[Market-farming] Heating Greenhouse with wood stoves

Leigh Hauter bullrunfarm at hughes.net
Tue Oct 12 22:05:10 EDT 2010


I hadn't been following this thread until I saw 'wood stoves'  so 
here's  my comment, prob ably out of context.

I heat several greenhouses with wood and have been doing so for 15 
years more or less.

At first I had a huge wood stove that someone unloaded on me and at 
the time my greenhouse was only 48 and then 72 feet long, so it kept 
it warmish.  I agree with the hassle of having to get up in the 
middle of the night.

It wasn't too long until I installed a propane heater so I didn't 
have to get up at 3 am.

Then, I finally gave in to my wife's annual complain about the dust 
from woodstove in the house.

I didn't see it and really enjoy living in a house heated with wood 
but I surrendered my woodstove.

And upgraded to a wood gasification boiler. (actually, technically, 
these are down draft boilers not gasifiers but they are real 
efficient.  To make my wife happy.  I put the wood stove outside 
(they are actually made to be fitted inside a building). In a room 
off of the wood shed and close enough to the greenhouse that I could 
send the hot heating water to the greenhouse as well as to our home.

It worked great.  Besides back fitting the old farmhouse part of our 
home with radiators and putting in radiant heat in the floors of the 
new part of the house I put a manifold in the greenhouse that could 
handle six courses of 300 feet each of 3/8 pex which I ran along the 
tables.

(there are many products you can buy that fit on greenhouse tables 
that you can run the hot water through but I chose to cut the cost 
and just run the pex in loops on the tables)

This puts the heat right under the pots and flats where the seedlings 
appreciate it the most.  As we know, seedlings don't much care what 
the temperature is three feet over their heads, where your typical 
propane heater blows it, but they really appreciate it warm and cosy 
at the roots, where my hot water heating wood fueled  down draft 
boiler (this means the gases form the first fire are sucked down and 
burnt again before making it to the chimney and the outside world) 
puts it.  I could control each run of pex with its own thermostat  (I 
don't, lazy I guess, just one thermostat for the entire greenhouse, 
where, depending on what I'm growing and how old they are, I can set 
for 85 or 65,  whatever.

This way it can be close to freezing up above the plants but 85 right 
on the tables and I don't have to heat all of that head space for 
nothing, or I guess for my own comfort and not the plants.  but I 
digress.

Since then, I've added another couple greenhouses and moved them much 
further away from the house.  What I did is buy a Tarm gasification 
boiler for the house and took the original Alternative Heating System 
(AHS) up to the greenhouses where it can, if I need it, heat the 
tables on all three.  I only have to feed the boiler once a night, I 
usually go up there around ten and fill it up and just after sunup 
when I don't usually need heat in the greenhouses the woodbox is 
burning down.  It works fine.

The real draw back with using a wood gasification boiler though is 
the initial cost of the boiler is expensive. Much, much more costly 
than a wood stove.  However, though, I make up for it, eventually 
with the price of the fuel.  With an 80 acre wood, my fuel costs 
amount to my time and what it cost to maintain a chainsaw.  That's 
probably a lot cheaper than burning propane.

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