Saturday, April 10, 2010

Snow Camp Aquaponics Has Gone Flood/Drain

I purchased a timer relay, and after some consultation with my electrical engineer of an uncle, managed to set everything up nicely. As we speak, I've got my pond pump running for 60 minutes, which runs the waterfall and floods the grow beds, and as that switches off, an aerator switches on for 30 minutes, allowing the grow beds to drain fully while still providing the fishies with oxygen. As a bonus, the aerator only uses 15W of electricity, which is a fraction of what the pond pump uses. So, for 8 hours a day, my electricity meter will be spinning a little more slowly.

The garden this year will feature heirloom tomatoes. We've been enjoying the spinach, arugula, and cilantro. And with such a warm start to spring, it looks like it won't be long before the first fruits of summer!


3 comments:

Eric said...

Your blog has been a wonderful find. I'm very interested in aquaponics. Unfortunately I don't have much space or any money for it but I've been soaking up all the information I can for future endeavors. Your blog has been a very interesting read compared to most of the more industrial information available. I'm studying to be a mechanical engineer (and possibly computer engineer but thats another story) and I had one idea which may or may not provide help to you. Often times electricity is cheaper at night. I have no idea if this could some how be made to function while maintaining the nutrient levels for the plants but perhaps thought could be put into running the pump at night, collecting water from the day with the nutrients from the fish to a container slightly higher then the grow beds. Then you wouldn't have to run the pump at all during the day, just an electronic valve that opens and closes. You'd have do the math on how much the difference in day/night electricity would save you over the course of the year and whether using water from one day would have proper nutrients to feed the plants the following day. You'd have to run the aerator for the fish to maintain oxygen levels as you do now. You'd also prob need an overflow tank so that as the water circulates through to your fish pond, the excess drains into a container so that the pond level is maintained throughout the day. This could either be really useful or a logistics nightmare or just completely unusable.

Brian Naess said...

Eric,
This is an interesting idea, and I'm always interested in finding ways to save on energy costs. I wonder, though, would the sum of the cheaper energy over time be enough to cover the cost of the additional tank(s) for water storage you would need to purchase. Since the growbeds are already up on blocks, having water even higher than this would be difficult to construct. Also, for us, we put in the waterfall/pond as a refuge, a nice place to relax during the day. When the aerator kicks on and the waterfall stops, we really notice how quiet it seems.

I think energy cost savings can be found in small systems with using a DC system that operates on battery power and a small solar panel. They also sell solar fountains, which could be used as an aerator. The initial investment would be more expensive than the standard system, but your operating costs would be negligible.

D'Ann said...

Aquaponics is on my list of to dos for the upcoming year. Its nice to have someone to copy :)
Thanks for all the great tips so far.

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