7 Reasons Polycarbonate Greenhouses are Proven to be the Best
Why choose a polycarbonate greenhouse?
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You have decided to finally build the greenhouse you have been dreaming about for years. You want polycarbonate. Your partner thinks a glass greenhouse is best. How to choose? Which truly is the best? What if you had all of the answers to your partners objections?
Polycarbonate greenhouses are my favorite. I freely and openly admit it. I would much prefer a polycarbonate greenhouse in my backyard to a glass greenhouse or polyfilm greenhouse. My hope is once you have read this you will feel the same way about building your greenhouse using polycarbonate greenhouse panels.
These sheets offer better insulation than glass or polyfilm.
A multiwall polycarbonate sheet has channels that run between two exterior sheets creating a higher R value. R value is the resistance to the passage of heat through the material.
I compare them to looking down the end of a cardboard box. You will have a sheet on the outside, a sheet on the inside and a rib that runs through between the sheets. The rib will be straight through in polycarbonate rather than wavy in corrugated cardboard.
This channel or “dead air space” will give a much higher R value (better insulation) than 6 mil polyfilm or tempered glass.
A 6 mil polyfilm will have about a 0.8 R value. Single glass has about a 0.95 R value and 8mm twinwall polycarbonate will have an R value of about 1.7.
The higher the R value the better the insulation. What this means to you is that you will use less energy and spend less money heating your greenhouse.
No Hot Spots
With glass roofs you may get hot spots in your greenhouse. Polycarbonate greenhouse panels, even the clear ones, will diffuse the light somewhat helping to eliminate this problem.
Easier to Install
Polycarbonate is easier to install than glass or polyfilm.
With polyfilm you have to be concerned with catching it on anything sharp on the frame and causing it to tear. Glass is heavier and some people just don’t like the thought of handling glass.
Polycarbonate sheets are lightweight and pretty forgiving as long as you leave room for contraction and expansion when installing. The standard rule of thumb is to leave 1/8” every 3′ for contraction and expansion.
Tough and Break Resistant
This glazing is virtually break proof. It has an impact resistance of roughly 200 times higher than glass. Most polycarbonate sheets used for greenhouses even have a ten year warranty against hail damage.
Glass, even if it is tempered glass, will break if hit right.
We had a customer we built a glass greenhouse for years ago. Every time he mowed his yard he called us back to replace a piece or two of glass. Eventually we recommended that he turn his mower in the opposite direction when mowing around his greenhouse. That was all it took! But still, it is expensive and sometimes difficult to replace tempered glass in a greenhouse.
If you have small children around you may want to take this into consideration when considering glass, polyfilm or polycarbonate. Accidents happen even when they are being careful. That football may not land exactly where it was planned to go. Glass and polyfilm greenhouses will not hold up to accidental errors.
UV protected greenhouse film will typically have a 4 year warranty on the UV protection, although there are different grades. But, you still have to be concerned with ripping, etc. Polycarbonate greenhouse sheets that are UV protected with have a ten to twenty year warranty, depending on the manufacturer.
More flexibility in design
When using polycarbonate sheets for your greenhouse you will have more flexibility in design that with glass or polyfilm.
Polycarbonate Sheets can be bent onsite.
You can bend these sheets on site with no tools if you follow the manufacturers minimum bending radius guidelines. It’s hard to do that with a piece of glass. You can bend glass, but it is expensive and companies that will do this are hard to find.
Less expensive than glass
The materials are less expensive than trying to locate tempered glass. And, they are readily available. Glass greenhouse kits will also be more expensive than polycarbonate greenhouse kits.
You also will have an excellent selection of greenhouse polycarbonate sheets of different thicknesses and different specialty coatings. These would include such properties as heat reduction for warmer climates, light deprivation panels for the marijuana industry and diffused light panels for just a general healthier plant.
Can be easier to move
Due to the panels being so lightweight it may be easier to move a polycarbonate greenhouse than a glass greenhouse. Of course this is going to depend on the size and framing materials used.
I have always been a more function over form type of person. I am not as worried about the aesthetics of a product as I am about its ability to perform its duty.
That being said, if you want a clear view out of your greenhouse like looking through a window polycarbonate will probably not be for you. The rib that runs between the panels will distort your view somewhat. You will see colors but not details through the polycarbonate sheets.
After reading this I hope you are in agreement with me that polycarbonate greenhouses are the best. What do you think? Let me know in the comments if you prefer polycarbonate, polyfilm or glass greenhouses. Happy Growing! Tammy
Polycarbonate Sheets, Not Just for Greenhouses Anymore
Many uses for Polycarbonate Sheets
Want an easy to use building material with superior qualities? Time to try polycarbonate for your next building project.
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What is Polycarbonate?
Polycarbonate is a plastic material. It is used in many different formulas for many different applications. It is used for eyeglasses, auto parts, bulletproof windows and even for CD’s (compact discs).
8mm clear twinwall polycarbonate
We are going to be discussing multiwall polycarbonate. That is a polycarbonate sheet that is made up of multiple layers.
One of the more popular configurations is an 8mm twinwall. That means there are 8mm’s (3/16”) between the two outside sheets. It is kind of like looking at the edge of a cardboard box. There is a sheet on each side with a rib running between the two sheets. The rib is straight between the two sheets, not wavy like it is in a cardboard box.
You can get sheets anywhere from 4mm to 25mm and sometimes even thicker in the multiwall configuration. Many sheets are also available with a third wall, such as 8mm, 10mm, 16mm and sometimes 25mm. There are also sheets that have an X between the sheets going anywhere up to a 7 wall material.
The sheets are readily available in clear, opal (or ice), bronze, with specialty coatings such as Polycoolite or Softlite. A clear sheet of 8mm will have crystal clear sheets on both sides. But, you will not get a clear view through the 8mm panel. That is because the rib will distort your view.
Benefits of Polycarbonate
Polycarbonate is a lightweight material, which makes it easy to work with. For example, a 4’ x 8’ sheet of 8mm twinwall weighs only about 13 pounds.
It cuts easily with a skill saw, table saw, jig saw, etc.
It can be bent within certain limitations.
It has a high light transmission with a higher insulation factor than glass.
Polycarbonate sheets will last a long time. They will have anywhere from a 10 year to 20 year warranty depending on the material and the manufacturer.
It is great for areas with high traffic where breakage may be a concern. The manufacturers typically offer a 10 year warranty against hail damage, as it is so tough to break.
Polycarbonate can be easily installed on wood or metal frames.
The polyfilm will not last as long as the other 2 options. The 4 year refers to the length of the UV protection. If you get the full 4 years you will definitely not get much more. The polycarbonate sheets will have a 15 – 25 year lifetime depending on the manufacturer and the sheet. Tempered glass will last pretty much forever unless it is broken.
Many people choose a specialty sheet for their greenhouse such as Polycoolite or Softlite. Polycoolite will help to keep your greenhouse cooler in warm climates.
Softlite or Polymatte both offer 100% light diffusion. This means that the light is scattered all through out the greenhouse so that all parts of the plant, even under the plant canopy, get good light.
Bronze and opal are not recommended for greenhouses as they have low light transmission. You would only use them for plants with low light requirements.
A conservatory is much like a greenhouse, but it is typically meant for more of a living space rather than a space for plants. These may or may not be attached to your home.
Polycarbonate Wrap Around Porch
Polycarbonate is an excellent choice for a patio cover. You can choose between clear, opal, bronze, or specialty sheets designed to keep out heat. The main benefit of polycarbonate over solid materials is that it lets light into your home and does not darken it like solid materials can.
Polycarbonate can be used for skylights in homes, or even commercial skylights. There is even a polycarbonate panel that is made with a standing seam for commercial skylight applications. This totally eliminates the possibility of leaking around the seams. You would have to have several inches of rain standing on your roof for it to get to the seams.
2 UV Polycarbonate Fencing
Polycarbonate is an excellent material for fencing. It gives you privacy, but you can still get your sunlight in. You must be certain to use 2UV polycarbonate for fencing. This is a sheet that has UV protection on both sides of the sheet. This is because both sides of the sheet are exposed to sunlight. The UV protection is what gives this product its longevity.
Polycarbonate Office Partition
Who wants to spend the day in a dark, closed in cubicle? No need to do that anymore. Polycarbonate will give the needed privacy while lightening things up.
Polycarbonate Hurricane Panels
Having spent more than 15 years in a hurricane area, I can tell you that hurricane panels are a great invention.
Plywood is heavy and it will darken your house. Chances are that if a storm hit you may be without electricity. This means you can’t even see to make your way around in your house. Sometimes there are back to back storms and you don’t want to remove the covers and have to reinstall them.
Polycarbonate hurricane panels are lightweight and easy to handle. Plus they will let the light in. If there is an active hurricane season you can even leave these on for an extended period of time.
Polycarbonate sheets can also be used to cover a portico to a commercial building such as a hotel. The guests will be protected from the weather, and still have plenty of light. This is just more inviting than a dark, solid cover.
In conclusion, polycarbonate is a versatile, easy to use material. What can you think of to build that I did not mention? Let us know in the comments below.
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