Solar Powered Water Pump

A solar powered water pump is an economical and practical solution for providing water to locations where it would otherwise not be a convenient or budget-friendly option.

Solar water pumps are used in both residential and commercial applications. They're a clean alternative to fossil fuel driven windmills and generators.

solar powered water pump

Types of Solar Powered Water Pump Systems

Solar water pumps are in one of two categories: surface or submersible.

The surface pumps include those used for pressure, booster, and delivery. These surface pumps are fantastic for “pushing” water to your desired destination.

The submersible pumps are used primarily as submersed well pumps, or any type of pump that would need to be located underwater.

The size and style of solar water pump you need will depend on your application.

Passive Solar Water Systems

Solar water systems can use either passive or active solar energy.

Passive solar water systems are usually built into the architecture of a passive solar house designs.

These are well liked by homeowners because they use no mechanical parts and therefore are simple to maintain. Energy from the sun is collected and used to warm the water. Passive solar water systems work best in sunnier climates. Depending on the design, they may be somewhat less efficient than other types of solar powered water pumps.

Passive solar power pumps are either direct passive systems, also known as open loop systems, or indirect passive systems, also known as closed loop systems. These differ in the types of fluids that are used in the systems to maintain a warm temperature for the water.

Direct passive systems circulate water through the system, and indirect passive systems circulate what is known as a transfer fluid which is used to warm the water.

Passive and Active Solar Water Systems

Active solar water systems are well liked in more challenging climates where there is less predictable sunshine. These type of systems make use of solar electricy that collects the solar energy and that powers a water pump which moves water through the system.

An active solar water system can use either direct active or indirect active solar energy. These are also known as open loop or closed loops systems, and again this refers to the type of fluid that is circulated within the water system.

Our diagram above shows a simplified version of a closed-loop (or indirect) active solar hot water system in which a controller activates the water pump when the temperature of the water in the tank falls below a certain point, and enables the pump to function only when the solar panels can provide thermal energy to the system. This prevents the pump from switching on and off too much!

The Many Uses for Solar Powered
Water Pump Systems

  • Livestock watering

  • Pond and stream protection

  • Campgrounds

  • Remote vacation spots

  • Irrigation

  • Filling swimming pools

  • Garden fountains and other water features

  • Deep well pumping

  • Supplying water to outlying and remote villages, homes, and farms

  • Potable water (water purification and treatment)

  • Medical clinics

  • Heating water and even under-the-floor heating

  • Watering for large scale commercial operations

How Does a Solar Water Pump Operate?

Although a solar water pump can operate without the use of a battery, it is wise to include a water storage option that basically functions as a "water battery". This is how you can store water for use on those days when the sun isn't shining.

A solar powered water pump is made up of two main components: solar panels and the pump itself. The solar panels capture the sun's energy and then convert it to energy that the pump uses to pump water from the source to the desired location. That's the simplest way to explain how a solar pump functions.

Benefits of a Solar Water Pump

  • Extremely easy to install

  • Energy efficient (no fuel costs either)

  • Cost efficient to operate

  • Concept is easy – if the sun is shining, the pump is operating. If the sun isn't shining, the pump is off.

  • Produces water when it is needed most – during the hot and dry months of the year

  • Can operate with a DC motor (more efficient than AC motor)

  • Operate using solar panels, DC power sources, or batteries

  • Versatile in application

  • Low maintenance (unattended operation)

  • Can operate with or without battery backup storage capacity

  • Can be used in pretty much any location – city, country, remote areas, suburbs, etc.

Drawbacks of Solar Water Pumps

  • The initial investment for installing a system can be cost-prohibitive for some, depending on the size of the water pump required

  • Requires excellent exposure to the sun, especially in the prime hours between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m.

  • Cloudy days translate into a lower output, which can be a potential problem in some applications

Depending on the design and type of pump it is, a solar water pump can pump from as shallow a depth as 33 feet and from as deep as 800 feet.

To give you an idea of the cost involved with a solar powered water pump, a small one to power your water fountain would be around $250. Solar water pumps to irrigate ponds or rivers would range in price from $1,200 to $1,700.

The range for say, a 25-foot well depth would be roughly $4,700. At the top range, it could cost as much as $7,100 for 800 feet (possibly more). The price range for your water pump will increase as the depth you need to go for water increases.

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