Polycarbonate greenhouse traps heat energy in the same way that our planet’s atmosphere keeps us warm – through light wave transformation, and through convection of the air inside the polycarbonate greenhouse. Solar radiation reaches the greenhouse, passes through the polycarbonate sheets, and gets absorbed by the ground and plants inside the greenhouse. The ground and plants transform the solar energy, and convert it to heat energy, which cannot escape through the polycarbonate sheets. The air inside the polycarbonate greenhouse is kept warm by convection, which simply means that warmer air near the ground rises, and the cooler air near the ceiling of the greenhouse falls. Because the greenhouse keeps the air trapped inside, the convection process allows the air to absorb more and more heat each time it rises and falls.
How does polycarbonate green house work?
The sun provides three basic types of light waves: UV or ultraviolet waves, visible light waves, and infrared light waves. Each of these light waves has a relatively short wavelength, and will pass easily through most types of glass, including polycarbonate sheets. Once inside the waves are absorbed by plants and the ground, where they are transformed into thermal, or heat energy. Because thermal energy has a much longer wavelength than light waves, it cannot pass through the polycarbonate, and remains trapped inside. This is referred to as the Greenhouse Effect; it is the same process that keeps the Earth warm, and makes the inside of your car hot on a sunny day.
Along with light wave transformation, another process called convection helps maintain the warmth inside a polycarbonate greenhouse. The air closest to the ground and plants is warmed by the radiating thermal energy; since warm air is lighter than cool air, it naturally rises. In our atmosphere, the warm air will eventually reach a height where it will be cooled again. However, the polycarbonate in the greenhouse traps the air before it can reach this height and cool completely. As the air continuously rises and falls within the greenhouse, it maintains its heat and gets slightly warmer each time.
Advantages of Polycarbonate over Glass
Greenhouses can consist of glass panels or polycarbonate, as both panels react and work in the same way, by allowing light through the transparent panels but trapping the heat within.
However the biggest advantage is that polycarbonate is light and much stronger – a bonus being that is also more economically viable as its costs less than glass. Glass greenhouse tends to be more durable in terms of age and durability to the weather. They tend to be semi-permanent structures that will cost more to build initially, but hold up better over time. The choice is dependent on your budget and the length of time you expect to keep the structure.
Polycarbonate greenhouses are ideal due to their cost and the safety which polycarbonate provides over glass. Also more durable in terms of strength, polycarbonate will less likely break due to weather such as hail. With greenhouses being usually situated in your back garden, polycarbonate panels are ideal, especially if children play in the garden, as they may accidentally hit a ball and break glass greenhouses, but the durability of polycarbonate, means it will not shatter like glass.
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