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Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Solar vs. Grid Power?
A. Solar always wins because grid power gets interrupted and fish die in minutes without a (UPS) uninterruptible power supply. Your only UPS choice is spare charged batteries or other stored power sources. Its not really a choice though, petro spills are a fish poison thats almost impossible to rectify and diesel/gasoline powered devices should not be used around ponds.
Q. I want to use my own solar panels and build my own system.
A. We encourage all solar powered aerator development by offering professional design links as seen below. Please note that these system designs cannot operate for more than a few hours daily and every cloud that passes by interrupts power resulting in constant "locked hub" motor stress and premature pump failure.
Click here for direct links to detailed instructions/costs from the Canadian Environment on building your own solar powered aerator system using a 45 watt diaphragm air pump mounted on a small trailer.
Or click here for USDA Inks Dam National Fish Hatchery, 1 acre ponds, 35 watt diaphragm air pump and their solar aerator designs.
Both of these designs ONLY work, during the daylight hours (remember, most fish kills occur in late evening and early morning hours). Depending on the system components used, both of these solar aeration designs can vary from as low as $2,500 for daylight only operation to $8,500 for 24-hour aeration (DOES NOT include the cost of the trailer mounting, platform mounting, or site preparation).
We do not sell parts or warranty system designs by others!
We do offer 1 cfm @ 10 ft water depth plug-in grid powered aeration kits for $1600 as well as $3300 solar powered kits that both do basically the same thing! So from a cash outlay standpoint, solar aeration is quickly becoming more appealing using PEC products.
Q. Does your recommended airflow at 2 lpm (0.1 cfm) per 1/4 acre provide enough oxygen for my pond?
A. Yes, a 190 lb. man needs 3-7 liters per minute of air, 50 lbs of fish need alot less air. The manual pedal bicycle aerator, which has been supplying aeration for Asian Aquaculture for a more than a century, typically provides less than 1 lpm of constant water/air contact(very similar to other grid or solar powered water circulators that develop high velocity laminar flows moving lots of water with little or no turbulence so the layers of water slide like cards over each other with no exposure to air and little oxygen transfer).
In comparison, PEC diffused air testing and other more in depth studies such as those conducted at a polluted stagnant Reed Swamp shows 30-250 mg/m2/hr of oxygen demand. Oxygen demand is the amount of oxygen consumed and you need to apply several times that number to improve water quality. The EKBS-10 at 0.1 cfm (2 lpm) airflow can supply more than ten times that or 2500 mg/m2/hr of oxygen with fewer than four EKBS-10 units per surface acre, thats one unit for each 1/4 acre of water. Unless your pond is more polluted than Reed Swamp, an EKBS-10 provides plenty of oxygen for your small pond up to 1/4 acre, using our floating airlift aeration diffusers. If you actually have sewage flowing into your pond, the EPA recommends 0.5-1.0 cfm per thousand gallons of raw sewage. If you have raw sewage flowing into your pond or need more air in the future, its as simple as adding another self-supporting PEC solar aerator. The additional power is still free and unlike grid power, does not require expensive new power distribution equipment.
Q. You offer both "bottom mounted diffusers" and "floating airlift aeration diffusers." Why?
A. Floating airlift aeration diffusers cut capital cost. When your using the free energy of the sun, your projected power costs are ZERO so the choice is really "cost of ownership." However, bottom mount diffusers are popular and asthetically pleasing. Here are a few specifics|:
1. Based on EPA studies, deeper placement of diffusers gives you higher oxygen transfer rates. You get a 1-2% increase in "clean water" oxygen transfer rates for every 1 ft. of diffuser submergence. Our airlift aerator has a diffuser at a submergence of 3 ft. If you take a diffuser and place it on the bottom of the pond (10 ft.), you will see an increase in oxygen transfer of around 4% and a 400% increase in captial cost (more solar panels).
2. When you put a diffuser on the bottom of the pond it will take more energy to get the same ( or any) airflow. Therefore, you will need to increase the size of the solar array significantly.
3. A diffuser placed on the bottom of a pond will mix and destratify the thermal layers of a pond. The main drawback of bottom placement of diffusers is increased summer and decreased winter temperatures in bottom water stessing the fish and biota. More recent studies now focus on hypolimnetic aeration techniques and the use of floating air-lift aeration (draft tubes) as a management strategy to decrease the sediments oxygen demand while preserving thermal stratification zones and reducing stress on the fish and biota.
Q. Where do I place the floating or bottom mounted diffusers in my pond?
A. Placing a diffuser anywhere in the pond increases the oxygen and mixing everywhere in the pond by natural dispersion (higher oxygen around the diffuser and lower oxygen everywhere else). First, the main goal of diffuser placement is to locate it as far away from the overflow or discharge of the pond as possible. Second, place the diffuser(s) equidistant from each other and/or opposite shorelines closest to the inflow or influent water so the natural water currents can disperse oxygenthroughout the pond. Last, attempting to add additional lengths of airline or place diffusers deeper than designed by PEC reduces aeration efficiency and/or eliminates airflow altogether.
Q. My problem is Algae. The pond used to be beautiful, What happened?
A. You have a build up of nutrients in the pond that needs more dissolved oxygen (aeration), period.
Eutrophication is a process whereby most older ponds and lakes develop excessive nutrients that stimulate excessive plant growth (algae and aquatic plants). Dissolved oxygen concentrations will severely decline when large amounts of algae (algal bloom) and aquatic plants begin to decompose. In turn, very low dissolved oxygen concentrations can cause fish kills.. Nutrients can come from many sources, such as fertilizers applied to agricultural fields, golf courses, suburban lawns, soil erosion, streambank erosion and sewage treatment plant discharges. The symptoms of eutrophication are:
Low Dissolved Oxygen Concentrations
Poor Water Clarity (Transparency)
Algal Blooms (Excessive Amounts of Algae)
Excessive Quantities of Aquatic Plants (Weeds)
High Dissolved Metal Concentrations (Iron & Manganese)
Stress to Fishery and Other Forms of Aquatic Life (Fish Kills)
High ammonia levels >5 mg/l, due to the Accumulation of Sediments
Nutrient Releases via Anoxic In-Lake Sediments
Buildup and Release of Noxious Odors
Harvesting algae as bio-fuel or fertilizer controls algae. Aeration at any level will also improve the water quality, reduce ammonia levels and decrease the frequency of algae blooms. Most chemical treatments only delay the need for aeration by chemically storing the nutrients as dead algae on the bottom of the pond. A few chemical treatments like www.ALGAEOUT.com work with solar aerators to remove the nutrient levels in the water so nothing is left over for the algae to thrive on. Ammonia levels are easily detectable with aquarium test kits from any fish store. The lowest cost method for removing ammonia is also solar aeration (air stripping). If ammonia levels spike they can be quickly lowered by broadcasting Zeocarbon by hand. Simply apply 10 lbs/acre (10 lb of Zeocarbon at standard temperature and pressure can absorb 2 lbs or >1 mg/l per acre ft. of ammonia) and re-test ammonia levels. Add more Zeocarbon as needed.
Q Our state agency does not encourage use of grid powered aeration or chemical additives and says to stop feeding my fish to prevent kills.
A We agree, somewhat! You need to aerate the pond and stay off the grid while doing it. It is Environmentally undesireable to aerate using power from unsustainable fossil fuel grid powered systems. However, it is desireable to use sustainable solar powered aerators to improve water quality, remove nutrients/pollutants, control algae, enhance fish production, and control insect breeding.
Q. How much mixing do I need?
A. Published studies demonstrate less than 0.15 cfm of diffused air per surface acre is needed to maintain oxic sediment in a 1 acre pond, 10 feet deep. Ponds are almost never mixing energy limited when you are adding aeration to improve dissolved oxygen levels. Maintain mixing energy under 750 watts/acre and airflow levels under 1 cfm/acre will allow solids to settle and prevent turbid or cloudy water conditions that could block out the sun, stop natural biological processes and destroy the ponds highlife.
Q. How much dissolved oxygen do I need for fish and algae control?
A. You need to maintain the dissolved oxygen in a "fish safe zone" from 3-5 ppm at all times, night and day, to prevent fish kills. In a typical fresh water pond that typically means less than 1 cfm per surface acre for most game fishing ( +6 cfm for trout).
Biologists at Inks Dam Natioanl Fish Hatchery have completed their pilot study and know the optimum size and power requirements for aerating one-acre game fish ponds using solar power. Aeration helps prevent fish kills during the hot Texas summers when dissolved oxygen levels can plummet in ponds. Combining a centered 120-watt photovoltaic panel with a 1/8 horsepower pump and bottom mounted 9-inch disc air diffuser mixes the entire pond and maintains high and constant oxygen levels all summer in Texas.
PEC recommends a minimum of 60 watts per surface acre (2 of our EKBS-15 units) when fish are not being actively fed.
Q. I still want a fountain or a splasher to look at?
A. Both Splashers & Fountains are pretty to look at, but you would have to surround your pond with solar panels to make them work at all. Then you would have to unplug the pumps, filters, and props everyday. Every boater knows you spend an hour cleaning the weeds off the prop for every outing. The maintenance on mechanical splasher/fountain aeration is DAILY. Other than sinking a well and using high pressure well pumps the only no maintenance or "low" maintenance aeration method is diffused aeration (bubblers).
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