We depend heavily on electricity in our day-to-day lives. From the moment we wake up in the morning, to the moment we fall asleep at night, chances are there’s a nearby wall outlet in use. Sure, you think about all of the lights in your home and workplace, your laptop and your cell phone, the washing machine and dryer, but what about the electricity that goes into food production? We all have to eat to stay alive, which requires energy. Nearly all of the food we consume requires energy to produce. Vegetables, such as corn, requires only .43kWH of energy per pound, chicken requires 4.4kWH per pound, and beef requires a staggering 31.5kWH per pound. To put things in perspective, it takes a lot less energy to feed someone on a vegetarian diet rather than a meat heavy diet. While the use of some energy cannot be avoided, the use of solar energy during food production can reduce the carbon footprint that goes into producing our food.
Rural communities as well as urban centers have been turning to solar panels to power aquaponic systems. Aquaponics systems are just one of the many methods of food production, specifically for both plant and fish products. In short, an aquaponics system is a food cultivation method whereby the wastewater from fish habitation is used to fertilize plants. In an aquatic environment that does not have a proper filtration system, toxins, build up in the water. In an aquaponics system, the dirty fish water is pumped into a hydroponic system whereby the toxins are reduced to nitrogen byproducts. Nitrogen is present in chlorophyll, which gives plants their green color. The nitrogen helps the plants create food through photosynthesis. The nitrogen rich water is fed into the soil that contains the growing plants, and is then re-circulated back into the fish tank. In some instances, trimmings from the plants can be fed to the fish.
As previously stated, the soiled water must be pumped from the fish tank into the hydroponic system. The water pump is, in many cases, the only component of the system that requires electricity. For those who truly wish to create an entirely self-sustaining system, solar panels and batteries can replace grid energy. While installing the system, it is important to keep in mind that the solar panels, like all electrical equipment, should be placed several feet away from the actual system and positioned in such a way as to best absorb sunlight. Choose an off-grid panel or off-grid kit that is meets the voltage requirements for the pump. The more efficient the pump, the less solar panels you’ll need for the job. Like all off-grid systems, a battery will be necessary to store the electricity produced from the solar panels. Renogy suggests using a Starter Kit or Premium Kit with an aquaponics system, as well as stocking an extra battery for back-up power. The system is relatively easy to set up, though it may take some time before it is running smoothly.
After all is said and done, you may be wondering why people choose to create an aquaponics system in the first place. For many, the idea of growing organic food with little waste is reason enough for building a system, while others enjoy watching the inter-dependent relationship between the aquatic life and plants. If you’re into emergency preparedness, you may also find peace of mind in having your own plant and protein source without making a trip to the local grocer. By utilizing solar energy, you can make your aquaponics system entirely self-sufficient, meaning that you'll never pay a penny to your electricity company to grow your own food.
As previously stated, Renogy Starter Kits and Premium Kits are most suitable for aquaponics systems. Each Premium Kit comes with 100W Eclipse Solar Panels, which are constructed out of the highest efficiency solar cells that Renogy has to offer. Each Premium Kit also includes the Commander 20A MPPT Charge Controller, which features multiphase synchronous rectification and Maximum Power Point Tracking technologies, which increase charging efficiency. The panels, which are relatively lightweight, can easily be mounted with the included Z-Brackets. Starter Kits, on the other hand, contain the same basic components (panels, mounting hardware, charge controller) at a lower price point. If you’d prefer to mix and match the components, a Renogy sales representative can help you select what you need. In sum, if you’re looking to install an aquaponics system, visit Renogy.com to see all of the great solar options we have to offer. As a one-stop solar shop, Renogy carries all of the panels, mounting supplies, wiring, charge controllers, and batteries that one needs to install a new system.