Beginner's Guide to Solar Water Pumps: Introduction & Tips For Use

If you are looking to irrigate your garden or build an amazing water feature while keeping your electricity bills low, a solar-powered water pump may be able to help. Solar-powered water pumps are a green alternative to traditional water pumps. They are connected to solar panels, which means your pump will operate, and your electricity usage will remain the same. To learn more about these fantastic pumps and how they can benefit you, keep reading. You'll learn all the basics to get started on your solar water pump project.

Solariver Solar Water Pump Kit Components

  • Photovoltaic (PV) Array
  • Electric Water Pump

Photovoltaic (PV) Array

The photovoltaic (PV) array is the power behind the pump. This consists of one or more solar panels, which convert the sun’s heat energy into usable electricity for the pump. For a small pumping system, like those used for bird baths and fountains, you may only need one small solar panel. Solariver offers 12 Watt and 20 Watt solar water pump kits for these uses.  For a larger system that requires a larger pump or more than one pump, like your garden or flower beds, you may need two or more solar panels.

Electric Water Pump

The electric motor is what drives the pump. As the solar-produced electricity flows into the motor, the motor turns. As the motor turns, it powers the water pump, which sucks water from the well or reservoir and pushes it through pipes.  Solar-powered water pumps are so reliable that most are given an expected useful life of many years. Solariver uses a brushless motor, which is easy to clean and maintain, lasts longer and is more quiet and efficient than brushed motors.  The only thing you have to decide is if you need a surface pump or a submersible pump.

Surface Water Pump

A surface water pump is placed on the ground and connected to pipes. One pipe goes into the water supply. The other pipe is connected to an overhead tank. The pump moves the water from the underground source to the storage tank.

Submersible Water Pump 

Submersible water pumps are designed to be fully submerged in water. These are most often used in wells, fountains and water features. When the pump activates, water is drawn directly into the pump and out through a system of pipes that are either connected to an irrigation system or a water feature, like a pond or fountain. This pump can also be used to fill an above-ground storage tank. Solariver solar water pump kits are submersible.

How Solar Powered Water Pumps Work

Solar-powered water pumps work in the same way as a traditional water pump. When electricity flows into the pump, the water pump moves water from one area to another. The primary difference is that the pump does not cost anything in terms of electricity consumption once it is setup and plugged into the solar array. This allows for placement where there is no practical electrical source.

  1. The sun shines down on the silicon cells of the solar panel. The silicon cells then convert the sun’s heat energy into usable electricity for the water pump.
  2. The water pump has a power cord attached to it. However, instead of that cord containing prongs for a standard electrical outlet, it contains a connection for the solar panel.
  3. Once the pump is connected to the panel, the solar array will provide all the pump’s electrical needs as long as the sun is shining.

Common Solar Water Pump Uses

Solar water pumps can be used anywhere you need to pump water, including for residential, commercial, agricultural and off-grid properties.

Residential Water Pump Uses

  • Gardening– vegetable and herb gardens as well as flower beds.
  • Yard Irrigation– Watering your grass, trees and shrubs
  • Small and Large Water Features– ponds, waterfalls, birdbaths and fountains

 Commercial Water Pump Uses 

  • Animal Troughs– Watering livestock, like horses, cows and pigs
  • Greenhouses– Large and small commercial greenhouses that sell flowers, trees and shrubs
  • Property Irrigation– Watering grass and other plant life on the grounds

 Agricultural Water Pump Uses

  • Crop Irrigation– For watering fruits, vegetables and grains
  • Flood Control– For removing excess water from the fields

Off-Grid and Extremely Remote Areas 

  • Pumping Well Water– pumping well water into an off-grid home
  • Watering Crops– Automatically watering vegetables, fruits and grains that are located in fields or greenhouses
  • Outdoor Shower or Water Heater– Pumping water to outdoor shower storage tanks and water heaters.

Hydroponics and Aquaponics

  • Growing Vegetables and Herbs– Can be used to pump mineral-rich water through aquaponic and hydroponic growing systems
  • Fish Tanks/Ponds– Can be used to keep the water clean, filtered and circulating in fish tanks

Rainwater Collection

  • Pumping and Storing Rain Water– Can be used to collect and pump rainwater to storage tanks for later use.
  • Anywhere Else You Need an Environmentally-Friendly Water Pump– Your imagination is the limit for solar water pump uses. If you need a water pump, there’s a good chance a solar water pump would work for your project.

Benefits of Solar Water Pumps

  • Easy to transport
  • Easy to maintain
  • Extremely reliable and durable
  • Great for remote and off-grid areas
  • Lowers your carbon footprint
  • Powered by renewable energy
  • Typically has a long expected useful life
  • Extremely cost-efficient over the lifetime of the water pump

How to Buy a Solar Water Pump 

If you’ve decided a solar water pump is right for you, then it’s time to find the right pump for your needs and purchase it. But, how do you determine if the water pump you’re looking at is the right one for your needs?

First, determine how many gallons per hour you need to pump. For a waterfall water feature, we recommend buying a pump that can move 100 gallons of water per hour per inch of waterfall width. If you’re using the pump to circulate and filter water in a pond, you’d need to know that pond water must be fully circulated and cleaned every two hours. This means that if you have a 500-gallon pond, you need a pump that can circulate 250 gallons an hour. If your goal is to pump water through a fountain, a 100 gallon per hour pump would probably suffice.

How high you need to pump the water can influence which pump is right for your use. Take this handy quiz to help find the right solar pump kit for your project.

  • Small Pumping Jobs – small water features – 160+ GPH
  • Medium Pumping Jobs – medium water features and ponds - 360+GPH
  • Large Pumping Jobs – large water features, fountains and waterfalls - 900+GPH

Once you’ve determined the right size pump, it’s time to buy. We recommend using an all-in-one kit that contains the solar panel, pump and cords for fast, easy and affordable installation. Some favorite solar water pump hits include the Solariver Solar Water Pump Kit 360+, which contains a submersible water pump and a 20-watt solar panel. This pump is perfect for ponds and other medium-sized water features and uses. For large pumping needs, we typically recommend the Solariver Solar Water Pump Kit 900 GPH Submersible Pump, which contains two 35 watt solar panels. This provides enough pumping power for a large pond or decently sized waterfall feature. You could also use it to water your gardens and fill your livestock troughs.

When you want to pump water but don’t want high electric bills or to increase your home’s, business’s or agricultural farm’s carbon footprint, consider buying a solar water pump. These durable and highly reliable pumps offer many years of use, and they can be purchased in sizes that meet your needs. There’s especially great for areas that are off-grid and land that is far away from the home’s main power system.

To learn more about our durable solar-powered water pumps, visit us online.