Solar Powered Water Pump: Useful Things You Must Know

Solar Powered Water Pump


Upgrading your pumping system to a solar-powered water pump is beneficial, not just to the environment but also to your pocket. It does not just save on electricity or fuel costs but also on cheaper maintenance – who doesn’t love unlimited free energy, right?

However, you should familiarize yourself with its basic information prior to investing your hard-earned cash. So, let’s learn what, why, which, and how of a solar powered water pump.

What Is A Solar Powered Water Pump?

The solar powered water pump is water-pumping machinery that runs on sun energy. It is a world-adopted alternative to electric or oil-water pumps. In simple words, a solar powered pump uses the sun energy to pump the water instead of using fossil fuels or electricity.

In remote areas or regions where the electricity and fuel prices are sky-touching, the solar irrigation systems serve them well. A pump is a common component serving as a key component in irrigation or supplying clean water to the population. However, its running cost usually creates barricades in the way because the fuel and electricity sources aren’t in everyone’s reach.

For this and many other reasons, most people started adopting solar pumping systems. Besides being cost-friendly, it has a straightforward installation and consists of very few common components. If you haven’t seen solar power irrigation systems, which is uncommon, here are the components involved in solar powered pumping systems:

Components Of Solar Pumping System

The solar pumping systems mainly consist of three components:

  1. Photovoltaic Panels
  2. Photovoltaic Powered Water Pump
  3. Photovoltaic Pump Inverter
  4. Generator or City Power( these two are OPTIONAL when there is not enough sunshine or at night)

The photovoltaic panels are responsible for producing power for the solar powered water pumps. When the sun shines, the photovoltaic cells generate radiant energy and produce DC power.

The solar powered water pumping inverter regulates the solar panel’s output voltage and current, giving you sufficient power even on cloudy days. It has a connection between the solar panels and the solar powered water pump without battery requirement.

The solar panel water pump has a unique design that accepts the solar DC current. You can directly connect it to the solar panels in small solar dc pump systems. But for ac solar panel water pump, you need to add solar ac water pump drive between solar panels and solar ac water pump. However, it won’t run in the absence of sunlight. Suppose if it is a cloudy day, or you require water at night, the solar panels won’t power the pumps.

In such cases, you will need batteries to save power in the daytime and provide when the sun isn’t shining. Or you can connect AC MPPT solar pump drive with city power or generator to get power and run the ac water pump.

Despite being cost-saving and eco-friendly, there have been rumors about solar powered water pumps not being efficient enough. Well, you should not pay attention to them. Solar pumps are as efficient as conventional water pumps. It has several advantages over common electric or oil AC pumps. Let’s point out each one for you.

Advantages Of Solar Powered Water Pumps

  • Solar powered water pumps run on the sun energy, which means you won’t have any electricity bills or fuel costs.
  • Most rural areas won’t have an electric or fuel source. For them, the solar powered water pump system for irrigation is a blessing.
  • Solar power panels are an unlimited energy supply and are more stable than grid stations’ power. You won’t have any power cuts, over-voltage, or power shortages.
  • Since the solar pumps utilize sun energy, they won’t produce any harmful gases and harm our environment and human beings. Fuels like diesel emit life-threatening toxic gases.
  • The maintenance cost of a solar powered water pump is comparatively lesser than the diesel-run pumps.

How Solar Powered Water Pump Works?

The solar powered water pump has a very simple-to-understand working principle. Its base is the photovoltaic concept. When you see sunlight heating the solar panel’s surface, it is actually the solar panels absorbing radiant solar energy. The radiant energy absorbed is convertible to electricity, which is then supplied to the entire system.

However, it is crucial to remember the electricity generated is Direct Current (DC). A DC power means you won’t run AC water pumps. However, if you wish to do so, you will require a solar pump controller to convert DC to AC and then supply it to your AC water pumps. Moreover, some special solar pump invertors can regulate the output voltage in real-time and optimize solar energy more efficiently.

On the other hand, if your solar powered water pump for pond or any other use requires power at night or when sunlight is not strong enough, you will need a generator or city power which can bring ac power source to power  AC PV water pumping system.

How Many Types Of Solar Pumps Are There?

Currently, the DC solar powered water pumps and AC water pumps are both compatible with solar panels and are in use. In the case of AC water pumps, you will require an additional component; a ac solar pump inverter.

Considering both AC and DC water pumps, the solar powered water pumps are classified into; Pump’s placement and the electricity they use.

Types of Solar Powered Water Pumps

Pump’s Placement

The solar powered water pumps can either be installed inside the water or on the surface. Depending on this factor, there are two types of solar water pumps:

  1. Submersible Solar Water Pump

The submersible solar water pump is suitable for high water bodies with a depth higher than 10 meters normally. These pumps are installed inside the water and have a costly installation because you will require a borewell to install them. Moreover, submersible pumps have costly maintenance since they are installed deep inside the water.

  1. Surface Solar Powered Water Pumps

The surface pumps are suitable for low water bodies with a depth lower than 10 meters. In contrast to submersible solar water pumps, these pumps are installed at the surface. It means that it will have less installation and maintenance costs compared to the submersible pumps.

Pump’s Current Usage

As mentioned earlier, the water pump may run on AC or DC electricity. Depending on the current they use, there are two types:

  1. DC Solar Powered Water Pumps

As the name suggests, the DC solar pumps run on DC current. Therefore, you can directly connect it to the solar panel without any invertor. Furthermore, the DC water pumps have higher efficiency than the AC solar water pump. However, it is costly, and its repair and maintenance may complicate things for you in rural areas. And it can not brings large amount of water compare with ac solar powered water pumping system.

  1. AC Solar Powered Water Pumps

The AC solar pumps run on AC current. Therefore, you will need a solar pump inverter to convert solar panel DC power to AC power. It is noteworthy that the conversion may result in some energy loss. Plus, it will charge you extra because you will have to buy an inverter with it. However, its repair and maintenance are cheaper and more accessible than the DC solar powered water pumps. Especially when you need huge demand of water.

Are Solar Powered Water Pumps Any Good?

The solar powered water pumps aren’t just good but excellent in most cases. It is a free unlimited energy source with more than 20 years of reliability. In fact, some solar manufacturers will give you 25 years guarantee with their products.

In rural regions where electricity is just a word, solar water pumps are their only option for clean water. Besides that, the sky-rocketed electricity and fuel prices have made it impossible to manage agriculture and gain some profits out of it. Therefore, modern world farmers have started buying solar water pump for irrigation, fountain, livestock, etc.

Apart from thinking about operating costs, one should consider the environment too. The diesel pumps emit deadly gases and harm our environment. However, a solar powered water pump for irrigation and other uses is entirely environment-friendly and is a far wise choice. All it needs is sun exposure.

How High Can A Solar Powered Water Pump Lift Water?

The smallest solar powered water pump can run on 150V solar panel grids. It can lift water as high as 65m (214ft) at the rate of 6 liters per minute. It means that on an 11-hour sunny day, a solar pump can lift up to 4000 liters. Undoubtedly, it is enough to supply water to a small garden, 40 head of cattle, or several families.

The water-lifting ability variates as per the solar pump two types; Surface pumps and submersible solar water pumps. As mentioned earlier, the submersible pump is best-suited for deep wells and can be used as a solar powered water pump for irrigation, fountains, and even if the depth is low.

However, surface solar pumps have a specific limit. It can only lift water as high as 3m (20ft) but can push it more efficiently. So, if the water depth is in the range of 3m, go for surface solar pumps. These are less expensive and have wide varieties.

Where Solar Powered Water Pumps Can Work?

The solar powered water pumps are the best option for areas where lifting power is only human or animals. Such regions are deprived of electricity and fuel sources. Do you know 40% of the global population depends on agricultural income, and the constant water supply remains a massive barricade for them? Therefore, now in modern times, you will find the following applications for solar pumps if you visit such areas.

  • Solar powered water pumps for the fountain.
  • Solar powered water pumps for drip irrigation.
  • Solar powered water pumps for livestock.
  • Solar powered water pumps for cattle.
  • Solar powered water pumps for garden irrigation
  • Solar powered water pumps for well

If you are a farmer, you can even build your own solar powered water pumping station to facilitate nearby agriculture, crops, or livestock. It is a free source of electricity and requires only three components to operate; Solar panels, MPPT solar pumping VFD, and a solar water pump.

Solar Powered Water Pump System

Is Solar Powered Water Pump Worth Investing?

The modern era solar powered water pumps are more efficient than ever before. They are your excellent choice for business and homes far away from the city or to get rid of electricity bills. Currently, the solar water pumps have adopted the latest technology, which is the best thing about buying today.

However, you seem confused about whether to choose a solar pump for well or just continue with the old traditional electric or oil water pumps. To get rid of your confusion and worries, here are the four reasons why you should upgrade your water system to solar water pump system in 2022.

1.     No More Power Cuts

Living without water isn’t possible, but what if you no longer get grid energy. Be it for any reason; it isn’t an option to live weeks without water. Well, worry no more. The solar powered water pump runs on sun energy. As long as there is sun, you won’t run out of water. Yes, not even on cloudy days if you have a battery backup or generator or city power.

2.     Zero Running Costs

Unlike conventional water pumps, the solar powered water pump is free of any running costs. It runs purely on sun energy, which is a natural source, and luckily no one will charge you for that. However, in the case of electric or oil water pumps, every time you turn its button on, you are burning money. So, save your hard-earned cash – there is no better deal than this!

3.     Available At Affordable Prices

Gone are the days when solar devices required tens of thousands of dollars investment. The solar powered water pump, solar panels, and other solar devices have upgraded and managed to bring down their prices to thousands. It is undoubtedly a considerable investment, but they have more than 25 years of service life. So, don’t worry, it will pay for itself and earn you even more cash with time.

4.     Convenient And Cheap Maintenance

The solar pumping system has very few components. Thus, it has super cheap and easy maintenance. Its maintenance is just washing solar panels once a year. Plus, the pump components degrade with time. So, it is wise to replace them to get the maximum performance out of it. Replacing water pump components will only charge you $15 – $20.

Here are the four reasons you should upgrade your pumping system to solar. However, make sure you buy a top quality solar water pumping system devices to get better performance.

How Do I Choose the Best Solar Powered Water Pump?

Buying a solar powered pump is usually a one-time investment. Therefore, you must factor in everything before buying one. Following are the factors you must consider before purchasing the best solar powered water pump:

  • Water storage Sizing
  • Choosing a suitable type of solar water pump
  • Solar Water Pump Sizing
  • Finalizing the best solar powered water pump

Step 1: Water Storage Sizing

Suppose you have a family of five living in a region where the weather is sunny only 7 hours a day. So, you must store enough water in the 7 hours in your tank for seven days. Now, let’s assume you have a well 900ft away from your home. Plus, a water tank, 90ft higher than the water level and 30ft higher from your house; what size solar powered water pump will you need?

If per person the water consumption per day is 80 gallons, multiply the number of persons with 80 gallons and then with seven days.

80 gallons x 5 persons x 7 days = 2800 gallons water storage.

Step 2: Choosing A Suitable Type Of Solar Water Pump

As discussed earlier, a surface pump can only lift water up to 20ft. Therefore, it is not suitable if you consider our example. In this case, your best choice must be the submersible solar powered water pump. It can lift water to high levels, although it is a bit expensive compared to the surface solar water pumps. On the other hand, if your requirements fit the surface water pump requirements, it is best to go for that.

Step 3: Submersible Solar Powered Water Pump Sizing

In order to meet your storage requirement, you should consider two factors:

  1. Pumping rate – Determine how many gallons of water you require to fulfill the storage requirements.
  2. Water Head – How high the pump needs to lift the water to store in the tank. Also, consider the friction losses in the pipe to be more accurate in your calculations.

Step 4: Pumping Rate

Assume the solar powered water pump will run for 7 hours every day (From 10 AM To 5 PM). Considering our example, the storage requirement is 2800 gallons weekly. It means 400 gallons of water every day in 7 hours (420 minutes).

So, to find the gallons per minute of your required pump, simply:

400 gallons/420 minutes = 0.95 gallons per minute or approximately 1 gallon per minute is your house requirement.

Step 5: Water Head

The solar powered water pump must lift water 90ft vertically and push 900ft horizontally since your house is 900ft away from the well. In such cases, you must consider the friction loss in a horizontal pipe.

Calculating friction is a bit complex and variates upon the pipe diameter. If the horizontal pipe has a 1ft diameter, then the friction loss is 0.3 at each 100ft distance. In simple words, the friction loss adds up to 2.7ft head in our solar pumping system. Now, we can calculate the water head for our solar powered water pump.

Water Head = Vertical Head + Frictional Loss

= 90ft + 2.7ft

= 92.7ft.

Step 6: Finding The Best Solar Powered Water Pump For Your House

After combining all pieces of data, we concluded that we need a submersible solar powered water pump with a 1 GPM (gallons per minute) pumping rate. Plus, we calculated the 92.7ft water head. Now, we can easily find a suitable submersible water pump because, with each pump, there will be a chart showing these two data pieces. So, calculate your requirements and choose the best solar powered water pump for your house or agriculture.

Step 7: Choose The Best Solar Pump Inverter For Your Solar Pumping System

There are various different solar pump inverter brands in the solar market, it will be great if you can choose and buy efficient MPPT VFD solar pump inverter for your solar pumping system, which from Top solar inverter manufacturer. Normally the sizes of solar pump controller should be same or higher than the power (kw) of pump. For example, if you are using three phase 7.5hp solar pump, then you should choose three phase 7.5hp solar pump controller (or 3 phase solar pump controller which power is higher than 7.5hp)

Step 8: Add And Install AC Line Reactor For Your Long Distance Solar Pump System

When the distance from solar pump to solar water pump controller is over 50 meters, then we suggest installing AC line reactor for solar VFD, when distance is over 100 meters, then we strongly suggest. Installing line reactor for solar pump inverter can prolong the life time and improve the working performance of long distance solar pump system.

How To Install Solar Powered Water Pump?

Installing the solar powered water pump is super simple. All you need is proper guidance. Here is an install-yourself step-by-step guide.

1.     Setting Solar Panel Stand

The solar panel is your energy source. Therefore, setting it up at a perfect angle is vital to get maximum energy. Plus, make sure the stand has enough strength to withstand the solar grid’s load and resist corrosion. Now, dig a hole and fix the beams of the frame inside it.

2.     Solar Powered Water Pump

The solar powered water pump should be installed at a location where the connections can take place. It has three wires; positive, negative, and ground wire. If it’s a submersible solar pump, install it inside the water. However, in the case of a surface pump, install it wherever it suits your requirement.

3.     Completing The Connections

After installing the solar panel and solar powered water pumps, all that remains is their connection. The solar grids’ positive connects to the positive, and the negative connects to the negative of the solar powered pump. And that’s it. Your solar pumping system is ready to use.

Final Thoughts

Considering buying factors is extremely crucial because you might save thousands of dollars by just figuring out which solar pump fulfills your requirements. If the water head is low, go for surface solar powered pumps, they are cheaper and available in different models.

But in the case of high water-head, a submersible solar powered water pump must be your choice. It will cost you a bit more, but it is what it is. The surface solar water pump won’t lift water deeper than 20m. So, the submersible is your only choice.

Moreover, it is noteworthy that you can run AC water pumps with the help of a solar panel. All you need is to buy ac solar pump inverter, and that’s it. You won’t necessarily require a solar powered water pump if you have already bought an AC water pump. So, consider each factor and study a bit before entering the solar market to get maximum performance.

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