Solar Heated - Solar Powered Coop
This coop is a 8' by10' building located at 6000 feet in the mountains of Southwest New Mexico. We start with the basic building, solar additions are described below. It was constructed with 2X4 walls and set on cement blocks. The floor and walls inside and out are OSB (oriented strand board). There is fiberglass insulation in all walls. The windows were handmade and are double pained glass. The immediate yard has PVC supports for chicken wire sides and birdnetting top.
The cupola is closed and insulated in winter. In the summer it opens and has an inserted out-blowing fan.
The slider opens and closes the cupola on the inside.
Tom is making the indoor feeder/oystershell hoppers, and constructing nest boxes.
Here is a "clean" new coop! (not to stay that way for long...) With a heat lamp for 6 week old chicks.
After two years we increased (doubled) the size of our flock and added more roosts and nest boxes. Notice the ladder on the side. This is the only way some of the heavier hens get up to the roosts, they walk up and down.
I learned to hang my handmade egg basket from the ceiling where it can not be reached by chickens. It stays there all day and I add eggs to it whenever I visit the henhouse.
Here is the feeder and running water station. This indoor feeder is not the primary feeder.
Here is the covered primary outdoor feeder.
Now to the solar. Our winter night time temps are often in the teens, and several times a year reach single digits down to zero. We did not want the water in the coop to freeze, nor did we want cold chickens. We had an unused solar water heating panel left over from a greenhouse project. Here you see the outside. The panel faces south and is angled for the winter sun. The water enters the panel on the bottom and leaves the top after it is heated. The unit to the right is a sun sensor. It turnes the pump on and off as the sun rises/sets and goes in/out of clouds.
Inside instruments show temperatures in the collector and tank. The delta-t is the "black box" that operates the system. It requires 110v electricity to function.
Inside there is a 55 gallon poly drum. This is a gravity drain back system. The tank holds 40 gallons of water only, so is non-toxic if there were ever to be a spill. On a sunny winter day the tank water will heat to the 120 degree range. Temperatures in the coop have never been below the low 40's, and we do leave windows cracked for ventilitaion.
The solar array was completed summer 2010. The system provides twice as much power as necessary four our land. This includes direct power to the coop, and power to the wells for the coop water supply, two houses and enough for an eventual electric car. We produce as much electricity in winter as in summer, the array is manually tilted seasonally to maximize power. We are a hybrid system, we are connected to the power company and on grid most of the time due to a contract we have with them. The power company pays us for all the power we produce, even if we use the power ourselves. Excess power is sold back to the grid. If the grid goes down, or anytime we want to we can disconnect and be off grid, with battery backup at night.
The building behind the array houses the inverter, controls and batteries. The coop is not visible, off to the far left background.
This page is dedicated to our Catahoula Hound "Bub Woo", who passed away December 23, 2009 at the age of 14. He had never seen a chicken before he was 11. He went with us when we brought the chicks home, I held them in my hand, had him sniff them, and told him they were mine. From that day forward he was trusted and trustworthy around the chickens. I saw him barrel through the flock one day chasing a hawk, sending squawking chickens flying. He was pecked at, and clucked at, but mostly pampered and deeply loved.