25-watt solar panel with 12-volt pump in barrel
One of the most interesting to me was employing solar water-pumping in our garden.
I had recently discovered that one can buy on eBay a 25-watt solar panel for $50.00 US – delivered to my door, for free! When I bought my first 25-watt panel, 20 years ago, it had me cost $225.00.
We’ve been using the older panel with a 12-volt bilge pump to pump water from a shallow well down to barrels in the garden.
I joined the two barrels with a U-shaped length of irrigation hose filled with water and ends immersed upside-down into both barrels, to their bottoms, creating a siphon between the two barrels. This results in a bank of water barrels that will draw down and fill at the same level approximately.
Bilge pumps are commonly available in hardware stores in the boating section, and are of good quality and inexpensive, around $25.00. Alternately, one can go shopping on-line for a 12-volt pump from AliExpress…$12.00, and again, free delivery. (I recognize these pumps – they’ve been around a long time, are of good quality, and handily fit down through a bung hole.)
When I first set this solar water-pumping system up in the garden, and was walking around with a hose spouting water, all driven by sunlight, I felt a flush of good power; and wondered for a moment how I’d feel if a poor farmer in Africa, using this for the first time.
We live on an island in the rain-shadow between Vancouver Island and the mainland. It gets hot and dry here in the summertime, and watering the garden is necessary nearly every day. For years we watered with the hand-watering can shown; about a barrel’s worth daily in the peak of summer.
Well, wandering around with a hose wasn’t much better than wandering around with a watering can…but we had a plan. A month or two earlier we had gone to an irrigation system workshop, and learned that an inexpensive way of making a low-pressure drip irrigation system was to use 1/2 inch black irrigation pipe (sold in 100 foot rolls).
Instead of buying the irrigation fittings sold along with this hose, one can cut off small sleeves of the tubing to cover drilled holes.
You will still need to get some 1/2-inch poly tee’s, couplers, and end plugs…and lots of #6 hose clamps….to lay out the lines.
As for tools, two come in handy – one to tighten the hose clamps, and one to cut tubing. For a hose clamp tightener, best to get a screw-driver handled socket that fits the hex heads of the hose clamps.