Off Grid Heating and Cooling for Greenhouses

Project Overview

Project Type: Farmer
Funds awarded in 2023: $30,000.00
Projected End Date: 11/30/2026
Grant Recipient: Random Rabbit LLC
Region: Northeast
State: West Virginia
Project Leader:
Audra O'Dell
Random Rabbit LLC


Not commodity specific


  • Crop Production: greenhouses, other, season extension
  • Education and Training: farmer to farmer, on-farm/ranch research
  • Energy: energy conservation/efficiency, energy use

    Proposal summary:

    The problem we seek to address is to regulate temperatures within a greenhouse utilizing off grid methods and efficiently using on farm resources. It is imperative that the temperature of the greenhouse be regulated in both summer and winter for year round production to be viable.

    Our objective is to asses rocket mass stove technology and Amish ice box techniques to heat and cool plant root zones by integrating a shared stratification chamber through thermally coupling raised beds. We will further asses the effect of thermal mass temperature regulation on the ambient temperature.

    We will construct a rocket mass stove and Amish ice box. The rocket mass stove and Amish ice box will be trialed and data collected. At the conclusion of the trial data will be compared between the current method of growing in 15” pots and relying on heaters and fans to raised beds thermally coupled with the rocket mass stove and Amish ice box mechanism. The differences of the two environments’ ambient temperatures, soil temperatures, soil water storage, plant vigor, and yield will be assessed.

    From the data a tool kit will be created explaining the findings and final design. The tool kit will be shared via social media, producer networks, Shepherd University’s agricultural program, and Service Provider sites. An open house will be held at the end of the project to have open discussion and hands on demonstrations with producers. The open house will be promoted via the same channels.

    Project objectives from proposal:

    This project seeks to analyze the effectiveness of off grid methods of heating and cooling a greenhouse by implementing root zone temperature control through rocket stove technology and Amish ice box techniques. The effects of these methods on the ambient temperature of the greenhouse will be assessed, as well.

    Objective 1) Asses rocket mass stove technology and Amish ice box techniques to heat and cool plant root zones and ambient temperature effects from thermal mass temperature regulation.

    Discovery: The rocket mass stove and Amish ice box will effectively regulate greenhouse temperatures through thermal mass transfer of radiant heating and cooling. Production will increase through root zone temperature management.

    Farmer Impact: This project will provide data on the effectiveness of thermal mass temperature control to regulate ambient air temperatures in a greenhouse. It will serve to assess the efficacy of temperature control of plant root zones and how production is affected. A tool kit will be constructed for other producers to access and will be made available digitally and distributed through online platforms and networking groups.

    Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or SARE.