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Yay for full rain barrels!

September 4, 2008 11:10 AM 9/4/08

It started gently raining last night so I was glad I go the rain barrel hooked up properly. I went out there expecting it to be only partially full and it’s totally filled. :-)

I also figured out yesterday that it would be damn easy to use these to generate power during the rain to charge a battery bank. Simply put the barrels on a two foot high stand with a micro-hydro generator underneath them attached to the overflow of the barrel. Once the barrel is full it overflows into the turbine and starts generating power to charge a battery bank via a charge controller. You’d have to use the same type of cables that are used to connect solar panels to the charge controllers but it’s easily doable with current technology.

I release this idea into the public domain. If you want to use this idea or a variation of it for generating power be my guest.

I was discussing the subject of rain barrels with a friend and we also figured out how easy it is to set up one of these systems to water your lawn using sprinklers.

1) Take the rain barrel and put a sump-pump inside it.

2) Attach the sump-pump output to a garden hose that connects to your sprinklers.

3) Plug in the sump pump to an X10 remote control module.

4) Wait for rain.

5) Once the barrel is full use an X10 transmitter and remote control to trigger the sump pump.

If you use a Firecracker you could even control the lawn watering using the computer.

This stuff is EASY people! C’mon! And it’s not even that expensive. I got my barrel for about $89 including shipping from an E-Bay seller, a sump pump costs about $80 for a cheap one, X10 transmitters run about $10 online, X10 modules about $6/each for the appliance modules, and the X10 remotes run about $15 max. Not counting whatever sprinklers cost that’s exactly $200 per install. Seems like a lot but get this - when I had to use the soaker hoses on my garden my bill for one month was $149. So that means for another $51 I can have something that reduces the water usage and really cuts down your bill. (Yes it’s dependent on weather but so what? If it rains fully for even one day you’ve filled all your barrels and they can be doled out over the next week or so of dry time.) And you don’t even need to buy it all at once. All the parts in question are things that need to be bought separately anyway. Heck you could dispense with the X10 stuff and attach it all to a switched outdoor outlet and go from $200 to $169.

I told my friend today that we’ve got the wrong viewpoint as far as resources are concerned on this planet. We currently think like people who live in lush areas do - resources are abundant. (Apologies to those of you that have serious resource issues.)

What we need to start thinking like is desert nomads. _Everything_ is precious and must be conserved.

That’s tough for most people because it’s a 180 degree change in their thinking and most people don’t turn on a dime.

Regardless we need change our thinking on these things.

As for me I’ll be happy if my watermelons soak up all this rain. We’ve needed it and while I’m not a fan of hurricanes the remnants of this one might just save my garden. I’d love to get at least three large melons out of that garden. One to eat and two to ship to a friend in another state.

I’ve failed in my goal to make square melons this year but that’s a task easily accomplished next year and not too big of a deal to me.




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