Passive Solar Greenhouse – IV – Climate Battery begins and Compost Heating

Passive Solar Greenhouse - IV - Climate Battery begins and Compost Heating – Video to check out that helped inspire the design on including a compost heating element for greenhouses. Great concept!
The passive solar round pole greenhouse continues to evolve… What a project! Good thing it’s happening in the winter when I’ve got the time! 🙂
Now I’m focusing on the layout and design of permanent raised beds that are deep and as massive as the space will allow for maximum thermal mass, insulation and potential for absorbing warmth from the day into themselves to radiate and buffer cold nights. – A simple and direct way to ‘tip’ to help support the time and energy we put into making our videos. Thanks so much!

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We also offer consultation and support in our region or remotely.
Happy growing!




What do you think?


Written by Aleksandar

Video MakerContent AuthorYears Of Membership


  1. There should be an air space between the cement blocks and the wood framing. Concrete will just absorb the moisture from the beds and transfer it to the dog prone pine. You also have a decent chance of having a mold problem in this interface (between blocks and wood) area which could well make your greenhouse unfit for occupancy. A moisture barrier (plastic sheeting would be easiest) between the soil and the blocks would solve most of this problem. Airflow would fix the other problems that are likely to force a rebuild. Your ethics are admirable, but lack comprehensive thouroughness. In your system design, you've optimized for minimization of resource utilization. You've neglected to optimize for efficient maximization of results. Ironically, you may well end up using more of the resource you are trying to conserve (fuel to heat with) than you save by using this current design.

  2. Here is a link to an old guy who built a geothermal greenhouse in Nebraska to grow in super low temps in winter. You may have already seen it and it may not be financially doable for you but it is a great idea if a person could figure out a way to do it without needing to spend a lot of money.

  3. Regarding the climate battery (by any name 😉 ) – Going deeper has real value in that you get down to where the temperature's a near constant and you don;'t need to capture as much energy to get real gains overall. Also, it's been pretty well demonstrated that you only need to insulate around the perimeter to a depth of about 18" to contain energy within the building's footprint. That may be less true with such a small footprint, still there's no need to put insulation beneath (counterproductive). For our house, we went four feet deep, in a 14×14 ft. square pretty much in the center of the home's foundation. We'll insulate 18" deep around the perimeter on the exterior of the foundation. In that configuration we anticipate zero loss outside the footprint of the home.

  4. Was that your dryer vent there to the left of the greenhouse? You maybe could duct that into your greenhouse? It may offer a little added heat for the winter…  
    Also, you might be better to keep your raised bed at least 12" from your exterior wall, being that any physical contact will act as a thermal bridge and literally wick the heat right out side/wick the cold temps into your bed… for a good visual, watch a clip of the arctic ocean waters that are liquid, suddenly crystallize by simply making contact with another source of ice…. its weird but real…. Please head this heads up, because it will severely help your efforts!

    I hope to hear how this works! It seems like so many do "installational" videos about the various earth battery approaches but I don't see hardly any follow ups on them, so I'm wondering if they just don't end up working? Love your stuff! Thank again for your videos!

  5. Doesn't the corrugated tube create a habitat for mold and bacteria? When I learned about geothermal energy I was told that you have to use extremely smooth pipes to prevent mold and bacterial growth

  6. A Facebook friend turned me onto your video here!
    I’m wondering what kind of consistent heat you’re getting out of your leave pile? I too have been fascinated by what I call a “Carbon Based Composting Pile” (CBCP). I’ve attached a somewhat short video of my work on the subject. I started this CBCP the first of Nov 2018 and it has been a consistent heat of between 140F to 160F. So a little more than two months now this heat has remained the same.

    For myself I’m thinking forced hot water/radiant heat rather than blown air could be the way to go for maximum efficiency. We should open a Facebook group dedicated to this thought and share our results because like you I feel this concept holds sooo much untapped potential! Thanks for sharing your video!

  7. Have you considered putting a small pond in there to store heat and help regulate the temp? It could also be used to grow edible water plants for you or chickens.

  8. Your experimentation is commendable and we are grateful for it.
    I think a tarp or layers of cardboard would really assist the compost pile.
    Your biochar has many of the qualities that perlite does, being insulative and both hydrophobic at first and hydrophilic after some environmental exposure
    You might be able to substitute one for the other.
    Packing the entire outer length of your drain pipes with char could give more spaces for the moist air to condense and nooks for the soil bacteria to grow in.
    Just leaving your biochar stainless steel pans in the green house to cool off will add a tiny bit of heat, which could be stored by piping it from the peak of the greenhouse down into the raised bed.

    I love your plans for charcoal paint.
    Have you ever heard of a black liquid solar collector?
    Rather than heating a black mass and that mass transferring heat to a fluid such as air or water, a dark fluid or a fluid with dark particles suspended in it, is exposed direct to the sun and the captured heat is then moved to where it needs to go.
    Clear tubing could expose charcoal laden water to the sun and a pump could move the coldest water from a insulated reservoir through loop.
    Maybe the reservoir could be a compost tea , or a rooting tank pulling double duty.
    Starts of various sorts are often the best use of greeenhouse space.
    Will you stack fire wood in the green house during the hottest parts of the year?

    BTW, what is your grey water situation?
    A Solvia style vermicomposting filter and /or sand filter could make that water and the latent heat in it ideal for adding to the soil in the green house.

  9. Good to see you incorporating the compost heating, as this is something I am doing with my own greenhouse project. Based on the research I have done, I think you will need a considerably larger compost pile to really add any significant heat. The heat losses out the sides and top of what you have there will likely steal most (if not all) of the available heat from a pile that size. Thanks for sharing and I'm looking forward to your updates!

  10. Super curious to see if this yield any significant results. I'd definitely be concerned about how shallow the beds are as it would prevent your from growing some things. My initial impressions are that your thermal mass layout is going to be more efficient in terms of input and more effective in terms of results.

  11. This is exactly what YouTube is supposed to be. Community and a place to freely share our ideas and thoughts. To help each other. Like old school barn buildings the early settlers did everyone pitched in and everyone brought something to the table to share.

  12. Thank you for explaining things as you go along on this project. I'm finding it very interesting, and that you are reusing and re-purposing what you have, and thank you for not putting foam board in the ground. Looking forward to the updates. Happy New Year! Catherine

  13. It all looks great & many plants will love it. With some sheets of plastic you could use some of the pipe for a wicking bed designed to recycle the worm casting tea falling through your three foot tall planters.

  14. So it is not a climate battery but it is a raised bed battery. That is within your scope. If your ground is not frozen 6 feet down by this time of year you don't realy need a full climate battery.

  15. You could use char on top of your raised beds to act as a bio-filter and try to get perforated drain tile that will outgas CO2 and smelly gases from the exterior compost heap. If you are set on using the non-perforated drainage tile, you might mount a carbon/charcoal filter box on the outlet to reduce noxious emissions. I think you will find that there is a LOT more heat produced at the top of your greenhouse than in your small compost pile. This will be a great experiment to watch. Good job! I was also pondering the use of a swedish skirt around the perimeter of your greenhouse to prevent the ground inside from freezing. A layer of straw or compost covered by a tarp or old greenhouse plastic is all you would need. This would also be a great compost staging are allowing it to age before spring. Stacking functions!

  16. I've studied this extensively, so it's too bad there isn't a better way to collaborate. There are good things about youtube and I don't mean to be negative but unfortunately there are limitations to what can be done in the comment section.

  17. yay, great to see someone else going for it!

    As I remember, Van Powell is in North Carolina and you are in upstate NY(?). I think it's just too cold for you (and me) to do an uncovered compost pile. I'm in Colorado and have a similar system to you and Van, except it's covered and insulated ( Being in a very dry climate, I need to preserve compost pile moisture. May be less of an issue for you. I'm getting about 15 deg F of greenhouse heating when the outside temperature is ~20 deg F.

    Regarding the GAHT, it's refreshing to meet another person who refuses to spend beaucoup bucks on the damn thing. I scratch my head when I see people spending a few thousand bucks on materials and another few thousand on excavation. Only seems to make sense for a commercial operation with a 10-20 year payout.

    Waiting for upcoming videos eagerly!

  18. Hi Sean,
    Have you seen John Canivin's video on solar hot air collection?
    It's the sort of low tech re-use project that can add "free heat" at a super low cost. It's still early in the build, but can you make a video… measure the air temperature difference inside the green house and outside (during the day and night)? It would be nice to see this as a series of videos as work continues and you button up gaps. Cheers,

  19. In the last installment you mentioned placing straw bails around the leaf pile. The more insolation the better . On top you can leave just enough room to crack the windows.


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