Portable Solar-Powered Livestock Waterer

Jack Vernon built a portable solar-powered livestock waterer for his several ranchland pastures.

Solar livestock waterer

Jack Vernon invented his own portable solar watering system.

Photo courtesy FARM SHOW

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Jack Vernon of Lakeview, Oregon, needed a watering system for several ranchland pastures scattered miles apart. He wanted to use solar energy but couldn’t find what he needed on the market, so he built his own system.

“It has a lot of capacity and can be towed at highway speeds. I use it all year long,” says Vernon, who has eight different wells scattered across about a 30-mile area.

“Each system can produce more than 5,000 gallons per day during winter and early spring, which will maintain up to 300 calving or lactating cows.”

He built two similar systems, one equipped with three solar panels and the other with four. The panels mount on a steel frame that’s welded on top of a 10-foot-long metal trough.

“It has a heavy metal angle iron base and holds about 450 gallons of water,” says Vernon.

He welded 2-inch square tubing together to build the frame, then mounted the solar panels so they can be adjusted from side to side depending on the sun angle and the season. Each system includes a Grundfos 20-gpm solar pump with controller and 100 feet of 1-inch industrial rubber hose, which rolls up on a drum on back of the trough. A float switch is used to turn the pump on or off.

To transport the system, he attached the stub axles and wheels off an old Deere seeder and a junked utility trailer. A pair of hydraulic jacks from Northern Tool is used to raise or lower one end of the tank for transport.

“I use a compass to align the trough true north and south,” says Vernon. “Then I remove the hitch, lower the trough to the ground, drop the pump down the well, and attach the hose to the trough or to an existing water distribution system that I have with some of my wells. Then I pull a pin to adjust the position of the panels, plug in an electric cord that runs from the panels to the pump, flip the switch, and watch the water come out. It takes only about 15 minutes to set up the trough or get it ready for transport.”


Reprinted with permission from FARM SHOW Magazine, www.FarmShow.com.