With fuel prices having crossed the $3 per gallon mark back in May for the first time since 2014 — and input and labor costs tracking similarly — growers should be doing everything within their power to conserve energy and fuel heading into the 2022 growing season.
If you’re still using forced-air heating systems that have to warm up a giant volume of air from the ground all the way up to your greenhouse roof, Stuppy Greenhouses thinks its Hydronic Heat2O™ bench heating systems are a worthy structure upgrade that can provide immediate cost savings to your operation.
“Essentially, the system radiates heat on or under the bench and creates a sort of ‘heat envelope’ around the bench,” Michael Kovalycsik explains. “It’s ideal in propagation, as well as for growers that want to concentrate on heating the benches versus warming up the entire greenhouse.”Kovalycsik also notes that, if you’re growing in a structure that is close to 75-85% benched, in some central and southern geographies across North America it is possible to heat the entire greenhouse with the hydronic bench heating systems alone.
The concept is rather simple, and yet it’s innovative as well compared to traditional greenhouse heating systems. Growers can either run EPDM rubber tubes on the bench tops, or for higher heating output, install Stuppy’s all aluminum fin product underneath the bench. Depending on how many benches you are heating, the system can have a heat source as small as a standard home water heater unit, says the marketing manager and regional sales specialist. Naturally, for higher heating loads a boiler will be used for your heating source.
“It’s a simple closed-loop heating system, so there’s no need for you to refill or constantly monitor water levels,” he adds. “You can integrate it with a digital thermometer or most common greenhouse controllers, and it will basically run itself as needed depending on your desired soil temperature.”
Noting that in general any water heating system will be “much more efficient” than any of its forced-air counterparts, Kovalycsik suggests to growers that the Hydronic Heat2O system can save an operation 25% to 30% annually on its fuel consumption, even when fuel prices are in the affordable range. And Stuppy has designed the system to be completely DIY from an installation standpoint with no special tools required, so growers won’t necessarily have to hire installation crews.
“It’s energy efficient, designed for the grower to install, and offers total energy savings from the initial startup,” Kovalycsik says.
For more information on upgrading your heating system to Stuppy’s Hydronic Heat2O system, head over to bit.ly/StuppyHH. Most installs take place between October and December so growers are prepared to kick off early production between January and March.