Solar Power Backyard Irrigation System

Practical Experimentation with Solar Power by watering flowers.

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Costs for small solar systems have gotten low enough to allow experimentation for under $200. Let's give it a go.

Hey, this is easy, right? Solar to Battery to Pump to flowers. What could go wrong?

  • NOTE on the Charge Controller

    Pete Hoffswell08/03/2016 at 16:46 0 comments

    I have been having a problem with my Charge Controller erroring out with an over current alarm. It shuts off for 10 seconds then comes back on.

    I think this is due to the fact that my pump is 7.0A max, but the charge controller has a 2 amp output. It seems to peak at about 6 amps before the protection circuit kicks in.

    I think I'm going to try to run the pump from the batteries direct, and see how things do that way.

  • Cabinet Complete, Tank Drain Test

    Pete Hoffswell06/14/2016 at 22:36 0 comments

    The cabinet is complete and simply resting on top of the barrel. I'm no cabinet maker, but it's functional.

    We are due for a big storm tonight, so I thought I'd drain the barrel.

    Not much sun right now - 0.0A charge from the cells. Battery voltage looks good, and we can see the pump is drawing 5.8 amps. (The display isn't burnt out, it's just how the camera captured it.)

    The 50 gallon barrel was drained in 25 minutes to a sprinkler with 50' of hose. That's 2 Gallons per minute.

  • Cabinet Construction

    Pete Hoffswell06/09/2016 at 00:38 0 comments

    All is well with my solar powered rain barrel. Time to load the gear into it's own storage unit. I decided to build a cabinet -

    Just need to add a door and paint.

  • Upgraded Pump

    Pete Hoffswell05/02/2016 at 23:20 0 comments

    Ok, we've upgraded the pump to a 12v 3.5 Gpm 45 PSI pump, and can squirt water!

    This is a pump made to run an RV. So, it sort of puts out water as you might expect from a RV shower or sink. Not house-pressure, but not bad -

  • Little Pump

    Pete Hoffswell04/15/2016 at 13:02 0 comments

    Well, as you can see, my low cost little pump isn't enough to pump to a garden hose and sprinkler. Time to consider a new pump.

  • Lots of Rain Fills Barrel

    Pete Hoffswell03/25/2016 at 00:58 0 comments

    We had a significant rain event today that filled the rain barrel to overflowing. The barrel is not adequately sealed, so it was leaking down by the house. I worried that we might get some foundation leakage (we just moved to this house, and are a bit sensitive!), so I drained the barrel with a house out to the yard.

    I will need to seal the barrel and test that it backs up to the downspout diverter like it's supposed to.

  • Rain Barrel Plumbing

    Pete Hoffswell03/16/2016 at 22:51 0 comments

    I hooked up the gutter downspout to an Oatey rain diverter, and off to my rain barrel -

    This is pretty standard stuff. I'm not going to go into the details of how you make a rain barrel, but suffice to say, my setup is pretty standard, except for a pump on the faucet

    We got some rain last night, and it proved the barrel to work great - we collected a 25 gallons!

    The tub on the left is the storage for the solar battery and charge controller

    Next up is hooking up a hose and doing some testing. Do I have enough pressure to run irrigation? Sprinkler?

  • Let the Sun Shine In

    Pete Hoffswell03/14/2016 at 01:45 0 comments

    Ok I set things up temporarily outside to get a bit of light.

    • Panels connected in parallel
    • Panels connected to controller
    • Batteries connected in parallel
    • Batteries connected to controller

    Really, it's not too hard.

    And we have charging going on. It's not very sunny, and I am standing in front of the panels, so I'm sure that we can do better than .3A P(W) = I(A) × V(V) so P = 12V*.3A = 3.6W . We have 60W of panels, so I expect we will see more than that eventually.

    Our potential should be I(A) = P(W) / V(V) = 60W/12V = 5A. But reality should show less as there is loss for various solarific reasons.

  • Wire up and test Battery Bank

    Pete Hoffswell03/11/2016 at 00:22 0 comments

    The 4 batteries need to be wired up in parallel, so I made a hookup wire -

    Connect the Pluses. connect the Minuses, and connect to the charge controller, and there you have juice. Now THAT'S how you charge your phone.

  • Solar Panel Hookup

    Pete Hoffswell03/10/2016 at 01:26 0 comments

    Yay! Our Solar Charge Controller came in -

    This is a CMG/CMF Series Solar Charge Controller, and, in particular, the model CMG-2420. It can take in the 12V from our panels, and have room for more, as it's max rating is 20A.

    The Panels need to be hooked up in PARALLEL, to keep 12V. So, we simply connect the + and - of the first panel to the second, and then off to the controller

    Now our 2 30W panels are effectively one 60W panel

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