How Many Types of Greenhouse? Which is Opt for You?

Talking about a greenhouse, this structure is considered as a place with ideal microclimate for plants. The size of the house is diverse and it depends on the particular project, budget, and area. Besides, there are two main purposes when it comes to a greenhouse. Whether it is utilized to start plants or keep them throughout their life.

No matter what, this is a huge project so that before getting started, it’s essential to learn about types of greenhouse firstly.

Which types of greenhouse opt for you

Many people make a same old mistake that greenhouse comes in one and only one type, just differ in sizes. However, in reality, there are various types.

Besides, many elements like weather, trained, humidity, temperature, and amount of sunlight play into factors about how you decide on what type of greenhouse that you want to get.

From that point, just because of my opinion on a particular thing can’t pertain to your area.

Round arch greenhouse

Firstly, we will start off with a standard round arch greenhouse. These are relatively inexpensive to purchase and assemble. Their structure is very simple and typically, they don’t have a foundation. All you need is just taking a bunch of poles and pound them into the ground. Then, set the framework onto those poles.

Round arch greenhouse

Image source: Gothic Arch Greenhouses

You don’t need a building permit or have to pay taxes on that type of structure. However, you definitely should make sure that you are okay to build in your area. Some zoning issues may crop up on you.

With this style of the greenhouse, you can make them fairly large, maybe up to hundreds of feet long due to personal desire. On the other hand, they have excellent lighting. Basically, you get morning sun from one side to the other if you have them laid from the north to the south.

With the winter exposure in your area, we are at 24 degrees for the worst-case scenario for light coming in. Hence, you get light coming into the end of the wall and of course through the top still.

Then, during the summer, we are at about 72 degrees for our angles of the sun. From that point, we have a fairly large pan and the style of the greenhouse can accommodate all that light.

Round arch greenhouse highlights the utility a single layer or double wall film that can last 4-5 years. Because of thin wall film, they are fairly expensive to heat. The most common problem is that growers just shut down over the winter, especially for those who use a single layer.

On the contrary, the double is usually inflated to offer more insulation value out of that. My advice is to run a blower to keep that film inflated. And this type is not recommended for winter, especially in the snowy weather.

Gothic arch greenhouse

These are also fairly inexpensive to buy and assemble. Usually, it’s just a little bit more expensive because of the way of the tubing.

Again, they don’t require a foundation. Thus, you can usually get away with not having to deal with building permits or paying taxes in the long term. Also, they can be a very large structure to just keep adding on to the ends of them.

Gothic arch greenhouse

Image source:

This type has very good lighting throughout the season as well as has excellent snow removal as they come up to a point when the snow lands on them. It can usually just slide right off onto the sides.

What you need to be careful about is getting too much snow build up along the side of the greenhouse. Moreover, that weight can actually buckle the structure and collapse it in from a side. Typically, if you do have heavy storms then it’s good to keep this snow away from the structure.

They do have a slightly better structural strength than a standard round arch mainly because of keeping that snow off of it.

One thing that a lot of growers with round or gothic-style hoop houses will do is either add a post in the center during the winter to support the structure from snow load. It works great and is very simple. However, you do start losing some of that floor space.

Another option is a crossbar connecting one side to the other with the same benefits as the post.

Traditional style greenhouse

One of the nice things about this style is that they are typically an engineered structure to enable to become quite large. You will see these a lot at educational facilities mainly because they have been calculated out and proven to withstand certain snow loads. From that point, the school can easily get their insurance covered with that.

Actually, the school spends a little bit more money to build a greenhouse through grants. Due to this fact, not many individuals can afford this type of greenhouse.

Again, it has great lighting on the end walls and overhead. Besides, they have fairly good snow removal because of the pitch of the roof. Thus, I repeatedly recommend clearing any snow away from the edges.

Traditional style greenhouse

Image source: Pinterest

Traditional style greenhouse is really a long-term structure. Thus, if you are planning on a family farm that has multi-generations, go for this.

Typically, with this style building as all the walls and ceilings have straight lines, you can add vents into them with the Gothic art style. It’s because of the curvature of the building. It can be tricky to get a vent to close properly against the structure.

I’ve seen these covered in single layer poly, double poly, rigid plastics such as the polycarbonate, Solex, and even glass. If you do choose the polycarbonate or Solex, they can be slightly less expensive the heat.

With a plastic, it’s usually a large span to cover with a single layer. These buildings need a foundation, leading to the result of building permits and taxes

Gutter connect greenhouse

This is an ideal choice if you do a really large operation. However, with this style of greenhouse up in the north, the snow likes to collect in the gutter area. Besides, it can add a lot of weight into these greenhouses

Gothic/traditional greenhouse

It’s very hard to find the true name for this style. Essentially, it’s sort of a Gothic style mixed with a traditional greenhouse. It’s made with bent tubing so you still have rounded corners on it. However, it has straight lines on it, too.

Overall, they are not expensive to purchase as it’s still sort of a tunnel type greenhouse. I’ve seen these both with and without foundations. But again, if you do choose foundation, you need the building permits and pay taxes.

In terms of advantages of this style, the greenhouse has great lighting like the round arch and gothic arch designs. Besides, it’s pretty good with the snow removal thanks to that nice pitch roof.

Gothic traditional greenhouse

Image source: Gothic Arch Greenhouses

Again, with the inflated design, it’s fairly easy to add Ridge vents or roll-up sides to help to deal with some passive cooling. Thus, if you want to save money on electricity, invest for some different vents


Geodesic dome

They are moderately too expensive in price per square foot. The problem with these is that they are so unique, it can be difficult to get any approval from your building official to put them up without engineered designs.

They just aren’t familiar enough with how the strengths of these are. But in turn, they provide excellent lighting from east to west, from morning to night and through different seasons with low to a higher pitch light.

Its design helps snow slide off easily because it’s such a steep pitch. They are usually covered in polycarbonate as it’s easy to cut and have the individual pieces, which also helps to add cost to it.

Besides, this style has very good passive cooling so the vents open up with a higher roof in it. The heat comes right out through the top of the building.

Geodesic dome

Image source: TreeHugger

Talking about the disadvantage, because of its round shape, it’s difficult to have an efficient bed layout, which is not suitable for commercial operation. It’s too hard to do assembly line type growing along with deep water culture bids.

It does require a foundation once we got into this size. I have seen some smaller ones that we just pound posts into the ground or put sonic tubes into the ground and anchor to that. However, for the most part, once you get into these larger structures, it needs a building permit and taxes

Wall apini/pit greenhouse

These are a pretty neat greenhouse relatively inexpensive to build. However, for us, it would be fairly expensive to build. Typically, you’ll see some of these online where they are using sandbags on the walls or cinder blocks or something like that. As we are going down on the ground here, there is a lot of excavation work has to be done, first, we should get through many rocks.

Secondly, as it’s a foundation, we need a building permit. You are now down underground so it is usually a bit thicker concrete wall as there will be people inside.

One of the nice features about this greenhouse is during the summer, you have a cool thermal mask coming into the walls to help keep the structure cool. But again, it’s difficult to deal with these on a commercial operation as once you make them large enough, you still have a huge amount of roof space in your proportions of the roof to walls.

Helping the structure cold just becomes disproportionate and it becomes ineffective. At that point, these units also have fairly poor morning and evening light.

Besides, as this is a structure going down on the ground, so it’s easy to get onto the roof of unexpected things. Thus, you can get livestock or people walking right onto that roof. And if it’s just a standard film, they will fall right through this thing.

On the other hand, this style isn’t suitable for cold weather places.

Passive solar greenhouse

These started becoming really popular in the 70s, they are extremely energy efficient and get fairly good lighting coming through. Usually, they are covered at polycarbonate or glass.

They have excellent snow removal, especially around here. It’s because the pitch to the south-facing is supposed to be at the winter solstice dangle. Thus, you are really at about 24 degrees on that pitch and everything will slide right off.

Besides, it is well insulated.

Passive solar greenhouse

Image source: Pinteres

Usually, you will need a building permit if you do want to build a passive solar greenhouse because they sit on a foundation.

They get very poor morning and evening light from the east to the west. Typically, these have insulated walls on those sides so it takes a few hours to let the sun come around. Thus, I have seen many of these putting glass or plastic on the east and west sides. However, then you will lose some of that insulating value of this style.

The biggest drawback is when you try to largen it for the commercial operation because of the south-facing window. To make the building larger, your wall heights will be very high, which is difficult to scale these to fit.

Chinese greenhouse

Basically, they are south-facing so they have a lot of glazing. And then, there is a north wall with good insolation to help retain some of that heat. Usually, they are covered in a polycarbonate or some type of a plastic film.

In some areas, they will actually use an insulated cloth that comes down overnight but it’s not something that I will be willing to do every day to prevent snow. However, in turns, they have fairly good snow removal. About half of it is sloped enough to get most of snow off.

On the other hand, they are good at cooling. If you start with a small building, it’s quite easy. However, with a bigger one, a problem is when you start getting into commercial sizes. Or else, where you want them to span 26 or 36 feet that span is quite large and usually needs to be supported with some type of beam system. Or each run up there needs to be trellis somehow. Thus, you can start getting into odd engineered calculations.

Chinese greenhouse

Image source: Low Tech Magazine

Again, for a larger house, you must get a building permit whereas it’s hard to expand it to a commercial operation.


Here is the end of this article. Hope that through it, you will learn something new and interesting about types of the greenhouse to choose the most suitable for your area. If you want to know how to build a greenhouse, you can consult here.

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