Rain Barrel Progress

I have finally made some progress on the rain barrel. I thought I was going backwards for a while. I have made a new down spout diverter system and it did not seem to be working. Had rain and it was not filling. I have also been testing the new control system, and like wise, it kept failing.
The battery kept going dead and the pump not running long enough. I solved the run time problem, but was starting to think the additional circuitry was draining the battery. I went back to using a SLA that is many times bigger than what is needed and even it slowly went dead. It turns out the solar cell has lost some of its efficiency and was providing enough power for control, but not for charging. It is not designed to be “used outdoors” and I think that it has been damaged by moisture. I replaced it with a slightly better one from Menards that while still not intended for outdoor use, is much better sealed. I will see how long it lasts, I got 3 years out of the original and this one is actually cheaper.
In addition to getting the pump to run longer, I started using a slightly larger pump, also from Harbor Freight. This may be a good thing since they no longer seem to be selling the smaller one. the pump has went form 500 gph to 1000 gph and only draws slightly more current. The only problem is this one is a few years old and the bearings are squealing. Again, I will see how long it lasts. By going to the larger pump, it can fill the buckets much faster, about 2 minutes or less compared to 10+ for the smaller one since it was struggling to push the water high enough. This, in turn is a pretty good trade off on battery life – slightly higher draw, but substantially reduced run time, lowering the amp hour capacity needed. The question will be if the solar panel can make up the draw used and recharge each day.
The filling problem turned out to just be stupid bad luck! I was adding water using the garden hose to time the buckets filling all the way and heard water trickling along side the house! Turns out the barrel got a crack in it! I am not sure when, but with a little duck tape, all is now well. We had a shower last night and added about 4 inches of water in the barrel!
Now to let it run again for a few days to see if my luck holds.

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