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Solar Power in the Chicken House

Discussion in 'Coop & Run - Design, Construction, & Maintenance' started by Scott, Jan 10, 2010.

  1. Scott

    Scott Ozark Bantams

    Apr 11, 2007
    Southeast Missouri
    I finally broke down this week and ordered the supplies for generating solar power to my chicken house. I'd been wanting to get solar power to the chicken house for some time now because it is off grid. We've had below freezing temps here for the past week or so and I'm tired of fighting with frozen water. So I'm going to rig up a solar panel to keep a 12v battery charged and then from that run a 15w heat cable (used in reptile cages). The heat cable will be wrapped around the metal waterer and the chain from which it hangs. The idea is that it will generate enough heat to prevent the water from ever freezing. In the summer, I should be able to run small fans. I'll keep everyone updated as I make progress on the solar project...
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
  2. heritagebirds

    heritagebirds Chillin' With My Peeps

    Apr 15, 2008
    Eastern Shore MD
    That is awesome! I need to get some of that going on here...
     
  3. Mrs. K

    Mrs. K Overrun With Chickens

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    Not too long ago, our electric coop printed the directions for a homemade solar heater. I do not have electricity to my house either, and for the last several days it has been quite sunny, but cold, - 30. I shall watch this with interest. Please be specific in how you do it. Thanks Mrs.K
     
  4. Mahonri

    Mahonri Urban Desert Chicken Enthusiast Premium Member

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    My Coop
    We've been talking about filling our roof with solar panels and selling electricity to the power company.

    Wonder how long it would take to pay off the initial investment?
     
  5. Scott

    Scott Ozark Bantams

    Apr 11, 2007
    Southeast Missouri
    Mrs. K :

    Not too long ago, our electric coop printed the directions for a homemade solar heater. I do not have electricity to my house either, and for the last several days it has been quite sunny, but cold, - 30. I shall watch this with interest. Please be specific in how you do it. Thanks Mrs.K

    You need a solar panel (the bigger the wattage the better). You also need a solar controller, 12v deep cycle battery, and an ac/dc inverter. The solar panel connects to the controller, the controller to the battery, and the battery to the inverter. Accessories (such as low wattage lights) are then plugged into the inverter. The controller prevents the battery from over-charging or from dispersing charge back to the solar panel. The inverter converts the energy stored in the battery to AC and provides electrical outlets. My hope is that with a low wattage heat cable I will be able to keep the waterer from freezing using solar power. In the summer, I hope to run a few small fans.​
     
  6. Scott

    Scott Ozark Bantams

    Apr 11, 2007
    Southeast Missouri
    I found a 7.5 watt mini aquarium heater. You can see it here .I think the solar set up I have in mind will power something of that low wattage for 24 hours a day. The idea is that this heater will be placed in the waterer and prevent the water from freezing. I have a 20watt solar panel that will charge a 12v battery. I believe that should generate enough solar power to keep this mini aquarium heater running non-stop.
     
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2010
  7. CARS

    CARS Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:I was on one of the sister sites last year checking into that idea. For the KW's I use it would run me over $80,000.00 right now. I can buy electricity off the grid for the rest of my life for that coin.

    Your in AZ so your solar ability is greater than mine here in MN. If you can get into a program to finance it/subsidies the cost, you may pull it off!
     
  8. Barry

    Barry Chillin' With My Peeps

    Quote:I have found that the wattage ratings of solar panels very misleading. I had a 15 watt panel. It charged my battery very slowly, and I would not try to run a heater from it because it only produces that much power under the very best of conditions that I could never duplicate. I tried a car radio connected directly to it on a sunny summer day, it did not have enough power to work it. My point is, if your panel can not keep the battery charged then you end up with a frozen and damaged battery. Ask your self, how many hours of bright sunlight do you have in the winter? What if you do not have any real sun for a few days? There are also losses in inverting the power to 110 VAC but you should make sure your inverter will shut down on low battery voltage so your battery does not freeze.
    I am looking at wind power for stormy days when there is no sun. I have not found the right combination yet.
     
  9. Scott

    Scott Ozark Bantams

    Apr 11, 2007
    Southeast Missouri
    I not surprised that the 15watt panel did not power your car stereo. I want my birds having 24/7 access to unfrozen water with unnecessary work on my part, not them listening to fm radio. We are talking a 7.5 watt aquarium heater, not a 200 watt car radio. I'd go with a 40 or 60 watt solar panel if it will power that aquarium heater (see link above).... anything to prevent the water from freezing. Where I live we get, on average, I'd say 60 to 75 days of below freezing tempatures.... i.e. two plus months of frozen drinking water which causes excess work that I want minimized. I did the math on a 20 watt panel and 12 volt battery...it should be enough to power a 7.5 watt heater. If I have to, Ill ditch the inverter to conserve valuable energy. If I'm not mistaken those little solar panels that come with solar garden lights will power a 2.5 watt computer fan, so a 20 watt panel and 12v battery should be able to handle a 7.5 water heater. If so, I've eliminated one of my major irritates with keeping chickens in winter.... frozen drinking water.

    It would be great to get more feedback from people who actually use solar power in their chicken house in some useful way (other than prefab solar lights). One way or another, I plan to get unfrozen water (in winter) and fan circulated air (in summer) using solar power.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2010
  10. lauralou

    lauralou Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Cool, Scott.

    I'll be watching this thread.

    [​IMG]
     

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