Polycarbonate remains one of the most popular materials when it comes to the construction of a greenhouse. The reason why it’s the preferred material for constructing greenhouses is that it’s more durable than some of the other available alternatives. Furthermore, it comes with great light-diffusing capabilities. Also, polycarbonate is renowned for its stellar impact resistance.
But, for your plants to grow in optimal conditions, you need to ensure you choose the right polycarbonate thickness for your greenhouse. However, if this is your first purchase, choosing the right thickness can prove to be overwhelming. But, don’t let it stress you. In this article, we will walk you through some factors to consider, to ensure you will choose a polycarbonate thickness for your greenhouse, which will do its job properly.
Ideal Polycarbonate Thickness for Greenhouse
As noted above, polycarbonate is durable, versatile, and strong. It also comes with great light-diffusing capabilities, making it the preferred option for a greenhouse. But, to enjoy the amazing benefits that this material offers, you need to make sure you choose the right thickness. The question is, what is the ideal polycarbonate thickness for a greenhouse? Well, the answer to this question will depend on various factors and individual needs.
Also known as mini-greenhouses, smaller greenhouses are mainly used for starting seeds, raising seedlings, and raising indoor plants that require higher levels of humidity. They can be used as balcony gardens, for someone with limited space.
Unlike conventional greenhouses, mini-greenhouses usually need relatively thinner polycarbonate sheets. Ideally, a 4mm polycarbonate sheet, whether solid or twin-wall will get the job done.
A 4mm polycarbonate sheet will allow the optimal amount of light to pass through. Also, it will be safer than glass, thus making the house much safer for pets, children, and other occupants.
So, if you are a part-time veggie grower or you want to raise some indoor plants and you are looking to purchase a polycarbonate sheet for your greenhouse, then a twin-wall or solid 4mm will be more than ideal.
All-year greenhouses such as commercial greenhouses will need thicker polycarbonate, compared to mini-greenhouses. Since these greenhouses are operational throughout the year, the polycarbonate will have to be thick enough to endure the elements.
At the same time, it also needs to allow optimal light to pass through, to provide the right growing conditions for the plants inside. So, which thickness should you go for if your greenhouse will be operational throughout the year?
Well, the minimum polycarbonate thickness for an all-year greenhouse should be 10mm. However, you may some people may advise you to go for a thicker sheet of around 25 mm, since it will deliver better longevity and security.
But, you also need to consider other factors like heat loss and transmission. As much as a thicker sheet will deliver better security and longevity, it will also trap more heat. Furthermore, it will reduce the amount of light coming into the greenhouse. Consequently, the plants inside may be affected. Hence, for an all-year greenhouse, a 10mm polycarbonate sheet should do the job.
Light Transmission Considerations
And as mentioned above, the thickness of a polycarbonate sheet has a direct impact on the amount of light that will come into the greenhouse. The thicker it is, the lesser the amount of light coming inside the greenhouse and vice versa.
For instance, a 10mm twin-wall polycarbonate sheet will deliver 81% of visible light while a 16mm triple-wall polycarbonate will allow only 74% of visible light to pass through. At the same time, the percentage of visible light that a 25mm multiwall will allow will be 62% while a 35mm multiwall will only allow approximately 51% of visible light to pass through.
So, if you live in one of the least sunny or cloudiest places, then you should go for a lighter polycarbonate sheet such as an 8mm, 10mm, or 16mm. A lighter polycarbonate sheet will allow adequate sunshine to pass through. On the other hand, if you live in an area that experiences strong sunshine almost throughout the year, then you should opt for a thicker sheet-like 16mm. Such a sheet will protect your crops against too much sunshine. But on average,
Heavy Winds and Storms Protection
As much as polycarbonate is a strong and durable material, strong winds and storms can cause considerable damage. So, when buying a polycarbonate sheet, you should also consider this factor when making your decision.
The thicker the polycarbonate sheet, the sturdier it will be. To this end, if you happen to live in an area that experiences heavy storms or strong winds frequently, then you should opt for a thicker sheet. Ideally, a 16mm-thick polycarbonate sheet will be perfect for such areas. It will be sturdy enough to withstand the strong winds and storms. And at the same time, it will allow enough light to pass through the crops.
Heat Loss Considerations
Heat loss is also a key consideration when determining the thickness of greenhouse polycarbonate. Heat loss is usually measured by its U-value. For polycarbonate, the lower the sheet’s U-value, the lesser the amount of heat that it allows to escape and vice versa.
It’s worth mentioning that the thicker a polycarbonate sheet is, the lesser the U-value. And this means thicker sheets allow lesser heat loss compared to thinner ones. For instance, the U-value of a 25mm polycarbonate sheet is approximately 1.7 while the U-value of a 10mm sheet is around 3.0. As you can see, the 25mm polycarbonate sheet is approximately twice more efficient in retaining heat, compared to the 10mm.
Another factor to consider about the thickness of polycarbonate for a greenhouse is the insulation factor. Insulation is usually measured using R-value. When it comes to polycarbonate sheets, the higher the R-value, the higher the level of insulation that it will provide. A polycarbonate sheet whose insulation level is high will guarantee that the temperatures will not increase too much during the summer months or drop too low during the winter season.
Wrapping It Up
There’s nothing like one-size-fits-all when it comes to polycarbonate thickness for greenhouse. At the end of the day, different people have different needs. Besides, different areas have different climatic conditions, which would require different levels of thickness. But, we hope the tips we’ve shared in this article will help you to choose the perfect polycarbonate thickness for your greenhouse, depending on your needs.