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Need to power 125 Watt "chicken water heater" - complete rookie with solar

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  • Need to power 125 Watt "chicken water heater" - complete rookie with solar

    Hi all!, I need to power the water heater for my chickens. I could run electric to the coop or put a solar panel/kit on the coop which is what I'm leaning towards. Only thing is, I know nothing about electrical work or solar. If you could be so kind as to me guide me.

    To run a 125 watt water heater, 24/7 what sort of solar panel kit do I need? How big of panels? How big of batteries to store energy for cloudy days? How do I wire my solar kit to accept a normal (USA) outlet plug? Thank you!!!

  • #2
    Have about $10K to $20k burning a hole in your pocket? That's the range this would fall into using solar. We also need you location to run any kind of an accurate estimation. You're looking at using 3000WH a day (125W * 24H). That is not a small load for off-grid.

    WWW

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    • #3
      oh my god man! wow. I thought one of those harbor freight kits might do the job for a little chicken water heater. dang. thanks for letting me know though. Guess I have to run electric from my house! I live in Northern Illinois by the way, but I guess it doesn't matter at this point

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      • #4
        to help me understand. why wouldn't this 150 watt kit work? ($280) thanks again.

        http://www.homedepot.com/p/Grape-Sol...B&gclsrc=aw.ds

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        • #5
          Don't believe everything you hear on the internet.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by foxriverrat View Post
            to help me understand. why wouldn't this 150 watt kit work? ($280) thanks again.

            http://www.homedepot.com/p/Grape-Sol...B&gclsrc=aw.ds
            Because that kit does not include any batteries which is needed to run that 125 watt heater when the sun isn't strong enough to provide enough power. The cost of the batteries and charge controller ends up being a big part of a solar / battery system.

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            • #7
              foxriverrat - boy, if that were easily done, you'd have countless homesteaders very pleased. I've often told me family, "if I could invent something to keep the chicken waterers from freezing, that did not require electricity, and could be packaged, I'd be a millionaire". You can do it with solar technically, but the amount of heat needed to de-ice/warm water is significant, therefore, the solar (or really battery) power needs are huge. Add to that bad news, the fact that when you need such a solution the most, is when there is the least amount of sun available.

              The best means I've seen for doing this yet was to surround a tank or tote full of water with a huge mound of fresh wood chips. Over the winter, they'll compost (to a point) and keep your water from freezing. Anything exposed outside the pile won't be warm, but it might allow you to keep warm(er) water near chickens (or other livestock).

              We've found the best solution so far to be.... teenagers

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              • #8
                Originally posted by foxriverrat View Post
                to help me understand. why wouldn't this 150 watt kit work? ($280) thanks again.
                because you said:

                To run a 125 watt water heater, 24/7
                125 watts x 24 hours is 3000 Watt Hours. Assuming you live in TX where you can get 3 to 4 Sun Hours in Winter would take:

                Panel Wattage = 1500 watts. Will 150 watt panel work? No it takes about $3000 of panels
                24 volt Battery = 625 AH. That battery cost $3000 and weighs 800 pounds.
                24 Volt 60 Amp Charge Controller = $600.
                24 volt 200 watt Inverter. = $100.

                Do you live in TX with excellent Winter Sun Shine? If you did, you would not need to heat the water. That means you likely need more than 1500 watt solar pane and mo money.

                Do yourself a favor. Run a line and pay the power company 30-cents per day to run the heater. That $3000 battery you get to replace in a few years at higher cost. How many chickens is that?

                One thing for sure, your competition does not use solar. If he did, he could not compete and go out of biz.
                Last edited by Sunking; 06-22-2016, 04:16 PM.
                MSEE, PE

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Sunking View Post
                  because you said:
                  How many chickens is that?
                  LOL... home-raised chickens are expensive-enough as it is. We call them 'million dollar eggs' at our house... sure do taste good tho!

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by gmanInPA View Post
                    foxriverrat -The best means I've seen for doing this yet was to surround a tank or tote full of water with a huge mound of fresh wood chips. Over the winter, they'll compost (to a point) and keep your water from freezing. Anything exposed outside the pile won't be warm, but it might allow you to keep warm(er) water near chickens (or other livestock).
                    Smart man.

                    Throw in some hay and chicken manure will add some more heat, and speed up the process. In spring sell the compost and let the kids earn the money.
                    MSEE, PE

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                    • #11
                      One could bury a tank too I suppose - or do like the French of old and build a hot bed and place the water tank in there. It's a problem that has no solution that is something that could be easily packaged or implemented - then again, that is what draws many to homesteading in the first place.

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by gmanInPA View Post
                        LOL... home-raised chickens are expensive-enough as it is. We call them 'million dollar eggs' at our house... sure do taste good tho!
                        Yeah we raise a few around here. No problems with freezing in Panama. We have bigger problems, neighbors, snakes, hogs, hawks, dogs, and Ocelot/Jaguars.

                        Poor chickens are on every carnivore, predator, and scavenger menus.
                        Last edited by Sunking; 06-22-2016, 04:30 PM.
                        MSEE, PE

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                        • #13
                          okay, so one more idea.... you could still fill a large pit with something compostable, but then use solar to power something like an aquarium pump on a timer that would circulate a closed loop system of a heat xfer medium (ie glycol) from the pit to the tank. Basically - a water tank with a heat exchanger in a wood chip or compost pile. This would still be solar powered in a sense, but would not rely upon solar for the heat, only to move the heat. It would basically be the geothermal system with a little extra help. I suppose you could do it without the compostables and just use the geothermal idea, but you'd have to insulate the tank well and run the pump continuously. Might not get the needed warmth to fight the cold temps though.

                          Composting goes dormant when ambient temps go down too much - hence the idea of doing this in a pit or otherwise insulated structure.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by gmanInPA View Post
                            foxriverrat - boy, if that were easily done, you'd have countless homesteaders very pleased. I've often told me family, "if I could invent something to keep the chicken waterers from freezing, that did not require electricity, and could be packaged, I'd be a millionaire". You can do it with solar technically, but the amount of heat needed to de-ice/warm water is significant, therefore, the solar (or really battery) power needs are huge. Add to that bad news, the fact that when you need such a solution the most, is when there is the least amount of sun available.

                            The best means I've seen for doing this yet was to surround a tank or tote full of water with a huge mound of fresh wood chips. Over the winter, they'll compost (to a point) and keep your water from freezing. Anything exposed outside the pile won't be warm, but it might allow you to keep warm(er) water near chickens (or other livestock).
                            Forget PV solar in northern IL winter. Your compost idea sounds like a possibility, if the details can be worked out. A very small pump could be run
                            from the heat using a peltier junction. I was by the Fox, Aurora, but moved out to the Rock, Byron. Bruce Roe

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                            • #15
                              Lets keep it simple. Chickens don't drink at night so no need for water when it's dark out.
                              Chickens will drink water during the day when it's available in liquid form or snow if they have access to the outdoors.
                              Thawing a sufficient amount of ice during the day for them to drink should be all you need to do. You will still need to bring them water on the cloudy days anyway.
                              I bring water to my chickens once a day in the winter, on those really cold days the water freezes in a couple of hours if they don't drink it all.

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