It’s that time of the year again, and the summery weather has released me from my wintry slumber, and in the mood for invention! So I recently upgraded our allotment shed with a 12v solar battery, a well pump (That pumps out of our well) , a solar panel and 12v plug and lighting.
The system consists of a 10 Watt solar panel, which is connected to a 10 Amp charge regulator (all from eBay). Cost was around 30 pounds. Together they charge three 12 volt, 7 Amp Hour ride on ride-on toy batteries, connected in parallel (Scrounged over the last few years, but not very expensive).
The batteries are charging very quickly from even this small panel, providing plenty of power for the caravan sump pump that is suspended down the well (A whale submersible 12v pump, again purchased online). The aim is to give our allotment the ability to survive without mains water. And it very almost does. We learnt very quickly that you have to pump the water into barrels every day, as the well refills daily and a hot day can use up all the well water! Four barrels seem optimal. The barrels are attached using hose connectors, the type that you use to fix broken hoses. I drilled a hole into the top of each barrel using a hole-saw, and screwed them in. If you attach all the barrels with hose connectors they will fill up one after another. Slightly higher than all the other hose connections is the drain away, and that drains directly into the fish-pond if the barrels ever fill up completely.
15 minutes is about enough to fill one barrel, so you will want to keep an eye on it. I also discovered that the pump hardly made a dent on the battery, at least during a sunny day. We have now lighting in the shed, thanks to a 12v LED bulb all the way from China, and a caravan plug. The magic of a 12v caravan plug is that you can plug in a converter that lets you use 12v car socket devices, such as mobile phone chargers!
Have a look in the gallery, and give it a go. You don’t need to use fancy toggle switches to control everything, but I heartily recommend it!