Solarium in Brooklyn  NY (C) Daniel Friedman

Greenhouse / Sunspace Design for Solar Heating & Trombe Walls

InspectAPedia tolerates no conflicts of interest. We have no relationship with advertisers, products, or services discussed at this website.

This article describes how to ventilate a greenhouse used for solar heating, and how to connect the greenhouse to the house for effective heating. We discuss insulating the greenhouse against night time heat losses, and also we describe how to get warm air or heat from the greenhouse into the rest of the building.

We give suggestions for ventilating greenhouses or sunspaces in hot summer weather, and we describe where to watch out for leaks in greenhouse or sunspace or solarium roofs & walls.

Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2015, All Rights Reserved.

Advice for Insulating a Greenhouse or Solarium Against Night Time Heat Loss

Greenhouse - private residential - Hanmer Springs New Zealand (C) Daniel FriedmanArticle Contents

The table of insulation properties at page top and accompanying text are reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss. Our photo at left illustrates a small greenhouse constructed at a private residence in Hanmer Springs, New Zealand.

[Click to enlarge any image]

Question about how to best insulate a greenhouse (sunspace) against night time heat losses:

I plan to convert a carport to a greenhouse / dining room. The brick wall between the carport and the house contains a door to the kitchen and a window to the living room.

How should the greenhouse be ventilated and how should the greenhouse be connected to the house for effective solar heating? - Michael Moran, Clemson SC


Greenhouse floor slab insulation retrofit (C) Daniel Friedman Steven Bliss

Sunspace or Greenhouse Trombe Wall Retrofit Advice for Solar Heating

The brick wall between house and the new greenhouse has the makings of a Trombe wall, with one minor hitch - if it does not receive direct sunlight, its value as a thermal mass that absorbs, stores, and later returns heat is greatly reduced.

Cutting skylights into the carport roof would help the thermal mass wall work better by allowing sunlight to strike it directly.

Our photo (left) shows a large sunspace constructed atop a converted factory building in Poughkeepsie, NY.

The question-and-answer article about greenhouses or solariums on this page quotes-from, updates, and comments an original article, from Solar Age Magazine and written by Steven Bliss.

Sunspace or Greenhouse Air Movement Advice for Solar Heat Design - Getting Warm Air into the Building

To get proper air circulation from the sunspace to the house you will need two vents - one high and one low.

The doorway and window should provide this ventilation, though a high vent can be added if required.

Since natural air convection is relatively week in a one-story building, a thermostatically controlled fan in the wall would give greater control and move even more heated air from the greenhouse sunspace into the rest of the house.

Greenhouse or Sunspace Ventilation - Summer Needs

Greenhouse in Barri Gotic Barcelona (C) Daniel FriedmanFor summer ventilation of the greenhouse or sunspace, high and low vents to the outdoors usually suffice. A doorway at one end, combined with a high vent at the other end is a common setup.

Another greenhouse solution combines awning windows along the front with operable skylights for roof vents. For accurate sizing for venting and heating of a sunspace, see "The Last Word in Sunspace Design," Solar Age 6/84

Our greenhouse photo (left) was taken in the Barri Gotic in Barcelona, Spain.

Here we include solar energy, solar heating, solar hot water, and related building energy efficiency improvement articles reprinted/adapted/excerpted with permission from Solar Age Magazine - editor Steven Bliss.


Green House or Solarium Roof Leak Points to Watch For

Roof leak points on solariums (C) Carson Dunlop Associates


As Carson Dunlop Associates point out in their sketch (left), greenhouses and solariums can be leaky, especially where an add-on solarium abuts the original structure.

Often we can spot these leaks as stains down the building wall below the points of contact between the solarium roof and the building walls.

Watch Out: a solarium or greenhouse leak that enters the wall cavity may not show up immediately as a stain on the building interior, but it can lead to rot, insect damage, or a mold problem


Original article


Continue reading at INSULATION CHOICES & PROPERTIES or select a topic from the More Reading links shown below.

Or see

Suggested citation for this web page

GREENHOUSE DESIGN for SOLAR HEATING at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.

More Reading

Green link shows where you are in this article series.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Click to Show or Hide FAQs

Ask a Question or Search InspectApedia

Questions & answers or comments about trombe wall designs, solar heating, & greenhouses or sunspaces.

Use the "Click to Show or Hide FAQs" link just above to see recently-posted questions, comments, replies, try the search box just below, or if you prefer, post a question or comment in the Comments box below and we will respond promptly.

Search the InspectApedia website

HTML Comment Box is loading comments...

Technical Reviewers & References

Publisher's Google+ Page by Daniel Friedman

Click to Show or Hide Citations & References