Solar water pumps can be a cost-effective, efficient addition to your 100% clean energy home. Consider the following information when researching a solar water pump purchase.
How a Solar Water Pump Works
The primary difference between a solar pump and a conventional pump is the power source. Solar water pumps depend on a solar panel to operate the device. The solar panel can be built into the device or be a freestanding structure connected to the pump by wire. The solar panel then powers the device, allowing it to work independently of any existing electrical systems.
Solar pumps can range in size from small pumps to power water fountains, to large pumps used to pull water from underground aquifers. Built-in panels are generally reserved for smaller pumps, while large pumps require freestanding installations.
Limitations for Solar Water Pumps
A crucial fact for solar water pumps is that they only provide electricity during daylight hours. In many cases this will be sufficient for the intended use, but if water needs to be pumped once the sun has set, water pumps with included battery storage should be considered. Large-scale pumps can include battery arrays capable of providing continuous power for 12 hours or more, but such battery arrays are bulky on their own and may require separate, sheltered storage for protection from inclement weather.
Individual solar water pumps should be capable of providing as much pumping power as conventional varieties, but the attached solar panels must be capable of producing enough power to operate the device. Buyers should always make sure a solar panel is capable of powering the chosen solar pump, although many manufacturers offer pre-packaged products that include a pump and appropriate solar panel in one purchase. Particularly small water pumps will usually come with particularly small solar panels, and an accordingly weaker pumping capacity should be expected.
Uses for Solar Water Pumps
Small water pumps can be used in ponds, pools, or small lakes to circulate and aerate the water. Artificial fishponds and large outdoor aquariums are an increasingly popular venue for aeration systems powered by solar pumps. Small pumps can also be used to power water fountains of any size, with some fountain pumps even offering a free-floating mobility that allows them to drift around a body of water to add a unique aesthetic dimension. Large water pumps can be used for a variety of functional or industrial needs, such as pumping ground water into a holding reservoir or watering tank for livestock, or filling a home’s water reserves from an underground well.
Features and Considerations for Solar Water Pumps
Water pumps are typically rated by two specification factors. Pumping capacity is measured in gallons per hour (GPH) and flow rate is measured as head height or the distance water will be thrown from the pump output or fountainhead. For fountains, GPH is typically of less concern, as the head height will determine the fountain’s performance. For situations where the pump is responsible for actually moving a certain amount of water, the GPH will become more important.
As with any waterborne device, solar water pumps can be subject to rusting, corrosion and debris clogging. Rusting and corrosion can be mitigated through construction materials, and advanced pumps may even feature a galvanized or electric design, which saturates the entire pump with a weak electrical charge to minimize rusting. Debris clogging can be addressed through self-cleaning pumps, which contain a mechanism that periodically flushes the filter of any large debris to ensure that the water flow continues unabated.