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Thread: Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

  1. #1

    Default Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

    I had a thought of combining two "green" ideas but wanted to come up with a budget and plausibility exercise. I wanted to post here to draw from your solar expertise.
    What I have:
    In Central NJ I have a 20’x 20’ fenced in garden with rows 2’ apart (9 rows) of mixed density (row crop and high density) vegetables.
    The problem:
    Watering this garden is a problem since the house is about 1/8th of a mile away and water has to be carted back and forth.
    Proposal:
    I was thinking of installing a well, solar powered well pump, storage tank, and drip line irrigation system.
    Goals:
    I want to run the system for 1 hour a day everyday. Each dripper will supply .5GPH @ 20PSI. The system will contain ~200 drippers for a total of 100GPH @ 20PSI. I wanted to include a 250G storage tank to account for a “shady” day. It will have a float stop to turn off the pump to avoid overfilling. I figure a storage tank is a much cheaper alternative than batteries. I am looking to spend about $2000 for all equipment (not including the well drilling). The well will be 50ft deep.
    Questions:
    After looking at some DC powered pumps online, I am having trouble finding specifications that correlate with a PV panel. For example I found a pump (SunPumps SDS-D-12 which looks good but will a single Kyocera Solar KD-135 power it or will I need a bigger one like a SolarWorld SW-175 or more than one? Again, my goal is to fill about 100G/day. I would probably also use a SunPumps VCA pump controller to manage the pump.
    My second big question is a plumbing question and whether the weight of the water in the tank can provide 20 psi on the ground or mounted no more than 6’ in the air? If not, I guess I would need a pump for that as well and some sort of timing device.
    If this is way overkill, let me know but also this garden could be expanded to three times it’s width in the future with a new fence. Also, the $2000 budget is pretty firm. Right now I see the pump costing about $700, pump controller $400, solar panel $400, tank $300, drip equipment $100, mounts & wiring $100. I can fabricate a stand for the tank, panel, and controller with some unistrut on a concrete pad.
    Let me know if I am on the right track and if you have any answers to my questions. Also if you have done anything like this or have some helpful insight it would be appreciated. I would like this in place by next year if it is feasible.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
    Location
    Willits, CA
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    5,408

    Default Re: Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

    Water pressure:
    0.43 pounds/square inch for each foot of elevation 6' off the ground will give you less than 3 psi.

    You may be able to run the drip on lower than 20 psi, but it would be a much slower rate, may have to leave it on 24/7

    Solar pressure pump will be very expensive.

    Well drilling, is it permitted in your area ? What is a common depth for water? Any bad stuff generally in the water, Boron, iron....
    A solar well pump is feasable, to fill your tank and keep it topped off.
    http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    http://tinyurl.com/LMR-BigLug
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    Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph # 214505 ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV
    Powerfab poletop PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe battery | 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV | Midnight ePanel || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT

  3. #3

    Default Re: Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

    Yes, we currently have a well at our house for drinking water and we can drill another one. The water quality is fine, but a little hard on the pH side. Well water is what we are using now, just from our house and carted over.
    Maybe another thought would be to eliminate the storage tank and just use the well pump for pressure. If I read the pump specs correctly, this time looking at the SunPumps SQS-Q-135, it will pump 45 PSI (21PSI for ~50ft lift from well + ~20PSI for drip system) @ 15V / 4.61A which a Kyocera KC85TS looks sufficient (peak 17.4V/5.02A). It will pump 1.7GPM which is just over my 100GPH goal.
    Due to a less consistent output because of the elimination of the storage tank, I might want to put it on a 2 hr timer instead of running it 1 hour. The pump is more expensive, the panel the same price, but I can save $300 on the tank so I think I am still making out. The only worries I have would be a greatly shortened life of the well pump since I would be doubling the PSI.
    Any thoughts?

  4. #4

    Default Re: Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

    Or could I spend $100 and get a cheap pump like a Shurflo 8000 and run that off the same panel to pump out of the expansion tank? Maybe a relay that would change from well pump to tank, then back? Or just wiring them in series with a timer on the tank pump? Even that Shurflo is a bit over kill so I think reducing its voltage by running it with the well pump will help keep things in control. That is if I remember that old saying "Amps - Series, Volts - Parallel" correctly. I assume it is more important to keep the amps constant between the pumps and split the voltages.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    California Sierra near Mariposa
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    1,248

    Default Re: Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

    If you have power at the house. Pump water to a storage tank at the garden. Use a $100 shurflo pump, a $150 15 watt solar panel, a $75 Kirkland battery deep cycle group 27, and your normal drip irrigation with a battery timer.

    Carting water around by hand? Is this NJ or Cental America?
    http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    "we go where the power lines don't"

  6. #6

    Default Re: Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

    Well, that is a much simpler solution but it will not work as there is a road between our house and our garden so I can’t lay a pipe between the two. If this is getting built it has to be built in the garden. I hadn’t thought about using a battery to run the pump and using the panel to charge the battery. I guess the money from the battery system would be made up by being able to use a smaller panel.

  7. #7
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    Sep 2006
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    Default Re: Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

    Adding a battery, and recharging it, will cost you power in the long run.
    http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    http://tinyurl.com/LMR-BigLug
    http://tinyurl.com/LMR-NiFe

    Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph # 214505 ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV
    Powerfab poletop PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe battery | 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV | Midnight ePanel || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT

  8. #8

    Default Re: Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

    Sure, because the battery loses efficiency while charging and over time.

    Plans are in the works now to increase the size from 20' x 20' to 80' x 80'.
    Obviously I will have to increase my budget.
    Napkin math tells me I will be growing a 76'x76' area on 2' row centers = 38 rows.
    76' rows * 38 rows = 2888' drip line = 1444 GPH with .5GPH drippers every 1'
    I plan to run a 1" feeder line perpendicular to the rows with 38' runs down each side. I will need a tank pump now with a dedicated panel and 3 500G tanks.
    I will use a normal (up=open circuit) float switch at the top of the tanks to turn the well pump off and a reversed float switch (up=closed circuit) near the bottom to turn the tank pump off. I should still be OK with the panel and well pump previously selected. I will need to double my budget for additional tanks, pumping, panels, and piping. That's actually not bad considering I am quadrupling my sq.ft.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2006
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    Willits, CA
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    Default Re: Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

    You may still come out ahead, if you go with a small genset, to run the well pump for filling the tanks.
    I don't know if there is a solar "pressure booster pump" Small RV pumps are for a gallon or so, to wash dishes, not a 3 hr soaker hose run.

    http://store.solar-electric.com/shacdcwapu.html
    Last edited by mike95490; May 7th, 2010 at 13:04 PDT.
    http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    http://tinyurl.com/LMR-BigLug
    http://tinyurl.com/LMR-NiFe

    Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph # 214505 ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV
    Powerfab poletop PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe battery | 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV | Midnight ePanel || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    South of Erie, North of Pittsburgh PA
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    942

    Default Re: Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

    Another idea! What kind of road seperates your house from your garden? Where I live in Pa. they have been drilling gas wells all the time and go under the road a lot. If you are on a country road you might be able to get someone to bore under the road for you so you can run a water line from the house at a lot lower cost than drilling wells and all the equipment you are proposing. Also there are people that horizontal bore under the ground for ground source heating that probably could get water lines under the road for you. I know someone that direct tv paid for one of those guys to bore under thier blacktop drive and it only cost about $175.00. Slarvic
    16 KC 158G & 3 KD185GX-LPU panels on Fronius IG PLUS 3.0-1 inverter and 14 SHARP NDU3A & 1 KD185GXU panel on FRONIUS IG-3000 inverter. All mounted on pole top racks. Retired and enjoying it!!

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