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Heater BTU Calculator

When choosing a space heater (or heaters) for your greenhouse there are a couple of things to consider. Probably the most important is determining just how much heat or BTUs you will need for your greenhouse.
A BTU (or British Thermal Unit) is the amount of energy needed to heat 1 pound of water 1 degree Fahrenheit. Any space heaters should clearly identify the BTUs it is rated for right on the packaging.
When deciding on how many BTUs you will need for your greenhouse, you must first determine the area of your greenhouse. To get an accurate indication of the greenhouse area you need to know a few details. You need to measure the length, width and height of the greenhouse. You will also need to know the height of the side walls. Once you have figured out these measurements, head over to our Greenhouse Area Calculator and plug in the numbers.
Now that you have your Greenhouse area insert that number in the form below along with the climate conditions and R-Value of the walls of your greenhouse. Hit the "Calculate" button and the resulting value will be the required BTU output you probably need to keep your greenhouse properly heated in the winter.
Please keep in mind that this BTU calculator should be used as a general guideline only. You may have certain situations or conditions that only you can take into consideration when determining your heating needs.
And please remember that a space heater can be a fire hazard if used improperly. Always use caution and common sense when operating space heaters.

Greenhouse Area - The total square feet of exposed surface area of your greenhouse not including the floor (this is not length * width). To find out the area your greenhouse, click here.
Coldest Outside Temperature - You will want to enter the lowest temperature expected for your area. Not sure? You can click here for the USDA plant hardiness zones which provide an average annual temperature rating for areas within the United States.
Maximum Inside Temperature - This is the highest temperature you want to maintain in your greenhouse.

Heat Loss Value - Check the table at the bottom of the page to find the heat loss value for the covering used on your greenhouse. Some values may vary with manufacturer. If you know the R-value of your covering, you can convert it to a heat loss value using this formula: Heat loss value = 1 / R-value.

Resulting Minimum BTU - This is the minimum BTU output your heater should have. Most heaters use a BTU input rating. BTU output = (heater efficiency) * (BTU input).
This result is Area x (Max - Min) x Heat Loss
Covering Insulation (R) Values for Polycarbonate, Polyethylene, Glass, and Fiberglass
Covering Material R Value Covering Material R Value
3 mm Glass (single layer) 0.95 4 mm Twin-wall Polycarbonate 1.43
Two layers of Glass (insulated) 2.00 6 mm Twin-wall Polycarb
8 mm Twin-wall Polycarb 1.61 4 mm Polyethylene
10mm Twin-wall Polycarb 1.89 6 mm Poly 0.87
16 mm Triple-wall Polycarb 2.50 6 mm Poly double layer (inflated) 1.43
Fiberglass / Polycarb (single layer) 0.83 11 mm woven Poly 0.95
R value: a unit used to measure the effectiveness of thermal insulation.
A higher insulation value indicates greater heating and cooling efficiency.

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