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Old March 21, 2018   #1
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: NC
Posts: 511
Default Greenhouse Heating Options

March seems to be the Winter that wont end. Im looking out the windows, and its snowing, again. For my area, this is highly irregular. Usually during March we get a cold snap that is about a week long, and its over. Not this year. Its really putting everybody to the test.

My poor little plants are suffering. Dont know for sure, but im guessing the combo of gray days and overnight cold is doing its damage. In about a week and a half I should start selling, and its not looking promising. Ill have some flats, but not a lot by any means. Which is really disheartening. On a side note, I was at my Wholesaler a couple days ago, and even some of their plants have some stress. So it can happen to anybody.

So, I have come to the point that to build my plant business, I have to seriously consider real heating options for when the weather gets like this. Im not looking to keep the GH's at 75 degrees, but warm enough that seedlings dont become damaged when the temp. bottoms out.

3 realistic options. Propane, Nat. Gas, and Wood. I left electric out, because that would cost a bloody fortune. Especially considering Duke Energy is wanting a 16% increase, to pay for a mess that they made and are being forced to clean up... But thats another topic for another day.

Natural Gas. I have natural gas already piped to my house. We have a gas furnace and a gas stove. Thats it. We have the bill set up to average out over the course of the year. Mainly because we were tired of paying the minimum in the summer for the stove, and then getting hit with a high bill in the winter. It just makes sense.

I could trench a line, about 150 feet, out to the seedling house, and install some sort of gas heaters. The additional cost would obviously just factor into the average bill. Im not sure there is a way to estimate how much that would add.

Propane. The people at Tractor Supply have kept me going. Or maybe I have been keeping their propane business going. The young lady at the register yesterday actually said "you sure do buy a lot of propane". Luckily they charge by the gallon. The current price is $2.69 a gallon. I have used all sorts of propane heaters. I prefer the blue flame over radiant.

Bulk propane is available. Last year when I checked, it was actually more expensive per gallon to have it delivered. Plus, a lot of complaints from folks who have home delivery. My understanding is to read the fine print, very carefully. I would probably be better off to purchase 100 pound tanks and haul them to TSC. I could strap them to a dolly and roll right up into my cargo trailer. It has a ramp to lower down. Would be much easier then lifting into the back of my truck.

Wood. I have an unused Wood Insert. I could drag it out there and start feeding it. Couple of draw backs to wood. Its a semi-permanent install that takes up a fair amount of space. And, you have to keep feeding it, all night long. I like sleeping myself. But on a positive, I currently have a metric ton of free firewood on my own property. That is a bonus.

Yesterday I went to Lowes and bought 2 more propane heaters. These were on clearance for $45. Had been $135. The reviews were mixed, but for the price its worth a shot. Plus if these do work out, they are duel fuel. Propane OR Nat. Gas.

I mounted both on the West wall of the seedling house. Each has its own propane tank. They are spaced about 8 feet apart. Although a combined 20000 BTUs isnt that great, Its doing the job. The current temp. outdooors is 33 degrees. Inside the seedling house its 46 degrees. As I have typed this, its warmed 2 degrees. I do have a fan at the peak that is running very slowly, just to keep the air stirred a bit.

Are there any other realistic options that I have missed?
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