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Greenhouse warmed & cooled with air vents buried 8 feet underground?  RSS feed

 
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Person describes warming a greenhouse in Nebraska with vent tubes circulating air from 8 ft. buried underground. Temperatures become moderated and he's able to grow oranges and other citrus fruits! Says it is super cheap to run - looks simple once the pipes are buried.



Anyone seen this sort of thing or done anything like it? I suppose it's just like geothermal. I wonder why it's not more common
 
pollinator
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So much to learn from this video!!! Thank you for sharing this.
 
steward
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I love Russ's greenhouse.  They are building them in a number of locations.  

To attempt an answer for your question...  I think it's not more common for a couple reasons.

1.  People looking to build greenhouses don't often stumble across this option.
2.  I believe this design requires a fair bit of sunshine to keep working (I may be wrong here).   If it doesn't need sunshine, I wish that aspect was advertised more.  In my area, and I suspect much of New England, it's cloudy for much of November and December.
3.  It's different.  They know how to build a farmtec greenhouse and pour lots of propane into it for heat in order to just barely make a profit from the plants.  That's an off-the-shelf standard way to build a greenhouse.  Doing Russ's design requires a bit of an adventurous spirit and some unconventional construction techniques (vs a normal greenhouse).
4.  I could be wrong here but I think it probably can't be built much smaller.  While many people would be willing to build their own little greenhouse and take on some novel approaches like this, they may not have the room for it in their back yard.  I'm assuming it would be challenging to use this technology in a 8x12 greenhouse and a suburban lot.

That being said, I fully support every new commercial or large scale private greenhouse being built this way.  We need more of this.
 
steward
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Well, we are gonna find out !  

My brother just bought a 72 footer for Christmas and we will be putting it together, in Wyoming, next spring. I hope to take lots of pictures and start a project thread about it so stay tuned.
 
gardener
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Mike, I don't think the sun shine is needed, though I'm sure it helps as the sun light will reduce the load on the geothermal.  I would think worst case, that if sun is limited you'll just need more underground pipes or length to supply the extra heat loss from not having as much solar gain. Does that kind of match your thinking?
 
pollinator
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Is it just me or are there three separate systems:
-An eight foot deep underground loop for heating?
-An eight foot deep stretch of cooling pipe with one end coming up in the field?
-A cooling loop that goes from the peak of the greenhouse to one foot beneath the greenhouse floor and back?

The amount of digging needed for this is a barrier  for DIY types, and most people who have money to spend on the digging will be cautious about spending it on this novel solution.

All that being said, my first chicken house has tubes beneath the foundation.
They are too few in number and only 2' deep,  and I've yet to try them out.
 
Mike Jay
steward
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Greg Martin wrote:Mike, I don't think the sun shine is needed, though I'm sure it helps as the sun light will reduce the load on the geothermal.  I would think worst case, that if sun is limited you'll just need more underground pipes or length to supply the extra heat loss from not having as much solar gain. Does that kind of match your thinking?



That could certainly be.  I'm not sure how much of the winter geothermal heat comes from the innate temperature of the earth down 8' and how much is from summer (and daytime winter) heat that is sent down there.  I guess my hunch is that 90+% of it comes from the natural temperature of the earth.

Good point William, that's another reason that this system (and GAHT designs) might not be as popular.
 
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We just got back from visiting Russ and his greenhouse. It was 80 degrees with tropical humidity. It was sunny, but snow was still on the ground outside. The pipes are not only for cooling in the summer and stabilizing heat in the winter, but also for cooling in the winter if the temps get too high. He has tweaked his design since he built the one on his house and the tweaks make for more consistent heat/cooling. We shall see come spring how well this works, as we will be installing it on our property in Wyoming. I hope it does, as it was -12 degrees F last night!
 
William Bronson
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Kano,  did you buy a set of plans?
How much did he ask for them?
 
Kani Seifert
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The plans (more of a narrative with pictures) is $49. You can go to his site - greenhouseinthesnow.com to find them. There is also a FB page for a woman who is using Russ' greenhouse commercially in Cody, NE. https://www.facebook.com/Sunny-C-Greenhouse-1067197630058985/  She has many pictures and posts of what she has been growing. Interesting site.
 
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Mike Jay wrote:
4.  I could be wrong here but I think it probably can't be built much smaller.  



This.  I was crunching the numbers and the Russ Finch/earth tube heat exchange efficiency increases per linear foot if you are putting the tubes underneath the growing zone.

Which begs the question, why not create the ground to air exchange interface as a subterranean cavern out of IBC cages to:
   1. increase the air exchange volume
   2. decrease earthtube costs

Cave ins are a potential problem, but Mike Oehler or someone here might have a solution for that.  Any other reason this approach might not work?
 
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