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Monday, February 18, 2013

Harbor Freight Greenhouse Evaluation

Back in the fall I took advantage of a sale at the discount retailer Harbor Freight and bought myself a greenhouse.  It was a small greenhouse at only 6'x8' in size which would be about 48 square feet of space.  I've always heard gardeners say that no matter what size greenhouse you have you will always need more space!  I figured before spending a bunch of money on greenhouses I should test small and inexpensive one to see how it goes then move up from there.  I primarily need to use the greenhouse in the early spring as a growing location for sprouted seeds that need to be moved from my seed starting shelves to clear space for more seedlings.


The construction of this greenhouse took me a while.  I was assembling it by myself and only working on comfortable days outdoors - and in the winter comfortable days can be rare!  I finished the construction part of the greenhouse this past weekend but I'm not completely finished yet.


Harbor Freight Greenhouse Review/Evaluation



First let me highlight the good points:
  • It's inexpensive and very affordable.
  • It can be assembled by one person although two or more people would help greatly with assembly.
  • The parts were all clearly labelled.
  • It has two adjustable windows to allow heat to escape as needed.


The not so good points:
  • The instructions are not as clear as their should be.  When dealing with lots of specific parts some better graphical illustrations would have helped.  There were several occasions where I misinterpreted what was on the instructions then had to fix the problem later.  
  • It's not as air tight as I would like the greenhouse to be.  There are small gaps here and there that will need sealed with caulking or weather stripping.
  • I'm not confident that the clip system will keep the panels attached to the greenhouse in high winds.  I have seen several sources online that have use additional methods of attaching the panels to insure both a tight fit and keep the panels attached.

My overall opinion:

For the money it's probably the best the greenhouse can be.  The design has flaws in my opinion as a DIY person.  Had I been building or designing the greenhouse I would have had a different method for attaching the panels. If the panels had been made so that the end tapered to a flange that could be inserted into a vertical support then screwed in it would have made a better seal and would have alleviated my concerns about the panels coming loose.

I attached mine to a 4'x4' base on top of cement blocks.  I haven't filled the blocks yet but plan to attach the 4'x4' base to several of the blocks.  I will also fill in the gaps around the cement blocks with soil to help insulate the lower part of the greenhouse.  I'm planning on using some spray foam insulation to fill in other gaps around the base then coming back to caulk windows and other gaps as needed.

I paid around $240 for the greenhouse but the actual cost of installing it was higher due to the 4'x4' base, cement blocks, caulking, spray foam insulation, and other future costs that will pop up.

My preference would have been to put up a hoop house but as we have an HOA I thought it might be best to put up a more formal hobby greenhouse.  Hoop houses can be a lot cheaper to put together and offer more square footage.  A timber framed greenhouse might also be an option.  Wood materials can be salvaged or bought cheaply and the plastic panels can be bought separately although this may ultimately be more expensive in the long run.

Have you bought a greenhouse for your garden?  What kind did you buy and what did you think of it?

4 comments :

  1. This is the exact same one I have! I've used it now over three years. Mine is quite airtight as I took a lot of time preparing it for just that. I also reinforced it quite a bit with screws and extra clips. This is a must as you know. I can without doubt say it has held up wonderfully. I never once thought it would blow away. Okay, maybe once or twice, but it hasn't. I have had to tape down the window on the wind side though because there is really no way to secure it inside. Hat's off to you for setting it up yourself! Rog did most of ours but at one point we needed him and me and a neighbor's daughter just to hold it all together. Good job! P.S. When we move mine will stay here. I plan to do a lean too greenhouse on the south side of our house. A new journey. I am sad to leave my little Harbor Freight behind because for the cost you can't beat it!

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  2. Nice, I love it! We put up a hoop house last year and it worked out awesome! My Greenhouse

    The problem is that we bought the wrong type of plastic, and it didn't hold up to our winter (even though we researched it and many people said it held up for several years). So, now we have to buy new plastic, which is expensive - but it's supposed to be greenhouse plastic this time (4+ years "guaranteed").

    Hindsight - we shouldn't have tried to leave it up all winter. But it was an experiment. From now on, we'll take it down during the winter months. So, it'll be a bit more work. But, in my opinion, it's worth it to extend our growing season... which is very short here in Minneapolis.

    Amy

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  3. For years I have been wanting one of these harbor freight greenhouses, and have wondered how easy they would be to assemble and if they would hold up. Next fall when they go on sale I may not be able to resist buying one because of your post and Tina's comment.

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  4. Bought one and the adventure to put it together has started. After watching more than a dozen video about this small HF greenhouse kit, I decided to dig a 2' hole to put it in for the extra head room. I will be placing it on a treated wood foundation also. I will also need to put in a floor drainage system. Obviously the aluminium frame needs a stronger frame to attach to. Will have to figure out how to keep the plastic panels from flying off in the first strong wind.

    ReplyDelete

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