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Wiggle Wire and Double Layer Greenhouses

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Winter Winds and Wiggle Wire Greenhouse Designs

This time of year the wind is whipping, the temperatures are plummeting and folks are asking about double layer poly coverings- the coverings of plastic film that we have on our greenhouses here at Bright Agrotech.

wyoming wind sock

The famous “Wyoming Wind Sock”

We’ve been told over the years that what we’re doing doesn’t work, that poly can’t handle the windload, the snowload or the abuse that Wyoming winters tend to dish out.  Well, I want to use this post to dispel those rumors.

A well inflated double layer greenhouse with well secured wiggle wire channel and wiggle wire can stand up to some pretty serious abuse.

How serious you ask?  Well, our houses have repeatedly borne 60+ mph winds for days on end as well as heavy snowloads.

Inflated poly has some “give” to it, allowing it to absorb much of the force of the wind, and what the poly can’t take, your frame absorbs.  This can have a serious lifting effect on the covering and the frame, so securing both the wiggle wire channel (we screw it down every 12-18” minimum) is very  important.  It’s also important to have your framework anchored to the ground very well.  These structures have the ability to act like a giant kite; so don’t overlook anything when it comes to securing the poly or the frame.

Wiggle Wire: The Facts

wiggle wire

Wiggle wire channel runs along the base of your hoop house.

Wiggle wire and channel is relatively inexpensive.  Channel is typically aluminum and the wire is typically steel.  I recommend you purchase PVC coated steel.  It will last you longer and is much easier on your poly, resulting in significantly longer covering life and fewer holes to patch.

The channel is first secured to the baseboard with screws- I recommend self-tapping decking type screws.  Then both layers of poly are placed over the channel.  The wiggle-wire spring is then forced into the channel with a wiggling, up and down motion.  Once it’s in, the wire holds the plastic tightly against the back, bottom and top of the channel, making it practically airtight.

The channel can be screwed into baseboards, along the endwalls of the frame, and anywhere else that needs plastic secured.

Inflating the Double Layer Poly

Once the covering is secured, it’s time to inflate it.

I recommend using a blower kit sold by your greenhouse supplier.  To put the blower together, you just wire it up, attach a hose and thread it into the seal that you place on the inner layer of the covering.

inflating double layer poly greenhouses

Blower kits are available from your greenhouse supplier.

You’ll be required to cut a hole in the covering to do this.   Most folks draw their inflation air from outside to avoid condensation.  We tend to use indoor air and then drain the condensation over the summer.  I recommend using outside air for most inflation.

 

Most blowers draw hardly any electricity.  In fact, when you put your hand against them, you have a hard time figuring out if they’re drawing any air at all.  This is nice because it makes them very energy efficient to operate.

 

If you are considering a greenhouse and are primarily concerned about cost, then poly is the way to go.  Check out some of our other videos on using poly films.

Author: Nate Storey

Dr. Nate Storey is the Co-Founder of Bright Agrotech, a high density, vertical farming equipment manufacturer.

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17 Comments

  1. Thank you for your testing of double layer poly in windy Wyoming. Your results confirm what I have believed despite the claims of many that it will not hold up.
    What are you suing for the frame of your hoop houses? Looks like square metal channel.

    Post a Reply
    • Hey Jim, glad we could give you some reassurance. We’ve used two different support frames now. The first (in our original AP greenhouse) was just an anodized square tube steel and in the second greenhouse we actually just bought the kit from Greenhouse Megastore which is just a rolled form. It’s lighter and cheaper and much easier to install, and it’s been just as strong.

      Post a Reply
      • Very good! I just now refreshed the page and there was an answer to one of my question.

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  2. Thank you for the video and I appreciate very much you sharing your testimonial here. Unfortunately, due to the extreme drought, I have not seen significant snow for 3 years (grr!!). However, extreme wind is a major problem in my area and also major pea sized hail thunderstorms, that at least, and thankfully, my house and farm crops have not experienced the nickel-sized hail, that is not yet. Since I’m a 3rd generation grain & feed commercial farmer, paying attention to the weather and not forgetting about it is required. There have been many greenhouses here where hail has significantly thrashed them.

    Unfortunately, I am quite familiar with see that grey-ish white wall in a thunderstorm. It seems whenever we get rain, if we get it, then there is 2 inches of hailstones along with it.

    Has your doubly layer poly greenhouse experienced a significant hail thunderstorm ?? What do you do in these situations ??

    Post a Reply
    • Hey Charles – Hail usually isn’t an issue. With high quality plastic it’ll usually just dimple the plastic for a bit before it stretches back to normal.

      Post a Reply
      • What is the thickness of the poly plastic you are using?

        Post a Reply
        • We specially design our media to fit snuggly into our ZipGrow towers. Have you tried them out yet, Charles?

          Post a Reply
          • Question was in reference to the greenhouse double layer poly covering… What is the thickness of this plastic?

            Once I have a greenhouse, I am definitely going to try out the ZipGrow towers. They’re the best vertical wet/dry bio-filter & grow bed product I have seen. I am quite impressed, but, due to our crazy weather, I think I would need to have them in a greenhouse.

    • Thought this reference would be nice to share. Found it on on http://instagram.com/bright_agrotech. Pictures are worth a thousand words and it is much like panhandle hail storms here. Fun pictures too.

      Descriptor says, “Just had a serious summer hail storm here in Laramie. Pretty intense marble size hail.” (8 months ago)

      http://instagram.com/p/bNAobArHwo/#

      Very persuasive. Looks like the stuff is incredibly durable. I am impressed.

      Post a Reply
  3. I’ve never seen the PVC coated wire. What is the source and also for the channel?

    Post a Reply
  4. My experience is that the first (treated) plastic layer is secured with wiggle wire, and then the second (untreated) layer is installed using a second wiggle wire. To do them both with a single wiggle wire you would have a hard time getting the tension correct. Also, I secure the ends over the hoops first, starting at the top center. Do not forget to install the blower port in the first layer before putting on the second layer. Concur with the extraordinary ability to handle snow and wind. Note before you begin pulling plastic, make sure there are no protruding sharp edges that the plastic can get hung up and punctured on.

    Post a Reply
  5. I have been watching the weather reports for your area all winter and it is brutal. Very impressive that the operation is able to handle the elements so well. Thanks for the in depth info on wiggle wire

    Post a Reply
    • You’re welcome Evan! That bad thing is this has been a pretty mild winter so far.

      Post a Reply
  6. Do you know what the R factor is for the double poly w/ the blower? I’m looking for a tear round solar greenhouse for an aquaponics set up in the Idaho Falls area. I like the wiggle wire product with double poly and metal tubing support. I think this will drastically cut my cost and simplify the design.

    Post a Reply
    • Hey Mark,

      It’s about a 2.5 or 3 R factor. Glad to hear we could throw out some cost-saving ideas for you! Best of luck with the build.

      Post a Reply

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