Farmers grow plants in commercial greenhouses large enough to produce food for many people. Although there isn’t a specified size, most farmers choose a greenhouse that fits into their available space. Generally, framing can be wood, PVC, or steel. However, Rex Metal Buildings specialize in steel because of the increased snow and wind loads and other advantages we’ll discuss later.
But how much does a steel-framed commercial greenhouse cost? Typically, it’s more expensive than the other materials, at around $25/sq.ft. So, for a 20×100 greenhouse, you’d pay a basic price of $50,000, plus extras. This price depends on the covering used and accessories such as HVAC, irrigation, and drainage.
What Is A Commercial Greenhouse?
When farmers grow food on a large scale, they need a commercial greenhouse that protects the crops from inclement weather, theft, and pests. Furthermore, the structure provides a controlled environment that provides optimum growing conditions.
Farmers like you, realize that using greenhouses is the way forward if you want to choose large-scale food production. As of 2017, the US Census of Agriculture reported that more than 8,700 vegetable farmers use greenhouses to produce their products. Furthermore, the number of greenhouses has increased dramatically by around 115% over the previous seven years.
Generally, a commercial greenhouse is a large enclosed area allowing sunlight to shine through the covering while protecting the fruits or vegetables growing within from wind, too much or too little rain, extreme temperatures, and pests.
Rex Metal Buildings can provide greenhouses in many different sizes to suit your requirements:
- Small – Approximately 6×8. These greenhouses are designed for hobbyist gardeners and aren’t suitable for commercial use.
- Medium – Approximately 12×12. These greenhouses are suitable for small-scale farmers who know how to maximize yield. Typically, these use glass or polycarbonate as a covering.
- Large – Large-scale greenhouses generally cover more than 50ft of land. Typically they also contain facilities such as automated irrigation systems, humidifiers, built-in drainage, pest sprayers, etc.
How Much Does A Commercial Greenhouse Cost?*
Generally, the cost of a commercial greenhouse depends on the size, type of framing, covering style, and accessories. Although you can buy structures with a framework made from wood or PVC, we specialize in more robust steel frameworks that do not rot or suffer from pest attacks, need very little maintenance, and will last many years without any problems. Unfortunately, steel is also more expensive than wood and PVC, but Rex Metal Buildings reckon that the increase in price more than compensates for steel’s many advantages.
The table shows typical prices for various-sized large-scale metal framed greenhouses, based on a unit price of $25/sq.ft. Although many factors will reduce or increase your purchase price.
*Note: Commercial greenhouse prices are subject to availability, type of cover material, and accessories.
Some of our most popular commercial greenhouses measures 400 sq.ft. to 1,000 sq.ft. costing $10,000 to $25,000. These structures are relatively modest. Anyone can use them as starter greenhouses.
Commercial Greenhouse Price Factors
A commercial greenhouse can be as simple or extravagant as you want. You can choose a “bare-bones” structure consisting of a frame and covering. Alternatively, you can add various accessories such as heating, ventilation, air conditioning, and irrigation that will cost more but significantly reduce your reliance on manual handling by increasing automation and ensuring optimal growing conditions. Simple greenhouses with a clear, flexible covering, such as polyethylene, will cost significantly less than models fitted with glass covering, HVAC and irrigation.
So, deciding which covering type and accessories you choose will depend on your specific needs.
First, decide on how much area your growing venture requires. Generally, you can say as a rule of thumb that 200sq.ft will grow enough food for a single person for one year. Don’t forget that you can increase your growing capacity by cleverly using vertical space. But this depends on the type of crop.
If you want a high crop yield by using a large structure, you’ll find that your greenhouse requires effective ventilation and heating, which will cost more in installation and operating costs.
As we’ve stated earlier, greenhouses have three categories; small, medium, and large. Ignoring the small size, usually reserved for hobbyists and domestic gardeners, we are left with medium and large structures that interest you.
Farmers use medium-sized greenhouses to maximize space for optimal cultivation. Medium-sized structures usually have steel framing and glass or polycarbonate covering. Furthermore, this is the smallest category with utilities like plumbing, drainage, and electricity.
This size is what most people imagine when talking about commercial greenhouses. They have plenty of space and have drainage, irrigation, fans, humidifiers, and others.
Although large-scale structures are the most expensive, with the highest unit price, they offer the best way for a farmer to make money through commercial cultivation.
You’ll notice many types of greenhouse coverings. Some can be complex, while others are straightforward. Generally, mixing materials will make the job more expensive.
Typically, some of the covering materials include:
- Steel – This is usually used as a wall covering. Steel has become one of the most popular commercial greenhouse coverings because of its high resistance to rain and wind and increased security. However, customers generally use it as a wall covering in conjunction with a transparent roof such as glass or polycarbonate
- Wood – This covering is used for a wall covering, mainly for security.
- Glass – This material is primarily used as a roof covering.
- Polycarbonate – This material is principally used as a roof covering.
- Masonry or concrete – People use this as a wall material in conjunction with a transparent roof material. Although masonry of all types is solid and secure, it is expensive to install.
Large-scale commercial greenhouses should only use steel as a framework because there are more concerns over snow and wind loads and the building’s strength. So, you need a frame with high structural strength.
Steel costs more, but you’ll worry less when the weather turns nasty. And you will require less support. Metal buildings offer an uninterrupted space, allowing you to maximize the interior usage of your greenhouse. A steel frame can also reach higher than other framing materials, allowing maximized yields by using the vertical space in the same footprint.
Other advantages of using a metal frame include the following:
- Less maintenance and additional upkeep costs.
- Fewer moisture issues such as rot, mildew, and mold.
- No insect damage.
There are other costs when building a commercial greenhouse, such as:
Although you can have bare earth as flooring in a commercial greenhouse, your employees need somewhere to stand and walk around when the ground is wet and muddy. But that’s not the only use of a floor. Typically, floor coverings also:
- Provide heat insulation.
- Incorporate drainage.
- Help prevent pests from invading.
- Prevent weed growth.
The following materials are the most popular when used as a floor in a greenhouse:
- Rolled rubber – Cost around $2/sq.ft.
- Interlocking tiles – Ideal for drainage uses. They will cost about $170 for 12 large tiles.
- Masonry such as brick, concrete, and natural stone – Although ideal, these can be very expensive.
- Weed matting – Inexpensive choice at around $0.16/sq.ft.
Greenhouses need siding, as well as frames, a roof, and a floor. The following are some typical materials used in siding.
- Polycarbonate – $0.60/sq.ft.
- Fiberglass – $0.70/sq.ft.
- Glass – $2.50/sq.ft.
- Polyethylene – $0.12/sq.ft.
For hoop greenhouses, polyethylene is the cheapest option. In contrast, glass is the most expensive, while polycarbonate is the best glass alternative. In comparison, the price of fiberglass sits in the middle and provides a reasonable alternative.
HVAC and Lighting
One of the best advantages of a commercial greenhouse is that when you fit HVAC and lighting, you can use the space all year round. However, installing and running these in your greenhouse gets dramatically more expensive as the greenhouse gets larger.
Typical prices include:
- Grow lights – $30 to $150/light.
- HVAC – To install a complete system can cost up to $8,000.
Thermostats and Sensors
Your plants need their growing conditions to stay within a predetermined range. Otherwise, you won’t get the expected yield, and there won’t be any point in buying a new greenhouse. So, to use the greenhouse efficiently, you must install sensors and thermostats designed to monitor and control the greenhouse’s environmental conditions. You will have a choice between mechanical and electronic thermostats, with the mechanical models being the cheapest. However, if you want control accuracy, choose the electronic one.
The cheapest electronic thermostat sells for around $600. In comparison, more sophisticated models can go for much more. It’s up to you.
Before you buy your new commercial greenhouse, we recommend contacting your local government offices, who will advise you if there are permits you need or building codes you must comply with. Prices for permits vary depending on your state and city.
As you can see, there are many variables to consider when costing a commercial greenhouse. So, please speak to our team, available from 9 am to 6 pm, seven days a week. They will advise what features to choose to get the best value for your money. Furthermore, we can ship our products anywhere in the US.