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Solar Stock Tank

PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 7:03 pm
by mannytheseacow
Finally have some internet again and can share some photos. Here's the latest project I've been working on. This is my first year overwintering larger livestock and I'm totally dreading keeping them fed and watered over the winter. I have to buy feed and I'll be damned if I'm plugging in a heated waterer or buying propane for it.

I found this idea on the builditsolar site and modified it for my goats. Apparently it has been used in Minnesota, Canada, and yes, even Northern Illinois so I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

Pretty much just a superinsulated box built around your stock tank with a lid and small hole for access. One side is left open and covered with solar glazing (and pointed south, of course). Since I built my building with a solar envelope design I"ve got the perfect location for this thing and hoping it works well. I kept the size small enough that I can replentish it every day or two which should also protect it from freezing.
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During testing I stuck a thermometer in the inner chamber and it was sitting at 120*F that day. The outside temp was 50*F, for a net gain of 70*F. Pretty good. We'll see how that heats water when it's -10.
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And here's the finished product (with wet paint):
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I tried to keep the hole closest to the back corner so they can reach down in. There is 4" of insulation all the way around so even with full water, they have quite a reach to get down in there.

I salvaged what I could for this project but did incur some costs:
$8.97 Gallon of flat black paint
$9.49 1/4 sheet of 6mm solar glazing
$5.76 2 2x4x8'
$14.49 1/2 sheet of 2" R-10 Foamboard
$9.74 1/2 sheet of 1 1/2" R-7 Foamboard
$9.65 1 sheet of 1/2" OSB
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Total cost: $58.10

I had a galvanized stock tank, the old yellow plastic flower pot, and some treated 1x6 decking laying around. Obviously, the only thing that needs to be black is the inside of the heat chamber and front side of the stock tank, but I did the math and the gallon of paint was way cheaper than buying by the quart so the whole thing ended up being black. It won't hurt anything, and besides, black is cool anyway.

Re: Solar Stock Tank

PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 9:44 pm
by matt walker
Nice one Manny, I imagine that should stay thawed through most of the worst of it. Such a neat system, I almost wish I had a need for such a thing. Almost.

Re: Solar Stock Tank

PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 5:10 pm
by mannytheseacow
I should have seen this coming but what I appear to have done is create a $58 stool for the goats to stand on so they can be even more elevated when they pee. They enjoy head butting it, too. Pricks.

So far so good, though. Some temps in the 20s and no sign of freeze. Still have some warm daytime temps, too.

Re: Solar Stock Tank

PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:17 pm
by matt walker
Hmmm, yeah, that's a problem. Just a thought, you know how I like to design systems. Here's my idea....what if you put a couple bullets into the goats? It's a simple design, but would probably solve most of your issues. :lol:




I'm sorry man, you know I kid. Just, ugh, goats. Of all the animals you could keep.

Re: Solar Stock Tank

PostPosted: Sun Nov 02, 2014 6:29 pm
by hpmer
mannytheseacow wrote:I should have seen this coming but what I appear to have done is create a $58 stool for the goats to stand on so they can be even more elevated when they pee. They enjoy head butting it, too. Pricks.


I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants. And I don't even know much about goats.

I wonder if the tank will heat the water up enough that you'd be able to keep the top completely open? Maybe seal it up around the top of the sides? Then they'd probably just get in there and pee in the water. Never mind....

Re: Solar Stock Tank

PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 2:42 am
by mannytheseacow
matt walker wrote: Just a thought, you know how I like to design systems. Here's my idea....what if you put a couple bullets into the goats?


All in due time, my friend. All in due time.

Man, you really hate goats, huh? They actually crack me up. They're totally amusing. I like systems, too. Especially social systems and I learn a lot about people from watching my animals. The great thing about goats is there is no class or pomp and circumstance, no regard for manners or hidden agendas. They're just full if piss and vinegar.

It takes a special situation for keeping the little bastards, too. They can totally wreck a place. But they've done a lot of work for me and I've got a lot of jobs already lined up next year to have them clear areas. A couple people even want my buck to breed their does. My sheep are so much easier, but no personality. Their so nice I don't even want to butcher them, and they're so picky. The goats will clear any vegetation and they're such jerks that they have the butchering coming to them. Besides, I like goat better than lamb anyday. I can do lamb once in a while but I never get sick of goat.

Re: Solar Stock Tank

PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 5:08 am
by matt walker
Ha! No, I mean, yes, I mean....well, I don't actually hate goats. I do think they are delicious, and I do appreciate all the good they can do in systems, and I too really actually enjoy their mischievousness, as long as I don't have to deal with it. I watched your clearing with goats video, and I was impressed. I just don't have what it takes to bear down on them, as far as managing that mischief. The people I know who do well with goats have pretty focused systems, like yours. Small, tight containment areas and a fairly interactive management style. I just know they aren't for me, but mostly I like to kid about how masochistic it can seem at times to keep them. I sure hope you don't take it too personally when I joke around about them. And yeah, the sheep are boring as heck, which works well for me since I just like to look at the animals from a long distance away and interact with them as little as possible.

.....and on top of all that, you can laugh at my hypocrisy whenever I talk like that. You've met my dogs, you know what I deal with day in and day out...goats would be a quiet, calm relaxing vacation compared to this crew.

Re: Solar Stock Tank

PostPosted: Mon Nov 03, 2014 12:56 pm
by mannytheseacow
I was laughing all the way, Matt. Don't worry, I didn't take it personally. And I didn't think your dogs were much of a handful either. No worse than the zoo around my house. Sheesh, I have to watch socks like a hawk so he doesn't snap at any stranger that happens by. Not that he could hurt them if he tried.

At some point it will get colder and I'll have some updates on the water tank to return this to a heating and cooling thread.

Re: Solar Stock Tank

PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2016 3:42 pm
by mannytheseacow
I wanted to follow up on how this solar stock tank has worked out. Or rather... lack thereof. It has been a total failure. Now it works good as a giant doorstop. I'm not sure if the ones for larger livestock might work; It seems some people on the net have used them in cold climates for horses and cattle, which may visit the waterer more often to keep the ice off the surface?

Anybody out there is interested in this solar stock tank for smaller livestock it totally doesn't work. I've tried a lot of arrangements on it and spent way too much time and money trying to get it to work. Bottom line: huge failure.

Re: Solar Stock Tank

PostPosted: Sat Jan 16, 2016 4:04 pm
by pa_friendly_guy
It seems that we have a Learning Experience here. :o We can all learn something from all the work and effort you put into making it work. Knowing what NOT to do is just as important as knowing what to do. Thanks for eliminating that mistake so that we won't make it again. You saved us all a lot of time effort and money, Thanks.