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Solar powered water pumping

Solar (PV) panels can be utilised to pump water. No batteries are required for these systems; the water tank at the top of the hill becomes the storage system. 



If you have a great water source at the back of the farm away from any power source this might well be worth a look as it can be very expensive to run mains power more then a couple of hundred meters and even that far isn't cheap. Also the line charge can make pumping even moderate amounts of water relatively expensive. The most commonly used pump we have is designed to pump from bores but can pump from any situation where it can be submersed. Other options are also available.


Solar powered pumps can replace fossil fuel powered pumps saving time maintenance and of course fuel. While it may initially look expensive compared to the cost of diesel etc when you factor in the time and travel to obtain fuel, cart fuel to the site, and the capital cost of replacing/ repairing the engine, solar panels that are going to provide you with clean quiet renewable energy for the next 20+ years in a good installation start to look very good. After all what is your time worth to you? I can guarantee that this approach, if set up properly, is way less hassle than operating an engine to do the same job

How does it work?

Power from the PV panels is fed to a pump via a piece of electronics. There are usually no batteries in these systems, sun shines, water pumps to your header tank

What happens on cloudy days?

the pump will run even on a cloudy day but it will run slower and not pump quite as much as a day with full sun but having said this people with solar systems are often surprised how much power is available even when the sky is cloudy. It would have to be a really horrible day for no pumping to occur

How much does it cost? 

This is dependant on two variables

  1. How much water you need to pump on a daily basis in litres or metres cubed
  2. The verticle height or HEAD you need to pump the water to.

When supplied these two pieces of data we can calculate the size of the pump and the number of solar panels required to drive the volume of water you specify up the hill to your tank

As an example 

Two large panels costing approximately $590 each, depending on brand, (July 2012) can drive as much as 5000 Litres of water up a 50 metre head on a good summer’s day. In winter this is likely to drop back to say around 1/2 of this but your water requirements in winter are likely to be a lot less anyway. Need more water? Higher head? Add more panels  

The pump and electronics to do this are priced around $2920. (july 2012) There are some other costs such as a cable to the pump and frame for the panels but that about covers it

  please note prices here are current at time of writing but are subject to change  


Panels being installed to pump water up a hill from a pond on a farm run off. Submersable pump was hung in the pond from a home made pontoon. A more practical and userfriendly solution than having to travel to the run off and refuel and service an engine powered pump
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The Watt Shop - Alternative Power  |   PO Box 342, Kaeo, Northland, New Zealand  |   Phone 021 784 678

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