18 Different Types Of Commercial Greenhouses

If you’re thinking about starting a commercial greenhouse to earn money by growing vegetables, flowers, or other crops, it’s crucial to focus on producing more efficiently and making a good profit. Employing advanced technologies can really boost how much you grow and how good your crops are.

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However, remember that there are various types of commercial greenhouses, each with unique features and advantages. Before diving into your greenhouse project, learning about these different types is important to pick the one that fits your budget and meets your goals best.

Types of Commercial Greenhouses You Can Choose from

Commercial greenhouses vary widely because they are made with different technologies, require different amounts of money to set up, and serve different purposes. They are often grouped based on what they are made of, their design, their function, and how technologically advanced they are.

Next, we’ll look at greenhouses from four angles: their use, design, the materials they’re covered with, and their technological features. We’ll explore 18 different types of greenhouses to help you understand what makes each one special. This will make it easier for you to decide which greenhouse is right for your goals and budget.

1. Classification by Primary Use

Commercial greenhouses are mainly used for growing agricultural products like vegetables, flowers, fish (in aquaculture), and even livestock. Some greenhouses are also set up for exhibitions and other special events. Here’s how we can categorize them based on their primary use:

1)Nursery Greenhouse

Nursery greenhouses are all about starting plant life. They are specifically designed to help seeds sprout, and young plants grow. These greenhouses create the perfect conditions for seeds to germinate and for young seedlings to thrive during their critical early stages.

Nursery Greenhouse
Nursery Greenhouse

2)Vegetable Greenhouse

Vegetable greenhouses focus on cultivating vegetables in a controlled environment. This setup helps increase the vegetable yield, extend the growing season, and even grow vegetables during off-season periods. These greenhouses protect against harsh weather like frost, heavy rain, or extreme heat and help manage pests and diseases. The goal is to consistently produce high-quality vegetables all year round to satisfy market demands.

Vegetable Greenhouse
Vegetable Greenhouse

3)Floriculture Greenhouse

Floriculture Greenhouses are dedicated to the cultivation and care of flowering plants. These structures provide a protected environment that shields plants from harsh weather and ensures optimal growth conditions. By controlling temperature, humidity, lighting, and ventilation, floral greenhouses support healthy flower development, prolong the blooming period, or even trigger earlier blooming.

Floriculture Greenhouse
Floriculture Greenhouse

4)Fruit Tree Greenhouse

Fruit tree greenhouses are designed to cultivate fruit trees under artificially controlled environmental conditions. These greenhouses adjust temperature, humidity, and lighting to create the perfect setting for fruit trees to flourish. They enable faster growth, prolong the fruit-bearing season, or allow for off-season fruit production. This capability is particularly valuable for producing fruit all year round or in regions with climates that typically do not support certain fruit trees.

Cherry Tree Greenhouse
Cherry Tree Greenhouse

5)Aquaculture Greenhouse

Aquaculture greenhouses represent a novel approach by merging greenhouse technology with fish farming. These greenhouses use their structures to control the environment, optimizing conditions for the growth of aquatic species such as fish, crustaceans, and shellfish. This innovative model blends traditional plant greenhouse techniques with modern aquaculture practices, aiming to boost production efficiency and minimize environmental impacts while ensuring high yields.

Aquaculture Greenhouse
Aquaculture Greenhouse

6)Livestock Greenhouse

Livestock overwintering greenhouses are built specifically to shelter livestock during the harsh winter months. These greenhouses offer a warm and stable environment that helps protect animals from the cold, minimizing the impact on their health and productivity. This approach has become particularly popular in China.

Livestock Greenhouse in Rixie Village
Livestock Greenhouse in Rixie Village

For instance, in Rixie Village, warm sheds for livestock have been constructed using funds allocated for poverty alleviation from Shanghai. These facilities are crucial in ensuring the welfare of the animals throughout the winter, helping them stay healthy and productive even in colder temperatures.

2. Classification by Structural Features

Commercial greenhouses vary in design and structure, influencing how plants are housed and how well the environment inside can be controlled, such as ventilation. Each type of structure offers its own set of benefits and drawbacks. Structurally, greenhouses are divided into single-span, multi-span, and special-structure greenhouses.

1)Single-Span Greenhouse

A single-span greenhouse or freestanding greenhouse is built as an individual unit and doesn’t require drainage gutters. Its design allows snow to slide off the roof naturally, preventing excessive weight and potential damage. These greenhouses are often equipped with side windows that can be opened to enhance ventilation, making them particularly effective at keeping cool during hot summers.

Single-Span Greenhouse
Single-Span Greenhouse

2)Multi-Span Greenhouse

Multi-span greenhouses consist of two or more single-span greenhouses connected at the eaves. The walls between these connected units are removed, and gutters are added, creating a continuous, unified structure. This type allows for larger, more controlled environments ideal for extensive agricultural operations. Several types of multi-span greenhouses are based on the materials used, such as multi-span glass greenhouses, multi-span polycarbonate greenhouses, and multi-span film greenhouses.

Multi-Span Greenhouse
Multi-Span Greenhouse

3)Special Structure Greenhouse

Special structure greenhouses are designed with unique features to meet specific agricultural needs or to maximize efficiency in particular climates. Examples include the solar greenhouse, the Yin-Yang greenhouse, and the Venlo-type greenhouse.

Passive Solar Greenhouse

Also known as Chinese-style greenhouses or Chinese cold frames, these structures are built with sidewalls, a rear maintenance wall, a support framework, and typically a film covering. They are predominantly found in northern China, where they leverage solar energy to maintain warmth. The rear wall absorbs sunlight, storing and releasing heat to keep the interior warm enough for crops, usually without the need for additional heating except in extremely cold conditions or for special crops.

Chinese Passive Solar Greenhouse
Chinese Passive Solar Greenhouse

Yin-Yang Greenhouse

The Yin-Yang greenhouse is a modern take on the classic Chinese passive solar greenhouse. This innovative design includes a sloped rear wall that faces north, forming a unique Yin-Yang structure. The ‘Yang’ side of the greenhouse is designed to capture as much sunlight and warmth as possible, maximizing energy efficiency.

Meanwhile, the ‘Yin’ side offers improved insulation, which helps to significantly reduce heat loss. This setup is particularly beneficial for cultivating mushrooms or plants that thrive in the shade, adapting to the specific light needs of each crop.

Chinese Yin-Yang Greenhouse
Chinese Yin-Yang Greenhouse

4) Additional Roof Styles in Greenhouse

Additionally, greenhouses can also be classified based on the shape of their roofs, including “Venlo-style” ridged roof greenhouses, arched dome greenhouses, sawtooth greenhouses, and flat-roof greenhouses.

Venlo Greenhouse
Venlo Greenhouse
  • Venlo Greenhouse: Originating from the Netherlands, these greenhouses are made up of small, connected structures with ridged roofs, each with a triangular apex. The frames are usually made from hot-dip galvanized steel and are covered with glass or polycarbonate. They are designed to maximize light entry and minimize shading, featuring a unique roof design with ridge-line vent windows that help release heat efficiently.
  • Dome Greenhouse: These are characterized by their curved, dome-like shape, which helps shed water and snow easily and reduces structural stress.
  • Sawtooth Greenhouse: Typically found in warmer climates, these have a roof that resembles a series of ridges with vertical or angled sides, which allow natural ventilation and light diffusion.
  • Flat-Roof Greenhouse: These are less common due to their poor drainage and tendency to accumulate snow and water, but they are used in specific scenarios where height restrictions apply, or other design considerations are prioritized.

3. Classification by Covering Materials

The type of material used to cover a greenhouse is essential because it influences cost, light transmission, and overall durability. Greenhouses are commonly classified based on their covering materials, with the main types being plastic film, glass, and polycarbonate (PC) sheets.

1)Poly Greenhouse

Poly greenhouses, or polyhouses, utilize plastic film as the covering. They are available in both single-span and multi-span designs. These greenhouses are more cost-effective and easier to build and maintain than those made with glass or other more rigid materials. The plastic film helps trap heat efficiently while being light and flexible, although it may need to be replaced more frequently than more durable materials.

Poly Greenhouse
Poly Greenhouse

2)Glass Greenhouses

Glass greenhouses use glass as the primary transparent covering material. They are pricier but offer a longer lifespan than poly greenhouses. Glass types can vary from standard clear glass to diffuse glass, which includes options with patterns like pear, fabric, and double velvet. These patterns help diffuse light more evenly throughout the greenhouse, benefiting plant growth by reducing glare and hot spots.

Glass greenhouses
Glass greenhouses

3)Polycarbonate Greenhouse

Polycarbonate greenhouses use double-layer transparent polycarbonate sheets as their main covering material. These sheets are often chosen for their low thermal conductivity, significantly reducing heat loss and improving energy efficiency. PC sheets are also lightweight and flame-retardant, making them a safer and more durable option. However, it is important to use high-quality PC sheets; lower-quality sheets can degrade over time, showing reduced light transmission and a shorter overall lifespan, often becoming apparent only years after installation.

Polycarbonate greenhouse
Polycarbonate Greenhouse

4. High-Tech Greenhouse Classifications

High-tech greenhouses go beyond basic functional and material distinctions, incorporating advanced technologies to enhance productivity and environmental safety. These include environmentally safe greenhouses, smart greenhouses, and double-layer inflatable film greenhouses.

1)Environmentally Safe Greenhouses

These can be subdivided into two main types: physical plant protection greenhouses and environmental control greenhouses.

Physical Plant Protection Greenhouses

This kind of greenhouse focuses on using physical barriers and systems to manage pests and diseases throughout the plant’s lifecycle.

Techniques include soil disease and pest control through soil rotation and barrier electro-treatment methods, aerial disease prevention via electrostatic fog removal systems, and integrated pest management for flying insects using a combination of color, light attraction, and insect nets. Biological control methods are also employed to manage pests like spider mites.

Physical Plant Protection Greenhouses
Physical Plant Protection Greenhouses

Environmental Control Greenhouses

These greenhouses extend physical plant protection capabilities by regulating temperature, lighting, and carbon dioxide levels to promote pesticide-free growth under various environmental conditions. These greenhouses might feature hot air furnaces, soil heating cables, cooling pads, electrostatic field generators (which also boost photosynthesis in low light), supplemental lighting, and CO2 enrichment systems.

Environmental Control Greenhouses
Environmental Control Greenhouses

2)Smart Greenhouses

Commonly referred to as modern greenhouses, smart greenhouses are at the forefront of facility agriculture. They incorporate comprehensive environmental control systems that automatically adjust indoor conditions for temperature, light, water, nutrients, and air quality. This sophisticated automation not only saves significant labor and energy but also enhances crop quality and yield.

Smart Greenhouses
Smart Greenhouses

The core of an intelligent greenhouse includes a signal collection system that gathers data, a central computer that processes this information, and a control system that adjusts the environment based on real-time data and pre-set parameters. These systems work together to ensure optimal growth conditions and efficient resource use.

3)Double-Layer Inflatable Film Greenhouses

Double-layer inflatable film greenhouses represent an energy-efficient model that significantly improves on the insulation and energy savings offered by traditional single-layer plastic film greenhouses – often resulting in energy savings of more than 40%. Structurally, these greenhouses mirror the basic design of single-layer plastic greenhouses but differ in how the film is mounted.

Double-Layer Inflatable Film Greenhouses
Double-Layer Inflatable Film Greenhouses

Instead of pressing lines, the plastic film in double-layer greenhouses is secured around the edges, and an air pump or blower is used to inflate the space between the two film layers. This inflation not only supports the structure but also ensures that the inner layer fits snugly against the greenhouse frame while the outer layer is held out by air pressure, creating an effective insulating air gap.


Commercial greenhouses play a key role in modern agriculture, combining human creativity and advanced technology with nature. As science and technology progress and people’s needs change, the variety of commercial greenhouses keeps increasing. We’ve looked at greenhouses from four main angles – purpose, structure, covering material, and tech upgrades – and identified 18 different types, helping you choose the best one for your needs.

Building commercial greenhouses involves many components and systems. If you’re considering starting in greenhouse agriculture, feel free to contact us anytime for more information about the construction process and current prices.

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