Last week we talked about all that is involved in just parsing through the gibberish in the tutorials and sites out there to build a solar system from scratch. If you missed it, I recommend you read that first because in this article we're going to discuss how we built our solar-powered hydroponic system.
All that jargon, which I hope was simply explained is crucial because when comparing batteries and solar power systems it is impossible to escape that type of terminology.
There are several books on Amazon on how to build your off-grid solar-powered mega nuclear reactor system. Many that we talked to have used this book from KOMBILIFE. We are not associated with either (yet) but overall there was a consensus that KOMBI has made it really simple for people.
In our off-grid twist, we have a situation where placing a very long track and bring power to where is needed (greenhouse) is financially smarter than having the unit powered by a solar-powered system.
We haven't built one before therefore wanted to wet our feet with a smaller project first. Hydroponics! Which only now that I write this down, I see the irony of saying "wet our feet"!
We purchased this hydroponic system, which includes the nutrients and the baby pump. It doesn't get cheaper than this if you want to start from somewhere in the middle.
We quickly learned that although this is sold for outdoor (e.g. greenhouse) the reality is that this design barely works for indoor. We ended up putting all pipes on the same level to avoid unbalancing of the liquids that would result in all sorts of disaster and recovery scenarios.
The system uses a little pump that with a timer built-in sucks and rotates the water through the PVC pipes. It is the same type of pump used for those nice-looking outdoor/indoor fountains. It is not very power-hungry as long as it has power.
When the greenhouse was close to the main house it would have been enough to run an extension cord; as we scaled up our food production with a bigger and more modern greenhouse, we had to figure out how to fuel the baby beast in the name of lettuce out there.
Let's do it
Everything starts with the most trusted act of all shoppers in America and in many parts of the planet. AMAZON, YOUTUBE? RENOGY? - Nope, all of the above and beyond.
Before starting anything, make sure that you have the right tools otherwise you are going to have a fantastic new bike to ride and air in the tubes.
Will has, at the time of this writing, over 50 millions view, he has become the source of knowledge when it comes to solar power on YouTube for his very crystal clear tutorials on the matter. Everything that he shows, parts, or tools in the videos can be purchased via affiliate links of his well-structured web site.
Watch this video where Will describes in practical detail what to do in order to be up and running in a matter of a few hours once you have all parts. The video was made in 2019 and some of the components he describes have been replaced with new models. However, almost literally, everything is still the same. What he shares is still the same to this day.
There's no step two. I know, crazy. But really that is all it takes. When going shopping for the parts you will find that ampere and all other electrical jargon I have shared last time will come greatly handy to make decisions.
When buying those kits you will have to make a decision between an MPTT system versus a PWD. And now you wonder, MARIIOOOO yet another terminology??
Well, welcome to the world of people that like to speak difficultly and disagree with one another all the time. In very technical terms, here is the answer, for easier to comprehend language:
Between a battery and a solar panel, there's something called a controller. Which in essence makes sure that the battery is not overcharged or over-utilized. Which in either case leads to money thrown in a furnace. They will never be back!
There are two types of charge controllers: Pulse Width Modulation (PWM) controllers and Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) controllers.
PWM charge controllers are an older technology and are cheaper, but less efficient than MPPT charge controllers. Both are widely used and perform similar functions of preserving the life of your batteries. Also, it’s important to point out that it’s not a matter of which is best all-around, but often what is best for your unique case.
That's really all you need to start your first solar system and before you even know, yours will look just like ours. Now let's hope that this damn green is going to grow fast enough to feed the family. The cat, his friends, and the distant relative of the guy that lives across the street.
Yep, you need to set expectations extremely high when it comes to recover your solar costs and feed your non-burger life.
🌴 Have a bLife moment, every day and for no reason whatsoever 🤙🏽