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

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  • #16
    Originally posted by LucMan View Post
    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.

    Around here, even in daylight, we need to make 3+ trips with water during the colder months. It otherwise freezes too fast. Chickens that run out of water enough stop laying eggs, or reduce their egg laying. It's also not easy to haul around water sometimes because of distance on a larger property. Nevertheless - I'm all for simple!

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    • #17
      You must have a lot more chickens than I have (8-10), they only drink 1/2 gallon a day on the hottest days.

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      • #18
        Originally posted by LucMan View Post
        You must have a lot more chickens than I have (8-10), they only drink 1/2 gallon a day on the hottest days.
        Yep - 40+ layers and seasonally, 100+ meat chickens... and that is just the chickens .

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        • #19
          I would experiment with a 250w PV panel and connect the DC directly to that 125 w heater, it may cut your daily trips down to 1 if it can keep the water from freezing during the day.
          4 hrs of sun just may do the trick.
          Please follow electrical code for this application.
          Last edited by LucMan; 06-27-2016, 08:13 PM.

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          • #20
            Originally posted by LucMan View Post
            I would experiment with a 250w PV panel and connect the DC directly to that 125 w heater, it may cut your
            daily trips down to 1 if it can keep the water from freezing during the day. 4 hrs of sun just may do the trick.
            Heaters and solar panels do not play well together. A 250W panel like mine operates at a Vmp of 30V. So if there is enough sun to
            make 30V, the current into a 120V heater load will be only 1/4 its rating, or 1/16 its power rating. Your 250W panel delivers 7.8W in
            good sun. That's why we use batteries and MPPT controllers, to match up what's available. Bruce Roe

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            • #21
              A solar water heater is much more efficient than solar PV - battery - inverter - Electric heater. You could heat a 100 gal tank to 90F. and use that to keep the line ice free.
              Electric heating will require way too much solar panel, battery and backup generator (3 cloudy days and the battery is flat and the water frozen)
              Powerfab top of pole PV mount (2) | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
              || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
              || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

              solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
              gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister

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              • #22
                Originally posted by bcroe View Post

                Heaters and solar panels do not play well together. A 250W panel like mine operates at a Vmp of 30V. So if there is enough sun to
                make 30V, the current into a 120V heater load will be only 1/4 its rating, or 1/16 its power rating. Your 250W panel delivers 7.8W in
                good sun. That's why we use batteries and MPPT controllers, to match up what's available. Bruce Roe
                So if there was a resistance heater rated at 24v could you get full power from the panel?

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                • #23
                  Originally posted by gmanInPA View Post
                  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.
                  How about dig a large put. Insulate the pit. Fill pit with compost. Move chicken coop on top of pit. That'll keep the whole coop warm and the H2O in liquid form.

                  WWW

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                  • #24
                    Originally posted by LucMan View Post

                    So if there was a resistance heater rated at 24v could you get full power from the panel?
                    I don't know that 125W is the right answer for the problem. If your panel Vmp is a good match for the heater element, it will only be
                    efficient when there is enough sun for the panel to put out as much current as the heater needs. You might get around that by paralleling
                    enough panels to perhaps have a peak current capability of many times the heater current, but you will still only get heat a small part of
                    the day in winter, that if you keep the snow off. If you want to make such a system to be efficient, develop a buck converter with a feedback
                    scheme to maintain INPUT voltage around panel Vmp, which is another way of saying, an MPPT controller capable of feeding a variable
                    voltage load. Bruce Roe

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                    • #25
                      Originally posted by Sunking View Post
                      because you said:



                      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.


                      Ah hah! this illustrates how little I know about electricity. so the 125 watt is per hour. gotcha. yeah, I have 5 chickens for a myself/girlfriend. not a big operation or even trying to sell any eggs. yikes though. it does seem solar is just not an option. thanks for the detailed reply. wish solar was more cost effective.

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                      • #26
                        Originally posted by foxriverrat View Post
                        . thanks for the detailed reply. wish solar was more cost effective.
                        You are welcome. Don't feel bad, this chicken and egg thing has come up at least 100 times before you got here.
                        MSEE, PE

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