or hiring it out. Generally, your options are:
- Design and build yourself
You can take advantage of our book — The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse — and our consulting services. We can review your design, or provide some pointers.
- Use Ceres engineered designs and hire out the labor. In this case you can utilize our pre-engineered greenhouse designs, or custom design and engineering services. You can then hire a local contractor to build the greenhouse, an easy task once you are set up with the right plans.
- Hire Ceres to design and build. We provide turn-key installation for our commercial greenhouses, and construction management services for residential greenhouses in many areas. If you want to be completely hands-off, please contact us about your options.
Yes. We offer virtual site visits for free. In-person site visits are offered within driving distance of Ceres Offices (Boulder/Denver area) for US$125/hr. If you are in that area, we would be happy to take you for a tour to see in person how an energy-efficient commercial greenhouse looks and operates. Please contact us to schedule a tour.
A year-round solar greenhouse needs access to light particularly in the winter months. Areas that allow sufficient year-round light, with minimal shading in the winter are best. More of our recommendations are given in our blogs on the topic:
A sealed greenhouse will work in any climate. This is the best option, as it allows for precise control over the environment and all systems involved. This option is more expensive, so it might not be the best option depending on what you plan on growing, and what your goals are.
We also offer vented greenhouses. A vented greenhouse will work for some of the year, but the exact time period will depend on your specific location, what you plan to grow, and what systems you chose to incorporate.
Ceres energy-efficient greenhouses range in cost from $50 to over $200 per sq. ft. We provide custom quotes for our greenhouses because every project is slightly different. Several factors influence cost, including:
- Size. Larger greenhouses have a lower cost per sq. ft.
- Whether pursuing a custom design
- Whether you need a building permit (requires stamped structurally engineered plans, which we can include)
- The growing and climate control systems you are adding
Because each greenhouse is slightly different, we work with you to find the best, most cost-effective method of building for your needs. Please contact us for a free quote.
There are two options for an off-grid greenhouse:
- Design a passive solar greenhouse. This is a structure that does not use electricity, and is inherently off-grid. Instead of electrical fans, a passive solar greenhouse uses passive vents and thermal storage methods. We work with people on designing passive solar greenhouses, but most of our clients add electricity to the greenhouse for greater climate control. Much more information on passive solar greenhouse design is in our book, The Year-Round Solar Greenhouse, and you can get in touch with us if this your preferred design. While this may work well for Residential greenhouses, it may be harder to run a commercial greenhouse in this fashion.
- Our greenhouses can be off the grid by using PV panels (or wind turbines) and batteries to create and store electricity for later use. It is important to start with a greenhouse system that has low energy consumption to begin, to reduce the investment and maintenance of the energy creation systems, like PV panels. Propane or diesel generators are also an option to provide power to greenhouses when they need heating, cooling, or any other electrical need.When an electric grid connection is possible it is advisable to create a net-zero greenhouse by using PV panels to create electricity, feeding the grid electricity at times when it is needed (usually peak mid-day in the summer), and using that electricity itself when it is needed most by the greenhouse (during the winter and at night). This is the best combination of maximized greenhouse performance with minimal environmental impact.
- We recommend contacting us about your project, and reading more about getting started with integrating solar panels in our blog, 5 Tips for Designing a Solar-powered Greenhouse.
This varies greatly by location, and what you are trying to grow. In areas with mild winters, passive solar greenhouses can grow year-round without any back-up heating. Greenhouses in cold areas can even grow very hardy crops year-round without heating, as Eliot Coleman has proved on his farm in Maine. However, to grow a wider variety of crops, in most cold climates an energy-efficient greenhouse will require some back-up heating. This is usually turned on during a few very cold nights a year — the extreme cold snaps — when a GAHT® system, thermal mass, or phase change material is not sufficient to keep temperatures high enough.
Our innovative geothermal HVAC Ecoloop™ System /EcoPack™ is a great option for maintaining appropriate heating, cooling, and dehumidification in a sealed greenhouse.
Residential growers typically add an electric heater for the coldest times of the year. Commercial growers typically integrate propane or electric heat. We can help you integrate a back-up heater when designing your commercial greenhouse.
There are too many variables to give an easy answer to this question. The top two are:
- What are you trying to grow, or what indoor temperatures do you want to maintain?
- What are you typical outdoor temperatures in the winter?
Once we have that information, we can give you a ballpark estimate of how often heat will be required for your situation. For a more accurate estimate and cost projections, you can take advantage of our consulting services.
Finally, it is important to note that an insulated greenhouse, passive solar greenhouse design, and systems like a GAHT® system, which take advantage of free solar energy, keep the heating requirement to a minimum. Most growers in North America use back-up heating sparingly in the winter, and rely on energy-efficient greenhouse design for most of the year.
Many solar greenhouse designers recommend using a roof angle that is perpendicular to the angle of the sun in the winter. While this does indeed maximize light transmission in the winter, the effect of a lower angle is not severe. We explain this relationship much further in our blog, Choosing the Best Roof Angle for your Greenhouse. Furthermore, there are a few logistical challenges to creating very steep pitch — you cannot use glass view windows on the south; it can reduce head room or create a awkwardly tall greenhouse. Due to these pros and cons, most of our residential growers are built with a shed-style roof. If you have a need for a steeply pitched roof, just ask us about our custom greenhouse design services.
The ceiling of a Ceres greenhouse, whether single slope or offset gable design, consists of trusses that run north/south and purlins that connect the trusses east/west for stability. Truss spacing and purlin layout can vary depending on building type (single slope or gable) and wind, snow, and seismic loads. A track is then installed on the roof trusses or purlins, then polycarbonate, acrylic, or ETFE, and then a top track. The east, west, and north edges of the glazed portion of the roof then are covered with paint matched flashing.
Please contact us for more information on how to visit a Ceres greenhouse.
Yes, we can help you determine the best size for your greenhouse based on your growing goals and how you hope to use the space.