Passive Solar Greenhouse Domes for Winter Gardening

Winter Greenhouse, Year Round, Solar Geodesic Dome Greenhouse – Heating & Cooling

Winter Heating | Summer Cooling

The Growing Dome® year-round, winter greenhouse differs from ordinary greenhouses in that it utilizes a combination of innovative systems to harvest solar energy for both heating and cooling. These passive solar greenhouses are designed to accommodate heat-loving plants in the summer and cold-hardy crops in the winter with no or little need for heating or cooling (depending on the climate). Our value of “living lightly on the earth” is reflected in how efficient and simple each and every system in the Growing Dome is. We encourage and support minimal use of fossil fuels with this clever design as well as have systems that are dual purpose, providing heating benefits in the winter and cooling in the summer. Nothing is wasted in these beautiful structures.

winter greenhouseWINTER HEATING:

In the winter, the Growing Spaces® geodesic dome greenhouse is designed to capture and store the heat of the sun during the day and slow down the heat loss overnight. The following is an overview of this principle in action:

Capturing Heat During the Day

1. ABOVE GROUND POND: Ever thought about replacing a propane heater with a pond of water? We were the first greenhouse manufacturer to realize that water mass was a realistic (and free) alternative to paying for propane and electricity all winter. We’ve done the research and discovered the amount of water needed to replace those heaters. The pond is the key feature that allows the Growing Dome to grow plants year-round. In the winter, the dark, metal surface of the pond absorbs the heat of the sun all day long and releases the stored energy at night to keep the Growing Dome warm.

We are still the ONLY greenhouse kit manufacturer that offers an above ground pond as part of the kit.

2. CENTRAL AIR SYSTEM: When the interior of the year-round greenhouse is hot during sunny winter days the central air system, also called an under soil heating and cooling system, heats the soil. The central air system moderates soil temperatures so you have multiple, long windows to sow seeds and the opportunity to grow crops all year. In winter, the warm air inside the Growing Dome is drawn through pipes buried in the growing beds by the means of a solar powered fan. This helps to keep the soil in the growing beds warmer, thus increasing plant germination and growth. This soil heating system in our solar greenhouses is entirely free, as it uses the energy of the sun.

3. GEODESIC DOME SHAPE: The shape of the passive greenhouse mirrors the path of the sun, so no matter what the sun’s angle there is always direct sunlight entering the structure to heat it up.

Preventing Heat Loss at Night

1. POLYCARBONATE GLAZING PANELS: This solar greenhouse is covered with energy-efficient, insulated twin or multi-wall polycarbonate glazing panels. These panels slow down heat loss through the transparent portion of the Growing Dome.

2. NORTH WALL INSULATION: Two fifths of the north wall of the geodesic dome is covered with reflective insulation panels. These panels act like a blanket and help to slow down the heat loss at night. It also traps the low winter sunlight and reflects it onto the surface of the pond to heat the water.

3. WALL INSULATION: The outside walls of the growing beds in this year round greenhouse are insulated to prevent heat loss to the outdoors and keep the soil beds warmer.

4. FROST SKIRT: There is an insulated frost skirt buried around the perimeter of the Growing Dome to prevent frost from penetrating in and under the structure.

With these unique systems and the geodesic dome greenhouse design, we create a structure that allows cool weather plants to continue to grow throughout snowy, cold winters. In very cold or cloudy climates the solar energy can be augmented with the use of a small greenhouse heater, which can be thermostatically controlled. We calculate that Growing Spaces greenhouse kits need only 1/3 of the amount of heat required by conventional green houses. To learn more about auxiliary heating methods please visit our Greenhouse Heating Options page.


In the summer ALL greenhouses, from hoop houses to traditional glass houses to rectangular commercial greenhouses, have the potential to overheat. Most commercial and hobby greenhouses have either a ceiling fan or an exhaust fan to cool the structure. This can be result in high energy bills and intensive fossil fuel use. The Growing Spaces Growing Dome, however, uses sustainable methods of cooling which are passive or solar powered.

1. AUTOMATIC VENTS: Our greenhouse kit has automatic vents that open and close to help with ventilation and cooling. The vents function via a piston filled with wax that expands and contracts as the temperature changes inside the greenhouse. The vents open when it gets warm, and close as it cools off inside. The openers can be adjusted to different operating temperatures and, even better, they free you from having to do this task manually.

2. CHIMNEY EFFECT: Like a chimney, the Growing Dome draws the hot air of the greenhouse out through top vents. Cool air enters through the lower vents to help continue the cycle. This is an incredibly efficient and absolutely cost-free way of cooling your passive solar greenhouse.

3. ABOVE GROUND POND: An added benefit is that the above ground pond in our Growing Domes also provides cooling services. In the summer months the pond is shaded by the umbrella of north wall insulation keeping the water in the pond cool and thus, the Growing Dome cooler.

4. CENTRAL AIR SYSTEM: In the warmer months, powered by the solar panel, cool air from around the shaded area of the pond is drawn out through the pipes of the central air system. The air is moved thorough the soil to cool the growing beds, helping to moderate the overall internal air temperature.

5. SHADE CLOTH: A shade cloth will reduce the intensity and heat of the sun during the summer months. The 50% aluminet shade cloth may be purchased as an upgrade through Growing Spaces for any Growing Dome size. The shade cloth upgrade comes with a hardware kit so you can hang the material from the struts on the inside of the Growing Dome. 

6. SOLAR POWERED COOLING FANS: Our larger (26 ft. and up) year round greenhouses have cooling fans, which can be solar powered. Any Growing Dome kit can be upgraded with a Desert Heat Package which includes a solar powered fan. Learn more about solar powered greenhouse fans.

7. FOREST GARDEN: The Growing Dome is designed to have 24 inch raised beds. This allows for plantings of tall, vining and big-leafed plants. The deeper a plant, bush or tree can set roots, the taller they can grow. So, you can grow a lush, tall forest of plants that provide valuable cooling services (shade and evaporative cooling). Many other greenhouse kits utilize planting shelves that require you keep the size of your plants limited and in pots. That leaves a lot of empty, hot, and unused space in these traditional greenhouses.