Chinese greenhouses are as meticulous in design as they are brilliant by their engineering. Different cultures took different approaches to indoor gardening and farming.
The concept of a Chinese passive solar greenhouse is to provide regular year round constant temperatures, naturally and passively, with little reliance on the heating and cooling systems seen in many conventional and traditional greenhouses seen around the world.
Originally designed in China to feed millions of its people they engineered a design so amazingly clever it uses nature itself to produce the ingredients to fuel the inside of the solar greenhouse and all with minimal effort – even in the winter.
History of the Chinese Solar Passive Greenhouse
The design of the Chinese Solar Greenhouses we see today date back to the 1970s-1980s.
The design was as original as it was ingenious.
With the lack of sunlight in the coldest months of the year, people rely a lot on our greenhouses to help get them through.
This is never easy in the winter with very limited sunlight. China being on a similar equatorial line as both the U.S. and the UK, including much of Europe, sees a similar number of hours of sunlight.
The need for ingenuity as well as some creative build designs meant that if a way was to be found to enhance and conserve the natural heat of the Sun for longer than it is in the sky, it would be possible to continue to grow enough food during the winter months.
It was with this mindset that the first designs of a solar passive greenhouse came in the fruition.
The Design of a Chinese Greenhouse
These structures are a source of warmth and a light source for an entire year.
They help their owners grow things that need more sunlight and warmth than are generally provide in colder months.
We all of course know that the sun rises in the East and sets in the West but to make use of the direction the Sun will be strongest during a day, the Chinese greenhouses were designed to face the South with a glass or transparent roof – but the North, West and East sides are solid insulated walls.
Insulation plays a large part in the design. You only have to take a look at the inside of a such a greenhouse to see the levels or insulation across almost all sides.
Today, unlike centuries ago, many Chinese greenhouse owners rely on power to help keep the temperature right but considering the cost of more standard greenhouse heating systems can exceed $700 per month, the spend to maintain the heat in a Chinese solar greenhouse is considerably less.
Here is a good walk through video showing how such a greenhouse is insulated and designed:
Chinese Passive Solar Greenhouse Will Have You Rethinking Everything
As you learn more about the history and design of these greenhouses, it does make you wonder why all greenhouses do not follow a similar design.
Commercially heated greenhouses can see farmers and vegetable growers break even on the cost between providing warmth to a greenhouse during the winter months as the value of the vegetables grown.
Upwards of $700-$800 per month can be spent.
By harnessing the natural elements that embrace our planet every single day, we could use reduce fossil fuels, and save on fuel bills.
If you ever get the chance to visit and look inside a Chinese greenhouse, please take the opportunity.
The video in this post alone is enough to give you an insight, but you will be astonished by the simplicity and ingenuity.