Most new greenhouses are being built with modern polycarbonate sheets instead of the traditional glass. Serious greenhouse owners are even retrofitting their glass greenhouses with polycarbonate panels. What makes these plastics superior to glass and why are so many greenhouse owners switching to them even if it means costly retrofits?
Polycarbonate sheets are less expensive than glass — whether it’s purchase price, installation, maintenance, or repair. They also provide better insulation, allowing greenhouse owners to spend less on heating options during winter. Repairing a polycarbonate panel won’t cost a fraction of the repair costs of glass — you’ll just need a few extra sheets and a box cutter. Their lower cost has allowed growers who could not afford glass greenhouses to have their own.
Complexity of Design
The rigidity of glass limits the designs a greenhouse can have — however, the same isn’t true for polycarbonates. Modern greenhouse and conservatory design can be as fantastic as the owners want it to be through the use of polycarbonate sheets. Whether it’s taller structures, curved designs, or complex builds like geodesic domes — all can easily be achieved through the use of modern plastics. The malleable nature of polycarbonate sheets also makes retrofits a lot easier as they easily conform to whatever design the greenhouse has.
Glass tends to crack and break because of its rigidity. Strong hail, an errant stone, or a kid’s drone can easily damage glass and require costly repair. Polycarbonate sheets are a lot tougher than glass and a lot less prone to damage from blunt impact. It can withstand higher loads of snow (compared to glass) without breaking or even taking damage.
Polycarbonate sheets will not shatter and leave sharp shards of material that can cause injuries. They’re also more forgiving — as their softer and more pliant surface won’t hurt as much if you accidentally run into it. Houses with pets and children often opt for polycarbonate sheets for their greenhouses to limit accidents.
Polycarbonate greenhouses provide better insulation and retain heat better than traditional glass greenhouses. Growers can extend their season well into winter or grow crops that require higher temperatures. Most lavender growers opt for polycarbonate panels when growing their expensive crops. While higher temperatures are ideal during winters, polycarbonate greenhouses can be a bit too hot during the summer — requiring thermal shields or curtains to turn down the heat.
Light dispersion is one of the primary reasons growers are turning away from glass. Polycarbonate panels disperse light — allowing for a more even distribution among the crops within. You’ll no longer have to rearrange your plants to avoid the bigger ones from throwing shade at the smaller ones. Your plants will have more uniform growth and appearance — making them seem professionally grown. Polycarbonate sheets also come with UV-filtering properties — blocking UV that can limit your plants’ ability to photosynthesize.
Glass is no longer the first choice when it comes to building greenhouses. More growers — old and new — are opting for less expensive and more efficient polycarbonate sheets.