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Solar Power Water Pumping 101

Large sized system producing water for agriculture purposes.

Solar Water Pumping 101

Need to install or retrofit a solar water pumping solution? Here's some information you will need to know to get started.

Remote water pumping is one of the most practical and cost-effective uses of solar energy today. Solar electric power systems designed for water pumping have no moving parts or batteries. When the sun shines, the system pumps water. Typically water requirements peak in the summer months when free available energy from the sun is most abundant.

Recent improvements in solar technology along with significant price reductions have made even large scale solar water pumping projects practical. Remote systems using pumps up to 100 HP can be upgraded from diesel power to clean and cost effective solar energy.

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Need assistance designing your water pumping system? Complete our online WATER PUMPING SIZING FORM. We will use the information to design the perfect solar powered water pumping system.

Where exact water volumes are critical, a secondary generator can be employed to insure operation even on days when solar resources are unavailable. Solar powered pumping systems also substantially lower operating costs by significantly reducing fuel, maintenance, and labor costs.

We incorporate the following pump types depending on system requirements and application needs: Small DC submersibles, Small DC booster pumps, Medium Submersible Pumps, DC or AC powered, 1 to 3 HP, Large AC submersible pumps with controller, 5 to 100 HP, Specialty pumps.

Our solar water pumping solutions include the following:

  • Complete system engineering
  • Solar pumps and controllers
  • Solar modules
  • Solar support structures
  • Solar wiring and accessories

Residential Applications

Our solar direct water pumping systems only pump water during daylight hours and typically require replacement of your existing pump. You can consider to use solar in these examples:

  • Solar pumps to keep elevated storage tanks full providing gravity fed flow 24 hours a day
  • Integrated battery systems can provide 24 hour backup power for pumping and other important loads
  • Utility interactive or “grid tie” systems can be installed to offset pump usage thus reducing utility bills
  • To note: Due to safety standards grid tie solar electric power systems automatically shut down in case of utility outage

Information Needed to Size a Solar Water Pumping System

  1. Location - Nearest large city is typically all that is required to get accurate solar resource data.
  2. Water needed per day - Solar water pumps operate only during daylight hours. If water is needed at night it can be stored in an elevated cistern or pumped via battery power from a separate PV system.
  3. Season - Determine which months water is needed at the site. In year round applications, does the water demand peak during the summer months?
  4. Total Dynamic Head (TDH) - TDH is the total load on the pump and it is the sum of several factors measured in feet:
  • Static Water Level - This is the depth from the well surface down to the water level when the pump is at rest.
  • Drawdown - This is the level that the water drops to when the well is being pumped. If the natural recharge rate is less than the pumping rate the water level will drop, requiring pumping to be adjusted accordingly.
  • Well Depth - It is very important to know depth below drawdown level. Installing the pump too close to the bottom can cause the pump to become clogged with debris. Certain pumps have limitations on how far below the water level that they can be installed.
  • Elevation Above Wellhead - Measured in feet or meters. This is the elevation change of the tank location.
  • Distance from Wellhead to Tank - This is the distance of pipe from the wellhead to the tank. Pipe diameter is critical to keep friction loss at a minimum. Also important to note if a new or existing pipe is being used.
  • Pressure - What is the water pressure requirement for the system? This adds 2.31 feet of head per 1 PSI. A requirement for 30 PSI will add 69.3 feet to the head.

Need assistance designing your water pumping system? Fill out our WATER PUMPING SIZING FORM and email or fax it to us. We will use the information to design the perfect solar powered water pumping system.

Other information that will be needed:

  • Well Diameter - The casing size is needed to ensure that the selected pump will fit.
  • Backup Power - Provides the ability to power the pump with a backup generator. Certain pump systems are required to have this ability and can impact proper pump selection.
  • Float Switches - Automatically shuts down pumping when tank is full. Distance from pump controller to tank or reservoir is needed. If a wire cannot be run between the tank and the controller, wireless float switch controllers are available.