Having an electronics geek for a husband has some distinct advantages. First came the lighting and watering system for the greenhouse, then the lighting system for the chickens linking three chook houses into a 12-volt battery and a small solar panel. Back in the winter, we upgraded the chook compound defences and included an electrified fence along the top. This required a car-battery to run it, so Paul went on to EBay and acquired a large 20-watt solar panel.
Much soldering and drilling ensued, and finally the new protective ring was integrated into the lighting system. Admittedly, if we have several days of fog we have to top the battery up with the mains charger but so far we have only had to do that twice in five months.
And the lighting system is fantastic. It is programmable so that we can set it to come on automatically when the light level reaches dusk, just before the chooks go to bed; once the light level gets to heavy dusk, the lights go out.
There is also a manual button to use at others times with automatic switch off after ten minutes. The button also flashes a message every so often to report the battery level, so that we know if we have to top it up.
The lighting in each of the three houses is a simple strip of LEDs that is remarkably effective at lighting up the interior. In the Palace, which is 8ft by 4ft, we have two strips of LEDs, but the two smaller houses are well-lit with just one each. The chooks seem to appreciate having the lights come on at dusk and it makes counting them before shutting up for the night very easy!