Reading Time: 3 minutes
When you invest in greenhouse structures, it’s important to take into account the durability of the covering material as well as the benefits to the plants that it will need to protect. Whether you are building new structures or considering a retrofit to increase your yield, ETFE film improves the growth efficiency of fruits, vegetables and plants and reduces greenhouse operations costs.
ETFE film is a fluoropolymer-based greenhouse covering material that has been used around the world for many years. It is far lighter than glass, yet has much higher light and UV transmission rates. In fact, when it comes to light transmission, it also beats out other commonly used coverings including polyethylene, polycarbonate and acrylic glazings. Unlike other materials, ETFE film allows the full spectrum of solar light to pass through to the growing area.
Reflection and refraction rate are very low with ETFE film, providing effective use of available light and a full spectrum of ultraviolet light, if needed. Because films are available in a variety of shades and types, you can get one that provides the desired light at the specific wavelength range for your application. For this reason, ETFE film is ideal for growing high-value crops such as cannabis, flowering plants and those requiring anthocyanins like aubergines (eggplants, berries, black rice, and black soybean.)
ETFE film has very low surface energy properties, so it resists weather, chemicals, mold and bacteria. On the outside of a greenhouse, this nonstick surface remains naturally clean despite years of sun, rain and snow. It naturally sheets off most water and other contaminants, but when it does need to be cleaned, debris wipes off easily. On the inside, the it balances the amount of direct sunlight admitted to prevent condensation from forming and then dripping onto plants.
ETFE film has superior mechanical properties to most other covering materials. It exhibits high tensile and tear strength with minimal effects of aging. It has a service life of more than 30 years in many environments and is stable in low and high temperatures from -100 to 180 degrees C. An anti-drip coating can also be applied to one side to stop dripping and reflection of sunlight.
Lightweight but strong
Unlike glass, ETFE film requires a different structural support. Double layers of film can be tensioned to further retain heat, which saves energy costs while still providing high light transmission. It is also nonflammable, self-extinguishing and tested to fire safety standard DIN 4102, Class B-1.
Advantages of ETFE versus other greenhouse coverings
- Higher production yields
- Earlier blooms
- More colorful petals
- Sweeter fruit
- Better-quality vegetables
Retrofitting greenhouse structures with lightweight ETFE film improves plant growth and reduces energy and maintenance costs. AGC offers F-CLEAN brand ETFE film in various thicknesses from 60µm (2.4 mil) to 100µm (4 mil). It is available in several grade options.
- F-CLEAN Clear (60µm, UV-Open) admits the full spectrums of sunlight through the covering, providing the same light conditions as outside the greenhouse.
- F-CLEAN Diffused Series (60µm, UV-Open) provides highly diffused sunlight evenly while maintaining high light transmission. This eliminates shadows and diffuses light intensity.
- F-CLEAN GR series reduces the percentage of ultraviolet light admitted through the covering.
- F-CLEAN Grey (100µm) significantly filters visible light – up to 99% – to provide a cool environment in hot weather.
- F-CLEAN Soft Shine (100µm) enables light transmission of about 14% while simultaneously blocking heat energy from solar light to prevent temperature build-up inside.
If you’re a horticultural professional looking for more information on using and retrofitting with F-CLEAN ETFE film greenhouse coverings, check out our F-Clean Brochure or contact an AGC representative.