As part of the “CradleArk Prototype” we have been trying to make the design an off grid solution because power is not available at the Cradle Ark. The biggest perceived threat to this approach is the attractiveness of the solar panels to nefarious characters. Thus the plan to warm the water in the concrete dam to encourage the fish to breed and to try keep the temperature more constant in winter, is at this stage to make use of a Paine mound (compost heap) which should overcome the “panel” problem.
However, in a more secure home environment we can use solar to generate power to run both the water and air pumps and fiddle with these to see viability on the bigger set up at Cradle Ark. As the electric setup is much cheaper in initial capital outlay and allows stronger and more robust equipment, the prototype will utilize these as well , with a fall-over capability should the power be interrupted due to load-shedding or any other interference.
To this end we have built a fall-over switch based on the design provided by Henri Pereira of Myaquaponics in his e- book – “ A little of everything aquaponics” which is simple in design, cheap and extremely effective.
This is the coupled to a solar controller connected to a panel and battery for storage. The next step is to add the short sequence timer and the test hydroponic system (at this stage) can be rolled out. Again there will be further experimentation to see if ultimately a largely organic solution could replace the hydroponic chemicals mainly to reduce the input costs