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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 134
August 27th,  2013
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend

In t
oday's "Nugget",
we continue our long awaited and oft-requested series on "Alternate Energy For Your Aquaponics System". If you want to be more energy self sufficient (even if you don't have an aquaponics system yet), this information will be extremely valuable to you. You might like to read Part 1 of this series ,
Part 2 of this series and Part 3 of this series first to catch up, if you haven't yet done so.

Our "In The Farmily" column today is about martial arts in the Farmily!

Aquaponics Nugget #134, Part 4: Alternate Energy Systems For Aquaponics


Wrapping It Up And Tying It All Together:

 

Remember how in Part 2 of this series, we defined that the “most important” thing about electricity is what it costs you? Well, the most important thing about an alternate energy system is also what it costs you, both in money and time to maintain and repair. Here’s a look at what some common alternate energy systems cost, compared to each other, with pros and cons of each type.

 

When we did a “thumbnail cost comparison” of the different types of alternate energy systems available for our farm, we looked for a system that could provide a minimum of 4 kilowatts, 24 hours a day; this is about what we’re using now (we normally have 15 people living on the farm plus 5,500 square feet of aquaponics system to power, plus walkin fridges, icemaker, etc).


We settled on a system that would provide a steady 10 kilowatts, 24 hours a day; or 240 kilowatthours per day; this system would be certain to provide the 4 kw we needed plus some room for expansion in the future. In Hawaii, simply purchasing this amount of electricity from the electric utility costs about $106 per day, or $38,540 per year; so this was no small system.

 

You can use these approximate numbers and “scale” them up or down to get an idea of what your system might cost. Example: if you need a system of 3 kw total capacity, just multiply our numbers by 30% (ours is a 10 kw system). These are the approximate costs we found for the different types of systems:

 

1. A grid-tied PV panel system costs $122-225,000 (depending on how you purchase or lease it, and who does the installation work; us or a professional installer). Add from 25-40% to this cost to turn this into an off-grid system.

 

Pros: Clean, no moving parts, longevity (usually come w/ 25-year guarantees), low maintenance (except if it’s an off-grid system, then the batteries need careful maintenance to last) and somewhat of a status symbol.

 

Cons: Most expensive of all alternate energy systems, and the grid-tied version is totally dependent on, and cannot function without the grid. If the grid goes off, you have no power! Somewhat vulnerable to hail, completely vulnerable to tornadoes and hurricanes (can often be totally destroyed by them!).

 

2. A grid-tied wind generator costs $65,000 with no installation costs included  (this could easily run another $20,000 for the contractor).
Again, add from 25-40% to this cost to turn this into an off-grid system.

 

Pros: Provides power in locations with poor sun but good wind.

 

Cons: No wind, no power. Too much wind, turbine blows up. In between? Noisy: whap whap whap alla time. You don’t want to install them near the house because of the noise, but also because they occasionally “blow up” and come apart quite impressively, throwing shrapnel for hundreds of feet. They’re the most maintenance, the most cranky, the most problem-prone alternate energy systems I’ve worked with (a long time ago, in another galaxy, I used to design electric wind turbines). If you want to see something impressive, look at “wind turbine disasters” on YouTube.

 

3. An off (or on-grid) biogas-powered diesel generator (biogas is methane, made from manure, etc.) costs around $25,000, with another $6-8,000 in installation costs from a professional (this is the system we are installing, and we will have more complete information available on it this winter).

 

Pros: It doesn’t matter if there is no sun or no wind; you can still generate electricity. The methane is going to be generated anyway by the manure decaying out in the field, and when it makes its way up into the atmosphere, that methane has from 50 to 120 times the greenhouse effect of carbon dioxide. When you burn the methane in a diesel generator, it emits carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and water vapor; and the greenhouse effect from these exhaust gases is only 25% of that the original methane would have had simply by evaporating out of the cow poo in the field. Funny, that you can burn something and things get cleaner!

 

Cons: To generate 10 kw on a steady basis, you need to source about 2 tons of some kind of decaying organic matter per week. We'll need almost a ton a week just to make our 3 kw on a consistent basis. You need to transport the "stuff" to your biodigester from a distant location if you do not “make” it on your farm, then it needs to be ground up to as small a size as possible to make it work in the digester.


Then there’s the smell. You need to have (or be) a diesel engine mechanic; you also need to put a new engine into the generator about every 5 years of running 24/7, as well as regular maintenance on the electric generator part of the unit. There is not much information about small installations such as this; most existing installations are large, and start in the $300,000 and up range.

 

4. Hydroelectric generators had hugely variable costs from around $3,200-18,000, depending on manufacturer and whether or not it came with a grid-tie inverter. Small hydroelectric generators are a relatively new phenomenon, and there is not as much information available about them as about PV panels and wind generators.

 

Pros: It is possible to source them inexpensively, especially if you are a do-it-yourselfer. Makes tons of electricity for very little maintenance and original investment.

 

Cons: You must be on a year-round stream (with sufficient water flow all the time) to have year-round power. If the stream stops or slows down, the power stops or slows down. Do you ever have droughts in your area? That could be a problem.


(Next newsletter series will revisit our Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Technology, with tips on how to make your own greenhouse more efficient, even if you never purchase any of our offerings! Thanks for listening!)


(Below) Tim with part of the Hawaii Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse's alternate energy system; the PV panels are outside (in the sun, yeah!). You can see the charge controller (black box at top), the inverter (black box below that), the combiner box (upper right, where the multiple cables from the PV panels combines into a single set of larger cables leading to the charge controller), battery charge indicator (little flat black rectangle), and DC breaker panel (black box to the right of the inverter). Roll-up white plastic cover is so that all this BLACK equipment doesn't cook inside the greenhouse. See why we say: "Hire a professional!"
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For smaller home backyard and apartment systems, please read on:

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Purchase Construction Plans and Operating Info for 4 Different Sizes of Table Top Aquaponics Systems $49.95

Our TableTop System package includes easy-to-understand building instructions and operating information for 4 different sizes of small aquaponic systems based on our years of experience. Anyone can build a system out of plastic barrels or IBC totes, but operating one successfully without good and easily-understood information can be frustrating. You simply use the "Daily Operations Checklist" in the manual and follow the step-by-step instructions on your way to success. We also cover how to make aquaponics systems out of weird things like old refrigerators and door frames; this makes aquaponics much more economical to get started in, and fun too!

We spent hundreds of thousands of dollars, hundreds of hours, and built our first commercial aquaponics systems with FAR less information than this manual contains. We included all the information learned from that experience in this manual so you don't need to make any of the same mistakes we did.

Learn about our TableTop Systems!

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Friendly September 2013 Commercial Aquaponics Training Schedule: Tennessee:


These Tennessee trainings are $1,495 per person for five days of the most comprehensive and profitable Commercial Aquaponics and energy efficient Solar Greenhouse technology on the planet. If you can't wait until September to learn about profitable commercial aquaponics, check out our Personal Intensive trainings in Hawaii.


SPECIAL OFFER: First 25 registrations will receive 50 tilapia fingerlings, a $100 value (shipping not included). Register before September 1st and you are automatically entered in a drawing to win a COMPLETE 64 square foot backyard Micro System. This includes everything you need to get started (just add fish, media and seeds; shipping not included). This is an $1,800 value, and the course only costs $1,495.


(Below) Tim drinking water from one of Randy and Katie's aquaponics systems at a previous Tennessee training. "I've been drinking this for six years; it's the reason I absolutely know the food from these systems is safe and healthy" (Tim).  TimWaterDrinkingNugget


First 5-day  training: September 23rd-27th (register here for first Tennessee training). Second 5-day training: September 30th-October 4th (register here for Tennessee second training).

(Click here for more information on Tennessee trainings).

These five-day trainings allow you to travel during the weekend so that you only need to take a week off your busy life to attend.

Both of these five-day trainings include our $999 DIY Commercial Aquaponics package, $998 DIY Farmer's Market Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse package, and new $295 DIY Commercial Tilapia Hatchery manual as course materials, plus our Plywood/Epoxy/ Tank manual, CAD construction drawings for all greenhouses and aquaponics systems, and much more!


(Below) Randy and Tim showing attendees at the Tennessee training how easy it is to use a DO (dissolved oxygen) meter to measure oxygen levels in the vegetable troughs.

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If you're located near Tennessee, Randy and Katie give regular free farm tours of their aquaponics systems and greenhouses to introduce the public to the benefits of aquaponics and energy-efficient greenhouse growing. Call Randy and Katie at 256-679-9488 or email Randy to find out when the next farm tour is scheduled.


Our Affiliate Program:

For those of you who aren't yet aware of our Affiliate programs, here's the deal: we're the ONLY aquaponics professionals who teach our students how to teach aquaponics, AND let them use our manuals (under license) to teach others with. In fact, there are two Micro System trainings being given by our affiliates right now (see sidebar). If you read below the turquoise box in the middle of the newsletter, you'll see that we also encourage and work with "Commercial" level affiliates to teach our Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Trainings. No other aquaponics teachers offer this, but you can partner with us to do so if you wish!


More details of the Aquaponics Technology course here.


More details of the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse course here.


More details of the Commercial Aquaponics course here.


(Below) Randy and Katie's Chinese-style Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse in Tennessee in the February snow, 2013. 70 degrees inside and you had to take your coat off when working with the vegetables!

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(Below) Our Farmily with our product in a "Big Box" store; the first time ever that a little mom and pop (Aquaponics!) farm took an account away from a multimillion dollar agribusiness. You'll see more of this, because you as consumers will demand it!

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The Friendly  Aquaponics Way Video!
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Back Issues Of Newsletters Now Available, Click Here!
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Trough Liner Distributors:
West Coast USA
East Coast USA


Click here for Trout fry and fingerlings directly from the hatchery to you!


Free Farm Tours
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Aquaponics tour at the Friendly farm!

We hold a free workshop on our farm the FIRST Saturday of every month at 10:00,  focused on growing food with aquaponics and permaculture.  Click here for information. See you there!

If you are a school, a non-profit organization, an organization working with the poor, Native Hawaiians, or ex-inmates, or if you are a church, we will hold a free farm tour for you anytime. You DO need to email us first to schedule, or we might be out on errands!


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Thousands of inch-long "fifty-cent" baby tilapia from our "backyard" hatchery



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What they turn into about a year later: a beautiful 2-pound white tilapia grown in the fish tanks of our aquaponics systems


SPECIAL OFFER: For a FREE MICRO SYSTEM! (yes, the whole SYSTEM, an $1,800 value!):


Sign yourself up for the FIRST


Or sign yourself up for the SECOND

TENNESSEE September 2013 Commercial Aquaponics and Solar Greenhouse Trainings
NOW, and enter the drawing for the FREE $1,800 Micro System. Plus, you ALSO receive a free Micro System DIY package so you can begin studying aquaponics, as soon as you register! ($99.95 value)


Also: Micro System Classes!

Join Ben and Alicia Godfrey at Sand Creek Farm in Cameron, Texas for a Micro System training! Call Ben or Alicia directly at 254-697-2927, or email them to sign up for this course. You can visit their website here to see a list of all the other cool classes they offer!

Join David Lindemann in Melbourne, Florida, in one of his Micro System classes: Call David directly at 321-604-6684, or email him to sign up for this course. You can visit David's website here for details of the class and to see all the other cool things he's doing!

Join Kevin Crawford in Longmont, Colorado, in one of his Micro System classes: Call Kevin directly at 720-363-5069, or email him to sign up for this course.

These Texas, Florida, and Colorado one-day live trainings use our $100 Micro System DIY manual as coursebook, and are a real deal!

Also, for a great two day Basic Aquaponics Course, attend Sahib Punjab's Backyard and Small Urban Farming class in Orlando, FL, on the 7th and 8th of September. Sahib's goal in his workshop is to empower you to grow your own food naturally, right in your own backyard.

Visit Sahib's website  for more information.


In The Farmily:


The Farmily does martial arts! Thirteen years ago, before I met Susanne (the backbone of Friendly Aquaponics!) in 2000, I did Kendo (a full-contact Japanese martial art practiced with bamboo and wooden swords and protective gear), for four years, and continued after we met and were married.

One day in 2004, my Kendo Sensei (teacher) told me he would be moving to another island in the State of Hawaii and I would be taking over the dojo (practice center) as the new sensei. I spluttered "I'm not ready, I'm not a sensei, sensei!". He just smiled and said "I'm sure you'll do fine".

The measure of how well you've learned anything is in how well you can teach it to others. I realized that the first few weeks I tried to teach, and wished I'd paid more attention to how Sensei was teaching me rather than what he was teaching me.

I got better (I think), and soon our small dojo had ten to twelve students, mostly high-school age. It was fun to not only teach kids how to hit an adult over the head with a stick, but teach them how to do it excellently, without getting hit back themselves, all with the indomitable "spirit of kendo".

Susanne had Jack (now 12), then Lucky (now 10), then joined our kendo dojo in 2004 and practiced with us until she was eight months pregnant with Rose. After giving birth to Rose in March 2005, she took a one-month break. When she resumed kendo practice, she had a nursing baby, and was co-teaching the dojo with me as sempai (senior student).

When we were finishing our house back in 2007, we had to shut the dojo down, because we just didn't have the income to allow us to spare that much time away from work. We're looking for a good location that isn't too expensive to start the dojo up in again.

In the meantime, Jack and Lucky started taking a kids Aikido class at our local Aikido dojo, and are really doing well there. Our intern Cory started taking Brazilian Jiu Jitsu at a local dojo, lost weight, gained skills and significant muscle mass, and convinced Victor (18 years, 6'-2", 230 lbs) to come with him.

The idea was that Victor would get buffed and then be irresistible to girls (major item of interest to 18-year-olds). Then Susanne started going to practices there, and she talked me into it 

Tonight is my first night at BJJ practice; I'm probably going to come home sore. Actually, I'll probably be fine when I come home, but really sore tomorrow. I'll let you know next week in the newsletter.

Aloha, Tim....

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This email, our manuals and construction plans are all copyrighted by  Friendly Aquaponics, Inc, Susanne Friend and Tim Mann, 2008-2013

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