Greenhouse Purchasing Guide

Heated, high tunnel, low tunnel, poly film, polycarbonate - everything you need to know before buying a greenhouse.

By Kinnek Community  |  March 11, 2016

Greenhouse is a popular option for commercial growers; however, selecting the right greenhouse to buy can be a tough process. This complete guide to buying greenhouses will give you all the information you need to find the right greenhouse setup for you. You can also use it to find the right supplier at the best price.

The Big Questions

Greenhouse: free standing greenhouse
A typical greenhouse

The first thing to figure out is what you need the greenhouse for. Is it to provide a year-round growing environment? Or is it to provide an extension to your growing season for a few months? Second, you should think about the ideal environment for your plants to flourish in , and how your environment differs from the plant's natural environment. Third, you should think about how much space you will need and how much space you have on premises. If your operation is forecast to grow, it may be prudent to plan out the space for the next few years. Lastly, you need to think about your budget for this project. Your budget will significantly affect the greenhouse, materials, and accessories you can purchase.

After you have thought through these questions, you can use the tool to the right to get personalized price quotes on your greenhouse from pre-screened suppliers. The sections below help you through each of these questions.


Greenhouse types

There are 3 major types of greenhouses. The term "greenhouse" has traditionally referred to growing spaces with an active environmental control system. It usually has artificially powered heating, cooling, and ventilation equipment. While these are the most expensive type of greenhouse, they can be used to grow year-round.

Greenhouse: heated greenhouse

Heated greenhouse

The second type of greenhouse is a high-tunnel. These are mainly used to extend the growing season and they do not have active environmental controls. High-tunnels use passive ventilation only.

High tunnel

High tunnel

The third type of greenhouse is a low-tunnel. They are similar to high-tunnels in that they only use passive ventilation, but they are much lower to the ground. Low-tunnels are only appropriate for certain types of plants, and they are more economical than high-tunnels.

Low tunnel

Low tunnel

Greenhouse components

Common greenhouse components:

  • Wire frame
  • Insulation / covering
  • End walls

Optional greenhouse components:

  • Doors
  • Vents
  • Fans
  • Heaters
  • Air conditioners

Greenhouse shapes

There are four main greenhouse shapes:

Greenhouse: quonset greenhouse

Quonset (also called a hoop) greenhouses are the most common shape

Greenhouse: gothic greenhouse

Gothic greenhouses are popular in regions with frequent snow and rain

Greenhouse: gable greenhouse

Gable greenhouses have high sidewalls that are used for certain plants

Greenhouse: gutter connected greenhouse

Gutter-connected greenhouses are made of several greenhouses connected side-to-side and cover a large area to save on environmental control costs

Materials for wire frames

Greenhouse wire frames can be made from many types of durable materials, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The important thigns to consider are weight, durability, and price.

  • Aluminum: durable and light, but slightly expensive. Provides great longevity
  • Steel: highly durable. Heavier but cheaper than aluminum
  • Wood: some people choose wood for aesthetic reasons. The recommended wood types for greenhouses are cedar and pressure-treated lumber
  • PVC plastic: cheapest and lightest option, but not as structurally durable as other materials

Greenhouse covering

Insulation for greenhouses is provided by covering material (also called glazing). Several options are available:

  • Poly film: the most affordable and most common type of covering. It comes in different thicknesses (the thicker, the more heat it retains) and can be double-layered for even greater insulation. It is replaced every 4 to 10 years depending on thickness and quality
  • Polycarbonate panels: a more expensive option than film but provides greater protection from rain and snow. It also tends to be stronger and lasts longer
  • Glass: the most expensive and provides the least insulation. It is aesthetically appealing but is not as economical

Other things to think about

Once you have figured out the basics, you should also think about the following in your planning process:

  • What plants are you looking to grow? (e. g. flowers, vegetables, potted plants, bedding plants, perennials, herbs)
  • What is your planned growing period? (e.g. seasonable vs. year-round)
  • Where to grow the plants? (e.g. flats, beds, pots, troughs)
  • What type of growing system? (.e.g. beds, benches, floor, growing bags)
  • How much annual production are you targeting?
  • Do you need to apply for government permits?
  • How will you finance this greenhouse?

After you have a solid plan in place, you should reach out to greenhouse suppliers to get firm quotes based on your exact needs. You can use the quote request tool on this page to contact the nation's top greenhouses suppliers in one, easy place. Their sales staff will then receive your request and submit personalized quotes to you.

Get Quotes right away

Get free Greenhouse Quotes from Multiple Suppliers

Get Quotes
Related Articles

Choosing Your Supplier

How to find them, what to ask them, and how to ensure you’re getting the best value for your business.

Kinnek Community

How A Moonshine Distiller Found The Right Supplier

Kinnek Community

Select the Right Automated Bottling Equipment

Kinnek showcases advice on selecting equipment from national publication The Equipped Brewer to help build thriving craft beverage businesses.

Kinnek Community