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. 

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