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does a greenhouse need a heater

Does a Greenhouse Need a Heater?

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“Does a greenhouse need a heater?” is a question we often hear at Greenhouse Emporium. The short answer is yes, especially if you’re in a region with chilly winters. But don’t just take our word for it; by diving into this article, you’ll uncover the science behind it and the best methods to ensure your plants stay snug and thriving.

We’ll journey through the basics of a greenhouse, the importance of heat, and explore various heating techniques. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or just starting out, this guide promises insights that will elevate your gardening game. So, let’s get started!

Interior of greenhouse with text: Does A Greenhouse Need a Heater?

Does a Greenhouse Need a Heater?

Yes, heaters are incredibly useful for greenhouses. If you reside in regions where winter doesn’t just mean shorter days but also brings with it biting cold nights, then greenhouse heating becomes indispensable, whether you’re heating a small greenhouse or a larger one.

Greenhouses, by design, are adept at capturing and utilizing the sun’s radiant energy. This natural warmth can be a boon, creating a cozy environment for plants even when it’s chilly outside. But, the sun alone might not be enough during those prolonged cold spells or in areas with minimal winter sunlight.

does a greenhouse need heat

And without adequate heating, the unheated greenhouse temperature can leave your plants vulnerable. This is where additional heating steps in, acting as a safety net, ensuring that your plants remain protected and thrive even when the temperatures outside take a nosedive.

What is a greenhouse and how does it work?

A greenhouse, in its simplest form, is a transparent structure designed to provide plants with an enhanced growing environment. Made of glass or clear plastic, it allows sunlight to enter, which is then absorbed by the plants and soil inside.

This absorption process releases warmth, keeping the interior environment warmer than the outdoors. However, it’s not just about trapping heat; proper ventilation is equally crucial to prevent overheating and ensure a balanced environment for your plants.

Why is heat important for a greenhouse?

At the core of a plant’s life are intricate chemical reactions, such as respiration and photosynthesis. These processes are the engines that drive growth, energy production, and overall health. Warmth acts as a catalyst, ensuring these reactions occur efficiently and effectively.

When deprived of the necessary heat, plants can’t photosynthesize as they should. This means they can’t convert sunlight into the energy they need to grow. Similarly, respiration, which is how plants convert sugars into energy, becomes sluggish. The result? Slower growth, drooping leaves, and a plant that’s not reaching its full potential.

do greenhouses need heat

Now, if you’re fortunate to live in an area with mild winters, you might think, “Do I really need to heat my greenhouse?” In such regions, the natural warmth from the sun, combined with the greenhouse’s design, might be enough to keep the internal temperatures at a level where plants can thrive.

But, it’s a different ball game in chillier regions. In these colder climates, an unheated greenhouse can quickly turn into a cold chamber, stunting plant growth and even causing damage. That’s when additional heating isn’t just a luxury; it’s a necessity to safeguard your green sanctuary and maintain the correct minimum greenhouse temperature.

Types of Heating for a Greenhouse


The positioning of your greenhouse is paramount. In the northern hemisphere, the winter sun primarily shines from the south.

By ensuring that the transparent sections of your greenhouse face this direction, you can capture the maximum amount of greenhouse sunlight, converting it into much-needed warmth during those colder months.


Insulation is to a greenhouse what a warm blanket is to us on a cold winter night. Just as our homes benefit from insulation to keep the cold out and warmth in, so do greenhouses. Using transparent insulators, such as bubble wrap, can make a significant difference.

is a heater necessary for a greenhouse

This unique insulator provides a dual benefit: it traps air, creating an insulating layer, while still allowing sunlight to penetrate. Additionally, for those individual planting beds, using row covers or horticultural fleece can act as mini-blankets, ensuring your plants stay warm even when the temperatures drop.

Thermal mass

The concept of thermal mass is both ingenious and eco-friendly. Have you ever considered using water barrels as natural heaters? It’s one of the best ways to heat a greenhouse without electricity.

By filling 55-gallon drums with water and placing them in your greenhouse, you create what’s known as a “heat sink.” During the day, these barrels absorb and store heat. As nighttime temperatures drop, they slowly release this stored warmth, helping to stabilize the greenhouse’s internal temperature.

Compost as a heat source

Composting is a gardener’s gold, and not just for the rich nutrients it provides. The very process of decomposition generates heat. By strategically placing a compost pile inside your greenhouse, you’re not just recycling organic waste; you’re also creating a natural heater.

As organic matter breaks down, it releases warmth, providing an ambient temperature that your plants will love. It also ranks as potentially the cheapest way to heat a greenhouse in winter.

Electric heating

For those seeking a more modern approach, electric greenhouse heaters such as our Solexx Portable Electric Heater are a top choice. Their popularity stems from their reliability and ease of use.

essential heat for greenhouses

There’s a wide variety to choose from, ranging from space heaters equipped with fans (great for promoting air circulation) to portable garage heaters with adjustable thermostats, allowing you to set the perfect temperature for your plants.

When choosing to purchase a heater, it’s always a good idea to use a greenhouse BTU calculator first.

Geothermal loop heater

In the realm of sustainable heating, the geothermal loop heater is a true champion. This ingenious system circulates a medium—often a fluid, and sometimes simply air—through a network of pipes buried beneath the earth’s surface. Here, away from the fickle aboveground temperatures, the air or fluid is naturally warmed by the earth’s consistent subterranean heat.

Once heated, it ascends back into the greenhouse, releasing stored warmth to create a nurturing, stable climate for the plants. Not only is this method remarkably efficient, but it also offers significant energy savings over traditional heating methods.

Gas heaters

For larger greenhouses or those in particularly cold regions, gas heaters like our RSI Radiant Propane Greenhouse Gas Heater can be a viable option.

These heaters, often powered by propane or natural gas, can produce a significant amount of heat. They’re efficient and can quickly warm up a space, ensuring your plants are protected from sudden temperature drops.

Solar power

Harnessing the power of the sun, solar heaters are an eco-friendly option. These systems use solar panels to collect energy during the day, which is then stored and used to heat the greenhouse during the night.

It’s a sustainable method that reduces the carbon footprint while ensuring your plants get the warmth they need. But, if you want to opt for this method, make sure that you know how to heat a greenhouse with solar panels.

Ready to keep your greenhouse kit thriving through the frost? Visit Greenhouse Emporium today for the best heating solutions and expert advice tailored to your gardening needs!

Picture of Jesse James
Jesse James

Jesse James, an Army Veteran, now shares his passion for gardening through engaging articles on Greenhouse Emporium. Leveraging his experience and love for nature, Jesse provides practical advice and inspires others on their gardening journey.

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