The RE (renewable energy) system that is on Marie’s farm is a combined solar and wind system that utilizes a number of recycled pieces and parts as well as some new ones. The idea in building the system was to provide a power system that was located in the field and would provide sufficient energy to power an irrigation system for the garden.


To that end we started with a small solar system from Harbor Freight. Nothing very esoteric but it was functional and came with a regulator and mounting hardware. Any other choice would have required that I build a solar panel mount and acquire a regulator.

The solar panels are mounted on a tower originally designed to hold two 50 gallon drums of water that would gravity feed the irrigation system. As the water catchment system had not been completed, one of the towers could be used for a solar system until we got the gravity feed system working. The large black box was originally a tool box for the back of a pick up truck but works quite well as a battery box and was inexpensive.

The batteries came from my supply of recycled and recovered oil field batteries. Since their recovery they are working out quite well. By having both solar and wind energy available, we need only two batteries to run the irrigation pump. We have 170 amp hours available and the pump draws about 3.6 amp hours when it is running. The solar panels charge at the rate of 3 amp hours in good sun and we get between 2 and 5 amp hours from the wind (when we have wind).


To hook up the pump we used a cigarette lighter body that was purchased at AutoZone. An inline 15 amp fuse was installed as a safety precaution. The 4 AWG interconnect cables for the batteries used home made connectors fabricated from copper pipe recovered from a plumbing job. The power plug for the pump is a recycled Nokia cellular phone car charger.

Text Box: Cigarette lighter plug

The wind turbine is the same one I built for our house. It is mounted on a ten foot mast that is anchored into concrete. The pipes in the ground go down about 18 inches and the hole was filled with concrete. It has a 3 point guy system

The regulator for the wind turbine was first built on a solder less breadboard so that if changes were required in the field, it would be a simple matter to replace anything. As it turned out, the breadboard has worked very well and will be replaced with a board that has been soldered together. The circuit is not critical and is available on the net at two locations; Location 1      Location 2 . I used as much from my recycle box as possible to build it.

The dump load is made with two recycled .2 ohm resistors and cooled by a DC fan. The enclosure and fan are recycled from a dead PC power supply. An automobile relay is used to switch the wind turbine between the batteries and the dump load so that the wind turbine always has a load on it. The hook up wire was recycled from a microwave and a PC power supply.

The next expansion for the system will be the addition of an Arduino microcontroller, a weather station and a radio link to the WEB. The weather station will be linked to the web as well as to the Amateur Radio weather net. With this final configuration the wind speed, direction, temperature, barometric pressure and humidity will be available. In addition, the Arduino will replace the wind and solar regulators for the power systems.


NOTE: The Arduino software is “open source” and will be available to anyone who would like to download it.

Occasionally there is a need for 110VAC at the site. Typical requirements are to charge a cell phone, run a laptop, power a soldering iron or other low current devices. A small 150 watt DC to AC inverter was added to the system.  It is not permanently connected and must be plugged into the power plug when the pump is not running.

Herb & Barbara our interests and family

This a Google Earth view of the farm and the location of the wind and solar system. Unfortunately the view posted on Google was taken before the garden was planted so the actual garden and wind turbine system is not visible.