Watering The Garden With A Solar-Powered System

Watering the garden is important to do regularly if you want your plants to thrive. [Nikodem Bartnik] built a system to handle it for him, keeping his garden on the grow.

The system has an Arduino commanding an irrigation system based around a pump delivering water from a reservoir. It’s paired with a water level sensor to keep an eye on the water available to the system. Moisture sensors are also used to monitor the prevailing soil conditions, to ensure the plants aren’t over- or under-watered. In this case, [Nikodem] designed his own resistive moisture sensors, which proved difficult but taught him a lot along the way. verything was then wrapped up in a food container to make it waterproof for installation outside. A solar panel and charging system was also installed to power the whole setup without requiring a mains connection.

While this system worked, the moisture sensors were a bit unreliable and there was a lot of cabling involved. A second revision got rid of the sensors and used a Pi Pico to implement a simple timer-based irrigation scheme.

Either way, both systems worked and helped keep the vital water flowing to the garden bed. Automatic plant watering is a bit of a popular theme around here, and we’ve seen some nifty hacks in that realm of late. Video after the break.

17 thoughts on “Watering The Garden With A Solar-Powered System

  1. Of course you ‘could’ manually water your plants and no solar power needed :) . But that is to easy I suppose :) . I am sure it was a learning experience though.

    1. true you could manually water. Consider this following. Due to house/city water usually being filled with chlorine and fluoride, or well water with to much calcium. which all of the aforementioned are “bad” for soil and plants over time, where as rain water or usable well water (has to be pumped) are nutrient rich and good for plants. therefore I do like the solar pump to pump rain barrel water or even well water. I guess you could also use some other mechanism to create a pressure differential to get water out of the rain barrel or just scoop it out, or hand pump well water.

        1. Thanks to fluoridation, a good third of the population now has some level of fluorosis which actually weakens the enamel and causes cosmetic problems (white blotches) on teeth. That’s because most of the people aren’t suffering from fluoride deficiency in their diets, and those who are usually get it from fluoride in their toothpaste. The whole thing is just a waste of money and does more harm than good.

          In most other countries, water treatment plants actually attempt to remove fluoride from drinking water.

          1. That is absolutely untrue. There are huge general health benefits that come from good teeth health. Flurodating water supplies has enormous health benefits that once only came to people who had Courier naturally in their water supply. Go onto almost any government health website and you will get some expert opinion other than the garbage that comes on the net.

        2. I’m not against fluoride in water for human consumption however its has a degradation effect on soil and by proxy nutrient utilization capacity by the plant. If you want make conjectures about my beliefs by all means go ahead your the one who will walk thru life a A**. my post was a perspective about another view with out personal attacks, but you on the other hand Assumed and went right for character assassination to try and invalidate anything i said, maybe have a moment of self-reflection. also thank you grammar police. I fell for any person who has to interact with you IRL.

      1. Yeah, we water our house plants with rain water or melted snow when available.
        The gardens get well water. I do utilize a couple of rain barrels in the non-freezin’ season.
        Next year I hope to have one of the rain barrels drain down hill to the garden.

    2. Short sighted response. Not as pithy as one would think. What about those who travel? It’s nice to have an automated system to protect your investment (time, money, etc) in a garden and/or flower beds.

    3. Do you have a garden? One that is more than a few potted plants? Past a certain amount of plants, automating watering is a must. I installed 3 water hoses around the garden, and couldn’t keep up.

      Now with drop irrigation, I just have to crank a timer to have sections of the garden watered. It improved drastically my plants survival rate and stuff production. Figs probably went more than 5x for instance.

      Next Is adding true automation, with rain and water flow sensors. It will remove the guess work: I’ll know how many liters for one section. Also with a programmable watering system, you can have more complex scheduled (area A is every morning, area B is every 3 days, area C is every week for instance). It is not that easy to remember what you watered and when once you have a little horde of plants.

      The more you automate repetitive and long tasks, the more you are available for higher level tasks, such as complementary watering, repotting, figuring out why this plant is not well, etc.

      Also, automated watering allows you to have a garden even if your life is hectic.

  2. Moisture sensing is a problem as moisture messes with just about anything metal that’s carrying a current. You can’t just shove a couple of probes in the soil and leave them. Platinum will do.

    1. IIRC, measuring capacitance between a couple of hermetically sealed probes is viable for moisture reading. It probably needs to be adjusted for each soil type.

  3. This is useful for off-grid property, but the solar panel is only providing power when water is being pumped and can only supply as much power as the pump uses. My 1100 gallon rainwater collection is pumped via a mains electricity shallow-well pump; but my 14KW mains-connected array effectively powers it, and a lot more in addition.

  4. I just use the blumat watering system. It’s a mechanical system that uses ceramic stakes that open a valve when they get too dry. No electricity required and it works perffectly.

  5. My garden is about a half Mike from water or electricity. I fill a 50 gal drum with water and tractor it to the field where I use a dc/ac converter to power a submersible pump to water the plants. Very time consuming, huge carbon footprint and unreliable (the last is human error, me). The solar panel on a rain barrel sounds like a great idea.

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