Solar Panels at the Harshbarger Ranch

Bob and Jean Harshbarger live outside of Newcastle, Wyo. on Jean’s family ranch.

Jean & Bob Harshbarger stand beside one of the solar panels that is on the ranch
Jean & Bob Harshbarger stand beside the solar panel connected to their house well.

There is no electricity on the vast prairies of their ranch, so they use solar panels to pump water for their cattle. Through the years Bob and Jean have tried other methods to pump water but none have worked as well as using solar panels. Windmills were originally used on the ranch but they are hard to service and aren’t as efficient.

An old windmill that is on the Harshbarger ranch
An old windmill that was once used on the Harshbarger Ranch.

When the Harshbargers started researching alternative ways to pump water for their livestock, they were interested in moving to propane generators or solar panels. The propane generators were less expensive at the time, so they installed the generators. After time, the solar panels went down in price and Bob and Jean decided they would be a better fit for their operation. So, the ranch incorporated the solar panels on 14 of their 28 stock water wells.

Solar panels that are used on the ranch
Solar panels are used to pump water for the cattle on Bob and Jean Harshbarger’s ranch.

According to Bob and Jean, the solar panels are more efficient and last longer than anything else on the market. The oldest solar panels on the ranch are 24 years old and are still in great condition!

A Lorentz Solar Panel control box
This solar panel control box keeps the solar panels working and the well pumping.

The solar panels will pump water as long as the sun is shining on the panels. The Harshbarger’s even have a solar panel that rotates to follow the sun, which keeps it pumping water longer. There is also a control panel on each well that alerts the rancher as to what level the well is pumping.

Tilting Solar Panel that moves with the sun
This solar panel tilts toward the sun.

Bob and Jean check the wells daily to make sure they are pumping and to make repairs. There is always a little repair work needing to be done, and Bob can usually fix it.

Bob Harshbarger makes repairs to one of the pumps
Bob makes repairs to one of the pumps on his daily route of checking the wells

Story told by WSGA Intern Brittany Schaneman following a visit with RealRanchers Bob and Jean Harshbarger – Newcastle, Wyo.

4 thoughts on “Solar Panels at the Harshbarger Ranch

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