Commercial Greenhouse A-Z: The 19 Types & Which To Choose (2024)

Are you considering a commercial greenhouse? Well let me help you out. The first step in turning commercial greenhouses into a reality is by figuring out which one you want.

You might not have known this, but there are actually 19 different types and each of them have a lost of benefits and downsides that you need to consider.

That’s why I’m excited to help you figure out which commercial greenhouse you want in this article.

Let’s dig in.

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Table Of Contents


When it comes to classifying the different types of commercial greenhouses, you can classify them in a few different ways.

  • Classification By Intended Use
  • Classification By Structure
  • Classification By Materials
  • Classification By Technology

So we will be breaking down the article into these different classifications to make things easier for you.


Commercial Greenhouse: Classification By Intended Use


The intended use of a greenhouse is basically an indication of what you will be using the commercial greenhouse to cultivate. For examples this could be flowers, fruit, livestock or more.

Let’s go through them.

#1. Nursery Greenhouse

Nursery greenhouses are designed to give seeds the perfect start. They create ideal conditions for sprouting seeds and growing young plants, making them thrive in their early stages.

Benefits:

  • Perfect environment for seed germination.
  • Ideal for young plant growth.
  • Supports early plant development.

Downsides:

  • Not suitable for mature plants.
  • Limited to the initial growth stage.

#2. Vegetable Greenhouse

Vegetable greenhouses focus on growing vegetables all year round (1). They protect crops from extreme weather and pests, ensuring a steady supply of fresh produce.

Benefits:

  • Year-round vegetable production.
  • Protects against harsh weather and pests.
  • Increases yield and quality.

Downsides:

  • Requires regular maintenance.
  • Initial setup can be costly.

#3. Floriculture Greenhouse

Floriculture greenhouses are all about growing flowers. They provide the right conditions to help flowers bloom beautifully, extending the blooming period or even making them bloom early.

Benefits:

  • Optimal conditions for flower growth.
  • Prolongs blooming period.
  • Protects against weather extremes.

Downsides:

  • Can be expensive to maintain.
  • Needs precise climate control.

#4. Fruit Tree Greenhouse

Fruit tree greenhouses help you grow fruit trees in controlled environments. They adjust light, temperature, and humidity to promote faster growth and off-season fruit production.

Benefits:

  • Enables off-season fruit production.
  • Faster growth and extended fruit-bearing season.
  • Suitable for regions with unsuitable climates.

Downsides:

  • High initial investment.
  • Requires careful environmental management.

#5. Aquaculture Greenhouse

Aquaculture greenhouses combine fish farming with greenhouse technology. They create ideal conditions for raising fish, crustaceans, and shellfish, improving production efficiency.

Benefits:

  • Optimizes conditions for aquatic species.
  • Boosts production efficiency.
  • Reduces environmental impact.

Downsides:

  • Complex to set up.
  • Requires specialized knowledge.

#6. Livestock Commercial Greenhouse

Livestock greenhouses are designed to keep animals warm during winter. They offer a stable, warm environment, ensuring the animals stay healthy and productive even in cold weather.

Benefits:

  • Keeps livestock warm in winter.
  • Protects animals from harsh weather.
  • Maintains health and productivity.

Downsides:

  • Seasonal use.
  • Requires adequate ventilation.

Commercial Greenhouse: Classification By Structure


Next up we have commercial greenhouses that are classified by their structure. This basically means that you are describing them based on the engineering behind how they are designed. Examples are multi span, solar and the pretty abstract yin-yang solar greenhouse.

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Here they are.

#7. Single-Span Greenhouse

Single-span greenhouses are standalone units that don’t need drainage gutters. They are great for areas with heavy snow, as the roof allows snow to slide off naturally.

Commercial greenhouse that is stand-alone.

Benefits:

  • Simple design.
  • Effective ventilation.
  • Handles snow well.

Downsides:

  • Limited space.
  • Less controlled environment.

#8. Multi-Span Greenhouse

Multi-span greenhouses connect several single-span units, creating a larger, unified space. This design is perfect for large-scale farming and offers a highly controlled environment.

Benefits:

  • Larger growing area.
  • Better environmental control.
  • Ideal for extensive operations.

Downsides:

  • More complex to build.
  • Higher initial cost.

#9. Flat-Roof Greenhouse

Flat-roof greenhouses are less common due to poor drainage but can be useful where height restrictions apply or for specific design needs.

Commercial greenhouse with a flat roof

Benefits:

  • Suitable for height-restricted areas.
  • Specific design applications.

Downsides:

  • Poor drainage.
  • Accumulates snow and water.

#10. Passive Solar Greenhouse

Passive solar greenhouses use solar energy to stay warm. They are great for northern climates, using the sun to heat the interior without much additional heating.

Benefits:

  • Uses solar energy.
  • Reduces heating costs.
  • Suitable for cold climates.

Downsides:

  • Limited to sunny regions.
  • Needs good design for efficiency.

#11. Yin-Yang Commercial Greenhouse

The Yin-Yang greenhouse is an advanced version of the passive solar greenhouse. It maximizes sunlight and warmth while improving insulation, making it energy-efficient and great for specific crops.

commercial greenhouse with the abstract yin-yang design.

Benefits:

  • Maximizes sunlight and warmth.
  • Energy-efficient.
  • Suitable for crops needing varied light conditions.

Downsides:

  • Complex design.
  • Higher construction cost.

#12. Venlo Greenhouse

Venlo greenhouses feature ridged roofs and are designed to maximize light entry while minimizing shading. They’re excellent for ensuring plants get plenty of light and stay cool.

Benefits:

  • Maximizes light entry.
  • Efficient heat release.
  • Strong and durable.

Downsides:

  • High initial cost.
  • Requires skilled construction.

#13. Dome Greenhouse

Dome greenhouses have a curved shape that easily sheds water and snow, reducing structural stress. They’re durable and good for regions with heavy snow or rain.

Benefits:

  • Sheds water and snow easily.
  • Reduces structural stress.
  • Durable.

Downsides:

  • Limited interior space.
  • Can be expensive to build.

#14. Sawtooth Greenhouse

Sawtooth greenhouses have ridged roofs that allow natural ventilation and light diffusion. They’re great for warm climates, helping to keep the interior cool.

Benefits:

  • Good natural ventilation.
  • Effective light diffusion.
  • Suitable for warm climates.

Downsides:

  • Not ideal for cold climates.
  • Requires regular maintenance.

Commercial Greenhouse: Classification By Materials


#15. Poly Greenhouse

Poly greenhouses use plastic film covers and are cost-effective and easy to maintain. They trap heat well but may need frequent replacement of the plastic film.

Commercial greenhouse with poly covering outside.

Benefits:

  • Cost-effective.
  • Easy to build and maintain.
  • Good heat retention.

Downsides:

  • Shorter lifespan.
  • Film needs frequent replacement.

#16. Glass Greenhouses

Glass greenhouses use glass coverings for durability and excellent light transmission. They’re more expensive but offer a longer lifespan and consistent growing conditions.

Benefits:

  • Excellent light transmission.
  • Long lifespan.
  • Durable.

Downsides:

  • High initial cost.
  • Prone to breakage.

#17. Polycarbonate Greenhouse

Polycarbonate greenhouses use double-layer PC sheets for low thermal conductivity and improved energy efficiency. They’re lightweight and flame-retardant, but quality matters for longevity.

Benefits:

  • Energy-efficient.
  • Lightweight and safe.
  • Durable with quality materials.

Downsides:

  • Lower quality sheets can degrade.
  • More expensive than plastic film.

Commercial Greenhouse: Classification By Technology


#18. Smart Greenhouses

Smart greenhouses use advanced technology to automatically control the environment. They adjust temperature, light, water, and nutrients, ensuring optimal conditions for plant growth.

smart commercial greenhouse structures

Benefits:

  • Advanced environmental control.
  • Saves labor and energy.
  • Enhances crop quality and yield.

Downsides:

  • Very expensive.
  • Requires technical expertise.

#19. Double-Layer Inflatable Film Greenhouses

Double-layer inflatable film greenhouses offer excellent insulation and energy savings. They use an air gap between film layers to maintain warmth, cutting energy costs significantly.

double layer inflatable film commercial greenhouse

Benefits:

  • Superior insulation.
  • Significant energy savings.
  • Improved structural support.

Downsides:

  • Requires air pump/blower.
  • Initial setup can be complex.

So now that you know the different types of commercial greenhouses, let’s talk about the factors to consider when choosing one.



When it comes to choosing a greenhouse, several important factors will help you select the right type that meets your needs and maximizes your investment. Let’s take a closer look at these considerations:

Climate and Weather Conditions

Your local climate plays a huge role in deciding which greenhouse is best for you.

  • Cold regions: Passive solar greenhouses retain heat well.
  • Hot climates: Sawtooth greenhouses offer good ventilation.
  • Weather patterns: Consider average temperatures, humidity levels, and seasonal changes.

Understanding your local weather patterns will help you choose a greenhouse that can withstand these conditions and support your plants effectively (2).

row of commercial greenhouses with snow covering them

Type of Crops

The type of plants you plan to grow is another major factor.

  • Flowers: Floriculture greenhouses provide specific conditions for flowers.
  • Vegetables: Vegetable greenhouses optimize conditions for growing vegetables.
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Make sure you choose a greenhouse type that aligns with the specific needs of your crops.

Space Availability

The amount of space you have available will influence the size and type of greenhouse you can install.

  • Small spaces: Single-span greenhouses are perfect.
  • Larger spaces: Multi-span greenhouses offer a larger growing area.

Measure your available space carefully and consider how much room you’ll need for pathways, equipment, and the crops themselves.

Budget

Your budget will determine the type of greenhouse you can afford, as well as its quality and features.

  • Budget-friendly: Poly greenhouses are easier to maintain.
  • Higher investment: Glass greenhouses offer greater durability and better light transmission.

Balance your initial investment with long-term benefits and maintenance costs. A higher upfront cost may save you money in the long run by reducing energy costs or increasing crop yields.

Ventilation and Climate Control

Proper ventilation and climate control are critical for maintaining a healthy growing environment.

  • Natural ventilation: Venlo and sawtooth greenhouses.
  • Advanced climate control: Smart greenhouses with automated systems.

Consider how much control you need over the internal environment to meet the requirements of your crops.

Durability and Maintenance

The materials used in greenhouse construction affect both durability and maintenance requirements.

  • Polycarbonate: Lightweight and flame-retardant, requires high-quality materials.
  • Glass: Durable but prone to breakage.
  • Poly: Needs frequent replacement of plastic films.

Think about how much time and effort you’re willing to invest in maintaining your greenhouse and choose materials that match your maintenance capabilities.

Energy Efficiency

Energy efficiency is an important consideration, especially if you live in an area with extreme temperatures.

  • Good insulation: Double-layer inflatable film greenhouses.
  • Natural energy-saving: Passive solar greenhouses use the sun’s energy to maintain warmth.

Look for designs that offer natural energy-saving features to reduce heating and cooling costs.

Ease of Installation

Some greenhouses are easier to install than others.

  • Easy installation: Poly greenhouses.
  • Complex installation: Multi-span and smart greenhouses.

Consider the installation process and whether you need professional help or can do it yourself.

Now an important factor is always the budget because commercial greenhouses can get expensive.



Understanding the cost implications of different greenhouse types is crucial when planning your investment. Here’s a detailed analysis:

Poly Greenhouses

Poly greenhouses use plastic film covers, making them more budget-friendly.

  • Initial cost: Low to moderate.
  • Maintenance cost: Low but frequent due to plastic film replacement.
  • Lifespan: Shorter, requiring film replacement every few years.

Glass Greenhouses

Glass greenhouses use glass for their coverings, offering durability and excellent light transmission.

  • Initial cost: High.
  • Maintenance cost: Moderate to high, depending on glass quality and potential breakages.
  • Lifespan: Long, with proper maintenance.

Polycarbonate Greenhouses

Polycarbonate greenhouses use double-layer polycarbonate sheets, providing good insulation and durability.

  • Initial cost: Moderate to high.
  • Maintenance cost: Moderate, with high-quality materials lasting longer.
  • Lifespan: Long with quality materials.

Passive Solar Greenhouses

Passive solar greenhouses utilize solar energy to maintain warmth, making them energy-efficient.

  • Initial cost: Moderate to high.
  • Maintenance cost: Low to moderate, depending on climate and design efficiency.
  • Lifespan: Long, with minimal additional heating needed.

Smart Greenhouses

Smart greenhouses incorporate advanced technology for automated climate control.

  • Initial cost: Very high.
  • Maintenance cost: High, due to advanced systems requiring regular upkeep.
  • Lifespan: Long, with proper maintenance and technology updates.


Greenhouses have both positive and negative impacts on the environment. Understanding these can help you make more informed decisions about the type of greenhouse to choose.

Positive Environmental Impacts

One major benefit of greenhouses is resource efficiency. Greenhouses can use water more efficiently than open-field farming through drip irrigation systems and closed-loop watering systems. They also allow for more intensive farming, producing higher yields per square foot.

Another advantage is the reduction in pesticide use. The controlled environment of a greenhouse can reduce the need for chemical pesticides by utilizing integrated pest management (IPM) techniques and physical barriers, making for a healthier, more sustainable growing process.

Greenhouses also extend growing seasons. With climate control capabilities, greenhouses can produce crops year-round, reducing the need to import out-of-season produce and ensuring a consistent supply.

Local production in greenhouses contributes to a reduced carbon footprint. By growing produce locally, greenhouses cut down on the environmental impact associated with transporting food over long distances, contributing to a more sustainable agricultural practice.

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Negative Environmental Impacts

Hand holding a fictitious image of the earth with a tap dripping water out.

However, greenhouses also have some negative environmental impacts, primarily related to energy consumption. Maintaining the ideal temperature in greenhouses can be energy-intensive, especially in extreme climates. Supplemental lighting to extend daylight hours also consumes significant amounts of energy.

Material waste is another concern. Poly greenhouses, for instance, use plastic film that needs to be replaced every few years, contributing to plastic waste. Additionally, the construction materials used in greenhouses, such as metal and glass, have their own environmental footprints.

Water usage, despite being more efficient than open-field farming, still remains high. Greenhouses require large quantities of water, which can be a concern in regions facing water scarcity.

Chemical use, although reduced, is still a factor. Greenhouses still use fertilizers and pesticides, which can lead to runoff and environmental contamination if not managed properly.

Mitigating Environmental Impact

To mitigate these negative impacts, various strategies can be employed. Renewable energy sources like solar panels can provide heating, cooling, and lighting, reducing reliance on fossil fuels. Geothermal heating is another sustainable option to consider.

Using sustainable materials can also help. Incorporating recycled materials in construction can lower the environmental footprint, and exploring biodegradable plastic films for poly greenhouses can reduce plastic waste.

Water conservation techniques are essential. Collecting and using rainwater for irrigation can lessen the strain on local water supplies, and advanced irrigation systems like drip or hydroponics can further enhance water efficiency.

Integrated pest management (IPM) is another effective strategy. Employing biological controls, such as natural predators and beneficial insects, can minimize the need for chemical pesticides. Installing physical barriers like insect nets can also help prevent pest infestations.

In summary, while greenhouses have some environmental drawbacks, there are numerous ways to mitigate these impacts. By adopting sustainable practices and technologies, you can make your greenhouse operation more eco-friendly and efficient.

Conclusion: Which Commercial Greenhouse Will You Get?

Choosing the right commercial greenhouse involves considering various factors like climate, crop type, space, and budget. Each greenhouse type offers unique benefits and challenges, so it’s important to weigh these carefully to make the best choice for your needs. Whether you’re looking to grow vegetables, flowers, fruit trees, or even raise fish or livestock, there’s a greenhouse type that fits your goals.

commercial greenhouse with a poly covering on a sunny day

By understanding the different classifications and their impacts, you can make an informed decision that will help your business thrive.

Here are some of my favorite greenhouse accessories:
14 Best Greenhouse Accessories That You Need In 2024

Commercial Greenhouse FAQ

What is a commercial greenhouse?

A commercial greenhouse is a large structure designed for growing plants, vegetables, flowers, or even raising fish and livestock in a controlled environment. These greenhouses are used for large-scale agricultural production and help extend growing seasons, protect crops from adverse weather, and increase yields.

What is a good size for a commercial greenhouse?

The size of a commercial greenhouse depends on your specific needs and goals. However, a typical starting size for small to medium operations is around 1,000 to 5,000 square feet. Larger operations may require greenhouses that are 10,000 square feet or more to accommodate extensive production.

How long do commercial greenhouses last?

The lifespan of a commercial greenhouse varies based on the materials used and the level of maintenance. Generally, poly greenhouses may last around 5-10 years due to the need for frequent replacement of plastic films. Glass and polycarbonate greenhouses, with proper maintenance, can last 20 years or more.

How to build a greenhouse for commercial use?

Building a commercial greenhouse involves several steps:

  1. Planning: Determine the purpose, size, and location. Consider factors like climate, wind exposure, and access to water and electricity.
  2. Design: Choose a greenhouse type that suits your needs. Decide on the materials and structural design.
  3. Construction: Prepare the site, install the foundation, and assemble the greenhouse frame. Install coverings, ventilation systems, and any necessary climate control equipment.
  4. Setup: Equip the greenhouse with irrigation systems, lighting, and shelving or planting beds. Ensure all systems are functional and adjusted for your crops.

How expensive is it to build a commercial greenhouse?

The cost of building a commercial greenhouse can vary widely depending on size, materials, and the level of technology used. Basic poly greenhouses may cost around $5 to $10 per square foot. More advanced greenhouses, like glass or polycarbonate structures with climate control systems, can range from $20 to $40 per square foot or more. High-tech smart greenhouses can cost significantly more due to their advanced systems and automation.

References:
1 – KRISTI WATERWORTH, Best Greenhouse Plants: Good Plants To Grow In A Greenhouse, taken from: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/greenhouses/plants-for-greenhouses.htm
2 – AMY GRANT Plants For A Winter Greenhouse – What To Grow In Winter Greenhouse, taken from: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/special/greenhouses/plants-for-a-winter-greenhouse.htm

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Jason Watson

My initial goal was to protect my loved ones from harmful pesticides & help them enjoy nature more. Now, I want to tell as many people as I can about what I've learned... I hope that I can inspire you to help cool our planet with your own little slice of paradise 🌱. Let's do this together!


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