View Full Version : How to pump water up a big hill?
Richard on Maui
05-06-2006, 09:00 AM
Wondering if anyone has any ideas or recommendations. I am open to trying crazy experimental improvised stuff but fear I will end up taking the expensive and really unsatisfactory option of gas pump.
The situation is that we have a pond, that I guess holds something like 100 000 gallons, but it is at the bottom of the valley. The good thing about it is that it fills up quickly after a good rain. But how to get it up to the plants where I need it?
We have a second, smaller pond up on the ridge that I would like to pump the water to, and from there gravity feed to gardens. It is about a 50 foot vertical rise, and probably something like 300 - 500 feet across the ground from pond to pond. Further up the ridge I have a smaller tank that would give gravity feed anywhere on the property. It is probably 100 ft vertically above the bottom pond, and maybe 1000 feet across ways from the bottom pond. I guess if I had a portable pump I could do it in stages, first from one pond to the other, then from the little pond up to the tank, but that would get to be a drag probablyly, lugging a pump around the property.
How much solar power and which pump would you need to do the job? Or, any recommendations on makes of gas pumps for the job? Or any mad scientist ideas for wind power or anything?
05-06-2006, 09:30 AM
This is worth a revisit, I posted a link to solar pumps.
But for price & convenience.... a small Honda fire-fighting pump is portable and super reliable. Chuck it in your wheelbarrow and go forth and pump, young man!!
Richard on Maui
05-06-2006, 11:23 AM
Gee, I totally missed that and it was only the other day, huh. Thanks for the tip, Floot.
So, you reckon a 5hp engine could pump up to that sort of head? How much approximately would one of those set you back in Aussie dollars? YOu are probably right. It would be much cheaper than the solar setup eh? It would be nice to do it solar though. Quieter, for one thing.
One of the silly ideas I have had is to take one of the dead vehicles on the property whose engines work and hook that up to some kind of pump. We have a 1974 diesel mercedes that apparently has a good engine, and biodiesel is available relatively cheaply here. I am not much of a mechanic though, and less of an engineer, so maybe I am kidding myself. But it should be possible right? I know I couldn't put the mercedes engine in the wheelbarrow either...
05-06-2006, 11:24 AM
That lift is not too hard for solar pumping. Pretty much any solar pump would do the trick, and a solar pump would save you in the medium and long term over a gas pump, as well us remove the risk of contaminating your water source with petroleum products.
I have installed about 5 different models of solar pumps, submersibles, piston pumps and diaphragm pump, and ALL of them run fine off of two 75 watt panels.
The length of the line is unimportant, really, as long as your pipe is properly sized.
The best two pumps we have used regularly are Sunpumps http://www.sunpumps.com and any the Solar Force Piston Pump, by Dankoff, which is now owned by a company called Conergy..
We have also used slow pumps, but at .5 gallons a minute, we found they did not meet our needs.
The Sunpump with two 75 watt panels would meet your needs, and the one we have is about three years old now, and has run continuously for that time without any problems. The Sunpump is subermisible, too, which means that it can go right into the water, and can't get killed by flooding (may not be a problem for you, but was a deciding factor for us!)
As it is submersible, problems of cavitation from air leaks are non existent.
We pump a change in elevation of 120 feet, and about 1400 horizontal feet using 1 inch pipe and a SDS sunpump. It gives us a reliable 3-4 gallons per minute with two 75 watt panels wired in series for 24vdc nominal, via a controller, which acts like a transmission, getting the pump pumping earlier in the day. That should work well for you.
Stay away from cheapy diaphragm pumps, Flojets and Shurflos and the like as they are really meant for home applications, pressurizing small plumbing systems, tyically RVs. They cost 1/3-1/4 of the Sun pumps, but will burn out within a year. We did that for several years, and until I gave all our junk to a neighbor, we had about 8 of them, some with bad motors, some with cracked heads, etc. I got to indulge my inner mechanic frequently.... Unless you really love disassembling pumps, fretting over dwindling water supplies and stressing out over dieing plants, spend the extra money up front and get a good pump, a Sunpump or a Piston Pump (or anything by Dankoff, Windy made the best pumps ever!).
05-06-2006, 02:00 PM
Last time I looked a 5hp honda pump was about AUD $500.
If you have a creek with any fall on your place you can consider a ram or platypus pump, they work for years and years.
I had a friend years ago that used to run a big murray river pump off a belt he ran round the rim of old holdens he purchased occassionally, he set up about 30 acres of yabby farm on that. I have no idea where he found the pump but Jeff was pretty ingenious [and broke].
The solar pump is the way to go, run the line right to the top dam with a t-piece off to the middle dam. These things are now being used on a lot of stations and lift water a long way. If you have power nearby electric pumps are even cheaper and readily repairable by amatuers.
Make sure whatever you do has a quality foot-valve though.
Richard on Maui
05-06-2006, 03:56 PM
Thanks so much guys. Your friends yabby farm sounds quite like what I am proposing. Thing is I am probably not quite as ingenious. Maybe not that broke either, I don't know!
Um, I have a dead (dormant?) grundfos 1/2hp pump that I ran without water. I guess I should tear into that and see if I can pull off an amateurish repair job. I know that that pump can lift water up to the first dam, because I am doing a similar thing with the one I replaced it with our roof catchment rainwater up to the top tank. I have to adjust the pressure switch each time I need to pump that high, as the standard setting for pressurising the house system isn't quite enough to get up the hill...
So, Christopher, the sunpump is a DC, right? It just pumps when the sun shines? How much do they retail for usually? Two panels are going to run about 1500 aren't they?
I probably am too broke to do that. Hmm. I do like the sound of the one inch pipe though. The larger the pipe diameter the higher the cost of fittings, and its the fittings that always end up killing my budget it seems...
Floot, a foot valve is a check valve, right?
05-06-2006, 04:33 PM
Not sure, the foot valve I am talking about is normally at the pump and it is what stops your pump line turning into a syphon and letting all the water run back down hill..
while I am writing this I saw a plan somewhere for a DC pump made out of PVC bits on one of those 'appropriate technologies' sites. Watch this space I may have kept the PDF on my computer somewhere.
Richard on Maui
05-06-2006, 05:30 PM
Christopher, which model of sunpump are you using? The SDS submersibles seem like what you are talking about, but I can only see ones with 3/4" fittings, and 50' capacity. I'm probably not looking very well though.
Also, I'm curious, when you say the horizontal distance doesn't matter as long as you use the right size pipe, what does that mean? The further you go, the larger the diameter to reduce friction? Or?
05-06-2006, 05:49 PM
Here is what I found. http://www.google.com.au/search?sourceid=navclient&ie=UTF-8&rls=GGLD,GGLD:2004-04,GGLD:en&q=make+PVC+pump+solar
There are a few links here that will show you how to build a solar pumps and pumps in general.
Richard on Maui
06-06-2006, 03:43 AM
Thanks Floot, some interesting info on those sites. I'll probably have to save up for a solar system, by which time the rains will be back!
06-06-2006, 05:44 AM
We have the SDS something pump (hahahaha),not sure which one as I scored it for pennies on the dollar in a fit of depraved opprtunism.... and it is in the bottom of a spring.... about .5 kilometers from where I sit. They run about USD500 or so, and well worth the money. Solid metal, brass and stainless steel.......
Our pump was a Kyocera pump, but Kyocera stopped making them :( so Sunpump is making them. Not sure which one would work, but the specs of all those says 100 feet, so 50 feet should be easily accomplished.
06-06-2006, 09:41 AM
Whatever happened to the old Southern Cross windmill? They pump over a long distance. I remember seeing them on every rural road we travelled growing up.
(Until I was a teen I thought it was a fancy way to advertise the name of the property. I wondered why so many people named their property "Southern Cross".)
Richard on Maui
04-07-2006, 08:03 AM
Okay, the plot thickens. Last week sometime I called up the 1800 number of the Sunpump company that Christopher directed me to. (Thanks Christopher).
The nice fellow I talked to wasn't very happy with my rough estimates of vertical head and horizontal distance and explained a method to determine the vertical head, precisely, which is so cool I want to share it here.
You get a pressure gauge, and put it in the end of a pipe that goes from the source you want to pump from up to the height where you want to store it. You fill the pipe with water and read the gauge. For every psi (pounds per square inch) of pressure on the gauuge you have 2.31 feet of vertical rise. I had estimated about 100 feet of vertical feet. Turns out that after a few days of burping air out of the pipe I have discovered that there is only about 65 feet. Pretty big difference eh?
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to get a hold of the Sunpumps fellow again, either on the phone or by email, so I am still trying to figure out which pump best suits our application, and what else we need, and what is the best way to configure the power system.
Christopher, are you using a special pump controller between your solar panels and your pump?
Can anyone here explain for me the method of determining the amount of water you pump based on the size of the pipe and the watts going into the pump?
I have acquired an AirX wind generator (unfortunately not for a particularly cheap price as Christopher would probably have managed, but I bought it from someone who needs the money as much if not more than me so whatever) and I am wondering if we would be better off adding this to the power system on our community kitchen, or using it to power the pump. Is one of these things appropriate as a power source for the sunpump? Christopher? I seem to remember you talking about your use of one of these units.
Any tips or general DC philosophy appreciated...
04-07-2006, 10:04 AM
Thanks for that info! I like knowing the head, so will try it on our pump application.
Our pump is a 24vdc pump, wired to two 75 watt 12vdc panels in series, making one 24vdc array. This is fed through a controller, and from there, directly to the pump, which is set in a spring.
Glad to ear you got through to them at Sun Pump. Sorry to hear you couldn'ty cal them twice! I have never dealt with them, but the guy I spoke with at Kyocera says the pumps are as well built as Kyoceras were (which is saying a lot!). If you can get one of those pumps, get it.
There is no formula for pumping capability based on pipe size. There is a formula per pump based on solar array size and head, and there will be a suggested pipe diameter, which you should follow.
I have never owned an Air X machine, though I have sold and installed several, and I think they are great small turbines. They are very easy to install, just like a solar panel! Judging from all of the ones I have intsalled, both Land and Marine units, they are very reliable, and I have plans to get one for myself sometime, soon....
I would install the Air turbine in your house system, and use solar panels for the pump. You will "need" a controller, as the controller acts like a transmission, and allows your pump to kick over and start pumping in low light.
Get a 24vdc pump, and use two 12vdc(nominal) panels wired in series to create 24vdc nominal from the array. Run this through the controller, which will act like a transmission, and then go get yerself a cool one for the hammock.
Let me know how it goes!
Richard on Maui
04-07-2006, 12:09 PM
Alright. Thanks for the advice Christopher. Although, now I am confused about the voltage! I thought the sunpumps were 12v and you wired the panels in parrallel.
Oh well, I'm sure we'll figure it out! I am guessing that the sunpump people are celebrating the independence of the UNited States from Great Britain, or something...
But you know, if I can get water anywhere I want I'll have no excuse to get in the hammock as I'll have plenty of planting to do! sigh (insert rolling eyes dude)
10-07-2006, 03:52 PM
The Sunpumps input voltage may range from 12 to 30 VDC. At 12 VDC input, your pump will need twice the amperage (current) to operate (and correspondingly larger cabling). Operating at 24 VDC halves the current for the same power requirements.
It appears that the SDS model submersible pumps in the "sump pump" configuration is what you'd need, although they all have a 3/4 inch output diameter, not 1 inch. All three of the SDS sump pumps are good for up to 100 feet vertical, so your 65 feet should be a piece of cake.
If you use two 75 watt 12 VDC panels wired in series for 24 VDC, you should be good for 150 watts at max output of the panels (sun perpendicular to the plane of the panel). This would indicate the SDSP-Q-128 model pump (116 watts) at 3.7 gallons per minute.
The PCA-30-M1 controller ensures that the pump will only operate when there is sufficient power to avoid damage to the pump motor. It also contains an electronic circuit breaker. I would also add an on-off switch of some type between the panels and controller to safely remove power from the controller/pump for servicing of the system or in the event of malfunction. At the 24 VDC, get a switch rated for at least 10 amps and operation in an outdoor environment.
Hope this helps. Happy pumping!
Richard on Maui
10-07-2006, 06:19 PM
Yes it helps a lot 9and1f. Thank you. In fact, I finally got hold of the good people at sunpumps and the q128 was the pump they recommended, and it is the one we ordered!
We actually have 2 100 watt panels for the job, so they should be enough. Must make sure we get the wiring right I guess! They recommend a fuseable disconnect, which I guess would serve the same purpose as the on/off switch you suggest.
Let me ask you this, for times when we don't need to pump water, would it be an okay idea to have those panels charge batteries and then use those panels via an inverter and an extension cord to a "remote cabin" about 300 feet away? Is there a simple, safe way to put a switch in the system that would redirect the power from the panels from the pump controller to the batteries, or rather to a different charge controller? (the literature says that the pump controller is not suited to managing batteries). It seems to me like this shouldn't be a problem, but I am pretty ignorant about electricity...
11-07-2006, 02:33 AM
Great you've got your pump ordered! I'm very interested to hear how it turns out, so keep us apprised.
And, yes, use all the watts you'll be collecting. An appropriate type switch between the pump system and the battery/inverter system would be something like this: http://store.wardmarine.com/Merchant2/m ... ry_Code=BS (http://store.wardmarine.com/Merchant2/merchant.mv?Screen=PROD&Store_Code=WMOS&Product_Code=SCP11501&Category_Code=BS)
A battery charge controller would be similar to this: http://www.oksolar.com/n_cart/product_d ... ontrollers (http://www.oksolar.com/n_cart/product_details.asp?ProductID=49403&cat=Solar%20Energy&subcat=Charge%20Controllers)
Sizing your battery array based on load (and charging capability) will be important. Here is a good primer on system design basics: http://www.cosolar.com/system_design/systems_home.htm
Best to keep the DC portion of the battery/inverter system grouped closely together, as direct current is "lossy" over distance (voltage drops significantly). Use the inverter AC output to traverse the 300 feet.
Will you be integrating this solar aspect of your battery/inverter system with your wind generator? Sounds like you're well on your way to a very capable power system!
Richard on Maui
11-07-2006, 06:34 AM
Hey thanks 9and1f.
I have seen those switches before on boats.
The battery configuration is a funny thing. Presently I am loaning my panels to a guy who lives in the "remote cabin". He has all sorts batteries that he uses, and he seems to get by. He is pretty "cheaP' and hates to buy things new, but he did splurge and get himself a new C40 charge controller a while back. If it isn't sunny enough he puts a "rv/marine deep cycle" battery in his truck and drives around to charge it up. He also uses the old L-16 batteries that we rejected from the system that powers our house, on a different part of the property, when one cell went bad. Most of the cells still hold 75% charge, so I was glad that he was prepared to put them to use rather than take them in to be scrapped. I don't know how much time he spends fooling around with his batteries, but he is retired and seems to enjoy playing with it.
We had considered setting the wind turbine up in the same location, and using for his system and for the pump, but have actually now decided to use it on a 3rd system, which actually has a whole lot more people using it. Until now, they have been getting by with 3 100 watt panels, amongst about 10 people at times. They mostly just use the power for lights, and minimalist type stuff. With the wind generator running they should be able to enjoy a few more modern convieniences without running down the batteries so much.
Of course, I guess I'll need to figure out how big the battery bank will need to be when we add the 400w wind turbine, huh?
I know you directed me to that solar power primer, but to be honest, I get lost pretty fast when it comes to amphours, watthours, ( whathours???)... My layperson understanding would be that with a hybrid system, the size of the battery bank required would be smaller, since when you don't have sun you will often have wind and vice versa, but then I am probably missing something important here.
Do you reckon that 2 L-16's would be enough for 3 x 100w panels and one AirX, going through a C40 charge controller and one of those oblong trace inverters (sorry, I forget the model)??? Especially given that power consumption habits would be pretty conservative by modern american standards?
11-07-2006, 07:13 AM
Richard, 300 watts of solar and an Air X 400 watt wind turbine would be enough to charge a battery bank of 2 L16s wired in series for 12vdc. I designed and installed s system of exactly that size. The internal controller in the turbine, and the Trace C40, will keep your batteries from being boiled.
What I would do is when you know your batterioes are topped off, but you still have power, run the washing machine and any other loads you have!
The oblong Trace would be a DR1512, right?
Richard on Maui
15-07-2006, 04:05 PM
OKay, so we got the sunpump (Q130, actually) and made a rack and stand for our solar panels, so that they can be down near the pond, which, you'll remember is in the bottom of a pretty steep gully, but still catch some good sunlight, and got it wired up to the controller. The sun shone all day today, and in three hours we had filled up our little tank. 500 gallons in three hours isn't bad just using the power of the sun.
It doesn't make hardly any noise, but does vibrate pretty interestingly.
I actually want to drain our middle pond, and clean out a decade of silt, and cull an overstocked tilapia population, (until I got in there and caught some today, I actually thought the little guys were goldfish, but no, they are golden tilapia!), so I haven't started to pump into that one yet.
I sure am glad I didn't get the cheaper in the short term more expensive to me and the earth in long term option of the gas pump. It was fun playing with the solar panel wiring and the pump will really suit our needs here very well I think.
Thanks so much Christopher for turning us on to sunpumps, and 9and1f for the advice down the track. You guys rock, and now we can get water anywhere we want! :D :D :D :D :D :D :D
Good onya Richard, great to hear you got the right solution for your needs and are so chuffed about it...no stopping you now! :D
26-07-2006, 08:33 AM
What pump did you end up with? What controller (model number) did you end up with? How much did they cost?
Our pump/or controller is giving trouble, only pumoed about 100 gallons today before shutting down, so we think we should order a back up..... and Kyocera doesn't make ours any more :?
Richard on Maui
26-07-2006, 12:06 PM
Hi Christopher, (glad we can still share info after the encounter in that ridiculous thread over there!)
We got the Q130 pump, and the controller was the one that the sales guy, Jim, recommended to go with it, PCA-30-M1. So far it is working well, does 1500-2000 gallons a day, I reckon, depending on sun and the elevation to which we try to pump; the pond is only about 30 feet above, and the tank is like, 65 or something, I have a "t" in the line with a valve to chose where the water goes. Thinking about a water feature now, so that when our pond and tanks are full, we can divert the water into a waterfall that will cascade into some taro patches or water chesnut or something, and then back into the bottom pond.
Sorry to hear you have problems with your Kyocera. Is it possible that it sucked some kind of trash into its works? Or maybe bad connections somewhere? The sunpump seemed pretty well made, all stainless steel and brass body and fittings... Of course, nothing works forever.
Anyway, the sunpump factory is in Arizona, in the same building as the sales people. They told me they have lots of big orders backed up, but that one or two pumps aren't a problem, and they shipped ours out straight away. Jim even said that if there wasn't one available he would go and assemble one just for me. Nice to know, in case anything does go wrong with it, that I can send it back to the people who manufacture it, and talk to them on the phone, in a language I am conversant in...
Let us know how you solve your problem, eh?
26-07-2006, 02:28 PM
Hahaha! Richard! :lol: Whatever. I disagree with lots of people, and your points were all good.
I am going to take the pump apart tomorrow. My controller reads power from the panels, 34 volts on a nominal 24vdc array, indicating there is no load, so the pump must have shut off.
Our need is not too strong, the roof and rain water tanks hold water, and we get rain every night now, so all the plants are well fed, but I like the pressure the kitchen gets from the tank up the hill. The spring is in full flow, too, so really nice to sit there and tinker with the pump, lots of cool water.
Anyway, will try seeing if the pump runs panel direct in the morning, which would indicate a problem with the controller. Hmmmm :?
Richard on Maui
27-07-2006, 02:37 PM
So Christopher, did you get to taking your pump apart? Did it run without your controller?
27-07-2006, 03:55 PM
Well things are not as drastic as they initially seemed. The controller seems to be the complete problem, so I ordered a new controller by Sunpump, along with a new pump as back up for this one. I didn't buy it directly from Sunpump as I am a dealer with another company that sells their equipment for below retail, which saved me about USD100 or so. Its also coming down in another order for components I have, so the shipping will be nothing additional (via freight forwarder, I pay by size, not weight)
It should be in Belize within the next two weeks.
The pump, BTW, still pumps, but not much as the controller basically acts as a transmission to get the pump pumping, so we are getting very little water... Luckily the rain tanks are topped off!
All is well![/i]
Richard on Maui
28-07-2006, 05:33 AM
Interesting... YOu'll be laughing with two solar pumps up your sleeve!
So, what goes wrong with a controller? The humidity corrode the circuitry? Is it something that can be repaired or is it junk after a certain timeframe?
28-07-2006, 07:57 AM
Not sure what the problem is.... I know the only other controller that died was for a piston pump that got flooded, but it got drowned in water and silt. Humidity killed that one!
I have been looking for my manual to tell me what the lights mean, but can't find it... But I had current going into the controller, and none coming out. Followed by pump pumps direct off of solar, but not in low light. Hence need a new controller, and since I am ordering one sent here, might as well get the back up pump, sine loss of water here woule be catastrophic for some of our plantings.
Will tell more as it develops....
18-06-2009, 04:29 AM
I would suggest trying a diaphragm pump. Ingersoll Rand products are pretty reliable, if you want to learn more about it check out their website: http://www.ingersollrandproducts.com/IS ... am_en-3809 (http://www.ingersollrandproducts.com/IS/Category.aspx-am_en-3809)
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