Instructables

Non-solar, non-mains power in the garden?

Looking for advice on low-tech ways of solving a prob, hope someone can help.

I really want to create a very small waterfall in my mini-garden, maybe 6” at the most. 

I can’t use solar power, as my tiny garden only gets about an hour or so of direct sun around noon (I found out that less then direct sun doesn‘t work; I have a floor-standing 4-bowl cascade that stops the instant a shred of cloud gets in the way).

I can’t have mains electricity outside, partly because most of the area is paved and I can’t get the cables safely out of the way; I could get cable around the wall, but it’d have to go round three walls to get it where I need it, and I’m not sure about having the cable overhead.

I’ve been searching for some time for some kind of power-pack that I could charge up on the mains, then plug into the feature; I don’t think household batteries would run for very long, I was thinking of something with a bit more punch.

Either they don’t make anything like this, or I’ve not yet been able to find the right keywords to track it down; I get untold pages of “solar power” options. 

So, basically, people, I’m asking: is there such a thing, or anything that would solve my prob?  I’d have to buy a tiny pump and all the rest of the stuff, but if I can’t power it, what’s the point?

Some background:
I’m visually impaired, so intricate work is out of the question;
I’m not so much low-tech as no-tech; my only power tool is a small cordless drill/screwdriver;  I’m not confident about messing with electricity
I live in rented accommodation so I can’t do too much to the structure (ie get the paving lifted and cables put under them, or even running round the walls)

Toga_Dan1 year ago
I'm reviving the thread to ask: any progress on this project?
HelenaTroy (author)  Toga_Dan1 year ago
smiles, thanks Dan. I asked my handyman about it, he says it's very possible and he's going to do some checking for me, which size battery would be best etc. Tell the truth, I forgot to remind him about it since, now you've jogged me, I'll jog him.
Thanks much!
bernie3081 year ago
What about a charger, a couple of 12 volt 7 amp hour sealed lead acid batteries and a 12 volt pump?  Batteries should last for 4-5 years.

Pumps will draw less than half an amp so it could run approx. 14 hours.  2 batteries and you should never run then right down.  The chargers are about $10, batteries are about $20 and the pumps are a little less.  

2 batteries, charger, and a pump for under $75.

HelenaTroy (author)  bernie3081 year ago
That sounds excellent, thank you! lol I'm a techno-dodo so I'll have to ask my handyman, but it sounds simple and effective, thanks very much
Toga_Dan1 year ago
Does it help you (with your visual impairment) if folk send big text? I see that kite does so.

Re: fear of electricity, 12 Volts isn't to be feared. Nor is 24. The NEC (national electrical code) defines hazardous voltage to be 50V or up, if I recall correctly. When one touches a 12 v source, even one with BIG current potential, one doesn't even feel it !

If you get a pump that runs 12 - 24 v, you don't haveta worry much about zapping yourself. If you  have to route it a long, long way, there might be line losses. You may need wire a bit heavier than you otherwise would.
HelenaTroy (author)  Toga_Dan1 year ago
Thanks a lot, Dan - larger print is helpful - I can zoom right in and read small stuff a few words at a time, but it's easier not to have to!  I've just found the Rich Text tab, but still can't see a font size button, so hope others can read this.

That's the problem with ignorance, or at least lack of knowledge - knowing where to stop fiddling and get someone in who knows what they're doing.  I was especially wary of mains power.

I've followed the link yoiu gave, thanks very much for that.

lol hope I'll be able to post, soon[-ish] that I've found an answer.
I seem to have figured out BOLD text, but not the larger font on this site. Kite seems to know how to do big. KITE, ARE YOU LISTENING? How do you do large font? 

Helena,
What voltage do your mains run, your side of the pond?

As far as fiddling vs. gettin an expert, there's also an art to knowing how much to risk and still be safe.  In other words take the risks that cost a nickel or dime (a few pence) but not yer life.  

What's your favorite hardware store, Helena? u might ask about low volt pumps.




HelenaTroy (author)  Toga_Dan1 year ago
Hi Dan

We’re on 240 volts in the UK.

The ideal would be for me to get someone in and then watch what he does and ask lots of questions – better yet, go to classes and study the subject (which I’d like to, there’s so much I don’t know about so many things).  The only prob is that I’d have to get so close to see what they were doing that I’d really be in the way.

I don’t really have a favourite hardware shop – at least not within reasonable travel distance.  There’s three small high-street-type hardware shops within about twenty minutes, but don’t think any of them would be specialised in the kind of stuff I’d want to know.   The nearest hardware superstore is about two hours away by bus [buses, as I have to change twice] – and one can spend half an hour in that kind of shop just looking for a member of staff!

Hmm, just thought: there’s an aquarium shop literally just round the corner from me (I buy gravel for my plant pots) – they should know about pumps and stuff; different purpose, but a pump’s a pump??

Kiteman, if you could do an Instructable on how to get large text in here I’d vote for it!  I don’t see that option on the Rich Text toolbar; bold and italic, yes.  The only way for me at the moment is to paste comments into Word, and then enlarge them (typing this in Word, which also helps with typos)


While I was checking the UK voltage, found this Wiki page “electricity by country” – here’s the url for anyone who might find trivia interesting!
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mains_electricity_by_country
DOES ALLCAPS HELP YOU READ TEXT?  I'M NOT YELLING, FOLKS... WELL... MAYBE I AM, BUT FOR A REASON. CAN YOU "HEAR ME NOW, HELENA?"

MAYBE YOU COULD BRING BINOCULARS TO SHOP CLASS...

AN AQUARIUM SHOP MIGHT HELP, BUT TELL EM YOU DO WANT SOMETHING THAT IS WEATHER READY.

I SUSPECT THAT LOW VOLT SYSTEMS ARE SIMILAR THERE AS IN THE U.S.  YOU NEED A TRANSFORMER AT THE HOUSE TO BRING VOLTAGE DOWN TO 12 OR 24. THIS WAY THE WIRING IN THE GARDEN ISN'T SCARY. IF YOU ACCIDENTALLY CUT A WIRE WITH YOUR SHOVEL, IT'S NOT A BIG DEAL.

IF YOU HAVE A CELL PHONE, YOU CAN CALL THE BIG BOX STORE WHILE YOU ARE STANDING IN AISLE 12. 


HelenaTroy (author)  Toga_Dan1 year ago
I've tried to answer this four times, let's hope it takes this time!

All caps isn't really helpful, it makes every letter the same size, which makes it harder to read - it's the height and shape of letters that helps to read, and caps means they're all sort of square too.

I asked in my local aquarium shop, he said I need a specialist and he don't know any. Ah well, at least I tried.
Well, I gUess iF it'S imPorTanT eNoUgh tO you, You'LL keeP on tryinG UntiLL SoMeThinG works out.

Although I kinda like to get stuff at a bricks and mortar place, online shopping is an option.

http://www.virtualvillage.com/brushless-water-pump-for-fountain-24v-580ma-009700-067.html?origin=product-search&kwd=%7Bkeyword%7D&source=general

http://compare.ebay.com/like/370636141375?_lwgsi=y&ltyp=AllFixedPriceItemTypes&var=sbar

Looks like these two parts would be most of what you need. Now finding someone local to put em together is a different thing.

HelenaTroy (author)  Toga_Dan1 year ago
Those are brilliant links, thanks much. *s* I'm about the same wherever I shop: I'm not sure what exactly I need, so mostly people can talk me into buying almost anything!

I have a handyman who might, or who might know someone who might, be able to put it together - it's the "it" that's the prob, deciding what to get in the first place.

xx
Toga_Dan1 year ago
Cable protectors for runnin power above pavement:

http://www.emedco.com/best/cable_protectors_driveway
HelenaTroy (author) 2 years ago
Thanks to both of you for your helpful comments. My garden is a tiny patch, ten feet "long" - at the back there's a green with trees all over, so, though it faces east, there's no direct sun until noon, when the sun shines along the block. not sure how tall a pole I'd need, and the people upstarirs might have something to say about it!

I'd need a waterproof cover for any ouside power source: I'm a tad paranoid of water and electicity getting together in unplanned ways - unless one is very lucky one seldom gets the chance to make a second mistake!

I live in Bethnal Green, in the East End [ the nasty wuff bit, not the yuppie bit!]. I'd never thought of asking a local tech college; I was still wondering if there were anything on the market that would fill this gap [lol I give the idea free to anyone who can fill this niche!].


I'll find my local tech colleges and contact them to see if they can offer advice or pracital assistance.

Thanks again to you both

xx
Kiteman2 years ago
As Caitlinsdad says, the solar cell does not have to be integral with the waterfall. You could put it on a pole, or hang it inside a window indoors.

If you don't mind an intermittent flow, you could use a BEAM solar engine - it will spend time trickle-charging a battery, then dump the power through the motor of your pump.

Don't be put off by the apparent complexity - they are fairly easy to bodge together, and you can always get a friend or family member to help with details you cannot discern yourself.

If you have no friends or family capable of helping, you could always approach a local high school, college or university (You don't say which part of London you are in, but there are lots in the wider city) with your problem, and ask their technology or engineering students to solve it for you (students like solving real problems rather than problems made up for them).
caitlinsdad2 years ago
You could detach the solar panel from the pump unit and extend the wires so that the panel could get in the sun by mounting on a pole or other side of the house. Thinner wires could be used and less danger in running low voltage through them.

You could get one of those car battery-jump assist portable units that have a battery built in. They charge plugged into the mains and you could bring that outside to plug your pump in. Not sure how long it would last but definitely a step up from torch batteries. Good luck.