Electricity is electricity and is still as helpful or dangerous as ever, regardless of the source. As more and more agricultural operations convert to solar power, farmers and ranchers are taking advantage of the change to update electrical systems and safety practices.
The solar and electrical experts from San Luis Obispo’s Electricraft, Inc. know that agricultural operations are not all outside in the fields or on the range. Agricultural operations include humid greenhouses, barns and sheds that house livestock creating animal waste vapors, and work spaces that require electrical power for operating equipment, computer systems, office equipment and other specialized electrical needs.
Whether the source of the power is solar or the power company, agricultural electrical systems function under a variety of unique circumstances. Vapors and humidity can corrode electrical components; cattle like to scratch themselves on power poles and there’s always those times when a tractor damages an electrical circuit breaker panel.
Farming, with the dust, moisture, weather, and animals is hard on electrical systems and safe installation and regular inspections are the first steps to safety. The Electricraft team of San Luis Obispo solar and electrical experts have identified the following safety features that are important for safe and uninterrupted operations.
- Use water tight covers on receptacles, switches and light bulbs and protect light bulbs with enclosures.
- Install control boxes, light fixtures, switches and other electrical components made from non-corrosive material.
- Use explosion-proof switches in hazardous environments.
- Locate distribution panels away from severe environments and away from animals.
- Make sure that every electrical system component or piece of equipment located outside is watertight.
- Run conductors through horizontal conduit, away from access by animals and seal the conduit ends against moisture.
- Wiring, mounted outside farm buildings is easier to inspect.
- Use only qualified electricians and solar technicians to inspect and repair your solar and electrical installations.
Finally, make sure all workers are trained in safe electrical procedures and know what to do in an emergency.
Farming and solar panels
As agricultural operations are moving towards solar power there is also growing interest in “agrivoltaics,” the practice of preserving farmland by growing certain crops under solar panels. In September 2019 the University of Arizona reported, “Farming crops under solar panels, a process called agrivoltaics, can boost food production, water savings, and the efficiency of electricity production, researchers report.” The movement is showing great promise for combining food and energy production as well as wildlife habitat.
Farming, wildlife habitats, even grazing and raising some small livestock under solar panels gains popularity, the wiring systems from the panels are going to need special features. Crops still need to be watered, and the electrical wiring needs to be protected from intrusive moisture and curious, itchy animals.
Taking advantage of the combined solar and electrical expertise found with the Electricraft team is the best way to make sure your solar installation and electrical wiring are correctly installed and safe.
Electricraft Inc. has been serving the Central Coast since 1984. The family-owned business has focused on providing the highest level of service for any size project, including staying abreast of the latest advances in solar and electrical technologies.
Contact Electricraft, Inc. today to discover the benefits we bring to your solar and electrical projects.