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If you need to move water in a remote or off-grid area, a solar water pump is probably your most efficient option. Most of the time, a solar water pumping system (also known as "solar-direct pumping") is about as straightforward as it gets: a solar panel is wired directly to a solar powered water pump. No batteries. No inverter. Just a simple water pumping system that moves water when the sun is shining, which is usually when it's most needed.
While solar water pumping truly is as simple as PV and a pump, in most cases you'll want to add a pump controller or linear current booster (LCB) to the system. These devices help you squeeze more runtime and efficiency out of a solar water pump by converting excess voltage to current during periods of low sun (most notably early morning and evening), and some have other features as well.
But what about moving water when the sun's not shining? In most cases, we recommend storing water in a holding tank rather than storing electricity in batteries to run the pump. This results in the same outcome: water when you need it, but with less cost and complexity than integrating battery storage. A notable exception to this rule of thumb is when you need to use a booster pump to create water pressure inside your house. In this case, batteries are needed to maintain water pressure night and day. For help figuring out what your exact water pumping needs are, call us at 800-919-2400 or use our free solar water pumping system quote tool.
Surface pumps are designed to pump water from surface sources like springs, ponds, tanks, or shallow wells. Most of our surface pumps are either diaphragm pumps or rotary vane pumps and can run solar-direct for simple, inexpensive operation.
Surface pumps should be mounted in dry, weatherproof locations or housings as close to the water source as practical. Unlike our submersible well pumps, they should not be submerged or allowed to freeze. Make sure to drain your surface pump system before freezing weather sets in! For help with any solar water pumping system, call our Tech Desk at 800-919-2400 or use our solar water pumping system quote tool.
Every submersible well pump sold by Real Goods has a sealed motor assembly to protect it from water and freeze damage and allow it to be installed below the water surface. Our lower-cost DC submersible well pumps from Aquatec can run solar-direct, while Grundfos pumps can run off either AC or DC and feature a built-in MPPT controller. Either can be indispensable for delivering water off-grid.
Most of our well pumps are either helical rotor pumps or diaphragm pumps. For help choosing a submersible pump or well pump to fit your needs, call our Tech Desk at 800-919-2400 or use our solar water pumping system quote tool.
Pump controllers are attached to a pump or storage tank and monitor water flow and/or tank levels, controlling settings on the connected pump so that the desired levels are maintained.
A linear current booster (LCB) is nearly a necessity for solar-direct water pumping systems. A linear current booster converts excess solar PV voltage into extra amperage when the solar panels aren't producing enough current for the pump they're connected to. LCBs will boost water delivery in most solar-direct systems by 20% or more, and we usually recommend a properly-sized one with every system. It's well worth the small additional investment, especially since - with solar-direct pumping - you're saving money by not buying batteries. A linear current booster will help get a solar-direct pump running earlier in the morning, keep it running later in the evening, and can even keep it running on hazy or cloudy days. The pump will run more slowly than if it had full power, but if it's running at all, it's delivering water.
Float switches will automatically turn a pump on and off to keep a storage tank full. Float switches can be used to either pump to or from a storage tank, and will automatically turn the system off when satisfied.
We also offer replacement parts for a number of water pumps.