Solar Power Pump 101

Powering a solar power pump used for swimming pools or wells is a great way to harness the energy produced by a PV cell. But remember that before starting any solar power project, conservation is key. Every dollar earned through conservation saves you about $5 on the initial cost of a small sized solar powered system. Perform an energy audit and follow any recommended steps, and you will save yourself valuable time and money.

Solar pumps that power wells are many times employed in remote areas, so using a solar power pump makes so much financial sense. You don't need to run expensive power lines that are environmentally intrusive, and your power needs are still addressed adequately. And using a solar power water pump to heat your pool works better when the sun is brightest, which efficiently reflects how your pool is most often used.

No matter how solar power water pumps are used, they all have the same basic components – a pump, PV panel, accompanying pipes and tubes. And since PV panels can be used as direct power suppliers for DC electrical motors with battery storage, pump power back-up can also be arranged for those extended periods of no sunlight.

And since a solar power pump can work anywhere where sunlight and clean water are in abundance, the versatility and number of applications is endless. Any creek, lake, well or river can work in concert with the sun to create a powerful solar power water pump to handle almost any need.

When the sun is shining bright, PV-powered solar pumps begin to fill their reservoirs. When used in a residential application, this reservoir is placed above the home, so gravity answers whenever a tap is turned. Many remote lake-side cabins use just such a water supply system powered by the versatile solar power water pump.

Unsure exactly how to calculate the system specifics for solar power water pumps? Use the table and information below, and you can't go wrong.

Solar Power Pump Specifications

Head Pressure
Daily Output in Gallons
3.3 ft.
9.8 ft.
3.3 ft.
9.8 ft.
23 ft

Take into account both average and maximum amounts of water used, measured in gallons per day. This will vary throughout the year, so plan accordingly. Also, figure the average hours of sunshine per day, and what your need will be for clean, consistent water production. You can make it through drought periods if you plan ahead, and store excess water.

Also, if you will need lots of water, and you are in a low sunlight locale, you had better plan for a large reservoir, as well a larger solar power pump and PV modules to fill it to the brim on those days that are exceptionally sunny for your area.

You should also plan for the difference in height from the output end of the pump hose to the top level of your water source. This is usually nominal, but in some residential applications, can be over 100 feet, causing the size and cost of your solar power water pump to rise accordingly. This calculation is known as a pump's head pressure, shown in the chart above.

You'll pay about $1,400 for an 80 watt PV panel / pump combo and approximately $1,600 for a 115 watt system. Of course, you have to allow for the cost of tubes and piping, but that should cover the majority of your solar power pump cost. You may have to add a common float-type switch that will shut the pump off when the reservoir is full, but try to maximize efficiency and use all water produced.

A little planning will go a long way toward efficient water production, and if you take all the above measures and calculations into account, your solar power pump project will minimize your frustration and max out your comfort and water capacity.

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