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Moveable Greenhouse Goes Solar
Four Season's moveable high tunnel greenhouse was featured in a recent FARM SHOW (Vol. 33, No. 3). They've now been updated with solar panels so they can be automated off-grid.
"The solar unit is really working well," says George DeVault, Seed Savers Exchange, Decorah, Iowa. "We used a moveable high tunnel this fall for the first time drying sunflower heads. The solar units powered thermal controlled side panels and roof peak vents as needed," says DeVault.
The two 120-watt solar panels provide more than enough power, says Mike Bollinger, Four Season Tools. "One panel would probably be enough, but this was our first unit, and we wanted to be sure there would be sufficient power even if conditions were cloudy for 10 to 12 days," he explains.
He notes that while the side panels could be dropped manually, the roof vent would be more difficult to operate without power.
The $3,500 upgrade (over the normal $6,000 price of a 30 by 38-ft. moveable high tunnel) includes both side panels, a lightning arrestor, inverter box and battery storage. It also includes a standard 120 plug-in as backup.
Bollinger says the solar panel power unit is only one of several innovations being added. "We're working on a track system to use instead of our current skids or wheels on pipe," says Bollinger. "The tracks are 10 in. wide and made out of 1/8-in. material. An owner will be able to lay down track and anchor it to the ground. The high tunnel will then anchor to the track." With Four Season's current setup, the moveable high tunnel is anchored directly to the ground.
"The track will make the high tunnels even easier to move," says Bollinger. "Each high tunnel will come with two sets of track, one for use in the initial position and a second set to be laid ahead for the first move. Two people will be able to easily move a 30 by 48-ft. high tunnel by hand with the track in place."
Bollinger expects the track units to be priced close to the current pipe and skid systems.
Bollinger reports continued high interest in the movable greenhouses, especially among home gardeners. They have sold a lot of 16 by 24-ft. units. Interest is also building in the Coop Hoop units like Jeff and Alethea Bahnck developed (Vol. 33, No. 5).
Final specifications are being worked out, but will be open to modification. Bollinger reports one customer wants to use a unit for chickens through the fall and winter and switch to transplants in early spring. "We have tons of ideas and are just waiting for customers who want to try them," he says.
Schools are also showing a lot of interest with four projects underway. "We are working with a school in Mass. where the students are growing food for use in the cafeteria," says Bollinger.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Four Season Tools, 602 Westport Rd., Kansas City, Mo. 64111 (ph 816 444-7330; info@fourseasontools.com; www.fourseasontools.com).

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2009 - Volume #33, Issue #6