For years, greenhouses have been made with glass, the original tool in greenhouse construction. Since then, it has been a staple for gardeners and growers around the world.
However, recent advancements have proved the price of glass is not worth the investment. There are more powerful, cost-efficient options on the market.
Polycarbonate sheets are the new option taking the greenhouse-making community by storm. They are cheaper, quicker to install, and do more than just insulate your green oasis.
Here Are 5 Reasons to Use Polycarbonate Sheets for Your Greenhouse
1. Better Insulation Quality
The primary purpose of a greenhouse is to be a warm environment. Greenhouses can host practically any plant after creating the right weather conditions.
This makes good insulation a top requirement to get started on growing.
Insulation quality in greenhouses is judged by the R-Value. This is the measure of resistance in heat flow, also known as thermal resistance. The higher the R-value, the more control you have over the heat coming in and out of your greenhouse.
Polycarbonate sheets tend to have a range between 1.5 and 2.00, a strong average to hold on the R-value scale. Some sheets can be found with a higher or lower value, depending on the thickness.
2. More Even Light Distribution
Glass does not distribute light as well as plastic. As such, glass greenhouses will cause more direct sunlight to fall on the plants.
This can cause you extra work in order to avoid getting too much, or not enough, light on plants. You'll spend more time moving plants higher or lower or even installing artificial light to balance the space.
Polycarbonate sheets avoid such problems by distributing light evenly throughout your greenhouse. Although the material typically has lower levels of light transmission than glass, once light gets through, it reaches every corner of your greenhouse.
This effect is called diffuse light, and it helps plants grow around 30% faster.
It works by exposing the whole plant to sunlight, rather than relying on one part of the plant to receive direct light. Plants also benefit from less exposure to ultraviolet rays because polycarbonate sheets filter them.
Bonus, this means the sheets protect your skin from sunburns, too!
Additionally, a strong method of temperature and light distribution allows for a longer growing season. Extending a season can mean planting fruits and vegetables early in your greenhouse before moving them outside when the time is right.
3. Better Resistance
Ever had a rock-through-the-winds incident in your greenhouse?
It happens, but not with polycarbonate sheets.
This material is made to withstand the strongest of forces like heavy snow, hail, or rocks, which can easily break right through glass. Some sheets even have over 30 times the impact resistance of glass or acrylic panels.
Greenhouse makers and growers often worry over the yellowing effect caused by sunlight exposure over time. However, most polycarbonate sheet-making companies offer a 10 to 15-year warranty based on the polycarbonate yellowing index.
A 10 to 15-year guarantee is much better than taking a risk on breaking glass, which can happen at any time.
4. Cheaper Price
The longer your sheets last, the less money you will spend replacing them. Instead of investing in glass time and again, one easy investment in polycarbonate can be the best long-run decision.
Polycarbonate sheets are also six times lighter than standard glass. You can build your greenhouse with fewer materials since there is less weight to uphold, dropping total costs significantly.
This also saves money by eliminating the need for a contractor's help. Instead, you can take the afternoon to begin construction or fix panels yourself as the need occurs.
5. More Options
Glass installations need special tools and sizing. Why not take advantage of polycarbonate material and cut measurements as you go?
They cut with ease, allowing for better customization of your greenhouse panels. Cutting on site can also reduce the need to order more panels in the event of wrong measurements. You can fix errors on site and keep working to build your garden oasis.
When purchasing polycarbonate sheets, there are three main kinds to look for: solid and textured, corrugated, and multi-wall.
Solid and Textured Sheets
Solid and textured sheets are the most basic form of polycarbonate panels.
Still, they have the integrity in strength and UV protection of all panels. Solid and textured sheets can come either clear as glass or in a frosted glass pattern, depending on the manufacturer.
They are a convenient, cheap method to get all the lightweight, long-lasting benefits glass can't offer.
Corrugated sheets are made to be a step up in strength.
They have a stronger resistance to intense weather conditions and are more suitable for big projects like a greenhouse.
Corrugated sheets perform better in heat and cold insulation and tend to seal a little stronger. This is a bonus for optimal water resistance in a build-it-yourself greenhouse.
Multi-wall sheets are the most common and the best bang for your buck.
They are two layers of sheets bound together by a perpendicular support. The support creates space for air to pass in between each sheet, allowing for better insulation.
Each sheet is made with a glazing system that provides better impact resistance and transparency, without compromising the weight and flexibility.
Multi-wall sheets come from a twin wall to five wall structure, which can boost the R-value ranking. They provide the best thermal insulation control with light transmission ranging from 25-80%.
This option is the most energy-efficient, convenient, and long-lasting of all polycarbonate options.
Grow Better Plants with Better Materials
Polycarbonate sheets are the secret to any efficient greenhouse.
They provide the best level of light diffusion, letting all your plants receive an equal level of rays no matter where you keep them. This opens doors to extended growing, giving you more benefit from your plants at a lower cost.
Plus, all of this is available with a much higher level of safety.
An investment in polycarbonate materials is an investment in the overall longevity and maintenance of your green space.
Have you made your greenhouse with polycarbonate sheets yet? Tell us about your experience below!