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Unified Serenity
14th November 2011, 22:27
I'm researching online about solar powered systems and emergency solar power water pumps to water one's garden and basic water needs should the power go out and we want to pump from the aquifer using solar power.

I am wondering if anyone here has set up such a system. Apparently there are different batteries that use less power but work, and I don't know what I would need to do to set that up as an auxiliary to our current system. Any ideas or good websites would be welcome.

Ron Mauer Sr
15th November 2011, 01:28
Option 1: The Shurflo 9300 (http://www.solar-electric.com/sh93susowapu.html) is an efficient pump that can be powered by two solar panels. Water can be pumped from as deep as 225' into a reservoir (cistern). Once water has been raised to the surface there are more options. A hand pump could be used. Or an efficient DC powered pump could provide adequate pressure and flow for a shower.

Option 2: Put together a small 12 volt solar system with at least 4 50 watt solar modules, 4 Trojan T-105 batteries and a an inverter of at least 2000 watt capacity. For years I used such an inverter to pump water and power a house. You will need a 120 volt 3 wire (capacitor start) water pump. If you want to power your house and pump water a larger system is needed. Not all water pumps are equal. Do not used the pump normally stocked which is typically a 2 wire pump. A 2 wire pump requires a large surge current to start compared to a 3 wire capacitor start pump.

Option 3: Put together a larger 24 volt solar system with more solar panels, more batteries and a larger inverter. My current system uses a 3600 watt inverter that can power a conventional well pump (2 wires). The 2000 watt inverter I had was marginal for the current pump. I decided to spend money on a larger inverter instead of replacing the well pump with a 3 wire version.

If you decide to power your entire house with solar be prepared to make some lifestyle changes. No A/C, replace the electric hot water heater with a propane unit, gas cook stove instead of electric, get a super efficient refrigerator (I had a 12 cubic foot Sunfrost), no dishwasher, no electric heat. I used propane direct vent heaters (no electricity required) and a woodstove.

Take a look at Backwoods Solar (http://www.backwoodssolar.com/). They have articles online that may help you make decisions about which way you want to go.

There are many battery options but the most popular are the deep cycle lead acid 6 volt batteries such as the Trojan T105 and the L16. I've used both. 6 volt batteries can be wired together to provide 12 volts, 24 volts or 48 volts. Typically small systems used 12 volts, medium systems 24 volts, and the large systems use 48 volts.

Batteries require maintenance to ensure water always covers the internal plates.

Inverters serve two functions: They make common household AC voltage from battery power. When external power is available from a commercial source or a generator the inverter automatically changes mode and becomes a high capacity batter charger.

With proper planning, a system can be designed that can be expanded with additional solar panels. In fact you can start without any solar panels and use a generator or commercial power to keep batteries charged. This allows a generator to be uses intermittently instead of being required full time. This type of system will also provide electricity if the commercial system becomes intermittent. Solar panels can be added at any time.

Some dealers I can recommend:
Backwoods Solar (http://www.backwoodssolar.com/)
New England Solar (http://newenglandsolar.com/)
AltE (http://www.altestore.com/store/)

Water is critical. Have a plan.

Unified Serenity
15th November 2011, 01:58
Option 1: The Shurflo 9300 (http://www.solar-electric.com/sh93susowapu.html) is an efficient pump that can be powered by two solar panels. Water can be pumped from as deep as 225' into a reservoir (cistern). Once water has been raised to the surface there are more options. A hand pump could be used. Or an efficient DC powered pump could provide adequate pressure and flow for a shower.

Option 2: Put together a small 12 volt solar system with at least 4 50 watt solar modules, 4 Trojan T-105 batteries and a an inverter of at least 2000 watt capacity. For years I used such an inverter to pump water and power a house. You will need a 120 volt 3 wire (capacitor start) water pump. If you want to power your house and pump water a larger system is needed. Not all water pumps are equal. Do not used the pump normally stocked which is typically a 2 wire pump. A 2 wire pump requires a large surge current to start compared to a 3 wire capacitor start pump.

Option 3: Put together a larger 24 volt solar system with more solar panels, more batteries and a larger inverter. My current system uses a 3600 watt inverter that can power a conventional well pump (2 wires). The 2000 watt inverter I had was marginal for the current pump. I decided to spend money on a larger inverter instead of replacing the well pump with a 3 wire version.

If you decide to power your entire house with solar be prepared to make some lifestyle changes. No A/C, replace the electric hot water heater with a propane unit, get a super efficient refrigerator (I had a 12 cubic foot Sunfrost), no dishwasher, no electric heat. I used propane direct vent heaters (no electricity required) and a woodstove.

Take a look at Backwoods Solar (http://www.backwoodssolar.com/). They have articles online that may help you make decisions about which way you want to go.

There are many battery options but the most popular are the deep cycle lead acid 6 volt batteries such as the Trojan T105 and the L16. I've used both. 6 volt batteries can be wired together to provide 12 volts, 24 volts or 48 volts. Typically small systems used 12 volts, medium systems 24 volts, and the large systems use 48 volts.

Batteries require maintenance to ensure water always covers the internal plates.

Inverters serve two functions: They make common household AC voltage from battery power. When external power is available from a commercial source or a generator the inverter automatically changes mode and becomes a high capacity batter charger.

With proper planning, a system can be designed that can be expanded with additional solar panels. In fact you can start without any solar panels and use a generator or commercial power to keep batteries charged. This allows a generator to be uses intermittently instead of being required full time. This type of system will also provide electricity if the commercial system becomes intermittent. Solar panels can be added at any time.

Some dealers I can recommend:
Backwoods Solar (http://www.backwoodssolar.com/)
New England Solar (http://newenglandsolar.com/)
AltE (http://www.altestore.com/store/)

Water is critical. Have a plan.

Great information which I appreciate very much. Thanks for all the options. I am a newby to this, but it is something I want to do. How hard is it to switch the house wiring and set this up? I am not a big fan of getting zapped so I am wondering how complicated this is, and I guess I need to check with local ordinances regarding permits etc..

Thanks

Ron Mauer Sr
15th November 2011, 02:51
Most of the house wiring stays the same.

Do an energy survey to determine how much energy you are currently using. The solar energy dealers identified in the earlier post should be able to help get you started. And they have lots of experience from which to make accurate estimates of power useage and advise what you can do to cut costs. If adding solar to your home becomes too costly, there are still many options left. But if you want convenience, it will be expensive.

Do not worry about getting zapped. Most of the house wiring remains as it is.

You will need the help of an electrician knowledgeable about solar energy. He is responsible for knowing the codes and getting inspections. I would expect the electrician to get the electrical permit as well.

Assuming you have a well, minimum preparation for disruptions in the electric grid should include getting an emergency well bucket (http://ronmauer.net/blog/?page_id=178) and a composting toilet (http://ronmauer.net/blog/?page_id=216). Water availability will be critical for health. During an emergency, clean water should not be used to flush a commode.

Anchor
15th November 2011, 05:14
I have the pressure pump on a completely self contained solar system. Separate from the house.

House water is from a rainwater tank. The House pressure pump is a pair of 24v DC Johnson pumps - each pump is enough for three taps running at once. I dont need more than 3 taps on, but I like the redundancy aspect. I use a 100L pressure tank to reduce the "on./off" cycling of the pumps which makes them last longer. Each pump uses 8A current max. I have a 2 x 85W solar panels on the roof, which is overkill, but keeps the 100Ah 24V battery bank charged. I estimate this would give 10 days redundancy which is total overkill, but will enhance the life of the batteries as they are rarely discharged more than 5%. The solar regulator is a morning star 24v 20A controller and is rigged to disconnect the pump if the battery is running low. With the oversized solar panels this never happens, but if you flatten the batteries you reduce their lives immensely. We can have two showers running at the same time - its not as powerful as town water pressure, but good enough (better than a shower with an economy water saving head) I think the showers are 11litres per minute.

If you are talking about a well or bore, I use the Shurflo submersible pump. These are not designed for house pressure, but for filling tanks. I use it as a backup to feed my irrigation tank when there is no rain for a while. In a pinch I can divert this to the house tank, but I've never needed to do that. The bore pump and lift I have means I get 300 Litres per hour in full sun into the tank.

Any questions - ask. I have photos of the systems which I built myself. I am short on time and access at the moment, but I can post them at some point

Ron Mauer Sr
15th November 2011, 07:23
I have the pressure pump on a completely self contained solar system. Separate from the house.

House water is from a rainwater tank. The House pressure pump is a pair of 24v DC Johnson pumps - each pump is enough for three taps running at once. I dont need more than 3 taps on, but I like the redundancy aspect. I use a 100L pressure tank to reduce the "on./off" cycling of the pumps which makes them last longer. Each pump uses 8A current max. I have a 2 x 85W solar panels on the roof, which is overkill, but keeps the 100Ah 24V battery bank charged. I estimate this would give 10 days redundancy which is total overkill, but will enhance the life of the batteries as they are rarely discharged more than 5%. The solar regulator is a morning star 24v 20A controller and is rigged to disconnect the pump if the battery is running low. With the oversized solar panels this never happens, but if you flatten the batteries you reduce their lives immensely. We can have two showers running at the same time - its not as powerful as town water pressure, but good enough (better than a shower with an economy water saving head) I think the showers are 11litres per minute.

If you are talking about a well or bore, I use the Shurflo submersible pump. These are not designed for house pressure, but for filling tanks. I use it as a backup to feed my irrigation tank when there is no rain for a while. In a pinch I can divert this to the house tank, but I've never needed to do that. The bore pump and lift I have means I get 300 Litres per hour in full sun into the tank.

Any questions - ask. I have photos of the systems which I built myself. I am short on time and access at the moment, but I can post them at some point

I would like to see pictures when you can find the time to post.

Unified Serenity
15th November 2011, 11:21
I have the pressure pump on a completely self contained solar system. Separate from the house.

House water is from a rainwater tank. The House pressure pump is a pair of 24v DC Johnson pumps - each pump is enough for three taps running at once. I dont need more than 3 taps on, but I like the redundancy aspect. I use a 100L pressure tank to reduce the "on./off" cycling of the pumps which makes them last longer. Each pump uses 8A current max. I have a 2 x 85W solar panels on the roof, which is overkill, but keeps the 100Ah 24V battery bank charged. I estimate this would give 10 days redundancy which is total overkill, but will enhance the life of the batteries as they are rarely discharged more than 5%. The solar regulator is a morning star 24v 20A controller and is rigged to disconnect the pump if the battery is running low. With the oversized solar panels this never happens, but if you flatten the batteries you reduce their lives immensely. We can have two showers running at the same time - its not as powerful as town water pressure, but good enough (better than a shower with an economy water saving head) I think the showers are 11litres per minute.

If you are talking about a well or bore, I use the Shurflo submersible pump. These are not designed for house pressure, but for filling tanks. I use it as a backup to feed my irrigation tank when there is no rain for a while. In a pinch I can divert this to the house tank, but I've never needed to do that. The bore pump and lift I have means I get 300 Litres per hour in full sun into the tank.

Any questions - ask. I have photos of the systems which I built myself. I am short on time and access at the moment, but I can post them at some point

Wow, I'm really impressed and would love to see your photos. I definately have to get water on a solar pump. Money is an issue, but it's one by choice right now. I stepped away from the world for a while, and I can go back and work for a year or two to pay for what I need. Thanks for the info Anchor.

wavydome
15th November 2011, 11:22
I would just add that there are multiple perspectives, like the gradualist approach. Fully installed PV systems can easily rival the cost of a brand-new car. A new comer to PV should indeed review forums and literature, observe local codes, study before buying. Rural dwellers generally can build for themselves with fewer code issues, (codes always add hurdles).

Where one has too limited a budget for serious PV, there remains an incentive to focus on water first. I recommend getting a large tank-capacity and using gravity feed. My feeling is that a parallel water system could be added along side of existing pressurized AC-based water systems. I've fooled with these for 30 years (one cold water back up and one solar & wood-heated hotwater-insulated tank). I would expect code enforcers might not object to parallel systems, where, in the worst case one attached only a garden hose fixtures, as for emergency backup. It is important to keep sun light out of the tanks to prevent algae growth. I keep my tanks in the 'attic'.

Gravity flow tanks might gradually be thoroughly upgraded to local code which usually does mean hiring a plumber. If a free-thinking-one can be found, ha. As 'professionals' are typically straightjacketed with code interpretation and rarely see the tidal wave of change, looking ahead. Plumbers would rarely see the importance of parallel backup systems.

I actually have upgraded towards full ability to pump from a deep well in case of droughts, power outages, etc... One has to start with one's own specific locality, combined with tech studies, before designing for their own needs and budget. There are countless contexts and caveats, but gravity water tanks are not hard to start with, now that we pass the eleventh hour.

Anchor
15th November 2011, 12:01
I also have a PV system for the house, but this thread was about solar pumping.

There is a big difference once you bring mains voltage into the mix. Lots more rules and regulations, and much much more expensive.

Solar power is not free power! Batteries are consumables, you will need to budget for them and their replacements when they have finished their number of cycle's and worn out.

Mad Hatter
15th November 2011, 15:48
Hi Unified Serenity,

Definitely consider a 48volt system if within budget. You might also research PWM's (Pulse width modulators) if running DC pumps.

Another aspect to consider is the use of one motor to drive two pumps via magnetically coupled gearing. A friend of a friend does this sort of thing. See here... http://www.mgt.com.au/