Video

Don’t miss our latest Video posted April 26th, 2014


 


AWorld Greenhouse with World Flag #1We’ve just recently completed the conversion of our Growroom and our Greenhouse into demonstration areas showing how our commercial-sized Food Forever™ Farms work. If you’ve been following us, you won’t recognize the interiors of these growing areas as our commercial system is entirely different than our small school and home systems; and there are only two Deep Media Grow Beds. Instead, we’re using proprietary technology called Duffy Duct™ Growing Systems that come in both Vertical and Horizontal configurations.

Below is one of four walls of Vertical Duffy Ducts™ that are in our Greenhouse capable of growing 224 heads of lettuce. Here we are growing Romaine, which we plan to sell as Living Romaine with the roots attached.

Greenhouse March 22 2014 1 8x10

You can watch our new Video right here or over at YouTube where you will see the entire reconfigured Greenhouse with these amazing walls of Romaine Lettuce, plus our new Growroom and Fishroom.

We so appreciate you following our Blog. Until next time, GET GROWING!

Sustainably,

Aquaponics USA & Aquaponics World

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We Have Solar, Finally! Part 2


We lucked out and actually had a place to stack the panels on the roof prior to installing them.

We lucked out and actually had a place to stack the panels on the roof prior to installing them.

This was a small section on the original porch roof where the solar water heating system wasn’t. Our Master Carpenter turned into a Solar Panel Installer (even though he’d never done this before in his life); and we were soon installing our ten rows of three panels deep across our new Fishroom roof.

In the background of this photo, you can see our Greenhouse. The new Fishroom sits under the Solar Panels that are already installed. The existing Growroom we built in late 2010, sits under the solar water heater strips and extends about 30 ft. to the left of the photo.

Our plan is to connect all three of these areas together into a single recirculating aquaponics system we’re calling our Micro Food Forever™ Farm, which will be about 1/10th the size of a full commercial-sized Food Forever™ Farm. To learn more about our Food Forever™ Farm designs, go to our new website at Aquaponics World.net.

We started the installation process by securing that expensive hardware to the Fishroom roof.

We started the installation process by securing that expensive hardware to the Fishroom roof.

Here's an up close view of that expensive hardware we realized we needed to purchase to get our Panels secured to the Fishroom roof.

Here’s an up close view of that expensive hardware we realized we needed to purchase to get our Panels secured to the Fishroom roof.

As you can see from the photo below, it requires quite a lot of that hardware to safely secure the Solar Panels especially when you live in the California desert where wind velocities can reach gusts of up to 40-50 miles per hour.

We started the installation process by securing that expensive hardware to the roof first.

The panels were then secured to the hardware starting at one end.

The above photo also shows the solar water heating system that heats our 32 x 18 ft. pool up to 104 degrees F, at which point we refer to it as a large hot tub.

The photo below shows an important piece of the securing hardware that clamps the solar panels to the rails.

The clamps secure the Solar Panels to the rails.

The clamps secure the Solar Panels to the rails.

Below is a front view of the roof line with the Solar Panels installed.

There's a breezeway between the roof and the panels that is about four inches in height.

There’s a breezeway between the roof and the panels that is about four inches in height.

Installing the Solar Panels was only one part of the job. They then had to be wired up by our electrician. The photo below shows the power boxes that were installed to facilitate this wiring process.

There are ten of these power boxes. Each box contains the wiring for three Solar Panels.

There are ten of these power boxes. Each box contains the wiring and circuit breakers for three Solar Panels.

Wiring both the Fishroom and the Solar Panels has constituted a large portion of the money this project is costing. We hired a Master Electrician who does not believe in cutting corners when it comes to wiring. We’ll be posting a Part 3 of this project in which we show photos and describe the parts of the Solar Panel system that are hidden away in our garage and home including the Inverter-Charger, the MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) Solar Chargers, the Generator Control Module and the System Control Panel.

This is an Off-The-Grid System. If the Grid goes down, we stay Up! One of the big problems with signing up for free Solar Panels offered by companies that want to use your roofs (they get the rebates) is these are Grid-tied systems. If the Grid goes down, you don’t have electricity.

We also have a Generator (photos coming in Part 3) that automatically starts and connects when the power has been off too long and there is not enough Solar (night) to keep the system going. It is all very transparent, and we only become aware that anything has happened to the grid supply when we hear the  generator start. This smooth transition is done with the support of 10KWH of AGM batteries that will keep us alive for quite a while if the grow lights in the Growroom are off but only several minutes if the grow lights are on. Grow Lights take quite a lot of power; but once you get the right combination, they work like a charm. Below is a photo of our Fluorescent T5’s growing massive amounts of veggies in this perfectly controlled environment.

Our Fluorescent T5's growing lettuce and basil.

Our Fluorescent T5’s growing lettuce and basil.

 Just as we got the final Solar Panels installed, a massive summer monsoon down pour occurred that chased our Installer off the roof.

The best Solar Panel Installer in the business. A real "Jack" of all trades.

The best Solar Panel Installer in the business. A real “Dan” of all trades.

Here’s a photo of our Greenhouse in the midst of that down pour. Just wait until you see what’s growing inside of it, which we’ll be sharing in our next post.

Every now and then wonderful summer monsoons hit the high desert of California. This was one of those days.

Every now and then wonderful summer monsoons hit the high desert of California. This was one of those days.

Thanks again for following our Blog. It’s so much fun to share the joy of being aquaponics farmers.

We Have Solar! Finally!


We did it!  We got our Solar Panels up on the new Fishroom Roof!

Our Fishroom Roof with Solar Panels!

Our Fishroom Roof with Solar Panels!

What a project this has been. It all started when we discovered Sun Electronics in Miami, Florida was selling Solar Panels for about $1 a Watt. We also knew we could pick them up at a distribution center in Phoenix. This company is now selling panels for 72 cents per Watt. This was late 2011. Next to the Solar Panels, you can see our Solar Water Heating System which took up all of the porch roof we doubled in size when we first moved to the desert in 2006.

The joy of watching fish and plants grow.

The joy of watching fish and plants grow.

We had sold three of our Food Forever™ Growing Systems to three elementary schools in Tucson, Arizona, and we planned to deliver and install them during the 2011 Christmas break. So it would be the perfect time to pick up our Solar Panels with the U-Haul we rented to make the school deliveries. This saved a lot of money on shipping of the Solar Panels. The photo above was taken in early 2012 about three months after we installed one of the three Food Forever™ Growing System in the Davis Bilingual Elementary School Library.

Now, back to the Solar Panels. The following photos show the process of getting our Solar Panels into the now empty U-Haul.

We really thought we'd be able to go home and get these panels up in a month or so. One and a half years later, they're up.

We really thought we’d be able to go home and get these panels up in a month or so. One and a half years later, they’re up.

The Solar Panels are going into the empty U-Haul.

The Solar Panels are going into the empty U-Haul.

Oliver, our System Designer, watches the loading process.

Oliver, our System Designer, watches the loading process.

Done deal; and we're back on the I-10 to Yucca Valley.

Done deal; and we’re back on the I-10 to Yucca Valley.

This purchase cost approximately $6,000. But we unwittingly neglected to purchase the hardware necessary to secure the Solar Panels to the structure that was to hold them. That hardware, which was also purchased from Sun Electronics, cost another $3,000. So far our Solar project has cost $9,000. We paid labor hours for two System Installers who were hired to install the three Tucson school systems so about $150 extra was paid in the hours it took to pick up the Solar Panels.

Then came the big delay in the project, a delay that lasted one and a half years while our beautiful Solar Panels sat useless in the garage waiting to be installed and our electric bill kept going higher and higher. They became a cumbersome fixture in the garage where they were shown to many Tour participants and touted as a project that was to be completed sometime in the near future.

Why the delay? We had no where to put our Solar Panels. Our south facing house roof had already been taken by our solar pool heating system. Those are the black rubber strips right next to the Solar Panels.

Our Solar Panels on the Fishroom Roof next to our Solar Water Heater

Our Solar Panels on the Fishroom Roof next to our Solar Water Heater

So we were going to have to build something to hold the Solar Panels. Our first thought was to build a roof only structure that would extend from our existing growroom addition lengthwise toward the greenhouse. Then came the dellimma about what to make this structure out of–wood or iron. Then came the consideration about making a possible move to Arizona, which we dropped given how far back a move would take us in our business and our Solar Panel project.

Finally, we decided to stay put and build an addition to our existing Growroom in the form of a Fishroom so we could separate the indoor growing area from the fish tanks. The following photos show that Fishroom building process.

Our Master Carpenter, Dan, measures the roof line

Our Master Carpenter, Dan, measures the roof line

The outer wall studs are in place.

The outer wall studs are in place.

We had to give up some of our original deck area to add this room. We put a solid floor over the decking and added two drains.

Here's what the inside wall of the Fishroom looks like after we tore off the siding and wired it for our new system.

Here’s what the inside wall of the Fishroom looks like after we tore off the siding and wired it for our new system.

The wall studs are in place along with several roof beams.

The wall studs are in place along with several roof beams.

The supporting posts were placed in a ribar reinforced box according to code.

The supporting posts were placed in a ribar reinforced box according to code.

In order to hold the 30 Solar Panels, the roof had to extend past the Growroom.

In order to hold the 30 Solar Panels, the roof had to extend past the Growroom.

The farthest support beam on the right side of the photo is the one placed in the ribar reinforced and cemented hole.

Wall studs and roof beams in place.

Wall studs and roof beams in place.

Plywood is going up on the roof to receive the finishing roofing material.

Plywood is going up on the roof to receive the finishing roofing material.

The roof edging is in place. The door is the door to our existing Growroom.

The roof edging is in place. The door is the door to our existing Growroom.

We didn’t get a shot of the completed roof without the Solar Panels. Believe us, it was beautiful. We are still in construction on the Fishroom.

Here's the Fishroom as it sits today. The roof has the Solar Panels in place; and the solid floor is finished.

Here’s the Fishroom as it sits today. The roof has the Solar Panels in place; and the solid floor is finished.

As you can see, the room hasn’t been enclosed yet; and, once again due to funds, we may need to delay the finishing of the interior and exterior walls until late Fall.

That’s not going to stop us from completing the floor and moving the four 120 gallon fish tanks and fish into their new Fishroom. Then we’ll be dismantling the Food Forever™ Growing System we call the FFGS-40 that is presently in the Growroom and building our newly designed aquaponics system we are calling our Micro Food Forever™Farm. If you want to learn more about Food Forever™ Farms, visit our new website at Aquaponics World.net. We’re building a single system that will link the Greenhouse to the Growroom and Fishroom. This new system will be growing leafy greens for our local marketplace to prove that money can be made doing aquaponics. Wish us luck.

We started building the Fishroom in February making the finished roof the top priority of that project so we could place the Solar Panels on it. The roof of this Fishroom was designed to hold the thirty Solar Panels. Once the roof was completed, we had to stop the project until we saved up enough money to pay for the extra $3,000 in hardware costs, mentioned above, the electrician and laborer that would be required to get the Solar Panels installed on the roof. We’ll show you the Solar Panel installation process in our next Blog post as this one is getting to be a book.

Thanks so much for following our Blog.  Sharing our adventures (and expenditures) in Aquaponics somehow makes it much more worthwhile.

We just got a taste of what it would be like off the grid.


Yesterday was our first real experience of being off the grid. During a sweet Valentine’s Evening celebration the lights in the restaurant blinked on and off several times. It was only a momentary thing so we didn’t think anything of it. When we got home, we checked our emergency back up monitor, to see if we had also had a momentary power loss like the restaurant; and low and behold our monitor indicated that there had been a short interruption of our service. We settled in for the night with plans to catch up on the news. As we sat on our couch to our complete surprise, we heard our generator start up.

What was actually going on, unbeknown to us, was our home was one of 2,400 in our community that had lost power and still had no power as far as the power grid was concerned. Before the generator turned on, we were watching TV and running our lights, microwaving our tea, checking our email, etc. all on the power being provided by our emergency battery back up system that is coupled with our generator.

Now that was amazing to be sitting there completely oblivious to the fact that we weren’t on the grid.
Once we figured out what was going on, we went outside to see that all of our neighbors were in the dark. Now, an hour or two in the dark is one thing; but this situation lasted about 20 hours. And all during that time, our home, our freezer full of food, our Aquaponics greenhouse, our fish, our pumps and everything just kept humming away as if everything was normal.

We spent a lot of money putting that system in; but yesterday and today (in those 20 hours) it paid for itself in self-satisfaction, comfort, saved food and live fish swimming around in their Aquaponics tanks. Our next post will be written by Oliver who will explain the details of this back up system, how it works (and what he learned by this black out).