Status update

The pond on August 10, 2011

The summer has certainly been different from our last few summers. The weather is actually  more like it used to be about a decade ago, when it seemed like we had a thundershower every day. Although, back then, I don’t recall having so much cloudy weather. The good news is that I’ve hardly needed my new rain collection system. It has been nice having an outdoor shower supplied by rainwater, for rinsing off and cooling down after mowing the grass or working in the yard. I haven’t needed to water the plants, and we’ve been getting enough rain to keep the tank topped off. I don’t need to pipe the overflow anywhere, because both of the ponds are also full. It’s been a long time since the big pond has been full (except immediately after a tropical storm). The frogs are very happy.The pond on August 31, 2012

The photo on the left is of my back yard pond last August (before hurricane Irene blew through). The photo on the right is a recent photo of the pond, which has been filled by normal rainfall, which means the groundwater table has also been replenished, at least to some extent.

The other good news is that I haven’t had to worry about my solar water heater running in overdrive. We’ve had just enough sun to meet 100% of my hot water needs, but I seldom have to worry about the water getting so hot that the system has to shut off (185 degrees F).

Collecting rainwater

We got 0.8″ of rain here, last night. That was enough to overflow my 264 gallon (1000 liter) rain water tank, from 75 gallons (284 liters). I calculated that it would take about 0.7″ of rain to fill the tank from empty. That’s probably close.

When the water started running out of the overflow pipe I installed in the tank, I ran out into the rain and hooked up some PVC pipe to route the water into the turtle pond. By the time I located the pipes and fittings, and got it hooked up, the rain was close to finished.

I have 3 male red-eared sliders (aquatic turtles) that a friend of mine had as pets until they got too big for a fish tank. We made a pond for them in my yard. A couple of years ago I put in a pond liner to keep the pond from drying up when we don’t get any rainfall. The turtles have grown pretty large in the pond. At least they have a few thousand gallons of water to swim in, rather than a small, glass tank. They also get to sun themselves in real sunlight, rather than a silly lamp.

In any case, the turtle pond was a few inches low from evaporation, so it seemed like a good idea to divert some water from the roof into the pond. I have no idea how much water made it there. Oh well, it was worth a try.

Introduction

solar panels on custom tower

The Solar Tower

This is my first blog post, so let me get started by introducing my tower. I built this tower from square, steel tubing, anchored in steel reinforced concrete. I installed my solar water heating panel and my photovoltaics on the top of the tower, which is oriented to face due south.

The green box holds batteries, a charge controller, and some other electronics for monitoring and controlling the power generation part of the system. There is also a pressure tank for the rain water pumping system in that box.

Mounted below the green box is a 275 gallon water tank that holds rain water that is funneled into it from the gutters on the house. There is a 12 volt, solar powered pump and some plumbing that connect to a couple of spigots where I can connect garden hoses and an outdoor shower for rinsing off after a hard day, working in the sun.

My photovoltaics charge batteries that power some 12 volt equipment in my house and an inverter that provides 110V AC for powering tools, my electric lawn mower, and other things. The batteries also power my water pump, as previously mentioned.

I’ve always got several projects in the works, and I hope to use this blog to document my progress on those projects.