We depend on water for survival, and the best way to ensure a sufficient water supply at home is by using a water pump.
A solar water pump is a great idea for environmentally sensitive people since it uses solar energy, not electricity, to draw water.
Although they can be expensive to purchase upfront, you can save valuable money in the long run.
A solar water pump can be used for residential or commercial water requirements and agricultural purposes like irrigation.
In addition, you can use the solar panel set up to power appliances around your house or apartment.
If you have considered solar energy as the way to pump water off a water source like a pond, river, dam, or well, and you don’t know how to go about the process, you’re in the right place.
In this post, you’ll learn an easy step-by-step guide on connecting a solar panel to a water pump.
We’ll also cover batteries and the number of panels you need for your water pump. Read on to discover more.
Why go for solar water pump systems?
- The main reason why one would consider using a solar panel to pump water is for the simple fact that sunlight is free and abundant compared to electricity. Solar-powered water pumps, whether DC or AC pumps are therefore economical to operate. Also, in case of a power outage, you can use solar energy to pump water into your storage tank.
- Solar water pumps are eco-friendly since sunshine is renewable energy. There isn’t emission of toxins during solar energy production; hence it’s a clean energy source.
- The solar-powered pumps are useful in remote locations without access to a power grid to meet the daily water requirements.
- The solar water pump systems are easy to install and maintain. They have few mechanical parts, and engineers aren’t required to put the parts together for them to function. The pumps can last many years without requiring maintenance.
When choosing the right panels for your submersible well pump, note that there are solar photovoltaic modules and solar panels.
Solar PVs are installed to convert thermal energy into electricity, while solar panels convert solar radiation into heat.
In terms of efficiency, a solar thermos has a more efficient power rating compared to solar PVs.
However, their differences make them more compatible to use together. Your dealer can advise you on the right solar pump kits for your solar-powered water pump.
Related >> How to Create a Backup Solar Sump Pump
What are the types of solar pumps?
There are two main types of solar pumps:
1- The first type is the submersible pumps immersed in the water source like a well or borehole.
2- The second type is the surface pump connected to a pipe that goes into the water source.
Centrifugal pumps are not submersible in water and are less susceptible to silt in the water, hence ideal for use in fish ponds.
Centrifugal pumps are ideal if you need high water quantity but low heads. Consider using helical rotor pumps for water with a low flow rate but higher heads.
Steps to follow to connect your solar panel to a water pump
Identify the right angle to ensure your solar panels receive maximum sunlight.
More sunlight hitting your panel’s surface means much power source and water pumped.
You could use the rooftop of the structures around your home if your water pump is close to the house.
Erect an off-ground support structure if your water pump is outside your home.
The support structure should be large enough depending on the solar panel array you plan on installing.
Painting the metal parts of the beams and channels on the support with anti-rust or anti-corrosion
Install the solar array on your roof or the off-ground structure, where it’ll receive plenty of sunlight for a better part of the day.
Ensure that your solar device can provide enough power for the water pump.
Your pump distributor can help you determine the size of the panel that can power the type of pumps you own.
Install a power inverter; it converts solar energy into electricity that is in turn used to power your water pump.
Most home appliances use alternating current (AC), but solar panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC).
After connecting the power inverter to the solar panel, attach a storage battery.
A battery is optional, but since your water pump might require running even when the solar panel is not producing electricity, it comes in handy for power storage.
Attach the inverter to the battery using wires and an electric shunt.
As a safety measure, store your battery in a safe area where it is not exposed to water or the environment.
Connect the battery to the water pump. Your battery’s wires should connect to the AC connection points of the water pump.
Consult the directions on the water pump to ensure your battery connection wires are properly installed.
Cover exposed wires with plastic caps or waterproof tape. Lastly, turn one solar panel for the DC to flow into the converter.
With that, you’ll be able to power your water pump using your solar panel.
How does a water pump work with a solar panel?
A solar-powered water pump works by converting sunlight to electricity that operates your water pump.
The panel collects light units and produces a DC as the energy source for the motor to pump water out of the source.
You use an inverter if your pump motor operates on AC power rather than DC power.
The pump controller matches the output power that the pump receives with the input power from solar panels that have been connected to the system.
The solar pump system controller also provides high- or low-voltage protection, reducing maintenance costs.
However, on cloudy or foggy days, the solar pump’s functionality can be affected unless you hook it to a hybrid power supply. A battery comes in handy on such days.
How to disconnect the solar panel from the DC pump
The best way to disconnect a DC pump from your solar panel is to disconnect the black cable first, followed by the red wire.
In case of an excess output voltage comes through when removing the wires, attach them back to the metal parts or touch your battery and twist it clockwise to tighten it until all power dissipates before removing more cables.
Using another piece of wire, connect one side to where you have removed your wiring.
Connect its other end to an open slot on your battery to drain any remaining electricity from the device.
Lastly, unplug the power supply for the water pump and solar panel to completely disconnect the solar panel from the water pump.
How many solar panels does it take to run a water pump?
It takes at least one solar panel to run a water pump, but the number rises depending on the solar panel watts, the age of the pump, or the phase type.
Since most pumps are 12V or 14 V, they require more than one solar panel connected to be fully operational.
A single solar application cannot produce enough power supply to meet the energy demand without adequate sunlight.
For example, a new 1HP motor with a three-phase pump can use 12 100W panels.
If you use larger solar panels like 300W, you can use fewer panels for the same square footage. On the other hand,
If you’re using a 2HP motor in the United States, it uses 120-volt AC.
It requires about 4500 watts to start water pumping. An average solar panel makes about 300 watts.
Since power inverters are not 100% efficient, you need around 15 solar panels to make around 4500 Watts to convert to run your 2 HP pump efficiently.
Can you connect a solar panel directly to a water pump?
No. Connecting a water pump and a solar panel is not a good option because the devices require different currents and voltages to work. In case of less electricity comes out of these devices, they will not work.
Do I have to use batteries with solar pumps?
You do not need batteries when you set up a solar water pump system when you have a place to store the pumped water.
However, consider integrating batteries with your solar system if you have a high water consumption rate and need water pumped all the time.
Batteries save excess energy generated when there is much solar power production.
How many volt batteries does it take with a water pump?
Depending on the size of your battery bank, it takes at least two batteries for a water pump to run.
Depending on your preference, you can connect them in a series or parallel. If you have wired two batteries, they are both positive terminals connected directly.
The negative terminal is connected to an open slot on your battery charger.
Therefore, there will be sufficient energy coursing through if plenty of sunshine leads to an adequate water supply in your fields or homestead.
However, if you only have one battery, it means less voltage potential since electricity only flows between devices at different voltages that cannot allow enough current to pass through.
If you try to use one solar panel and a DC pump without another source of electricity, it won’t work unless its wires are touching the metal surfaces surrounding the outside of the pump.
However, a single solar panel isn’t reliable since more than one voltage source is needed to cause flow through the devices.
Some Frequently Asked Questions on Solar Water Pumps
Is a DC pump efficient to run with a solar panel?
A DC pump is efficient enough to get run by a solar panel. Regular electrical energy from the wall goes through an inverter before reaching its destination.
However, DC does not need the extra step because it only requires one source of voltage rather than two separate ones as in AC.
As a result, there is no energy loss in heat form during conversion.
Therefore, you get the most out of your solar water pump and unlimited water supply as they don’t have many steps for power consumption and waste.
How do I convert my electric water pump to a solar panel?
To convert your electric water pump to solar power, you need to wire up multiple panels together so that they can run the water pump.
If the electric pump uses AC power, you need an inverter to change DC into AC. The same applies to a DC pump.
Can I run a water pump on the inverter?
It’s not possible to run a water pump on an inverter because it needs a direct current output to work.
How many volts do I need for my water pump?
The amount of volts your solar water pump requires depends on how much power it needs to run and how much energy you need to pump out.
Different solar water pumps require different voltages.
Can you connect a DC Motor directly to the solar panel?
Connecting a DC motor directly to the solar panel is possible, and it works when you have enough voltage potential.
If there isn’t enough power being generated from your panels, it can be close to impossible to run any DC motor due to reduced current flow.
How can you wire a solar panel to the water pump?
You need a source of direct current, which also depends on the number of volts required by your pump.
To convert the power in an AC pump into a DC, hook negative and positive wires together without using an inverter that converts AC into DC.
What maintenance is required for solar-powered water pumps?
Solar pumps require little to no maintenance compared to electric or diesel pumps.
They can last up to 25 years while working efficiently; hence they are cheaper in the long run.
The major maintenance practice on a panel is cleaning the solar panel. Dirt and dust can affect their efficiency; therefore, regular cleaning is vital.