DIY Greenhouse Plumbing and Wiring
Plumbing and electrical wiring for your DIY greenhouse can be as simple or as complicated as your budget allows. For a small greenhouse, you can do all your watering with a long hose attached to your house plumbing, and you may be able to get away with no electricity at all. But, adding independent plumbing and wiring can make your work in the greenhouse much easier. If you decide to automate many of the greenhouse maintenance tasks, it will may your life easier to install full irrigation and electrical systems. You need to come up with a detailed plan and floor plan, which includes items like electrical and plumbing connections, even before your start building your greenhouse foundation.
Plumbing For A Greenhouse
Watering of your plants can be done with a hose or a watering can and can give you hours of quiet pleasure. But, if you are pressed for time, installing a drip irrigation system will automate this chore, which has to be done twice a day for most plants. A misting system helps keep the temperature even and increases humidity in the greenhouse, creating optimal growing conditions. Pipes for bringing water into the greenhouse should be installed below the greenhouse floor, with outlets at regular intervals in the greenhouse where you need them. Plan for laying water pipes before you pour the concrete slab or before you install any other type of greenhouse floor.
Electricity For A Greenhouse
For most small greenhouses, it might be enough to bring in the long extension cord for a light bulb or two, so that you can continue working at dusk, or spending a few quiet hours among your plants during the dark winter months. But, if you want to automate your chores like watering or misting, add a few fans for improved air circulation or install full overhead lights, you need to bring electricity into the greenhouse.
While you can do some of the plumbing jobs yourself, you should let professionals do the electrical work and installation. It is safer, and the law requires everything to be done according to local and national code. Your job as the designer of the greenhouse is to come up with a careful and detailed plan for all needed electrical outlets, position of fans, heaters, misters and watering system. Mark on the plan where you plan to place your lights. You will have to decide on everything before you pour your concrete slab foundation or before you lay down the flooring as you will want to bring your wiring in through conduit, which needs to be placed inside of the concrete.
It is a good idea to have a separate circuit breaker in the greenhouse to ease possible repairs and to make the main house independent of your greenhouse work. When talking to your contractor be sure to includes this upfront so they know the full scope of work and can give you an accurate estimate of the total cost.
Keep in mind that the environment in the greenhouse is humid and that all electrical appliances and wiring have to take that into account. You need to purchase and install special type of fans, for example, which have enclosed motors that can operate safely in the humid environment. All light fixtures also have to be well insulated and made for outdoor use.
Below is one possible plumbing and wiring plan example, but it is up to you to evaluate your needs and work with your plumber and electrician before installing everything you need.
Utility Maintenance Greenhouse Costs
In some extreme climates you do not have much choice and have to provide heating and cooling in order to create optimal growing conditions in your greenhouse year round. But, in most locations it is possible to cut down on the amount of electricity used for the greenhouse. The more electrical appliances and electrical systems you have, the more expensive it will be to run your greenhouse from day to day. Think about cutting on the electrical costs while you are building your foundation; a well built and well insulated foundation will keep cold from seeping into the greenhouse. A knee wall will also provide additional insulation, which means less BTUs will be required to keep the greenhouse warm/cool.
Solar vents positioned at the opposite sides of the greenhouse can provide adequate air circulation. The best type is the one that automatically opens and closes as the temperature changes, adjusted by a wall-mounted thermostat.
Drip irrigation can be installed overhead, using gravity to water plants instead of pumps. Instead of an automatic misting system, you can also choose to use misting trays or some other type of natural humidifier.
Whether you are a technophile and like your electrical gadgets, or like things to be as natural (and cheap) as possible, creating a perfect growing environment in your DIY greenhouse requires a great deal of planning, so that you do not find yourself faced with some costly plumbing and electrical work to be done down the line.