solar power rain barrel drip system

drippingtimeDecember 12, 2009

Anyone know how to design a rain barrel to a solar powered pump for drip irrigation? Are there ready made systems? How much solar would run what kind of pump? Small pump. Any recommendations? I'd like the whole system to be off the grid and plumbing. All for small .5 acre home garden. Rain off roof to barrels to pump to drippers. Thanks.

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Hi dt,

Any designer needs info to start the ball rolling. I think you need to work backwards. What I mean by that is to decide how much water you need for a certain size home garden? What size is the garden? I assume your garden is not a 0.5 acre (that is not small). What do want to plant in your home garden? Doing a layout to get the actual square feet of growing area. Researching the water requirements for your garden plantings? What is the annual rainfall? What is the amount of your budget? What will your back up water sources be and what is the pressure and flow of these sources? Are you willing to do the work yourself or do you want to start growing a garden soon? The community here will help you review any plan or costs you may come up with. Aloha

    Bookmark   December 13, 2009 at 2:14PM
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garyfla_gw(10 Florida)

Interesting ?? I have been working on the "Fail safe " irrigation system for over 25 years and mostly what I've learned is what doesn't work.
Good luck with "solar powered" anything. lol
Of all my false starts on having the perfect system solar was the worst!!
I store 1800 gallons of rainwater in 3 qualities for 5 areas of my small garden and I'm basicly pleased with it EXCEPT with "How to make it rain" That one has proved tough !! lol
More details on what you want the water to do.?? gary

    Bookmark   December 19, 2009 at 5:45AM
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So...I would like to design a home system that takes rain barrel water and with a small solar powered pump circulates to a drip irrigation system - feeding a small vegetable/herb garden and an assortment of container plants. I'm in florida, so sunshine and rain are not usually a problem. I'd like to have a small, almost kit-like unit that people could buy and set up quick. Need to know the pump to use and how much solar to run it. Also, what kind of switching system to have it sustain pressure, but turn off when barrels empty. Ideas?

    Bookmark   January 1, 2010 at 3:22PM
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Sounds like google will be your best friend if you are looking for one system already in production. A unit system manufacturer will sell you the pump and solar capacity to run it. You just tell them how much flow you need each minute, hour or day. That is if anyone has found it profitable to produce it. Anyone know of a system like this? Good Luck. JMHO ATIAF. Aloha.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2010 at 6:09PM
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Hello Drippingtime,
Here is what I did:
We live in Florida and have a 550 Gal polypropylene tank.
Our house have a very long roof and we placed the tank at the end of it below of where the gutter discharges.
We bought 3 12V DC windshield washer pumps (at Napa Discount Auto Parts) and bought some tubing and splits (at Home Depot). Using a 12V DC programmable timer (we use one which the part number is BRX1224PTS1), connected to our array of batteries that are charged by 2 165W solar panels, we do our irrigation. With the timer we control when and how long we want the the water to be running. Also, on one of the lines we have spray nozzles for the orchids on the gazebo and the others we water our orchard and some flowers using dripping and soaking methods.
So, if you have a very large reservoir along with a good management of how often and for how long you water the plants you may have a solution. On our case we have plenty of water and the plants are doing good.
Good Luck!

    Bookmark   January 18, 2010 at 9:19PM
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Hi grenoble,

Just curious about the cost of your system. Would you be able to itemize it for us? The system sounds like a great innovative solution to me. The way to go. Aloha

    Bookmark   January 19, 2010 at 10:31PM
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Hi lehua13,
Sorry for the long time it took to answer but only Today I checked the forum.
Here is my list:
- 550 Gal polypropylene tank $180 on a scrap place
- windshield washer pumps $7 each at Napa store.
- 12V DC programmable Timer $62 online
- Two 24V DC 165W Solar panels $535 each. At full Sun I get 22Amps after converted to 12V DC.
- 8 Batteries 6V DC deep cycle from Sam's Club $78 each. They are wired first in series and then in parallel to get the 12V DC. Also, the controllers transform 24V to 12V before feeding the batteries.
- Complete system with tubing and spray nozzles $18 at Home Depot
- Miscellaneous plastic tubes, T splitters and etc maybe around $30

Please note that the solar panels and batteries also take care of the external lights, garage lights, backup power for 2 computers + 1 Dell server. So the cost of the solar panels and the batteries are the big ticket but also they do lots of things for us. I run 2 wires 12VDC direct to 3 UPS 1250W. Since their own batteries kicked the bucket I connected direct to our battery bank. It have just to say that it works wonders on our case as we are not restrict to the individual power of the small original batteries of the UPS backups.
Whenever I can I add a couple more batteries to the bank as it is a good insurance during hurricane season. I am guaranteed to get at least two/year as my wife gives me a birthday gift!
To do only the irrigation you only need a small solar panel and a couple batteries as the pumps, that we have, use very little Amps.

Since my last post I have removed one pump from the system and we are doing the dripping irrigation by gravity using a programmable solar irrigation controller with rain sensor (BRXCTRSiRS). Got it from the same place I bought the timer last year. It works perfect and I saves Amps from my battery bank for other tasks as well as water (if it is raining it automatically overrides the programming). Here we are Amp driven because we can save on electricity from the grid and doing so we are paying for all this investment!
- Our new project is a hydroponic Strawberry system but it is too hot and humid outside now so we are doing it very slowly and waiting for the winter!
Good luck and, again, sorry for the delay in answering.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2010 at 12:17AM
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Hey drippingtime,
I am going to try one of these on one of my beds this year...
its all an experiment:
I'll let you know what happens. peace.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2013 at 3:43PM
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Let me know how that works. I was looking at the same pumps at home depot, but it seems the reviews are mixed.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2014 at 12:45PM
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I am just fine tuning my setup. It is a 8 55 gallon rain barrels that are connected together. I have a 45 watt solar panel connected to a 12v battery for power. I added a 12v timer to that to control when a RV style 12 volt on demand pump should turn on. That pump provides 10-20 lbs of pressure which is enough to operate a Orbitz 4 zone controller which is battery powered and is set to turn on after the pump goes on for a minute or so, then it in turn opens up the zones one by one. When that is finished, the pump turns off saving electricity. The problems i had with earlier versions was the water would siphon out through the orbitz timer because there was not enough pressure to really control the timer.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2014 at 5:59PM
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Review on the Rainmaker K12: I purchased 3 of these on Ebay (know they are sold elsewhere) and 1 did not work on arrival, so it was sent back for a refund. Full refund was not given.

The second unit stopped working a week ago and was told it was over the 30 day return for them.

I would NOT suggest them.

I have 2- 55gal rain barrels (think I need a couple more) and would like to talk with others.

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 5:47PM
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