Thursday, June 18, 2015

Five Ways to Incorporate Portable Solar into Your Farm or Garden

Guest post by Jenna Clark

There’s no question that solar energy is hot right now (pun intended), both on the commercial scale and the home scale. Just this week, Amazon announced its intention to build the largest solar farm in Virginia, a 900-acre farm that will “generate enough electricity to power 15,000 homes for a year,” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.  And according to the U.S. Department of Energy, the number of homes with solar systems installed has been soaring; from 30,000 in 2006 to 400,000 in 2013.

Advances in solar technology and falling costs have made solar more accessible than ever, especially in the field of portable solar energy (see Portable solar energy is especially useful on farms and in urban gardens, where renewable energy including windmills have long been a source of power. Here are five ways to incorporate portable solar energy into your farm business or home garden, at any scale.

1. Powering livestock fencing. We’ll start with the most recognizable and widely used method for fencing livestock on the farm: solar-powered electric fencing. This is a great place to start incorporating portable solar energy into your system, as fencing can be a great distance from electrical outlets and fences may need to be rotated quickly and frequently for grazing animals. 
2. Running tools. If you’ve ever worked or lived on a farm, you know how frequently equipment, fencing, buildings, and tools need to be repaired (hint: something is fixed every single day). Or maybe you’re building a new shed, barn, greenhouse, walk-in cooler, or portable chicken tractor. Using a SunRnR to power the tools you need at a construction site or out in the field can save time, money, and stress.

3. Watering livestock, irrigating, or aerating a pond. A solar powered well pump is another popular use of renewable energy on the farm, especially if you have a lot of acreage. With a single cow drinking up to 24 gallons of water per day in the heat, having a reliable pump is critical. Another reason why choosing portable solar with a quality battery is key – during the summer months when water usage is at its peak, the SunRnR can store enough solar energy to power a well pump even if the sun is not shining.

4. Heat or ventilate a greenhouse or grow indoors with grow lights and water pump. Using solar energy to heat and ventilate the plants in your greenhouse is an effective and efficient use of power. It is also useful if you are looking into heating water and pumping it through tubes similar to a radiant floor like these systems:;ft_cooling_vent_heating;ft_radiant_heat_systems.html  or

5. Light your pathways and outbuildings or provide refrigeration. Work on the farm rarely ends right at sundown, but even if it does, use your SunRnR to power a few strands of LED garden lights'-LED-Fairy-Lights-Cool-White-Silver-Wire-58806.htm?gclid=CKaymqCPk8YCFYaRHwodOxwASQ and throw a well-deserved farm party to sample your delicious home-grown fare and celebrate the season’s hard work. 
Image via, Farm dinner at Manakintown, Virginia
Portable solar power is an investment, but one that is paying off for more people, increasingly rapidly. Clean renewable energy makes sense, especially on a farm where taking good care of the land means leaving a meaningful and healthy legacy for the next generation. 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

JMU Intern Learns About Solar Power, Marketing and Pursuit of Passions

Guest post by Stephanie Gross
Two of our recent JMU interns Victoria Olmer (l) & Stephanie Gross
This past spring semester I was fortunate enough to be one of Sunrnr’s three interns. Each intern had a completely different experience, as Sunrnr allowed us to place ourselves in an area that we were each interested in. One worked on creating an extensive book of instructions for putting together a solar powered energy generator, one worked to help improve marketing standard operating procedures…And I came into the position with the most basic knowledge of solar energy and had no idea where my skills would be most useful for Sunrnr.
At my first meeting with the Sunrnr team, which included Jenny, Scott and Karen, I was assured that that would not be a problem. They gave me a wide variety of projects to focus on based on what I had a passion for and what would benefit the company. In the end, we came up with a long list of projects.
By the end of the semester, with Sunrnr cheering me on, I was able to:
  • Conduct a website usability test
  • Attend events to learn about marketing
  • Create content for Pinterest
  • Write posts for facebook
  • Create and track ad words campaigns
  • Write blog posts (including this one)
Every step of the way the Sunrnr staff was there to guide me through my projects. They were friendly, open-minded, time-efficient, and eager to help and learn with me. I quickly found that this demeanor of Sunrnr’s employees has created the brand identity.
Their energy and devotion is reflected in the company’s overall purpose and culture. Because of this, I looked forward to our biweekly meetings downtown, where we met to discuss my progress and goals, as well as Sunrnr’s progress and goals.

From this internship, I improved in many different areas and learned a lot about marketing, as well as solar powered energy. However, the most important takeaway is how possible it is to pursue your dreams and passions in life, the way Jenny and Scott have done in creating Sunrnr.
Thanks for a great semester Sunrnr! I look forward to watching your future success and hopefully more appearances at the White House!