Water Barrels vs. Phase Change Material

By Haley Bridgnell
water wall passive solar greenhouse

Water Barrels vs. Phase Change Material

Water Barrels vs. Phase Change Material

 

Innovation plays an important role in every industry. Bulky, inefficient methods are catalysts for new-age technology. Since traditional greenhouses lack insulation, thermal masses can provide extra heat. Thermal mass materials absorb heat during the day and release the heat back into the greenhouse at night. Water barrels are widely used to maintain temperatures in greenhouses.

Water Barrels

An age-old trick to keeping greenhouses warm involves the use of water barrels. Water barrels tend to be the most common form of thermal mass material because water has the highest heat capacity of any readily available material. Unfortunately, water barrel use contains a few drawbacks, the biggest being space requirement. Typically, large water barrels are 55 gallons. Lining the north wall of a greenhouse with these massive containers will leave much less room available for growing plants. Furthermore, these barrels are very heavy which makes them difficult to maneuver. With lighter, sleeker and more powerful thermal mass materials being created, water barrels will slowly become a thing of the past.

Phase Change Material

In order to maximize grow space while cutting down on fossil fuel dependence, thermal mass materials needed an upgrade. Traditional water barrels take up too much room in the greenhouse. Phase Change Material (PCM) has created an alternative to the unsightly water barrel technique. This material can consist of pockets filled with vegetable oils, paraffin waxes and saline solutions. Phase Change Material is fastened to the north wall of a greenhouse and replaces the water barrels. This material takes up much less space than water barrel use. Phase Change Material actually works more efficiently than traditional water because the phase is truly changing. When the material turns from a solid to a liquid, it stores heat. On the flip side, when the material turns from a liquid to a solid, it releases heat back into the greenhouse. InsolCorp provides us with high quality, 100% natural phase change material. To stay ahead of the cultivation curve, consider upgrading from water barrels to Phase Change Material.

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