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What is Chinese Passive Solar Greenhouse


Chinese Passive Solar Greenhouse

The basic principle for Chinese Passive Solar Greenhouse is simple. Build something with a lot of mass (brick in this case, but sometimes cement, and sometimes the walls are filled with sand or another material to add extra heat-holding thermal mass). Add a plastic cover to create an area that holds in some of the heat. Have an insulated material that covers the plastic at night (usually straw mats, sometimes another material). Plant things. 

That’s it. You have a greenhouse.

The Benefits of Chinese Passive Solar Greenhouse

 Its super simple to build, and not too capital intensive. This is great because it takes a relatively small investment to get to the minimal viable product.


A passive solar greenhouse with an automated insulation system.

This greenhouse does have a mechanism for rolling down the insulation automatically.

  You dont have to pay for heat. A half-acre greenhouse is heated with waste wood and a lot of the costs are labours which so hard to calculate. But it would cost about $60,000 to heat if used natural gasheating. That is a big cost in a cold climate. In the Northern part of China can get fairly cold, about like Michigan or Southern Ontario. Heating there would be very costly. Those costs would be greatly reduced with a system like this.

The Compromises

  It is difficult to cool this enough to use it effectively in the summer.

  You couldn’t grow high crops. Not only because the roof is too low in many areas, but also because you have to balance heating with growing. Any space blocked by plants won’t get as much benefit from the sun (it either helps the plant grow or it heats the space).  Which means lower crops.

 Crops that give off a lot of moisture would create problems, both because that would make heating more difficult and because you don’t generally want higher humidity in the greenhouse.

   It is more difficult to regulate the humidity.

Though we list these downsides, but we have to admit that lots of crops can grow very well. And if you can find inexpensive labour, and a market for short plants, these would be viable even in a fairly cold climate.