So I don’t know why, but I have over the last year or so really gotten into doing things with renewable resources (mainly solar). Well, lets say interested in. I have a couple of solar panels I play with but nothing crazy.
So one day I get this crazy idea in my head. I need a rain barrel. But for what!?!?! I had no real need for a Rain Barrel. But this suddenly consumed me. I NEEDED a rain barrel. I checked craigslist and found an ad for someone getting rid of one. Just needed to pick it up. DONE!.
Now I had my barrel. Now we need some water collection. I looked around. Rain collection can get expensive. I saw collection systems over $100!!!! That was crazy! That’s too much!!!
I came across this Instructable – Rain Barrel and Diverter
This was right up my alley. A couple bucks later I had a bunch of PVC and one saturday (when my step-dad was in town) we threw it together in no time. Tested it out…. yes, I sprayed my waterhose on the roof to test it. What’s it to you!?!?
So then when I regained my proper maturity level we waited for a storm.
Hahah b%^&*es I live in FL. It rains like every 17 minutes during the summer. So that night my son and I being the geniuses we are, well, he was just following me, went outside with the flashlight to see how our water collection was doing. Very surprisingly with just one section of gutter we were getting alot of water fast. Before morning the barrel was full.
Here is what my setup currently looks like.
This works surprisingly well. However, I haven’t gotten to the point. What am I doing with a 55 gallon drum of water. Well, nothing…. yet. Well, we used it a couple times as a sprinkler for the kids over the summer.
I built a little test rig to test out some sprinkler heads, and the kids and dog just ran around in it. But it worked with my little pump I got from harbor freight.
This is the one I have. Water Pump. I got this little pump specifically for a couple reasons.
- Cheap. This little guy was 40 bucks.
- 12v. Why does that matter? Because I want to power it off a 12v battery.
I’m sure at this point you are thinking “OK there guy. So you have a bunch of water, you have a pump that can run off a battery and you have some sprinkler heads. So what are you getting at…… ”
You hear that? That was the click of it all coming together. I am making a self sustaining green sprinkler system. Rain Barrel to collect the water. Battery charged from a solar panel to power the pump. Easy right? No. No. No.
Getting in to researching solar and batteries has forced me to start working on a charge controller circuit for the battery to avoid over charging or over discharging. Why not buy it? Harbor Freight has some. You are right, but I am cheap and just buying stuff would make for this to be a really boring blog. I would just upload receipts all day. No spank you. This is more fun!
So where am I in this whole ordeal? Well, not as far along as I would like to be. But I recently was able to test the actual pressure of my pump. It claims a max of 50psi. Which is close to the pressure to your house. But I needed to see some numbers and here they are! That’s actually higher than I expected considering how rough this pump sounds these days. I tested a few times and always 30psi or higher. This is actually really good news. This means I should have a decent water pressure for my sprinkler heads. I do not have a large front yard, but I am still looking at 5-6 heads to get the coverage. In the next week or so I will be modifying my test rig to support 5 heads and see if I can run all 5 or if I need to split it into zones. I am not opposed to doing the zones split, but it would be easier not to.
So that’s where I am. The plans as I finish this are below.
- add additional barrels
- micro-controller to control when to turn on and off the pump
- that same micro-controller will read a custom sensor I am building to determine water level to report back to my HA system.
- HA system will handle the scheduling of watering using advanced rules. ex: is rain expected in the next 12 hours? has it rained in the last 12 hours? If either of those, no need to water. Is there enough water in the tank to run the pump?