Aquaponic Gardening

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I'm still planning my system and studying the subject - hope to launch by spring.  We've been without power here in North Florida a couple of times over the years for several days each so I'm thinking of incorporating solar from the outset, 24/7.  Plans are in infancy but I somewhat understand the basic components of panels, charge controller, batteries and inverter.  I don't intend to use solar powered components exactly but rather run the entire system from the batteries/inverter.  As I research pumps and aerators I look for best performance and dependability coupled with low wattage draw.  I haven't thought this through and since we're grid tied, it may make more sense financially just to have enough charged batteries on hand to get through a few days of power outage - I don't know if that is feasible but I believe I can do the math on it once I decide on system size, components, etc.  If you have experience in these matters, please share what worked for you, what didn't and any other thoughts you want to share on the subject.  Thanks and best regards. 

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I am thinking along the same lines. I mostly likely will shoot for this spring as well, lets keep in touch. I have bait battery back up pumps as my current plan. The size of our tanks at this time are 300 gallon and 100 gallon. We are in the process of building three new systems. One in particular, I am going to document in a photo/video diary. Good Luck with everything. It sounds like you have a great grasp on your future plans. I am very interested in off grid growing and alternative energy.
I could do a system with a 300 gallon tank that would use less than 75 watts and that includes the water pump and air pump. (The system would probably run fine without the air pump but extra air is often easy insurance.) With a good battery, charge controller and inverter as well as a switch over relay the system could easily be backed up on battery power for 20 hours.
I have been running my system off solar for the last month. 24 W bilge pump with 200 W solar panels. Just recently I had to goto backup power with a few cloudy days, but has been holding up not bad. I am thinking what I need to do is lower the cycles down to conserve power. Putting up more solar panels today, moving to a 1000 W solar.
Putting up more solar panels today, moving to a 1000 W solar.
Please keep us informed and provide details of your system. Are you running off batteries at night?
Yes,

I have been running 24/7 for some time, this morning I had to switch to reserve batteries but for the rest of the time it has been running on solar of the approx 200 watt setup.

Now that I am moving to the 1000 W setup I should be in a much better state to maintain the batteries.




George J. Thurmon said:
Putting up more solar panels today, moving to a 1000 W solar.
Please keep us informed and provide details of your system. Are you running off batteries at night?

Is anyone interested in going non electric? I realize the benifits of solar panels and batteries given our already established patterns, however, I am interested in non electric options for all encompassing benifits. Such as excersize converting my power into mechanical work, wind could be an option here or even animals. I know that some dogs are required more excersize than others and will jump on a "large hamster wheel" for fun. There are a couple of brands out there and I have a working breed dog with energy going to waste. I would love to have dogs run a pump even if it is just supplimental at first.

    The Amish use water and a rocking motion to power things mechanically in their houses. this seems great!

If one had a handy running stream next to their system, a water mill powered system could be possible I think.
indeed that would be nice and as I am looking to move that would be a tempting feature!

TCLynx said:
If one had a handy running stream next to their system, a water mill powered system could be possible I think.

I have a mountain home that is off-grid for over 17 years by economic necessity. The IREA connection was too costly then and now to use them for electrical power so I had to design and purchase our own power plant, powered by 1040 watts of PV panels.On average we generate 6 KW/day.

We are currently on our 3rd bank of batteries -12 Trojan L16's at 380Ahr @ 6 VDC each, wired for 24V.. The initial cost of the batteries was $1200 in 1993 and they lasted 10 years for an ammortized cost of $10/mo. The IREA minimum charge at that time was $50/mo. The next set of Trojan L16's cost us $2400 7 years later for an amortized cost of $28/mo. I believe they died early because our charge controller was equalizing them too hard. Our newest set of Deka L16's Hit us for $3200 +$250 for a used charge controller) and I hope they'll make it 10 years which will amortize out at $29/mo . The latest minimum IREA rate is $25/mo  so it would be cheaper to get power from the grid, except the IREA want $3000/pole/300ft to bring the line to use which would cost over $15,000. That would still buy a lot of batteries! Anyway, the hybrid car buyers are going to have a big surprise when they have to replace their Lithium-Ion Batteries a few years from now. :o)

If you are looking for a backup system when the power goes out, having a bank of batteries is an option. We have 3 days of autonomy in our battery bank (1080 amp/hrs) in case the sun doesn't penetrate through the snow clouds. I have 5500W gas generator to start up if we run out of juice. The cabin was plumbed for a propane generator but I haven't installed it yet.

I would recommend getting a B/U generator for the few times you would use it. The batteries have to be topped off every two weeks or so and you would have to purchase an inverter ($3000) which would also be your charger when grid tied. If its available, the grid is the cheapest way to go. All my neighbors are also on PV micro-grid system and all want the connect up, but they are waiting for the other guy to bring the wires closer.

This cabin is in South Park close to the center of the state at 10,000 feet. Our primary home (when I was employed) is in Boulder County. Its scary how fast a coffee maker will drain your batteries, so there is a significant change in lifestyle when you don't have the grid on-line. Now that I am in forced retirement, I'm working on how to have a sustainable garden at the cabin as we transition up there. As an engineer I am trying to figure out ways to be able to leave an AP system for a couple of weeks unattended.

 

The south facing deck that you see in the above picture will be the roof of an enclosed  32ft x 8ft greenhouse. I suspect I can put 2-3 IBC 275 gal  totes for fish tanks  inside the basement area or 4 along the foundation wall in the green house area with an aisle separating the grow beds. More detail over in the Colorado group as I get my thoughts in order. I'm going to practice at our flatland home (5800 feet) with Tilapia, then convert to trout up in the mountains.

Here's an addendum to the above. This is a sketch of how I propose to modify the above location to establish an aquaponics system in this mountain site. To supplement the electrical demand I'll be adding 1 or more DIY small wind turbines which I have been experimenting with, although they will be more productive driving heating elements in a hot water heaters. Solar hot water panels would be used to add radiant heat to the green house and the basement area. If I can find more SOLEC 110W PV panels I'll add them to the array. I like the idea of raft systems as well as a media based system. Much more to learn! Anyway here's the layout:

 

Hi All,

    l.  I am new at all this just got 3 starter fish last week so please hel I live in North Denver and we have an outside greenhouse made out of PVC and covered 2 X's with Green house poly from American Clay.  It is a 15'W x 25" L x 12' H.  Last winter it got pretty cold in there and I am
trying to see how I can grow in the winter time that is why we put up
the green house we was told put up a green house and grow year round. 
IU want to know if solar or heat or both is the way to go.  Right now
our electric bill is about $50.00 a month.  I have a 638 gal tank with 2
4 x 8 x 2x4 sides we have a water fall effect to get the water back to
the tank so I don't need aerator or stones.  So I run a 1 hp pump with
4-250watt heater that I was told with an amber temp of 35 degree it
would keep the green house at 70 degree.  But as you all know that
living in Colo., unless you have some type of heat in your outside green
house it is almost impossible to keep it at 35 degree.  I guess what I
am asking is how I can heat my system cheaply (was thinking of wood
burning stove) and also to get off the grid to eliminate the $50.00
monthly electric bill me out.

 

A wood stove will probably help a lot to keep the air temp up and reduce wintertime condensation in the greenhouse (if the water is heated while the air is really cold, water will evaporate and then condense on the inside of the greenhouse plastic and also block more of the sunlight so not very good.)

 

You will still need electricity for pumping though but I know of pumps that will handle a system with under 700 gallon fish tanks and be far less than 1 hp.  My big system is running with a main pump that delivers 60 gpm and uses less than 300 watts.  If really trying to reduce power use, I know a 145 watt pump that could probably handle your size fish tank but it wouldn't leave as much extra flow for aeration.

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