Solar Innovations, Inc. Develops Cold Frames That Foster Cold-weather Plant Production

Cold Weather Cold Frame

Pine Grove, PA, February 3, 2014 – Solar Innovations, Inc., a custom manufacturer of residential and commercial greenhouses; conservatories; folding, sliding, and stacking walls, doors, windows, and screens; sunrooms; and skylights has designed and tested a cold frame system that can continue to produce plants, with little operational costs, even when outside temperatures drop below the acceptable growing range.

Solar Innovations, Inc. has four cold frames installed and operational at their manufacturing facility in Pine Grove, Pennsylvania. These research and display units are maintained by Solar’s greenhouse experts. Two of the cold frames automatically vent through passive methods, meaning no electricity is used to operate the vents.

In the fall of 2013, the experimental cold frames were planted with hardy, cold weather crops such as lettuce, radishes, beets, pansies, and sage. The plants thrived during the fall and winter months despite below average temperatures and several snowfalls. Lettuce and radishes were harvested from late fall through the end of December. The cold frames protected the plants, allowed the gardener to extend the growing season, and proved to be an economical and practical accessory.  Pennsylvania suffered an extreme cold spell in January, with the air temperature dropping below zero. Lettuce, sage, pansies, and radishes survived these harsh conditions in the cold frames.

A cold frame utilizes the principles of passive solar design. The container’s glazing collects solar energy, which fulfills the plants’ requirements for photosynthesis and heat.  Glass and polycarbonate are acceptable glazing options, depending upon functional and performance requirements. Throughout the day the cold frame’s lid is used to vent excess heat and provide gardeners access to the plants.

Cold Frame greenhouse

Traditionally, resourceful growers have constructed cold frames from scrap materials and used them on farms or in gardens. Solar Innovations, Inc.’s cold frames improve upon this traditional design by utilizing thermally-broken aluminum framing, which insulates the interior of the structure and helps to store the solar heat collected during the day for use at night.

The solid metal back wall of a cold frame by Solar Innovations, Inc. can be dark in color to help convert short-wavelength sunlight into long-wavelength heat energy for the plants. This conversion is the basis of the greenhouse effect. The soil, whether in pots or filling the cold frame, serves as thermal mass, absorbing and storing the heat energy for later use.

Gardeners looking for a cost-efficient way to grow year round and to extend the season, even during the most inhospitable weather, can rely on the performance and benefits of Solar Innovations, Inc.’s cold frames.

Solar’s greenhouse experts can design custom cold frames based on the end user’s location and desired plantings. Sizes, colors, and glazing selection can be tailored to fit the gardener’s specific needs, allowing for a choice of manual or automatic ventilation. For more information on Solar Innovations, Inc.’s cold frames or to receive an updated greenhouse brochure, please contact a Solar Innovations, Inc. greenhouse expert at [email protected] or call 800-618-0669.