What are the benefits of greenhouse curtain systems?

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Have you ever wondered how greenhouses manage temperature and light? The answer is greenhouse curtain systems! Sometimes referred to as shades, screens, or even blankets, these systems play a vital role in controlling the environment inside a greenhouse.
At their core, greenhouse curtain systems are made of movable panels crafted from fabric or plastic film. Depending on the size and purpose of the greenhouse, these curtains can range from covering just a small bench to sprawling out over an entire acre! For more compact spaces, they can be easily adjusted by hand. However, for larger areas, motorized systems are typically employed for efficiency.
One of the key places you'll find these curtain systems is mounted inside the greenhouse, right beneath the solid or film roof.
Here's a fun fact: greenhouse curtain systems serve multiple purposes.
Here are some of its uses:
  • Heat Retention: These curtains help to trap warmth, ensuring plants get the right temperature to grow.
  • Shading and Cooling: On particularly sunny days, the curtains provide shade to prevent plants from overheating. This, in turn, creates a cooling effect inside.
  • Day Length Control: Some plants require specific light conditions. These curtains allow greenhouse owners to simulate longer nights or even total blackouts, especially when less than 1% of outside light is allowed through.

The Science Behind How Curtains Help with Heat Retention

How do greenhouse curtains contribute to heat retention? When the night falls, and the demand for heat peaks, interior curtain systems step up to the task! Even blackout systems, which are primarily designed for controlling day length, come in handy for preserving warmth. This is true whether or not light control is a priority.
But how effective are these curtain systems? Well, the amount of heat conserved and the subsequent fuel savings depend primarily on the curtain's material.
Here's a fun fact: curtain systems have a threefold energy-saving superpower! They trap an insulating layer of air, reduce the area requiring heating, and if they're equipped with aluminum strips, reflect heat into the greenhouse.
A curtain system designed for heat retention acts like a thermal barrier, trapping cold air between its fabric and the greenhouse roof. However, there's a catch – when the curtains swing open in the morning, this cold air descends into the space below. To prevent any shock to the plants, it's crucial to open the curtains slowly, letting the cold air blend with the warm air underneath. Alternatively, for those plants that don't mind a bit of shade, the curtains can remain closed until the morning sun naturally warms the air above the system.

Curtain Systems: The Shade Providers in Greenhouses

Interior curtain systems have earned their spot as a popular choice for managing light and temperature throughout the day. One of the neat benefits of these curtain systems is that they ditch the need for constant reapplications of shading paint. For greenhouse caretakers, this means saving both time and money. It's a win-win situation!
So, what are these curtain systems made of? Nowadays, the trend is to use fabric crafted from a mix of clear and aluminized polyester strips. The shiny aluminized strips have a unique role – they bounce the light back through the greenhouse roof. This clever trick significantly lessens the amount of cooling needed underneath the shade.

Setting Up Curtain Systems in Your Greenhouse: A Simple Guide

The fabric panels can be arranged in two different ways: they can go gutter-to-gutter across the greenhouse's width, or they can be set up from truss-to-truss down the length of the structure.
In a gutter-to-gutter setup, each fabric panel is pretty much the same size as the floor of one gutter-connected house. The panels are made wide enough to stretch the gap between one truss and the next for the truss-to-truss configuration.
Regardless of the setup, each panel has two edges – one stationary and one moving. While one edge of the curtain stays put, the drive system drives the other back and forth to reveal or conceal the curtain. It means that each panel is securely held in place while still able to move when needed.

Gutter-to-gutter system explained: How does it work?

Have you ever wondered how the gutter-to-gutter system operates in a greenhouse?
It has curtain panels stretched out flat, spanning the entire width of the greenhouse right at the gutter height. This clever design aims to reduce the air volume below the curtain.
What makes this system stand out is its efficiency. It demands less labor for installation compared to the more common truss-to-truss system. However, the downside is that there might be better fits for some greenhouses out there.
If your greenhouse has unit heaters or circulation fans positioned above the gutter level, the curtain of the gutter system might just get in its way. This means they won't be able to heat or circulate the air below, where the crops are nestled. Although the system reduces the heated greenhouse space, it simultaneously maximizes the amount of cold air. This scenario poses a challenge, especially when mixing and reheating the air above the system as the day breaks.
Another aspect to consider is retrofitting. If your greenhouse has gas lines, electrical conduits, or heating pipes fixed at the gutter level, integrating a gutter-to-gutter system might be a bit of a puzzle. And, let's not forget about the curtain material. When uncovered, it forms a substantial bundle under each gutter, potentially casting unwanted shade on your precious crops.
In a nutshell, while the gutter-to-gutter system has its perks, you must still weigh the pros and cons to determine if it's the right match for your greenhouse needs.

Truss-to-truss system explained: How does it work?

 In this system, curtain material smoothly slides between two beams, known as trusses. This curtain system folds neatly into small bundles when not in use, ensuring efficient storage.
How can you set it up? There are three main configurations:
  • Flat at Gutter Height: This style is straightforward. The curtain lies flat and aligns with the gutter, making installation easy. It also ensures the heated area is minimized, which can be energy efficient.
  • Slope-Flat-Slope: The curtain starts at one slope, levels out in a flat section, and then goes back into another slope. A great perk? It can be installed above equipment and right above the gutter. It's like having the best of both worlds.
  • Slope-Slope: This design closely follows the roof's natural line, stretching from the gutter right to the peak of the truss. Not only does it look streamlined, but it also helps prevent cold air from getting trapped above the curtain. Plus, if equipment is mounted higher than the gutter, this design ensures maximum clearance.
In a nutshell, the truss-to-truss system offers versatility and efficiency. It can adapt to various installation needs and preferences.

The Science Behind Drive Mechanisms

At the core, drive mechanisms have an electric motor and a gearbox. They team up to push and pull curtain panels. But there's a catch! The motor spins in circles, while the curtains need to move straight. That's where the drive mechanism transforms that spin into a straight-line motion.
Now, how do they do it? There are three main ways:
  • Push Pull Drive: It's like a one-trick pony. It only moves the truss-to-truss systems.
  • Cable/Drum: Imagine a spool of thread. As it turns, the curtain moves with it. This method works for both gutter-to-gutter and truss-to-truss.
  • Chain and Cable Drives: This pair can handle both gutter-to-gutter and truss-to-truss systems.

Exploring the Backbone of Curtain Systems: Support Systems

Curtain systems rely on a strong, supportive backbone to move and function effectively. This backbone, known as the support system, ensures curtain panels smoothly traverse without a hitch.
These are made from wires or nylon, uniformly spaced and running parallel across the greenhouse. Based on the system's design, these are carefully placed at intervals ranging from eighteen inches to four feet.
There are two widely used support systems:
  • Lay Flat System: The curtain panels simply rest on top of the support lines.
  • Suspended System: The curtain panels dangle from the lines using plastic hooks, like clothes on a hanger.
It's crucial to note that if monofilament or smooth stainless-steel wires and specific fabric designs are utilized, curtain panels lie atop the support lines. This eliminates the need for clear strips to leave gaps, facilitating healthy air circulation.

Different Types of Blackout Curtain Materials

Blackout curtains are crafted from several materials:
  • Polyethylene Film: This is the most budget-friendly choice. But there's a catch. It can't let water or its vapor pass through. So, water might collect on the curtain if a greenhouse leaks rain. As a result, this material becomes so heavy. This can harm the curtain's support system.
  • Knitted Polyester: This material steps it up a notch. It sometimes comes with a shiny aluminum coating on one side. Unlike polyethylene, it's porous. It lets water and its vapor pass through, reducing damage risks. Plus, it tends to last longer than the film.
  • Composite Fabrics: These are unique blends where every strip is either given a shiny aluminized look or made opaque. They are also porous, which is great for letting water pass through.

What's the Deal with Sidewall Curtains?

  • They can act like room dividers, creating separate spaces indoors.
  • Want to block out light completely? They're perfect for that, covering walls in blackout setups.
  • Do you have a wall facing the sunny south side? These curtains can give it some shade.
  • Instead of having traditional vents or louvers on walls, these curtains can easily cover and uncover vent openings.

Various types of exterior curtain systems

There are three major types of exterior curtain systems.
  • Motor-Powered Shade: This system sits right above the greenhouse roof. With its motor and gears, it rolls out to cut down on the sunlight and heat getting into the greenhouse.
  • Mesh Covers: Picture a protective net. During seasons with lots of sunlight, a dark or reflective mesh is stretched over the greenhouse. It stays there, shielding the inside from the intense light.
  • Dual-purpose Curtain: Have you ever seen a curtain act as a roof? This one can! It serves two purposes – providing shelter and, when pulled back, allowing maximum light and airflow into the greenhouse.

What are shade and retention curtains in greenhouses made of?

Shade and heat retention curtains in greenhouses are typically made from special materials. Some common ones include knitted white polyester, bonded white polyester fiber, and unique composite fabrics. While white polyester is durable, composite fabrics are becoming more popular. These composites are a mix of clear and shiny aluminized polyester or acrylic strips stitched together with fine threads. What's cool about them? They reflect the sun's infrared light away from the greenhouse during the day and bounce it back during nighttime. Additionally, these composite materials have features like UV light protection and flame resistance. Some even have gaps to allow airflow.
If you need help figuring out what curtain system works best for your greenhouse, do not hesitate to call us. We are more than happy to help.

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