Irrigatia solar watering kit

Discussion in 'Fruit & Vegetable Growing' started by Mark, Jan 26, 2016.

  1. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Here's my latest gadget setup, it's an Irrigatia solar watering drip system I'm using to automatically irrigate my seed raising area. I've had it for several months but only just got around to finally installing it over the past few days and I have to say I really love it!

    irrigatia solar watering unit or waterwand sol k12.jpg

    My unit is the older and cheaper model the SOL K-12 (the newer model C-24) has a smarter chip and can water twice as much. However, this unit is still very impressive and certainly meets my needs for now.

    This has essentially replaced my garden watering timer, which apart from not being solar powered also required my garden watering pump to be on continuously (wasting power) just to come on for a few minutes to water my seedling trays etc.

    Further to that, to connect to a drip system required a pressure reducer and the maintenance of leaking hoses under pressure or over watering was just annoying me so I was wrapped to find this solar system.

    It works ingeniously without a timer at all and instead has a dial on the side from 1 to 5 to control how much watering it will do (5 being the most) but essentially this solar watering system uses sunlight to gauge watering frequency.

    In other words, it will water more on sunny days and less or none on raining or cloudy days and not at all at night. The 1 - 5 dial is set by trialling how the watering is going and then adjusting accordingly but apart from this dial to roughly adjust the flow the rest is all automatic.

    The lines are regular 4mm poly tubing and the unit comes complete with 24 drippers and 15 metres of line. I've installed all 24 drippers and have them all employed but you could also install small 4mm inline taps to switch off any drippers not required.

    Setup is very basic. There's two lines coming from the base of the unit: one goes to the water source and the other to the plants. The only stipulation is the first dripper must be higher than the water source/container to prevent siphoning, if not, a small siphoning device (included in the kit) needs to also be fitted on the outgoing line.

    In my case, the inlet line is dropped into my water tank and hangs about 6 inches from the bottom. I have the first dripper in the highest pot, which is above the water level so I don't require to fix the anti-siphoning device (not that it's too much trouble to fit just that the less fittings the less troubles in my opinion).
    irrigatia solar watering unit or waterwand sol k12 on tank seedlings.jpg
    irrigatia solar watering unit or waterwand sol k12 on tank seedlings full.jpg
    Once the lines are hooked up and the drippers attached the unit is switched on and the Irrigatia self-primes and starts working. If the batteries are flat it will first charge itself and then go through its own setup.

    I've been catching and measuring the water flow on the 7th pot and it has been averaging 750-1000 mils a day but the weather has been overcast.

    What I like about a watering system such as this is the targeted drip irrigation uses less water and it also waters more often, which is required on hot days but easily to forget to do manually.

    This solar watering unit was actually invented by a guy in the UK - George Evens. They were originally called WaterWand but later changed the name to Irrigatia. His brother (Chris) lives in Australia and still markets the product under the company name WaterWand.

    Australians can get them on eBay here and in the UK on eBay here.

    You can also buy from their websites http://www.waterwand.com.au/ or http://www.irrigatia.com.au/

    I'm going to use this for awhile longer to evaluate the product fully and then write a proper review about the Irrigatia (I'll post a link to my review here in this thread). But, if (and I mean "if") it continues to work as it is now and gives me durable service then expect my review to be a raving one...
     
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  2. stevo

    stevo Backyard Farmer Premium Member GOLD

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    Looks good, love gadgets! I'll check out the websites. I guess for people in the city that don't have a tank they could always use a small drum full of water and top it up.
     
  3. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yes exactly, these are designed for watering out of smaller containers (not necessarily big water tanks like mine) and I imagine given the right sunlight would be a handy watering unit for apartment or unit living where plants are grown on balconies.
     
  4. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    I like it Mark. How would it cope with additional length of pipe?
    Say, 15m isn't enough and you want 30m or whatever.

    Could be a cool gadget to look into.
    Cheers
     
  5. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Hey Steve :) I think the max pipe length is 60 mtrs. However, you can position your unit anywhere it doesn't have to be near the water source thereby extending even further.

    Also, extending the drippers beyond 24 will reduce each dripper capacity naturally so it's recommended not to exceed 24.

    The newest units are much improved apparently so I would get that even though they are about 40 bucks more.

    If this one goes strong for me I'll buy another one for my other shade house on the right of image (other side of the tank).

    My setup is for seedlings and plant nursing but it would be just as good in a garden bed for plants or crops requiring regular water. I guess a unit like this would comfortably water two large raised veggie beds.
     
  6. Steve

    Steve Valued Member Premium Member

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    Good info, thanks Mark.
    It's on the list!
     
  7. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    Agreed. Mark you've done a stellar job at reviewing this product- one might think you have shares in the company! You've sold me also as I've been looking at a practical way to water the vegetable patch but I might not be able to use it on the bore water I'll use for it. Anyway thanks for the write up. A great little tool.
     
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  8. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Why?
     
  9. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    Wouldn't the pressure of the bore be too high for the gadget to handle? As it is I need two hoses coming out of the bore to avoid damaging it and it churns out a lot of pressure through each. If it could handle that, then I'd have to keep the bore pump operating all the time; wouldn't that prematurely wear down the pump motor?
     
  10. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Yeah Ash, you don't want this type of solar watering device hooked up to any pressure at all. But, that's not how it works anyway - the solar unit is the actual pump and it draws from a water source such as a tank or even in apartments people use use it to draw from a bucket to water a few plants. So the water storage area can be any size and without pressure.

    Do you have your bore feeding to a storage unit like a tank?

    My bore pump feeds into the 16000 ltr above ground tank (pictured in post 1) - when the tank is full I simply turn the bore pump off. Bore pumps are expensive so I don't run mine constantly to conserve it. If my tank gets down to about half or quarter empty I turn the bore pump on and refill. I used to have a float valve on my tank that automatically shut the water flow off from the bore when the tank was full but it needed replacing so I removed it and couldn't readily find a similar valve but then realised I really didn't need it because I see when the tank is full and switch the pump off anyway...

    The tank then irrigates my property via a cheap water pump I got from Bunnings - it does a good job, can pump 3 or 4 hoses at once, and cost under 200 with a 2 year unconditional warranty so if it fails (like mine did after 12 months) I just swap for another one!

    It seems like double handling to have a storage tank from a bore but I reckon it's an easier system to run for irrigation purposes on a backyard setup like mine.
     
  11. Nemesis034

    Nemesis034 Active Member Premium Member

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    Mark,

    Really good set up and explanation.
    With regards to the outflow after the pump is it just one line with all the drippers connected to it?
     
  12. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Thanks!

    Not really... The demonstration diagram that comes with the unit shows one straight line with 12 - 24 drippers evenly spaced off it, but I have one line that services the first 7 pots (in the image at the top) and then it branches off to feed into the mini seed raising area (12 drippers), and then finally on the other side I have the remaining 5 drippers on the rectangle planters - 24 drippers all up. So not exactly one true line with 24 drippers more like 3 lines back to the one.

    I'm going to knock up a video on the set-up soon so when I do I'll post it here :)
     
  13. Nemesis034

    Nemesis034 Active Member Premium Member

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    Thanks Mark
     
  14. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    No, I have it freely standing - just has two standard tap outlets to hook up hoses to it, but if I had to top up our water tanks I'd have to feed two hoses out of the bore (apparently to prevent the bore hole from rupturing if the pump led to only one hose line, as the previous owners did) for about 100m, then join the two hoses into one for a further 80m or so into the tanks.
     
  15. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    So your bore must be quite a distance from where it's needed then? Do you water around the house with it?

    You could run a length of 25 mil poly irritation pipe to a tap (or three) at the house or vegetable garden. Or, run the poly to the tank and irrigate from that. Just hire a trench digger they're pretty easy to operate.
     
  16. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    Yeah Mark, for now it is not being used, and I'd like to test the water first before I start to use it on the fruit trees and new verge patch. I gave it a taste and I'm not sure if it's brackish or it's just earthy. Anyway, I did have an experience with a trench digger to get the solar set up finally finished. Very costly, so next time I need a trench I'll definitely hire one. I'll give the poly pipe set up a go once I think about how the orchard should be irrigated. Thanks for the tip Mark.
     
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  17. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    You'll have no trouble operating it - it took me just a few minutes to get the hang of a trench digger it's like operating a lawn mower.

    That'll be a good fun project Ash.
     
  18. Ash

    Ash Valued Member Premium Member

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    I'd like to think of it being fun also, though being the first time doing anything handy like that I'll be a little stressed at the start. Halfway in I might get the hang of it, then at the end I might start to enjoy it...
     
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  19. Letsgokate

    Letsgokate Valued Member Premium Member GOLD

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    Like the idea of this. Will re look at this when we are ready to set up automatic watering. Until then this little bunny is doing any watering required. :)
     
  20. Mark

    Mark Founder Staff Member

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    Here's an update pic on the plants growing on the tank as you can see they're going very well! The eggplants are HUGE and are starting to flower so obviously the irrigation system is doing the job - thumbs up so far.

    eggplants groing on take solar water system irrigatia.jpg
     
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