The Walipini

Discussion in 'The Green Patch' started by RightHand, Aug 24, 2014.

  1. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

  2. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    Interesting concept!!
  3. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I've always wanted to built a berm house with steel I-Beams and lots of glass. Its a little late now but I have a perfect spot for one on a hillside that has a cliff ending in a meadow that abuts my stream. Its about 800 yards from the road on the western side. Maintaining an access would be challenging if I continued to work away from home but with the proper equipment, not insurmountable. The only downside is that the cliff front faces east instead of south.
  4. Yard Dart

    Yard Dart Vigilant Monkey Moderator

    I looked at a great piece of property today.... but it was flat and would only be useable with a regular above ground green house. I will have to remember this Walipini if we find a suitable property for that technique.
    chelloveck likes this.
  5. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Makes sense to me. At @6' down, there is a year round 56° , add solar and it would be pretty cozy. Might be better as a dome though. More area inside and out, and the sun angle would not matter.
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  6. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

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  7. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I was going to start a thread on the walipini but I see that it has been done. So here is what I wrote up- bump!

    A walipini is a passive-solar heating structure that burrows closer to the magma that flows beneath the earth’s crust. Walipini is the Aymara Indian word for “place of warmth”. By digging just six to eight feet below the earth, growers can take advantage of what is called a thermal constant.

    We have had small discussions on Walipini’s over the years, people have mentioned them but I am looking for more information on them. Having seen various plans but am wondering which way would be the one that would last over time. I have heard these structures called in-earth greenhouse or walipini. Many plans that I have looked at tend to be on a hillside or berm with a single panel at 90 degrees, one side of the building being higher than the other.

    Different plans I have seen are:

    Stone for drainage on the outside of the structure
    Earthbags as walls on the inside
    No drainage, just a rectangle swath in the ground.
    Cinder block walls, brick walls
    Just dirt walls
    Single 90 degree pane
    Pitched roof making in structure look like a triangle
    Planting on the floor or having planter areas (boxes or beds)
    Cold sink area or pipes vs. not

    Has anyone ever tried one of these? I am looking for success/ failure stories. There are plans I have seen that say you can build a walipini for $300 (see video above) but how good are those structures? People often speak of the 100 year flood, which is something to keep in mind. Drainage is a huge concern of mine plus flooring. I think I would tend to have planting areas vs. just planting on the flooring area. My flooring thoughts have been stone, dirt or pallets. I know earthbags and/or mason walls will help hold heat but also help with moisture control. When building something, I want it to last. Plus some plans have cold sink areas, some do not. This could be a project that one could start with doing the simplest construction then expand to incorporate other things like drainage, walls or cold sink if the simple structure is not working but one would need to room for construction improvements.

    I have been looking at land and this is one structure that I am planning on building. I want a year round greenhouse and rather than heat an on- grade greenhouse, I think a walipini would cut down on heating.

    walipinin. 2_underground-greenhouse. c3b50382b691a6614f4a6e6af91af074. earth-sheltered-pit-greenhouse. 6579198821f79318dc6f079ad42f1788.
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  8. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    One of our greenhouses is built back into a bank. 12x20, earth bermed on front, side and back. Glazed with polycarbonate triple wall (16mm) glazing, it never freezes inside.


    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]

    We did try raising tomatoes/etc in it couple winters......what we found is even if you keep the heat up, there simply isn't enough daylight hours to raise many things....I think you will find this the case in most Wlaipini kinda things, but your mileage may vary.

    This past year, we took out the table arrangement, and built raised bed along the front and back wall, keeping the table in the center where my wife over winter's her flowers.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Now we use the beds to grow cool weather stuff....lettuce, spinach, coles....and she starts plants in late winter the hoop house and outside gardens.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  9. RightHand

    RightHand Been There, Done That RIP 4/15/21 Moderator Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    Beautiful Tn.
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  10. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    @TnAndy awesome pictures. Q's: what is is average cold temp in the winter? I also noticed that your greenhouse is on a bank, like most of the plans say to do, but if you were going to rebuild would you put it in that spot again? In the winter, with the sun lower I wonder if a true bank structure would not get enough sun. I noticed you had trees on the bank behind your green house. I question whether a bank structure would be harder to capture winter light vs. a green house that you would dig down 6 feet on a flat surface (like the 1st picture- post #7).

    PS- your wife's flowers are beautiful.
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  11. TnAndy

    TnAndy Senior Member Founding Member

    1. Average cold temp in winter is probably mid 20's, though record low is something like -25. (1985) Varies with the winter.

    Yes, I'd use the same spot. Front faces due south, with the low winter sun angle, a 45 degree slope (like the lower glazing is) gives you the most sun. The trees behind have no effect on amount of sun....they are on the north side of the building.

    Digging a hole in flat ground and cover with some type of glazing/plastic will give you far less sun.....orient the structure east/west, and the sun will only hit various points on the back wall, to perhaps center of it (depending on the width of the building, time of winter) all day. Orient it north/south, and sun would hit the back wall (north), and perhaps to the center (depending on what time of winter) or less. Even in the summer solstice (June21), the face of the southern wall would likely not get sun, due to the depth of the hole and vertical face.

    You can see this easily in my pictures above.....look at # 6 & 7....building that front bed. Look at the inside of the south wall....just under the glazing....never gets sun. Look to the left at the sun hitting the top of the new 4" block, and on more to the left how the sun hits the back (north) wall. Now imagine that south wall is 3-5' higher, like a buried Walipini.....all that sun you see is now blocked by the south wall, it would only hit the north wall about mid way up !

    I understand the concept of the 'Walipini' retain heat....but you ARE going to sacrifice sunlight in one compared to a south facing earth berm greenhouse like I built. The 'hole in the ground' might look good on paper, but the true test is what you can actually GROW. And as I said, we've found daylight is more of a limiting factor on growing things than heat.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2017
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  12. Motomom34

    Motomom34 Monkey+++

    I appreciate all your input @TnAndy, you have experience/knowledge and that is what I was looking for.
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  13. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    I get the idea of underground green-houses. Just won't work where I live. Still-before the dependency culture we see today, having a garden wasn't just a good idea, it was a necessity..


    Wasilla Alaska Garden Adventures
    This link is for a prolific gardener in Wasilla, just up the road a piece.

    I have all my vegi-strips ready, all I need now is for the 2+ feet of snow on my garden beds to go away.....
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  14. Ganado

    Ganado Monkey+++

    More underground greenhouse ideas.... Not a Walipini but still intersting

    A Greenhouse Full'a Buckminster

    he has open sourced his building plans so you can download them if your interested
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  1. TnAndy
  2. ditch witch
  3. TnAndy
  4. Sojourn
  5. john316
  6. Dunerunner
  7. Ganado
  8. Yard Dart
  9. Thunder5Ranch
  10. chelloveck
  11. OldDude49
  12. duane
  13. Asia-Off-Grid
  14. DKR
  15. Dunerunner
  16. Asia-Off-Grid
  17. Asia-Off-Grid
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