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Get Powered Up! Certified Energy Manager Jeff Yago answers your alternative energy questions

Wondering about a great new energy-saving device
you found on the Internet? Then CLICK HERE!

Sorry. Jeff no longer answers questions online.
This will remain as a searchable
resource for all BHM website visitors.

Archive for the ‘Water pump’ Category


Solar pump

Friday, June 19th, 2009


I own land on a river and want something simple that will pump a small amount from the river to the water trough on the other side of a fence about 50 yards from the river and at an elevation of about 10 feet.  Nothing fancy.  Simple and small is fine.

Can you suggest something? Many thanks,

David Mayfield


Check out this article from a past issue that covers this topic:

Good Luck,

Jeff Yago


Water pump & pressure tank

Sunday, May 31st, 2009

Hi Jeff,

I read about a water pump for a house that doesn’t require a pressure tank. I’ve lost my information and hope that you’re aware of the manufacturer.



There are lots of manufacturers of water pumps that do not require a pressure pump, but I do not recommend you putting one of these on a home.

This type of pump is designed for an RV or boat where you have a holding tank full of water, and the water flow rates, pressures, and piping system are all small. These pumps include a very sensitive and fast-acting pressure switch which turns the pump on and off when you open and close a nearby faucet. If you tried this with the larger pump sizes and flow rates of a typical home, the water hammer alone would soon either cause a fitting failure or damage the pump.

In addition to absorbing the pumping shock of quickly stopping the water flow, the expansion tank also saves wear and tear on the pump because any single toilet flush or short hand-washing most likely can be supplied from water stored under pressure in the pressure tank and will not require cycling the pump every single time.

On smaller RV and boat systems with a holding tank as the source, these problems are not that big a deal.

Good luck,

Jeff Yago


Water pump

Friday, January 30th, 2009

Can you help me find a 12\24 volt pump that will fit in a 2″ casing

D. Oskar


Most well pumps this small are designed to be used in a 2″ monitoring well and not pumping larger flows each day.

Try this link:

Good luck,

Jeff Yago


Solar water pump

Monday, January 19th, 2009

Hi Jeff,

I need to power a 12 volt DC pump with solar power and I’m not sure how to do it.

I need to feed water into an irrigation system in a remote location where there is no water or electricity on-site (it’s for a native habitat restoration project).  The water was trucked in and put into a water pillow.  I need to place a timer on the system, but the water pressure is too low for the valve to work.  So I’m going to install a surface pump to push water through the valve and I need to power it with solar power.  And I’m on a very limited budget.

I have spent a good deal of time searching the Internet, but I can’t figure out if I can hook the solar panel directly into the pump (I don’t need to water at night).  I would like to avoid using batteries, if possible.  It seems that I need a pump controller, but the ones I have found cost several hundred dollars and don’t look anything like the one in your article on solar water pumps.


Carie Wingert


I guess you already considered the obvious, move the water pillow to higher ground and you won’t need the pump!   Assuming that has been considered, it’s not a problem to install a solar panel, DC pump, DC timer, and DC valve.  However, it is a problem to do this “on a limited budget”.  Like they say, you can have any 2 of 3 order choices –  fast delivery, quality construction, cheap price, pick two!

You did not mention if this is a drip system not requiring very much water pressure, or some type of spray heads that require higher pressure.  The water pressure and flow rate will determine the size of the pump.  Once that has been determined you can select the solar array size that will provide this amount of power per day.  You must have a solar controller wired between the solar array and pump, and several safety devices like a low water cut off to protect the pump if the water bladder runs out of water.

All this equipment is off-the shelf, but is not cheap.  I don’t know your pump size, but most small DC pressure pumps will cost over $1,000, plus about $2,000 for the solar array and another $600 for the controls, plus some type of pole support for the solar array.  If you don’t spend the money to do this right, you will most likely have some dead plants when the lower cost system fails.

Good luck,

Jeff Yago


AC or DC water pump?

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Hi Jeff,

Must say I enjoy your website and value the information given.

I am trying to build an energy efficient house – too far away to get a grid connection. I am trying to find out what pump to buy for my system. Our appliances run on 240V – 50 hz

I have a 24V battery system with a whisper H100, 10 solar panels and 6 X 4V batteries and an inverter. I collect rain water (ok – in New Zealand) and it drains to a couple of tanks that are about 40 ft below the house level and 240 ft distant.

Our plumber has insisted to go with a mains pressure system so that we have good showers (no bath due to not sufficient rain for these) and so I have purchased the correct shower heads. Given that I cannot change this part of the system what sort of pump do I go with?

1. A DC pump with a reservoir so that once the pump is on it pumps up to a certain pressure – turns off and then only comes on again once a minimum pressure is detected? (Would I observe surging in the shower if this was the case?)

2. A DC pump with no reservoir that would come on every time a tap was turned on – in this household it would be 80 to 100 times a day?

3. If a DC pump is recommended could you indicate a model or give some indication as to what I should ask for? How should this be connected to the system? Direct to the batteries?

4. An AC pump + reservoir?

5. An AC pump with no reservoir?

Thanks for your time.


Louise Coats


A standard well pump will kill your small solar power system and really small battery bank. Check out what I designed for another off grid family with limited solar due to mountains blocking most of the southern sky.

You should use a small 24 VDC solar Jack pump down in the lower cistern, which draws very little power since it pumps very slowly and is only filling a storage tank inside your house. This holding tank has a second 24 VDC pump but this one is a pressure pump and will pressurize your homes piping system just like a standard pumping system on the grid. Note that we have a sand filter on the line entering the holding tank, and an ultra-violet light filter and carbon filter on the pressurized line leaving the holding tank. This allowed drinking the water as it was tested as being free of all bacteria and other bad things even though the water source was a nearby river.

Good Luck,

Jeff Yago


Solar powered water pump

Monday, October 27th, 2008


I would like to purchase a solar powered pump to move excess water from a native plant rain garden on my property, uphill approximately 100 feet to a soaker hose on my turf grass. The rain garden is about 8 ft X 60 ft and about 6-8 inches deep.

What system would you recommend?

Joanne Bartel

Eden Prairie, MN


You have not provided much information for me to give a specific system sizing answer, but I have several suggestions.

I would go with a straight solar pump system with no batteries. When the sun is up the pump pumps, when it goes down the pump stops and no batteries required. You will need a pump controller in addition to the solar modules and the DC pump. The pump controller adjusts the voltage and current going to the pump from the solar array for maximum pumping power. During the early and late hours the current output may be too low to run the pump so it just stalls with voltage still passing through it. This is very hard on the pump so the pump controller can convert excess voltage to more amps of current and avoid having the pump stalled during these conditions. In addition, a pump controller will have several extra electrical terminals to connect float switches. You can have one float switch at the lower rain garden to shut off the pump if this garden water level gets too low. You can have a second float switch at an upper tank if you want and have it shut off the pump when this tank is full. Although they make 12 volt DC pumps, I think you will get better pump life if you go with a 24 volt pump and 2 solar modules @ 12 volts in series for 24 volt to match the pump. I would make this a fixed pole mount and locate the solar array on the pole as near the pump as possible. The pump controller can mount on the pole at eye level, and the solar modules should be about 8 feet above ground level unless you have large animal or cattle issues. They like to rub against this equipment and can bend things if too low.

I doubt that you will be able to have enough pump head to use soaker hoses as they require high water pressure to equalize the drip along the entire length. Most likely the low flow and low pressure pumped water will dribble out the first few feet of this hose. I suggest pumping up to a storage tank at a higher elevation, then hooking this to your watering hose. When the tank is full you will have water pressure to water using almost any type sprinkler or hose until the tank is drained. You would then shut off the watering until the end of the next day when the tank is re-filled.

There are several suppliers of solar pumps in your state:

Good luck,

Jeff Yago


Solar back up water system

Saturday, October 11th, 2008

I am in the gathering phase of designing a back up water system for my home. I want to utilize solar panels to charge a battery bank, as I would operate my pump on battery power. I do not have enough experience to know what I can and cannot do, so my question is this:

How many batteries would I need?

And if I only used it once a day to fill a 75 gallon holding tank, what wattage solar panel would I need?

Thank you,

Kevin Pitts

Granbury, TX


We cannot provide specific sizing assistance on any project since there is far more data and information we would need to make this kind of determination. For example, to size any solar pump, you need to know how many gallons per minute and per day you need, what is depth of well, what is pumping head pressure, what is elevation of tank in reference to top of well, what will be the well draw-down, what is length and size of pipe, is this a DC pump or AC pump in which case you will need an inverter, will you fill this tank every day or will there be many days between times the tank will be used, how big is the solar array charging the batteries, and on and on. As you see, we cannot provide this level of design assistance on a free web site.

However, I have written many articles on this subject, including articles on off-grid solar cabins, solar water pumping, and solar powered pumps to fill storage tanks and all are listed on the Backwoods Home website. I suggest you read these articles and see if any are close to what you are trying to do.

Good luck,

Jeff Yago


Pumping water in Brazil

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

I live in a semi rural area in Belo Horizonte, Brazil (lots of direct sun) and am interested in pumping my water from the closed reservoir to the holding tanks above by solar power.

The head is 105 feet at a distance of 350 feet through a two inch PVC pipe.

I see Northern Industrial Tools has these High Wattage Solar Panels – 15 Watt With these panels as a start, what else do I need?

Thank you for your help.

John D Martin


I realize you do not have easy access to many specialty suppliers, but unless you plan to buy a trailer truck load of these 15 watt modules, you need to re-think this project. Although you did not indicate the amount of pump flow you required, which determines the pump size and in turn the pump’s power requirements, you did indicate a fairly high pump head and large pipe size which tells me you will need a pump that will require far more power than you can achieve with these small modules.

First, determine the size pump you need and voltage. As a starting point, I am making a wild guess that you will need at least 150 to 200 watts of solar modules wired for a 24 volt pump, which would be better to use two modules at 75 watts each, or 4 modules at 50 watts each to reduce the wire and mounting issues of using many smaller modules.

There are many solar pump suppliers that can provide you with a complete packaged system with pump, controls, modules, and mounting if you can provide them with more details on the pumping requirements you have. Since you are pumping up to a storage tank, you may want to use a smaller flow high head pressure pump and smaller pipe and let it run all day than a larger pump that quickly fills the storage tank and shuts off, since this would require a smaller solar array and have a lower cost. Contact Dankoff Pumps

Good Luck!

Jeff Yago



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