Off the Grid Greenhouse

Small Town- Big Ideas

The Oregon Illinois High School Off the Grid Greenhouse

Oregon Illinois has one of the most unique greenhouses in the country. The off the grid greenhouse will enable high school students to grow a wide variety of plants all year long without the need for an external heat source or electricity.

The building is highly insulated and is primarily heated by using passive solar gain on sunny winter days. The South facing windows keep the building warm on sunny days with no additional use of energy even when the temperatures outside are below.

This forward-thinking demonstration of what is possible represents a true community collaboration. The off the grid greenhouse uses a 2 kW array of solar panels to charge a bank of 48 VDC batteries which are used to power a very efficient heat pump which keeps the building heated in the winters and cooled in the summers. The same batteries are used to power very efficient LED grow lights made by Happy Leaf LLC of Oregon Illinois.

Inside the building, bakers’ racks are used to support the various plants that the students and local residents are growing. Several examples of plants that can be grown all year round are flowers, microgreens, lettuce, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers, and root plants such as beets, carrots, and radishes.

The project has been funded by the Illinois Renewable Energy Association, the Oregon High School, the town of Oregon Illinois, and Happy Leaf LLC. Cody Dunbar, a junior at the Oregon High School, has taken the initiative to help make the off the grid greenhouse a reality. If you are interested in learning more about the project contact Victor Zaderej (, Chelsea Eden ( or Darin DeHaan (