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Discussion forum for the various methods and structures used for getting an early start on your growing season, extending it for several weeks or even year 'round.

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Old November 21, 2007   #1
svalli
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Default Harbor Freight greenhouses

Has anyone here bought a greenhouse from Harbor Freight? Local store's mailer has a 6x8 for $299 and 10x12 for $599. In Finland I will definately need a GH and I am tempted to buy one or two of these. The 6x8 seems too small and 10x12 may be too large for the lot of the house we are going to buy. I was thinking about getting two of the 6x8 and put them back to back.
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Old November 21, 2007   #2
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From what I remember, there were not too many happy customers who bought from harbour freight at the other place. A few people posted pictures on their own work-arounds etc. because they were so frustrated with the service However, things may have changed since then.
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Old November 21, 2007   #3
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I don't have one, but I have heard they are good for the price and people have put together two 6'x8's together successfully.

I think they use 4mm Twinwall polycarbonate panels, which has limited insulating property. I don't know how cold it gets in your area, and how you are going to use the GH, it may or may not be good enough.

Also, you may need to reinforce the structure a little and anchore more securely if you are in a very high wind area.

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Old November 22, 2007   #4
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4mm twinwall polycarbonate insulates better than glass, and my MIL has been growing tomatoes in a glass GH, so these greenhouses should be fine for the purpose.

I spent last night reading the other forum (and was really annoyed by the adds covering my screen, before seeing messages). There is a lot of info about these greenhouses and how to modify them. My DH is better than average handyman (top reason to keep him around ), so he could strengthen the frame.

Dollar is so low at the moment that it makes buying these greenhouses really tempting. At the moment we should buy everything we will need in near future here in U.S. and move the stuff with us, because it does not make sense to exchange our USDs to Euros. Similar greenhouses in Finland are now at least 4-5 times pricier than these. We have saying that "poor people should not buy cheap stuff", but this may be too good deal to pass.
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Old November 22, 2007   #5
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Most of the people who had problem with HF GH was because they were not handy.

If your husband is good with his hands, then you should have no problem at all.

I don't know the kind of poly panel HF is giving you, some poly panels you have to be careful with which side is UV protected.

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Old November 23, 2007   #6
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svalli, if the cost of shipping isn't going to be that much by all means buy american. In fact, if you buying this for the long term I would shop around and look more for quality as anything you buy in Europe will cost 2-3 times more than its american made equivalent. Here's one company in germany that makes and sells greenhouses if you want to compare. Ami
http://www.beckmann-kg.de/
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Old November 24, 2007   #7
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I would also look at overstock . com they have a bunch of greenhouses that appear nice. type in Garden and you will find 2.
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Old November 24, 2007   #8
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You can find quite a bit of information over at the other web site.

Type in HFGH and the threads are endless.

http://forums2.gardenweb.com/forums/strucs/
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Old November 24, 2007   #9
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It's nice to have remote wireless temperature monitoring. You may want to buy that here.

Very important to have automatic venting. You can cook your plants in a very short time on a sunny day. If you are getting fans or anything electrical, make sure that the voltage is correct for Finland (220 VAC?).

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Old November 24, 2007   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarch View Post
It's nice to have remote wireless temperature monitoring. You may want to buy that here.
That is good reminder to buy more remote thermometers, those are cheaper here. I know some people who have built systems, where they have connected the temperature and humidity monitoring to a PC and that way they can even check the greenhouse via internet. I could be on a business trip and use my cell phone to check that the temperature and humidity in the GH are good. I'm planning some kind of drip irrigation system with a timer. I do already have battery operated timer valves; it would be cool to have remote controlled irrigation too.

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Very important to have automatic venting. You can cook your plants in a very short time on a sunny day. If you are getting fans or anything electrical, make sure that the voltage is correct for Finland (220 VAC?).
I will get those automatic mechanical window openers; I think HF sells them too. We have a solar cell, which could run a 12V fan, so it would make the fan run, when needed at the hottest days.
Both me and DH are electrical engineers, so we have ideas how to use or modify all our 120VAC equipment to run with 220-240VAC. We have quite many transformers, which we can use to lower the voltage.

I'm getting really excited about the coming season. I may not have yet time to get the GH going on our own yard this year, but my MIL has two of them and I am sure she will let me plant tomatoes there, if I supply plants for her too.

I do already have couple of those flimsy plastic temporary greenhouses, which I can use to harden seedlings and maybe use to protect some potted hot pepper plants in the end of the season.
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Old November 24, 2007   #11
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As long as your electrical equipment isn't using 60Hz as a reference your alright with 220-120 VAC step down Xformers. I know the X-10 stuff has problems when dealing with more than 1 phase on 50Hz. Ami
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Old November 24, 2007   #12
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I'm avoiding any kind of equipment, which uses the mains frequency as a clock signal. Usually, if the clock has a battery backup, it has a separate oscillator (except our alarm clock, which goes too fast during power outage).
Home Depot and other stores carry all sorts of nice dimmers, timers and remote control systems for reasonable prices, but we are not planning to buy anything, which uses the electrical wiring as control wires like in X10. Such things we have to get locally.

I have worked with AC drives (frequency converters for 3-phase motors) almost 20 years, so converting 50 Hz to 60 Hz could be done, but it is not needed for most household equipment.
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Old November 24, 2007   #13
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Quote:
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I'm avoiding any kind of equipment, which uses the mains frequency as a clock signal. ----I have worked with AC drives (frequency converters for 3-phase motors) almost 20 years, so converting 50 Hz to 60 Hz could be done, but it is not needed for most household equipment.
Electric exhaust fans have mostly induction type motors, therefore they will run slower at 50 Hertz. Make sure you have enough CFM.

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-- We have a solar cell, which could run a 12V fan, so it would make the fan run, when needed at the hottest days.
Generally, 12V fans which can run on solar cells are too low powered to give enough CFM, and unless you have storage batteries, you cannot depend on solar power.

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Both me and DH are electrical engineers, ----
So what do the two of you talk about at the dinner table?

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Old November 24, 2007   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcarch View Post
Electric exhaust fans have mostly induction type motors, therefore they will run slower at 50 Hertz. Make sure you have enough CFM.
With an induction motor fan I can use a small VFD (an other name for a AC drive). That way I can make the motor run as fast as it can and even control the fan speed based on temperature, if necessary.


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Generally, 12V fans which can run on solar cells are too low powered to give enough CFM, and unless you have storage batteries, you cannot depend on solar power.
That may be true, but it just sounds so cool using solar power with a greenhouse. In Finland it may be enough just to open the windows and door of a GH during the day and the fan would need to run only when it is sunny. I can not be sure about the ventilation needs, until I have the GH at the intended place. Fan may be needed also when starting seedlings in a GH and they need to be hardened for winds. With tomato and pepper seedlings I used a 12V fan indoors and when I moved the plants outside, they were much hardier against the moving air outside. Before I started using fan indoors the plants would get damage even in full shade when moved outside first time.


Quote:
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So what do the two of you talk about at the dinner table?
Guess what our son took to his kindergarten show and tell?
His own multimeter and a 1.5 V battery. He explained the class how to measure, if batteries in toys are still good.
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Old November 24, 2007   #15
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For solar panel operation, you may want to consider a brushless DC fan (computer "muffin" type cooling fan). They are very efficient, ball bearing construction, extremely quiet and lasts a long time. You can get them cheap on eBay. I think because they are brushless, they most likely generate very little RFI. They are not reversible, unlike PM DC motors.

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