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Solar Water Pumps

Solar water pumps and other DC powered pumps are used throughout world to circulate water, irrigate crops, water livestock, and provide potable drinking water. In remote areas where the cost of running traditional water piping is cost prohibitive, a solar water pump may be the solution. Solar water pumps can also be used in solar hot water systems. Some solar pumping applications use gravity “pressure” tanks, where the pump runs to fill a tank elevated above the point of use. The water is then released on an as needed basis for use in gardens, vineyards, orchards, to supply water to livestock, or to any number of other applications. And with a solar water pump, you can even pump water when the electricity goes out!

Typical solar water pump applications:

  • Irrigation (lift and pressurized)
  • Livestock
  • Deep wells
  • Pipeline transfer
  • Transfer, circulation, aeration, de-icing
  • Domestic water supply
  • Medical clinics
  • Vacationc abins, campsites
  • Pond and stream management
  • Water purification and treatment systems

Types of Solar Water Pumps

Solar pumps fall into two main categories: Surface pumps – which include pressure, delivery, and booster pumps; and Submersible pumps – primarily submersible well pumps. The type of solar water pump you need will depend on your application and the configuration of the water source.

Circulating Pumps

Used primarily in solar water heating applications. These pumps run directly from a small solar panel. No battery is required.

Surface Pumps

Surface pumps like the Flowlight Booster or Solar Force pumps, as well as Shurflo’s AC and DC powered diaphragm pumps, are used for shallow wells, ponds, surface springs, creeks and storage tanks where the water surface is within 10 feet of ground level. Surface pumps are placed near the water source and cannot be submerged. Water is drawn up into the pump through tubing and can then be pushed up to 100 feet higher than the source, and/or across considerable horizontal distances. Surface pumps can be used to provide household water pressure. Each pound of pressure rating of a pump gives 2.3 feet vertical lift.

Important notes about surface pumps:

Suction lift should be kept to a minimum. The shorter the suction lift, the more reliable and quiet your pump will be. The maximum possible suction limit for a surface pump is 31 vertical feet at sea level (subtract 1 ft. for every 1000 ft. of elevation). However 6 to 25 foot suction is the limit for most. Some pumps, such as the Shurflo pump will pull from about 5 to 8 feet at sea level.

  • Be sure your surface pump motor will not be submerged if the water level rises or it will be ruined.
  • Surface pumps must be protected from freezing.
  • In some applications it can be a challenge to keep them primed.
  • Surface pumps can be placed downhill from your water source.

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Delivery Pumps

Delivery pumps are used to move water from one place to another. Some are capable of high pressure while others are intended mainly for moving large volumes at low pressure (such as moving water from a cistern to a stock watering tank). Flows can be small (1/2 gallon per minute or so) up to 30-40 gpm. Some (such as the popular 12 volt Shurflo pumps) are often used for pressurizing small water systems in homes, RV’s, and boats.

Submersible Pumps (Solar Well Pumps)

Submersible solar pumps are generally used for low to medium lift wells (up to 650 feet) where high flow capacity is required. Submersible pumps are design