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Solar-Powered Automated Irrigation System for Homesteads, Nurseries, Market Gardens, Greenhouses

Posts: 44
Location: Central Coast, CA
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Hello permies world, us folks at 7th Generation Design wanted to share a bit about an Off-Grid Irrigation System we recently designed and lovingly call "OGI" (pronounced oh-ghee). The OGIS is an self-contained automated solar-powered 1-12 zone irrigation system with down-to-the-second interval capability. It is ideal for food forests, nurseries, orchards, market gardens, mushroom cultivation projects, agroforestry projects, or anywhere else that could benefit from automated irrigation. All that is required for operation is pressurized water from a hose and a nearby sunny location. It is portable, durable, lightweight, pest-proof, weather sensing, inexpensive, and best of all - you can build it yourself at home with tools you likely already have!

Why did we create the OGIS?

This system was born out of a situation commonly experienced by many ecopreneurs and permaculture enthusiasts - we had access to land where we wanted to begin propagating fruit and nut trees and perennial plants and growing edible mushrooms, however the land tenure arrangement was uncertain and likely to remain so. Water was already present on site, but we needed a way to apply it to a range of growing plants and trees at various life stages - meaning we needed a lot of flexibility in how long we could irrigate depending on the developmental stage of the plant. We also didn’t want to invest in trenching, conduit and hiring an electrician to run power to the nursery location given that we might have to pick up and leave at a day’s notice. As it turned out, the OGIS system we created has applications far beyond our initial design criteria.

The Off-Grid Irrigation System allows us to power our irrigation system from occasional sun, thereby saving us the expense of tying into the grid. If we have to move locations, we can literally disconnect the water source (a garden hose), pack up our irrigation lines and roll out.  It weighs less than 30 lbs, fits in a single 50 gallon Husky tote, is easy to disassemble and maintain, runs off two rechargeable 9 volt batteries hooked up to a 1.5 watt modular solar array that keeps the system charged on occasional sun, and operates up to 12 DC solenoid valves with down to the second irrigation window precision for meeting the needs of everything from fresh herbaceous cuttings, newly germinated seedlings, and 1 year old in-ground trees.

The OGIS is the first in our line of Eco-System Knowledge Products - tools and systems that help ecopreneurs leverage their time and capital to make a living regenerating our landscape.

Below is our 4 minute video walkthrough of the OGIS system.

If you're interested in a step-by-step guide to building your own, with full part lists and detailed instructions, as well as a pre-assembled solar panel unit for this system, please check out our product page here.  We also have an in-depth video walkthrough of the assembly of our first system prototype here.

Please let us know if what you grow and could use this system for, or if you have any suggestions/tweaks, please post them here - we will be continuing to fine tune this system and extend its applications. Thank you!
Posts: 3073
Location: Central Texas zone 8a
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What would prevent this from being used in a gravity feed situation?
Posts: 22
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
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Hi Wayne,

Nothing would prevent this from being used in a gravity fed system, you’d just have to make sure you have ample standing pressure for the DC Latching valves to operate - typically that is around 25 - 35 psi - but it would be worth checking the manufacturer specs on whatever brand of DC solenoid valve you might use in constructing your OGIS.
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