The Living Room Farm /



Catch the Sun

If we were to live for a hundred years, we would surely return from a world very different than the one we entered. Here is an exciting compilation to support that point.

Build a list of things that changed in your life, and you will surely have least one energy-related entry. If there is no energy-related item in your inventory, then you are too young for this article.

Catching the sun for something more than Vitamin D.

With nothing more than a mud road connection to our farm, it was constraints over consciousness that got us to consider alternate energy.

Once the hype of solar energy wore off, we realized that it was indeed a costly proposition. This lead to prolonged due diligence, after weeks of deliberation our solar energy project finally takes off. Here is our story.

While the solar panels are a most visible representation of the solar power, it is just a tip of the iceberg. A typical solar pump has three components: a pump, variable frequency drive (VFD) and panels. VFD is the heart of solar solution. It converts AC to DC and also ensures consistent voltage in the output, without which the pumps will go through massive stress as the light intensity varies.

Next component is a submersible pump, watch it disappear into the depths of the tube well.

In a typical installation, the panels are placed within 50 meters of the Borewell. We have two borewells about 1500 meters apart that need to be serviced by a centrally located panel.

To avoid external interference during transmission we chose underground wire. While laying the cable we experienced what we usually encounter in cities when utility companies dig up the roads.

It is a recognition that our roads are not just for passage of vehicle but also a conduit for transmitting water, sewage, electricity and communication. Once we had the wires nicely tucked underground we got a diesel generator to test the motors and ensure the wiring is fine.

Once the pump testing was complete it was time to fire up the VFD and unleash the solar energy.  First pump worked to our satisfaction...

But the second pump which worked well with generator would not start when connected to VFD. Since the motor was drawing power but not pumping we suspected that VFD was doing a slow start which was not sufficient to jump start the motor. It needed a jolt! On the advice of the pump expert, we got a diesel generator again that resembled Marty McFly's time machine from Back to Future.

We operated the pump until the pump became smooth, starting and stopping multiple times to ensure it could have a smooth start. Next, we connected the pump to VFD and this time it fired up, much to our relief.

Solar power enabled us to be completely off grid.

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