Restaurant Solarium?

Hello all! I’m interested in some of your growing wisdom. I’ve been thinking about building a passive solar greenhouse for quite a while. (My husband and I built our own passive solar house and shop. It seems only natural that this would be the next project.)
I may have an oportunity to get a old restaurant solarium from our local mall, as they are doing major upgrades right now. I dont know a whole lot about it yet, like what kind of glass, and if there are any coatings on it and what not. It could be a lot of surface area glass for cheap/free.

My question is, do any of you have experience growing in a solarium as a greenhouse?
Would this be worth pursuing? Or do you think I would be better off just getting windows?

Thanks for any and all input, it will be helpful in making a decision.


The type of glass sold for sunrooms is not always a good choice for plants.

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I won’t want either glass or windows. My favorite greenhouse covering is Palring or Solarig woven poly double layer inflated. Solarig lasted 10 yrs in a hot sunny climate. I’m installing Palring now. Way better than 6 mil greenhouse poly which lasted 2-3 yrs here. Way cheaper and easier to install than double wall polycarbonate. No leaks or breakage like glass. Better insulation and no danger of a glass shard in your head.


Thanks for the input. I’m pretty set on using glass. We get wickid awful winds quite regularly throughout the year here. Any poly panels or fabric type coverings I am worried about ending up at the neighbors 5 miles away. They do have their advantages for sure, but for my project I want the weight. I’ve never seen a window shatter from hail or wind yet, but I’ve certainly lost enough lightweight items by not putting them away before the wind hit.

When we built our house we had to completely redo the soffits with extra bracing through the middle. Got them all finished and the wind showed up and ripped half of them off! Picked up a few pieces 1/4 mile away!

Sometimes I ask myself why I bother trying to grow things here? For the fun and challenge I guess, ha ha!

Woven poly coverings are as strong as your frame and fastening system. The woven poly coverings like Palring are 10x as strong as regular 6 mil 4 yr greenhouse poly. In addition, having woven poly inflated increases it’s strength and lifespan. We get high winds also. Even a single layer has lasted 10 years on my sunroom. If it gets holes or rips they don’t grow.

Under snow load it will be the frame that collapses not woven poly.

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