Calculate the cost of heating and cooling a greehouse.

orchiddude(+7b ALabama)January 1, 2013

The question is best answered by using an example, but first some formulas: Watts=amps*volts 1 KWH = 3,413 BTU 1500W electric heater produces 5120BTU Propane is 91,600BTU/gallon Q=deltaT*A/R Q=BTU heat requirement per hour delta T is the difference between outside temp and desired inside temp A= the surface are of the greenhouse is square feet, not including the floor; ie, the roof, side walls, and end walls R= the R value of the glazing

Two important points about this last formula...some heating calculators use "heat loss value" (HLV) instead of R-value. Don't get confused, the HLV is just 1/R. The formula using heat loss value is then Q=deltaT*A*HLV. The other important point is that you use a different temperature when calculating your average energy costs over a month than you do when you you calculate what size heater you need. Heater calculations are used to determine how much heat you will need on the coldest night of the year. For this, you use your coldest winter temps, for example the colder end of your zone. For calculating heating costs you need the average temperature for the month.

Here are some typical R-values for common glazings or coverings: 4 mil polyethylene 0.83; 4 mm (5/32") twinwall polycarbonate 1.43; 6 mil polyethylene 0.87; 6 mm (1/4") twinwall polycarbonate 1.54; 6 mil poly double layer (inflated) 1.43; 11 mil woven polyethylene 0.95; 3 mm (1/8") glass (single layer) 0.88; 16 mm (5/8") triplewall polycarbonate 2.5; Polycarbonate/fiberglass (single layer) 0.83

OK, let's say we are contemplating an ACF 10 x 12 Cottage Greenhouse. We first need to calculate the surface area of the greenhouse. Using the diminsions found on the website and some simple geometry, we calculate the surface area of each sidewall to be 55 sq ft, each roof side to be 64.6 sq ft, and each end wall to be 75 sq ft. Therefore the total area (A) is sq ft is (55*2)+(64.6*2)+(75*2)=389.2 sq ft.

The website tells us that this GH comes in 6mm twinwall polycarbonate, so the R-value is 1.54. A quick search shows that in this particular zone 7a, the average January temperature to be 28.4 degrees. We want to keep our greenhouse at 50 degrees. So the "delta T" is 50-28.4=21.6 degrees. Now we can calculate the BTU per hour necessary to heat the greenhouse in January. Q=deltaT*A/R. Substituting the numbers, Q=389.2*21.6/1.54=5459 BTU. To figure daily use, multiply by 24 hours to get 131016 BTU/day. To figure monthly use, multiply again by 30 (days in the month) to get 3,930,480 BTU/month.

Now, lets say we heat with propane. Knowing the BTU in a gallon of propane, we can take our BTU/month and divide by the number of BTU in a gallon of propane. 3,930,480/91,600BTU/gal propane to get 42.9 gallons of propane we would expect to burn in January. We just bought propane at $1.69/gal, so this would mean my January cost would be 42.6*$1.69=$72.52/month.

Let's say we heat with electric. Take the same BTU value and instead of dividing by the BTU/gallon of...

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