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Discussion Starter #1
Hi - I'm new and I've really enjoyed this board. So much information and helpful advice!

Does anyone have any info on solar powered (livestock) water tank heaters? I'm in MO and have a recently built barn that has no water or electricity yet. We've been running water via (lots of) hoses from the house and the cold weather is creeping in. I need to find a way to keep the ice out of the tanks and the hose from freezing. We've been draining the hoses with an air compressor and so far so good. BUT once it gets and stays cold - the compressor idea won't work. Don't laugh...........is there anyone that's come up with an ingenious way of tackling this? I'm running out of time!

Thanks!
 

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I live in one of the few regions which doesn't cold enough temperatures to freeze outside liquids solid for long periods of time. I think one of the general practives is to put out a small (20 lb.) charged propane tank with a hose and set the end of the hose inside the tank. Set the valve so the propane barely seeps out, extending the length of time the pressurized tank will last. The agitated surface of the water from the formed bubbles prevents the ice from forming.
 

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Solar powering an electric heater would be very expensive, if not impossible.

Other posts I've read on this board revolved on trapping and holding solar heat - paint your trough inside (?) and out black, maybe making some sort of solar mass, etc.

One idea I've always had, maybe it's completely stupid:

Take an old tire, attach some floats on the inside, against the back of the tread where the animals will have a harder time getting at it (?), and set it in your tank. The black of the rubber might warm up the water enough to at least keep the hole inside the tire from freezing. If you're concerned about the yuckies leaching out of the tire, go to your nearest riverbed and pick up one of the tires dumped there, which has already been steeping in water for a while.

OK, you can stop laughing now. Or start running to the patent office. What do you think? The image of livestock bumbling around your pasture with a tire stuck around the neck does come to mind, though.

Can you explain why the compressor method won't work when it gets colder? I'm imagining an indoor hose spigot next to an indoor air compressor. Probably not the case, but it it is, I'd look into a few pipe fittings and valves to make a permanent 'blow out' adapter hooked to the water line and the compressor. Close the valve going back to your water supply, and open up the valve to let your air into the hose. Hmm... isn't this how they make snow guns at ski resorts?

Just thoughts from an academic sitting at his office computer. Probably won't work at all in the real world.

John
 

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Solar for heating is not a good choice. You can however use solar to keep ice out of tanks. A solar bubbler is an option . Just keep the water moving and dont allow it to freeze.
 

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ponylady said:
Hi - I'm new and I've really enjoyed this board. So much information and helpful advice!

Does anyone have any info on solar powered (livestock) water tank heaters? I'm in MO and have a recently built barn that has no water or electricity yet. We've been running water via (lots of) hoses from the house and the cold weather is creeping in. I need to find a way to keep the ice out of the tanks and the hose from freezing. We've been draining the hoses with an air compressor and so far so good. BUT once it gets and stays cold - the compressor idea won't work. Don't laugh...........is there anyone that's come up with an ingenious way of tackling this? I'm running out of time!

Thanks!
Hi. Ponylady, Just thought you might throw the fresh manure under the trough. And maybe hang the hose with one high spot so it can gravity feed empty. Good luck!
 

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Gary and JR both have good ideas - aeration would probably work down to a certain temperature. I just looked up some weather data, and it looks like your normal low this time of year is the mid 20's, and records are in the single digits. Will bubbling work at these temperatures?

Another thought my rambling mind came up with - if you've got the compressor and water hose, why not use the compressor with a regulator and/or a valve just cracked open to bubble air through your water hose and into your tank? Weight the end of the hose down first, so it sinks to the bottom of the tank.

JR- I'd be concerned about using propane - first, it's expensive! second, as I'm sure you're aware, it's flammable, and slightly more dense than air. So if the air is really still, you will have a 'pool' of propane vapor between the water level of the tank and the top of the tank. Of course, more than likely there will be enough breeze to move this gas around and not cause any problems.

What, nobody likes my tire idea??

John
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I KNEW I could get some good ideas here! The air compressor is not real powerful but is actually doing a pretty darn good job for now considering there's about 600' of hose! I'm concerned that once it turns really cold, even a little bit of moisture left in the hoses are going to freeze and we'll be faced with hauling the water in down there. Been there, done that, hate it. I guess we can keep blowing it out with the compressor then unhook them and hang them.

I'd be a little concerned about the propane too. The goat tanks are inside the barn.....

John! I've got another large water tank that IS outside (in a pen closer to the house) and that tire idea is clever. The "yuckies" would have to go before using the tire and I say that if the horses are able to get the tire around their neck, they deserve to wear it ! The compressor with the hose idea - just leave the compressor running and the valve just opened enough to bubble the water? Right?! Cool. I'm going out to try it. It's not cold enough now to freeze, but I want to see what it takes to make it bubble!

Gary - what's a solar bubbler? How?

THANKS EVERYONE!
 
U

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ponylady said:
Gary - what's a solar bubbler? How?

THANKS EVERYONE!
Im not Gary, but try this for a solar bubbler.

Go to Damn Chinamart and buy a aireator pump for a fishing boat live well...$20.

Secure a new or used 12 volt battery and a 12 volt solar panel.

Mount the solar panel on the barn roof.....run the wires down to the battery in the barn, include a switch on the positive line to allow you to disconnect the panel and prevent overcharging the battery.

Mount the aireator pump on the bottom of the water tank, and mount the aireator line near the surface of the water in the tank.

Wire the pump to the battery and include another switch on this circut.

Turn the pump on when freezing weather is expected, turn it of when not needed.

You might want to include a resistor in the pump circut, to limit the pump current flow and extend battery life.
 
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ponylady said:
Gary - what's a solar bubbler? How?

THANKS EVERYONE!
Im not Gary, but try this for a solar bubbler.

Go to Damn Chinamart and buy a aireator pump for a fishing boat live well...$20.

Secure a new or used 12 volt battery and a 12 volt solar panel.

Mount the solar panel on the barn roof.....run the wires down to the battery in the barn, include a switch on the positive line to allow you to disconnect the panel and prevent overcharging the battery.

Mount the aireator pump on the bottom of the water tank, and mount the aireator line near the surface of the water in the tank.

Wire the pump to the battery and include another switch on this circut.

Turn the pump on when freezing weather is expected, turn it of when not needed.

You might want to include a resistor in the pump circut, to limit the pump current flow and extend battery life.
 
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ponylady said:
Hi - I'm new and I've really enjoyed this board. So much information and helpful advice!

Does anyone have any info on solar powered (livestock) water tank heaters? I'm in MO and have a recently built barn that has no water or electricity yet. We've been running water via (lots of) hoses from the house and the cold weather is creeping in. I need to find a way to keep the ice out of the tanks and the hose from freezing. We've been draining the hoses with an air compressor and so far so good. BUT once it gets and stays cold - the compressor idea won't work. Don't laugh...........is there anyone that's come up with an ingenious way of tackling this? I'm running out of time!

Thanks!
if you can reach the stock tanks with the hose you must be somewhere between 50 and a 100 ft. from your house or source of water, and if you have power there, buy somepower cable and make youself an extension cord and but a regular tank heater, just make sure the wire sixe is large enough for the load,
 

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BRAINSTORM::::::::;; Just thought this up??????

Okay.. how about a rubbermaid trough (black) ... surround with haybales (um.. maybe cover w/chicken wire to keep from being eaten.... ??? Wa La???? Then just break up the little bit of ice in the am w/stick. :D

I've made haybale winter homes for my herd of Chihuahuas for the last 4 years. Tested by then 10 yo son for warmth before using for Chi's. He is such a non-corpuscle kind of guy (always cold) and he reported it warm and toasty.

(Another crazy Texan's winter idea.. oh,,, I'm in NE Texas.. it gets in 20's regularly in winter and even colder w/ice storms and snow)
 

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You could try some of the websites for information,

Freeze Protection for Solar Powered Stock Watering


Some of the ideas are,

Suggestions for keeping water open

There are several ways to keep watering tanks open and storage tanks from freezing. Each livestock watering situation is unique, so you’ll need to tailor a solution to your site, weather, and terrain. Below are some ideas:

Pump water into a large enclosed storage tank at a higher elevation. You should insulate the tank in some way, bury it, or mound dirt up around it. If the tank is exposed, paint it black to absorb the sun’s heat during the day. From the storage tank, run a buried line to supply the watering tanks by gravity and control this flow with a float valve. You may want to use a thermostatically controlled float valve that opens when temperatures drop below a certain point. You can position some of these valves so that they direct water around the outside of the watering tank to keep water open for stock. You can also pump water into the storage tank during the day, so that it will continuously trickle into the watering tank at night and on cloudy days. The watering tank will need an overflow drain-field.
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If a storage tank is not an option, you can use the solar pumping system to fill the watering tank directly during the day. Make a small hole that allows the tank to drain slowly at night to keep water moving.
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You can use large heavy-equipment tires as watering tanks. These help keep water open since they are black and absorb heat from the sun. They are also flexible enough not to crack if freezing occurs. These tires are often free for the taking and they are very tough and can take abuse from animals.
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Much of the heat loss from a watering tank occurs at the surface of the water. You can reduce this heat loss considerably by placing an insulated cover over a large part of the surface area of the tank. Provide openings around the edge where animals can drink. You can also insulate the sides of watering tanks with insulation material, sawdust, or wood chips. Partially burying a watering tank, or berming it with earth, takes advantage of the ground’s warmth to prevent freezing.
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Another way to make use of underground warmth is to install a culvert with a sealed bottom under the tank. You can circulate water from the culvert into the tank with a separate small-wattage solar-powered pump. This system requires a battery bank to allow for night use. You’ll need to put the batteries in a non-freezing area, perhaps on a platform above the water level in the culvert. A Canadian company has come up with a system of this kind, complete with an insulated tank cover.
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You can use a special in-tank propane heater to keep water from freezing.
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Innovative producers have experimented with building solar-heated air or water collectors on their tanks. A system such as this uses the sun’s heat to keep the tank from freezing.
 

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Before there were tank heaters, there were axes. You can chop a hole in the ice so they can drink. I also try to only fill what they will drink, don't fill the whole tank. I always worry that it might freeze totally solid and then there's nothing to chop to.

I drain my hoses by hand. Occassionally, I will be careless and one gets frozen. I haul in it the house and let it thaw.

I drain 330 feet of hoses daily. I didn't know it was that much until I added it up. Three seperate hose lengths that serve different places. I just lay the hose out straight and walk the length of it, holding the hose over my head as I go. Keeping it straight keeps plugs from forming if some water is left inside.

The propane bubbling method is time-tested and it works. Propane is heavier than air, so it will go downhill. If your barn has no power and is as drafty as most barns, it should be fine.

I'm so glad I got freeze-proof automatic waterers for my cattle. I never have to think about water for them. That's the ultimate. Put the thing in and forget all about it.

Jena
 
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