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Greenhouse Coverings 101: Beginner’s Guide

Greenhouse Covering Material

When it comes to selecting the right coverage for your greenhouse there are a number of important factors that come into play. The climate in which your greenhouse operates is one of the most important factors, and plays a significant role in the greenhouse covering options that you will have to choose from. 

In northern climates, you are likely to have more of a focus on providing insulation, to maximize and lock in heat inside the greenhouse structure. The insulation value of particular covering material is indicated by its R factor. The higher the R factor of a material, the greater the level of insulation. 

The most common greenhouse covering options in climates where a higher R factor is required are double layers of polyethylene plastic film, twin wall polycarbonate, or tempered glass. Each of these greenhouse coverings offers a distinct set of advantages and disadvantages. Let’s dig a little deeper into the attributes of each.

Double Layered Polyethylene Sheets

Greenhouse Coverings for Light Diffusion

Double layered poly film with the layers inflated offers a superior R factor over single layer options, because the inflated layers offer better heat retention from the sun between the two layers, maintaining the warmth of your greenhouse environment. Initially, double layered polyethylene film provides superior light clarity for optimal crop growth. However, because polyethylene film does have a tendency to yellow with age, the clarity of the light filtering through to your crops will diminish over time. 

Double layer polyethylene sheets offer one of the most economic and practical options for greenhouse covering, plus it’s easy to install. However, you will need to factor in the cost of replacing the polyethylene film covering every four to six years as the polycarbonate sheeting begins to yellow, and the light clarity decreases.

Twin Wall Polycarbonate

Twin wall polycarbonate greenhouse covering provides a slightly lower R factor than double layered polyethylene film. However, it does maintain its light clarity for a significantly longer period of time. Twin wall polycarbonate greenhouse coverings are available in both clear and diffused light versions and come with a warranty guaranteeing the superior light clarity of the product for 15 years. Though the R factor is lower than the value found in double-layered polyethylene films, it is still high enough to provide adequate insulation properties in cooler climates.

On the plus side, when you install these plastic films as a greenhouse covering, you are assured 15 years of light clarity without the need to reinstall a new greenhouse covering every four to six years as you would with double-layered polyethylene film. 

However, the upfront cost of installing twin walled polycarbonate greenhouse covering is significantly higher than the cost of installing a greenhouse covering of double-layered polyethylene film. Installation of twin wall polycarbonate greenhouse covering requires the purchase and assembly of aluminum extrusions to hold the sheets together, and secure them in place. This extra installation requirement contributes to the overall installation cost of twin wall polycarbonate.

Greenhouse with Twin Wall Polycarbonate

Tempered Glass

Greenhouse with Tempered Glass

Tempered Glass provides the highest degree of light clarity and has a far longer lifespan than either double-layered polyethylene film, or twin wall polycarbonate greenhouse coverings. Tempered glass greenhouse coverings are available in both clear and diffused light varieties and provide a lifetime of superior light clarity with little to no maintenance required.

As with twin wall polycarbonate, installation of a tempered glass greenhouse covering requires the purchase and assembly of aluminum extrusions to hold the tempered glass panels together, and secure them in place. This extra installation requirement contributes to the overall installation cost of a tempered glass greenhouse covering, however, this is a one-time cost as tempered glass panels do not generally require replacement.

For optimal UV protection and the best crop growing results, be sure to do your research regarding your specific climate and growing zone before deciding which greenhouse covering or building material best fits your needs. When possible, you should also take the time to consult with your greenhouse manufacturer to glean their input on which type of greenhouse covering material is most appropriate for your specific greenhouse structure.

Light Enhancing Luminescent Greenhouse Film

Regardless of the type of plastic greenhouse covering that you ultimately choose, you can further enhance the light quality inside your greenhouse through the installation of luminescent greenhouse films like those by UbiGro.

UbiGro luminescent film uses clean nanotechnology known as quantum dots to optimize the quality of the sunlight within your existing greenhouse structure The clean quantum dots nanotechnology leverages the unused UV and blue photon elements present within the natural spectrum of sunlight, converting them into orange, red, and far-red rays. These provide your crop with the optimum light quality that they need to thrive.

Light Enhancing Luminescent Film in a Greenhouse

Optimizing Plant Growth

Optimizing Plant Growth in a Greenhouse

When it comes to optimizing plant growth, enhancing the quality of the light wavelengths received by the plant is crucial. A plant’s relative photosynthetic efficiency is largely dependent on the specific wavelengths of light in the plant’s growth environment. Light wavelengths between 600 nm and 650 nm are optimal for the most efficient plant photosynthesis.

Unlike other light-filtering options like shade cloths, spray coatings, or colored films, UbiGro’s quantum dot nanotechnology actively harvests short-wavelength UV and blue photons and converts them to the longer orange, red, and far-red light wavelengths. This process allows UbiGro luminescent greenhouse films to optimize the natural spectrum of sunlight to provide plants with maximum photosynthetic efficiency. This leads to optimized plant growth and increased crop yields.

UbiGro Helps Growers Optimize the Quality of Their Sunlight

As a luminescent layer, UbiGro helps growers optimize the quality of the sunlight in their existing greenhouse structure by converting otherwise unused elements of the solar spectrum into usable wavelengths, while still preserving the wavelengths most critical to plant development. The proof is evident in the results. Crop growers who have installed UbiGro luminescent greenhouse film in their existing greenhouse structures have reported seeing an increased crop yield of as much as 20%.

One of the coolest aspects of UbiGro luminescent greenhouse film is its glow. The clean quantum dot nanotechnology that powers UbiGro actually glows when activated by sunlight, providing you with a bit of extra confirmation that your UbiGro luminescent greenhouse film is activated and working to diffuse light within your greenhouse.

UbiGro luminescent greenhouse film is activated by the sun’s natural light from the first rays of sunrise till the final rays of sunset. UbiGro luminescent greenhouse film is completely activated and powered by natural sunlight, with no need of any external power source. That means that UbiGro is able to optimize the quality of light transmission within your existing greenhouse with no need to run electrical wiring for power.

Best of all, UbiGro luminescent greenhouse film is flexible. It is specifically designed to be easy to install within any existing greenhouse structure without requiring any special installation equipment, or external power supply. UbiGro luminescent greenhouse film will not interfere with the regular function of your existing greenhouse technology and requires only minimal maintenance to function at its full potential. UbiGro luminescent greenhouse film is designed to maintain superior light clarity and optical performance for at least four years, with an expected usable lifespan of up to six years.

When you are ready to replace your existing greenhouse covering and learn more about enhancing the quality of light within your greenhouse structure, contact UbiGro for a free consultation. UbiGro’s team of greenhouse lighting experts will work with you to create a customized step-by-step installation plan for your existing greenhouse structure. We are here to help!

Jim Gideon

Jim Gideon

Jim Gideon is an UbiGro Sales Manager, with over 25 years of greenhouse industry sales experience covering all of North America. Previously Jim has worked for Green Tek, Plazit-Polygal, Texel, Cherry Creek, and Nexus. He is based in Montgomery, AL, and Jim believes that “light is everything to the grower.”

Dr. Damon Hebert

Dr. Damon Hebert

Dr. Damon Hebert serves as Director of Agriculture Research for UbiQD, Inc., with a background in solar materials and controlled environment cannabis cultivation. He is an advocate for the use of advanced materials to further the industry’s push towards sustainable farming practices. He can be reached at [email protected]

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Hunter McDaniel CEO & Founder UbiGro

Hunter McDaniel, PhD

Founder & CEO

 Hunter earned a Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, before joining Los Alamos National Laboratory in the Chemistry Division. Ultimately the value proposition of UbiGro is about boosting crop yields and quality without the cost or energy impact of lighting. Hunter has more than fifty publications and patents, and more than 2000 total citations, h-index: 20. Hunter fundamentally believes that novel materials underpin every significant technology advancement, and he is focused on leveraging new materials to have a lasting and sustainable impact.

Damon Hebert, PhD

Director of Agriculture

Damon brings a wide range of experience in agriculture, materials science, spectroscopy, and small business. During his time in Prof. Angus Rockett’s research group at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), Hebert authored a doctoral thesis and multiple papers on the materials science of CIGS semiconductor materials, which is closely related to the materials developed at UbiQD. He also served as a consultant to Nanosolar, a CIGS nanocrystal solar cell manufacturing company. Hebert has industry experience having co-founded Dr. Jolly’s, a leading cultivation and distribution operation in Bend, OR.

Tania Lafaille

Sales Representative

Tania is a UbiGro Sales Representative, with over 7 years of experience in product sales (specifically berries and avocados) covering all of North America and parts of South America. While in agriculture, Tania has cultivated strong relationships with growers and distributors, granting her a unique insight into both perspectives. That understanding, paired with her fierce dedication to results, drives her fun and fiery commitment to her craft. Tania is based in Gilroy, CA.

Charles Parrish

Agricultural  Engineer

Charles earned a Bachelor’s in Biological Engineering from North Carolina State University and a Master’s in Biosystems Engineering from The University of Arizona Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. Advised by Dr. Gene Giacomelli, Charles conducted his thesis on the “Optimization of Spectral Quality with Quantum Dots to Enhance Crop Yield in Controlled Environments.” Charles has a decade of biological engineering, greenhouse technology, and molecular biology experience from lab to production scale including working with the Vegetable Production System (Veggie) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. He brings his experience in hydroponics, controlled environment systems design, photobiology, greenhouse engineering, and scientific outreach.

Jim Gideon

Sales Manager

Jim Gideon is an UbiGro Sales Manager, with over 25 years of greenhouse industry sales experience covering all of North America. Previously Jim has worked for Green Tek, Plazit-Polygal, Texel, Cherry Creek, and Nexus. He is based in Montgomery, AL, and Jim believes that “light is everything to the grower.”

Eric Moody

Director of Sales

Eric Moody is UbiQD’s Director of UbiGro Sales. Eric has more than 6 years of experience in horticulture lighting industry, building relationships with greenhouse growers of all sizes and crops on optimal lighting for their growing operation, and most recently managed a North American sales team for PL Light Systems. Overall, Eric has been in sales leadership positions for more than 13 years. Eric brings with him a great understanding of the market and available technologies for growers, greenhouse facilities, and sales leadership. Reach Eric by phone at 541-490-6421 or by email at [email protected].

Mike Burrows, PhD

VP of Business Development

Dr. Michael Burrows is UbiQd’s Vice President of Business Development. His educational background includes a Materials Science doctorate from the University of Delaware and an MBA from Duke University Fuqua School of Business. His career has specialized in the commercialization of novel electronic materials in venture-run programs for different industries including solar, biosensors, and the automotive industry. In both start-up and corporate environments, he has extensive experience in global market development, foraging supply chain partnerships, productization, and brand building. He is currently leading UbiQD’s partnership efforts in luminescent greenhouse technology, smart windows, and security ventures.

Matt Bergern, PhD

Cheif Product Officer

As Chief Product Officer at UbiQD, Dr. Matt Bergren leads the company’s product development efforts, sales, and product manufacturing, including the company’s first commercial agriculture product, UbiGro. He plays a critical role in continuing the company’s path of technology development and vision of powering product innovations in agriculture, clean energy, and security.

He serves as the principal investigator for UbiQD’s contract with NASA, focused on tailoring the solar spectrum for enhanced crop production for space missions. Dr. Bergren’s leadership experience includes serving on the board of directors for the New Mexico Energy Manufacturing Institute, focused on job creation in New Mexico’s energy, and related manufacturing community.