Environmental Protection & Preservation
Solar Power Helps Gardeners Beat Water Crisis
As gardeners gear up for the worst water shortages in a century an unique solar irrigation system is about to be launched – enabling plants to be watered using rainwater delivered by a pump powered by the sun.
The British designed eco friendly system links up to water butts and barrels and uses a tiny solar panel the size of a computer keyboard to pump the water where it is needed. It can be used anywhere in the garden or on allotments where lack of electricity can hamper the use of other irrigation systems.
It also uses water sparingly. It needs only a small water butt or tank and uses 80% less water than traditional sprinkler and spray systems. Its design means it is equally efficient for a large vegetable patch, polytunnel, roof top garden, patio or hanging baskets.
SolarFlow was designed as a direct result of requests from gardeners. Brian Burnett, whose stands are always popular at Chelsea, Hampton Court and other shows, was often asked for a watering system that didn’t need mains power or water. He couldn’t source one so he has designed his own. ‘I have been involved in irrigation for over 40 years and never come across a similar product. We believe it is the first to be produced,’ said Brian.
‘Gardeners would come up to me at Chelsea and tell me they needed an irrigation system that could be used where there is no mains water or only a limited supply, and no mains electricity. Many found conventional watering systems were not suitable for the greenhouse or allotments,’ he explained.
‘This system needs only a small source of water. All it needs is 80 litres to give 100 plants all the water they need for up to 10 days. That is only as much as one person uses having a 10 minute shower or a bath.’
It took Brian some time to develop the solar powered part of the system. ‘I wanted a panel that was small enough to be unobtrusive as well as easy to move around,’ he explained. The result is a panel the size of a computer keyboard that generates enough energy to pump water to up to 100 plants. It can manage 30 hanging baskets as much as 10 feet above the water source. Even if the sun doesn’t shine for seven days there is still enough energy for it to carry on.
The solar panel is connected to a control box which is connected to a submersible pump that is placed in the water butt or tank. It uses an adjustable drip irrigation system to deliver only as much water as the plants need one or twice a day depending on requirements. ‘The beauty is that no water is wasted. And as we are facing the worst drought in living memory gardeners need all the help they can get,’ added Brian.
It also works whether there is sunshine or not. ‘Even an overcast day will deliver enough light to power the system,’ said Brian.
It is also flexible, allowing gardeners to tailor make their own watering system. Customers can buy irrigation piping, valves and drippers separately. An inspection lamp (with energy saving bulb), which needs to be covered, allows the control box to be checked or adjusted in the evening.
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