Automatic Gravity Feed Watering System

Ron Niebrugge How to, Photos, Travel Leave a Comment

Finshed water feeder.  The waterhole is down in the wash at the top of the frame.

Finshed water feeder. The waterhole is down in the wash at the top of the frame.

I thought I would share my experience in setting up an automatic, gravity feed watering system as it could be of benefit to other.  I wanted a way to automatically fill a watering hole at the Desert Photo Retreat in Arizona for the wildlife over the summer.  I’m surprised with the popularity of rain barrel collection systems, hydroponics and the like that this wouldn’t be easier.  However, I learned the hard way that most automatic watering timers need a fair amount of pressure.  The popular Rainbird one I purchased needed almost 30 pounds of pressure to operate.  There is one exception, this one made by Toro, however the bad reviews and plastic gears made me nervous.  I did buy the Toro unit and placed it on another tank for watering some plants, something that isn’t as critical, I’ll let you know how it holds up.

So I asked for solutions on Facebook, and received an incredible response.  My friends seem to be much smarter then I am!  🙂  The obvious solution was a pump, but I wanted to avoid a pump in case the tank went dry for some reason, I didn’t want to burn the pump up.  I have enough water to last until August, and I plan to go back and re-fill then, but in case I don’t make it, I don’t want a fried pump.

Someone suggested this electric, always closed solenoid valve.  This way I could add power on a schedule to fill my waterhole.  For a timer, it was suggested a use a Arduino.  Another suggestion was for a Raspberry Pi.  Both good suggestions, and something I could see implementing in the future.  One day I will have year around wifi which would give me the ability to not only monitor the water hole remotely with a webcam, but also control the valve remotely as well.  However, in the interest in time and simplicity, I ultimately went with this simple programmable timer.  The water tanks themselves are IBC totes I purchased on Cragslist.  Note, the of the links are part of a Amazon affiliate program.

The waterline.  It doesn't look like it, but is goes down a fairly steep hill.

The waterline. It doesn’t look like it, but is goes down a fairly steep hill.

The timer.  In a water proof, and hopefully scorpion and black widow proof box.

The timer. In a water proof, and hopefully scorpion and black widow proof box.

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