Understanding the meaning of a “greenhouse kit”
At Ceres, we design highly efficient greenhouses for many different applications. The same design elements attributed to our large commercial HighYield Kits, are also implemented in our smaller greenhouses – also referred to as our BackYard Kits. This means that our BackYard Kits are equipped with steel framing and other high-quality building materials that ensure long lasting durability and a highly productive year-round growing environment.
Sometimes the robust nature of a BackYard Kit is lost on clients when they hear the word “kit”. That’s because the word kit is often used to describe a more simple DIY solution, like something purchased from Home Depot or an online greenhouse retailer. While a small pop-up greenhouse kit, or a simple high-tunnel, might be sufficient for some growers, it doesn’t stand up against the capabilities of a BackYard Kit. In this blog we will explain why all greenhouse kits aren’t created equal and what to expect when purchasing a BackYard Kit from design to operation.
What makes a BackYard Kit a kit?
Our BackYard Kits are called kits because all the materials for the building shell included with the greenhouse design are prefabricated to fit together onsite. These standard materials together make up our “base kit” and any upgrades for equipment or systems come at an extra cost. The base kit includes galvanized steel framing, insulated metal panels (for 4 walls), windows (fixed for the south side, and operable for the east and west sides), a roofing system (with anti-drip polycarbonate for the glazing material), single or double door/s, and our SunSense™ controller. Our standard BackYard Kit sizes are: 11’x18’, 18’x24’ and 18’x30’, however the lengths are customizable by increments of 6 feet. When you order a BackYard Kit, all the necessary base kit materials are delivered to the construction site in organized pallets. Expect between 12 and 15 material shipments depending on the upgrades and climate controls you choose.
All of our BackYard Kits come with stamped structural plans for permitting, and detailed construction documents to aid in the construction of the prefabricated materials. It is possible for you to build a BackYard Kit on your own (with the help of one or two people) if you have construction experience and the proper equipment. Most of the time this isn’t the case with our clients, and they end up hiring a small construction crew to build the greenhouse structure.
The construction of a Ceres BackYard Kit is more involved than your average residential greenhouse kit. But this is just one step of the process of getting the structure up and running. Let’s review what makes the BackYard Kit a superior growing method for your home or business.
BackYard Kit Design Process
Once you decide on the BackYard Kit, a greenhouse designer will request certain site details from you to kick off the design process. After acquiring the proper site information, we can study the solar angles and wind direction to decide on a greenhouse orientation that will allow the most sun and wind harvesting.
Check out our blog, Light Harvesting Advantages of Passive Solar Design for more information on greenhouse orientation.
Our structural engineers will also assess your local climate conditions in order to engineer the foundation and frame to withstand local wind and snow loads. You have the option of integrating other greenhouse equipment like our Ground to Air Heat Transfer (GAHT®) system, exhaust fans, or phase change material. So even though our BackYard Kits are pre-fabricated, we’ll work with you to make design adjustments and equipment recommendations so your greenhouse fits your site and your growing goals.
BackYard Kit Build Process
We briefly discussed the construction process of a BackYard Kit but there are crucial details that you should know about when you’re planning your greenhouse project. For instance, if you decide to install a GAHT® system underneath your BackYard Kit, you will need to excavate at least 4 feet down (depending on your frost line this depth can be adjusted) to lay pipes for the geothermal heat transfer. And whether you install a GAHT® system or not, a BackYard Kit requires a concrete stem wall foundation for the frame to be built on. We also recommend that you pour a concrete slab in addition (although this isn’t required). All this to say, we highly recommend hiring a small construction crew to build your structure.
Post-Build BackYard Kit Support
When your greenhouse project is finished, you have the option of adding technical and grow support if you need it. With the SunSense™ controller you can track your greenhouse data for an optimal growing environment. If you run into any issues, our data engineers can analyze the performance of your greenhouse and provide recommendations to improve growth performance.
We also have a team of grow consultants offering greenhouse support for planning your operation, troubleshooting grow-related issues or responding to changes in your greenhouse climate. Grow consulting can be paired with data analysis, including suggestions for how to optimize your climate based on your climate and what you are growing. We are a solutions company, and offering these services is a way we separate ourselves from other greenhouse companies.
If you’re in the market for a smaller greenhouse kit for your home or business, think holistically and long-term when making your decision. While the easy-to-build greenhouse kits you can purchase online or at Home Depot are cheaper and don’t require a construction crew to build, they are usually less efficient, and not engineered for your local weather conditions. On top of that, they aren’t as productive year-round and don’t come with greenhouse support. If you’re interested to learn more by speaking to a greenhouse expert, contact us today!