heirloomista

a woman-owned, woman-run boutique farm

Solar Well Pump

Kelsey Zaavedra

Well, well, well.. it’s been nice to have running water but it will be better when I don’t have to hear the sound of a generator. Today is the day! As I mentioned before, I am off the grid here at Heirloomista so anything that requires power must be solar. This is a very intentional choice I made. It seems foolish to not harvest the sunshine when we get it everyday— and for free! Having this type of setup requires a slightly different technology than what you may have at home.

I invested in a solar well pump for my well. It cannot pump as much as what your home might be able to pump per minute but it pumps more than I need, 12-14 gallons per minute at my well depth. It runs on direct current (DC) so if the sun shines, I get water. If a cloud floats by, I must wait until it passes. Should I want to pump water at night then I can simply get some deep cycle marine batteries to store the sun’s energy until I need to use it. For now, I have no need for that.

Seeing that my well is an irrigation well for a farm and not a residential well, I considered winterizing it. This would mean that I have to go without water once it drops below freezing and then drain the pressure tank and all the hoses that connect to the drip irrigation lines. Instead of going without, I decided to get a hydrant. Yes, I will still have to drain the hoses and such but I can get water from the hydrant 365 days a year no matter how cold it is. This meant I had to bury my pressure tank below the frost line.

So the well guys, George and Todd, came back with their backhoe to dig a huge hole in the earth. They dug around the well and connected the pressure tank to the well. The water is pumped up from the earth then goes into the pressure tank until the right pressure is reached. From the pressure tank you can see a blue hose going along the ditch and this connects to the hydrant.

They worked hard to get the job done. One of the things I really appreciated about them is they were so patient to explain the process to me and really let me be part of it. One fascinating thing that I so thoroughly dorked out on was when I got to see a cross section of my soil. This is very rare to be able to witness so we spent some time documenting the awesomeness. Check out my three feet (!!) of black topsoil:

 holy hannah, check that out!

holy hannah, check that out!

After they finished digging the huge hole to install the hydrant and pressure tank, they filled it all back up and leveled it nicely. I must say that my favorite thing about this well drilling experience is when they left their tractor at the farm for a weekend. And the keys! Yes, they gave me permission to use their equipment.

I went from hauling manure around the farm with a wheelbarrow to a tractor with a bucket the size of my car. I cannot tell you how helpful this was! I was able to create some raised beds for landscaping purposes in a fraction of the time. In addition to making landscaped beds, I tidied up the windrow of manure I have. It is a nice tall and straight row now. Next summer my farm will be significantly more beautiful thanks to the use of the tractor.

 Photo credit to Lemon Peel Photography

Photo credit to Lemon Peel Photography

And there was water, folks. The sun so effortlessly provides me with a perfectly silent supply of water. A quick rundown on this process: The panels capture and convert the suns energy, that current moves through the cables that run from the panels all the way down to the well pump, the pump moves water into the pressure tank, which helps keep a steady supply of water that goes to the hydrant. From the hydrant I have hoses that connect to drip irrigation. Just like that I’m in business and have no monthly bill to the power company.