Solar Water Pumps

Solar Water Pumping Systems

Solar water pumping system is based on a common electrical pump with the difference that electricity is supplied by the PV panels. Solar pumps mainly use DC-based motors so they can leverage the power from solar panels without using inverters. Besides, DC-based motors are less susceptible to voltage fluctuations. Pumping the water through solar power as opposed to grid-tied pumping is highly relevant in remote areas with limited grid availability. Solar pumps move the same volume of water slower than the traditional motors do so they are suitable for moving the water over long distances in an extended time range.

The 3 constituent parts of the system are:
  • PV panel
  • A pump
  • A pump controller

The pump controller has 2 important roles. First, it matches the output power of the PV panel with the pump's input power. Depending on weather conditions the power generated by the PV panel can vary so a controller is needed to stabilize the power output. Second, it provides low and high voltage protection to avoid a damage to the pump's motor. Again, due to the variability of the sun's intensity, a controller needs to be there to maintain a consistent output voltage.

Depending on the manufacturer the controller may have additional features like

  • Remote performance monitoring through a web or mobile interface
  • Pump shut off function when the water tank is full
  • Water pressure regulation
  • Automatic shut off when head pressure is too big
  • Alternating power source between solar and other means (diesel, gas)

Head pressure is the difference in the levels between where the water is and where it needs to be.

By their motor's voltage type pumps can be Direct Current (DC) based or Alternating Current (AC) based. DC motors are more efficient than their AC counterparts so a system with DC motor will require a smaller surface PV panel. In case of an AC pump, the controller also acts as an inverter for converting DC into AC.

By their application area, water pumps have 2 main types: surface and submersible. The choice between these 2 types depends on the system's purpose. For getting water from the wells or boreholes submersible pumps are used. In alternative applications where the head pressure is not high a surface pump is used.

The advantages of solar water pumps over traditional diesel or gas water pumps are manifold.

The solar water systems
  • have no fuel costs,
  • are easy to install,
  • have a low maintenance cost,
  • are portable and environmentally friendly
On the downside, as with everything solar, they have
  • higher initial cost
  • strong dependence on sunny hours.

Solar Well Pumps

Solar well pumps are the most common type of submersible solar pumps. They are submerged into wells to pump the water out. Depending on the PV panel's surface and well's depth the volume of the pumped water will vary. These pump systems are usually equipped with all the necessary components for right away operation after installation. Submersible solar water pumps can be used for seasonal draining of the swimming pools, irrigation, water for livestock and more.

Solariver Solar Water Pump Kit

Solariver pump

Main Features:
  • Input Voltage: 12 - 24 V
  • Removable filter
  • 20 W poly PV panel
  • Warranty: 1 year
  • Cable: 16 ft (4.9 m), 2 nozzle spray patterns

Solariver is a 12-24 V DC pump that comes with a 20W solar panel. This pump is more suitable for lightweight applications like decorative fountains, hydroponics, aquariums, greenhouses, etc. The motor has a long lifespan (20 000 hours) and doesn't contaminate the water when submerged. The solar panel has an aluminum frame and a stake for easier mounting. The 16ft extra-long cable is designed for a greater flexibility in installation. No additional wiring is required, just connect the panel with the pump and you are all set. No battery is included with this pump so if there is not enough sunshine the pump will shut off.

Voltage 12V 18V 24V
Max. Pumping Head 3.25 ft 6.9 ft 10.5 ft
Max. Flow Rate 259GPH 356GPH 412GPH
PV Panel
Rated Power 20 W
Max Voltage 17.28 V
Max Current 1.157 A
Voc 20.88 V
Isc 1.37 A
Pros Cons
Also works based on a car battery Stops pumping even if a small part of the panel is covered
Works well for ponds and pools
Easy to set up, long enough cable

Bacoeng Solar Submersible DC Water Pump

Bacoeng pump

Main Features:
  • Input Voltage: 12 V, 24V, 48V
  • Doesn't include solar panel
  • Little maintenance
  • Suitable for industrial, farming, all types of vessel use
  • Corrosion-resistant, compact and durable
  • Cable: 20 ft (6.1 m)

Bacoeng submersible pump does not come with a PV panel. It is a lightweight water pump suitable for gardening, aquaculture, prairie ranch, industrial drainage, and farming. It is compact, durable, and corrosion-resistant; works silently on a DC power. The pump doesn't have a flow on/off switch. It is made to work with clean water; application in sewage is not recommended. It can be left operating for 24 hours as long as the vessel doesn't run out of the water. The pump will overheat if idling.

Voltage 12 V 24 V 48 V
Power 120 W 120 W 180 W
Capacity (US.GPH) 1584 GPH 2112 GPH 2640 GPH
Max Pumping Head 26 ft (8 m) 29 ft (9m) 39 ft (12 m)
Hose Caliber 1" (25 mm) 1" (25 mm) 1" (25 mm)
Pros Cons
Also works based on a car battery 1" outlet is difficult to attach to a pipe
Not noisy
Has a good lift

Solar Fountain Pump

A solar fountain is a small solar water pumping system used for decorative purposes. The PV panel can be integrated with other components or it can be wired from a distance. There may be various configurations of solar fountains:

  • outside solar fountain like in a garden setting
  • inside a building with panels mounted outside

Both inside and outside fountains can be either battery-backed or not. Battery-backed systems can work at night and during the cloudy hours but it raises the overall cost.

Ledgle 5W Solar Fountain Pump

Ledgle pump
Main Features:
  • Eco-friendly, powered by the sun
  • Poly PV panel
  • Pump Material: ABS
  • Multiple fountain nozzles
  • Easily portable
  • Capacity: 380 L/h (100 GPH)
  • Max Height: 47" (120 cm)

This pump is intended to be submerged in a pool or a pond to create a fountain effect. It starts working as soon as the sun shines on the panel, no human intervention is required. All you have to do is to connect the panel with the pump then put the pump into the water slowly so that it exhausts the inner air and starts to sprinkle water. Finally, connect one of the nozzles on the pump and it's ready to go. Though the pump is waterproof it's not a good idea to leave it in the water when not in use. The height of the stream is exclusively dependent on the sun's intensity level so don't get discouraged if it stops sprinkling, it will start pumping again when the sun comes out. The PV panel is enclosed in a solid aluminum frame.

PV Panel Power 5 W
Panel Output Voltage DC 6 - 12 V
Max Flow 100 GPH (380 L/h)
Max Pumping Height 3.9 ft (120 cm)
Max Water Spray Height 2 ft (60 cm)
Weight 36 oz (1 kg)
Pros Cons
Works as a water pump for gardening Has no base to place inside the water
Works well even on overcast days Even a tiny blocking on the panel stops the pump
Makes no noise

Solatec Solar Powered Bird Bath Fountain Pump

Solatec bird bath

Main Features:
  • 4 different nozzles
  • Pumping Height: 30 - 50 cm (12 - 20 inch)
  • Suitable for bird bath, fish tank, pool, pond
  • Can be used for water circulation for oxygen
  • Floats on the water
  • Made of polycrystalline silicon
  • Warranty: 1-year

The advantage of the Solatec pump is that it integrates the solar panel on its surface - no wiring between the 2 is needed. Made of durable polycrystalline silicon it is fit to stay outdoors under diverse weather conditions. The 4 different nozzles change the sprinkling pattern and the water stream height. The package includes a suction cup to attach it to the pond's bottom to give it a greater stability. To ensure continuous operation you should wash the pump once in a while. No batteries are included; only works if the sun shines on the panel. The only available color is black (as seen on the picture).

Pros Cons
Works like a charm when sunny Can quickly dry up a shallow bird bath
Helps to circulate the water Spurts instead of a steady flow

AEO Select Submersible 410 GPH Solar Pump Kit for Solar Fountain

aeo pump
Main Features:
  • Includes 20 W solar panel
  • Operating Voltage: 12 - 24 V
  • Fully submersible motor
  • 2 nozzle spray patterns
  • Safe for aquatic life
  • 20 000+ hours (2.2 years) of life
  • Capacity: 410 GPH (1552 L/h)
  • Cable Length: 16 ft (5 m)
  • Warranty: 1 year
Panel Specifications
Power 20 W
Max Voltage DC 17.28 V
Max Current 1.157 A
Voc 20.88 V
Isc 1.37 A
H x W 20.5" x 14" (52 x 35.6 cm)
Voltage 12V 24V
Power Consumption 5 W 21.5 W
Max. Pumping Head 3.3 ft 10.5 ft
Max. Flow Rate 240 GPH 410 GPH

This submersible pump with 20 W solar panel is suitable for use in hydroponic or aquaponic systems, fish ponds, fresh and saltwater aquariums, filter systems or as a fountain pump. Connects to a hose with diameter 1/2". The pump has a 16 ft (5 m) cable for connecting to the solar panel. The cable is long enough to optimally place the panel for the most sunshine absorption. The pump has an included sponge for pre-filtering large objects from getting into the main filter. This pump works noiselessly and generates less heat than comparable AC pumps; it's easy to disassemble for maintenance and cleaning. The pump comes with a pump cage to screen out the debris from clogging the motor. It doesn't require lubrication and doesn't contain oil, making it safe for underwater life.

Pros Cons
Efficient power/water flow volume ratio Needs to be placed in a filter box to avoid clogging up the impeller
Included fuse and long wire