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Friendly Aquaponics Newsletter
Number 70
January 25th, 2012
Images from our farmily aquaponics farm
Aloha Friend,


This is the Friendly Aquaponics Solar Greenhouse at the end of the day on January 21st, with the PV panels installed (photovoltaic panels, they are solar panels that make electricity to run the greenhouse). The panels are in the down position, but are normally tilted up to catch the sun at exactly a 90-degree angle so they can be adjusted to be most efficient at different times of the year. The hardware that allows you to tile the panels like this is called a "single-axis tracking mount", and is VERY easy to implement when the panels are inside a greenhouse covered with ETFE film. This tracking mount is not only super-cheap to install ($42 for four panels compared to $1,600 or so for an "outdoors" single-axis tracking mount for four panels), but also puts the panels INSIDE the greenhouse, where they are protected from hail and rocks by the ETFE cover on the greenhouse.

In the summertime, the heat the dark-colored panels generate goes directly out the 12"-wide full-length roof vent that is located just behind the panels on the BIG wall side (difficult to see at the angle this picture was taken). On cold days in the wintertime, the vent is closed, and the heat the panels generate stays inside the greenhouse, helping to keep it warm.


Our friend and intern Daniel installing one of the PV panels' tracking mount. The panel is angled so that it's surface is 90 degrees to the noonday rays of the January sun, making for maximum output of electricity at this time of year. In the summer, the panel will be adjusted so that it is nearly horizontal, and again, it will be at 90 degrees to the noonday sun and providing maximum power.

We've extended the 50%
discount on ALL the February trainings for the entire registration period (until the courses start). The purpose of this is to make it as affordable as possible for as many as possible to attend these courses. If you've already registered, thank you for helping support this work.

If you're interested in
learning about our new Solar Greenhouse technology, please take a look at our Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training (Special Offer in right sidebar of this email), where you will learn more about how to grow affordably using aquaponics in greenhouses than you can anywhere else in the world. The FIRST training is in Hawaii in February 2012. For smaller home backyard and apartment systems, please read on:
Purchase Construction Plans and Operating Info for 4 Different Sizes of Apartment/Condo Aquaponics Systems $49.95

Our Apartment/Condo System package includes new and easy-to-understand building instructions and complete operating information for 4 different sizes of small aquaponic systems based on our years of experience operating a commercial aquaponics farm. 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!

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 Apartment/Condo Systems!

Aquaponics Nugget #70:
A Primer On Sustainable Energy-Efficient Greenhouses, Part 10

This column is an ongoing series on how to understand, build, and operate energy-efficient greenhouses. If you missed the previous newsletters in this series, you can click here: "Back Issues Of Newsletters" to read them first, because understanding all the concepts previously presented is essential to understanding how the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse works.

In the last "Nugget" in this series (in our newsletter #69), we discussed how to provide cooling and backup cooling for the aquaponics water in our greenhouse in the summer. Unfortunately there are no simple, energy efficient methods for providing backup cooling as there are simple methods for providing backup heating in the wintertime.

There are alternate methods that can be employed if you are fortunate enough to find yourself with additional alternate energy sources besides the sun. If you are on a stream that flows in the summertime, you have a boundless source of electrical energy that can be tapped with a simple and inexpensive hydroelectric generator; the electricity can then simply be used to run an air conditioner. If you are located near a ridge or hilltop that has a nearly-constant wind of over 15 mph, you can install a decently sized electric wind turbine that will also generate enough energy to create some serious air conditioning in the summertime.

Air conditioning a conventional greenhouse is an inefficient and costly use of energy, primarily because conventional greenhouses are so poorly insulated that you lose much of the cold you paid for very quickly when you have to exhaust this cool air as it heats up. However, air conditioning an Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse is a much better deal economically speaking, because it is so well insulated that you keep the cold in, due to the fact that you put the cold into the water instead of trying to put it into the air (where you will lose it quickly).

Also, you would use a heat exchanger to put the cold into the aquaponics water, not into the air (as conventional greenhouse air conditioners do). As you know from previous Nuggets, the water is a great thermal mass that tends to hold its heat or cold and give it up grudgingly. If you put cold into the water, the plants stay cool, and the air inside the greenhouse (which heats up in ANY kind of greenhouse in the summer), can be exhausted quickly and frequently, thereby transferring heat outside the greenhouse while at the same time transferring a minimum of the cold (that you've paid for) outside at the same time. This is a huge energy savings, and keeps the inside of the greenhouse cool for a fraction of the cost of doing so with a conventional greenhouse where you try to cool he air.


The Friendly farm's current crew of interns in the Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse, with Tim (in yellow shirt) writing something on his clipboard (his BRAIN, LOL!). You can imagine how cool air will come in the long narrow vents above the trough to the left, move up the curve of the ETFE along the path of the curved beams as it heats up (and rises, right?)
, then passes out the full-length vent at the top of the wall to the right (still to be installed in this photo from last week). This system moves the hot air out of the greenhouse FAST, and keeps the inside of the greenhouse COOL.

We'll talk about the photovoltaic system, charge controller, inverter, and cabling installation in next week's newsletter.

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Franz Schreier's FIRST Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse in full bloom, Heppenheim, Germany, 2011, showing lamellae PV panels and growing plants!

Click Here To See Our New Aquaponics Video!
Back Issues Of Newsletters Now Available, Click Here!
Purchase Trough Liner Directly From Manufacturer!
Free Farm Tours

We hold a free workshop on our farm the FIRST Saturday of every month,  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!


3-1/2 pound kalo (taro root) grown in a 2" net pot (little bump at bottom)


4-month old prawn (macrobrachium rosenbergii) grown in hydroponics troughs of our aquaponics systems

Special Offer! We've decided to extend the 50% discount for our February 16th-17th Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training and ALL of our Aquaponics Trainings for the entire registration period, right up to when the courses start.

Sign up now, and receive the 50% discount, plus we will email you our Micro System package so you can begin studying aquaponics! ($99.95 value)

More Information on Hawaii Aquaponic Solar Greenhouse Training

In The Farmily
Last week we had just gotten the upstairs toilet installed and plumbed in the master bedroom, and we no longer needed to make the long walk through the sea of mud to the outhouse. This was really luxury living!

Of course, we kept the outhouse around until we got the second toilet in the house installed, because if the one toilet was occupied, we wanted options!.

We got the last pieces of roofing and flashing installed, and the house was dry in a few days. This was also greatly appreciated by the family members who had spent the last year wading around in an inch of water inside the house when it rained. How we solved it? We bought THICK slippers that got us up above the water level, and walked SLOOWLY when walking in a puddle so we didn't splash it up our pants legs.

Now, with the house closed-in, we started installing electrical wiring and the rest of the plumbing in the walls. This was a long boring phase where it looked like nothing happened, even though we seemingly worked for weeks.  After the wiring and plumbing was done, we went on to do the exterior sheathing. We thought about doing the drywall inside first, but when the wind really blew and it was raining at the same time, water would still come in around the windows and exterior doors. This would have ruined any drywall we put on the inside, so the sheathing came next.

This was when we found out that our neighbors had actually been paying attention to the progress on the house. The way the house looked outside hadn't changed much in two years, because all the work we'd done was on the inside. As soon as we started installing the exterior sheathing, we heard from a neighbor at a party "I thought you had given up, and were just living in it".

This is because the outside of the house had been weathered raw plywood for almost 2 years while we worked on the roof and the inside of the house, When we finished the outside sheathing and then painted it
about two months later, we had people congratulating us on "finishing" our house. Unfortunately, we still had months more of work to do: drywalling, painting, semicircular stairways (2 of them), finish carpentry, cabinets, plumbing fixtures, ceilings, light fixtures, floor tile, and a punch list four pages long of additional stuff. We didn't have any spare time to get into mischief, that's for sure.

Thanks for listening!
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This email, our manuals and construction plans are all copyrighted by  Friendly Aquaponics, Inc, Susanne Friend and Tim Mann, 2008-2011

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PO Box 1196
Honoka'a, Hawaii 96727

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