The solar water pump installation involves three steps: setting up the solar array, assembling the wiring, and mounting the solar water pump. Whether you want to install your converted solar fountain pump or your water pump to fill up your water tank, each installation involves those three main steps and come with its own sub-step. For instance, you’ll have to mount and assemble a stand for the solar array. Then you’ll have to place the solar panels on the stand before moving on to wiring the various parts of the system. In other words, the overall process is not so straightforward. But then, with a detailed guide, you can install your solar water pump without stressing.
Tools Needed for Installing Solar Water Pumps
- Cable crimper and cutter
- Electrical tape
- Teflon tape
- Digital multimeter
- Screwdrivers (Philips and Flat)
- Nuts and Bolts
- Welding machine
- Welding rods
- Big bucket (for collecting water while testing the pump)
- Spirit level bottle
- Adjustable wrenches
Setting Up the Solar Panels
- Anti-corrosion paint
- 20 ft. C-channels (2)
- 21.18 ft. C-channels (5)
- 25 ft. C-channels (9)
- 7 ft. I-beams (2)
- 13 ft. I-beams (4)
- Solar Panels
Assembling the Solar Panel Stand
Choosing a Spot: When trying to set up the solar panel stand for your solar water pump, start by getting a south-facing spot that receives a lot of sunlight.
Solar Angle: Once you find a spot, determine the solar angle – the optimum angle at which your solar cells will get a sufficient amount. Solar angle varies across location and changes year-round. So, as the seasons change, you may have to adjust the angle of your solar panels. To make things easy, you can readily determine your solar angle using an online calculator.
Anti-Rust Paint: Paint the C-channels and I-beams with the anti-corrosion paint. This will ensure that the stand remains in great shape for a long time. You may cover the beams and channels in any other paint once the anti-corrosion paint is dry. But then, they’d be fine with the anti-rust paint only.
Stand Layout: When the metals are dry, you may start placing them into the ground. But drawing a layout of the stand before you start mounting it could make things easier for you.
Install Two 13 ft. I-Beams: Dig a hole 2.5 ft. deep, 2 ft. wide, and 2 ft. long. Pour a layer of concrete in the hole – about 2-3 inches thick – and even the surface out. Then place one 13 ft. I-beam in the hole vertically and fill the hole with concrete. Ensure the I-beam is plumb by assessing it with the spirit level bottle.
Dig a similar-sized hole 25 ft. away and repeat the same steps using another 13 ft. I-beam.
Attach the 13 ft. I-Beams to Each Other With a 25 ft. C-Channel: Once you’ve mounted two 13 ft. I-beams 25 ft. away from each other, attach a 25 ft. C-channel to both of them.
Ensure the C-channel is parallel to the ground surface and level. You can verify this using the spirit level. Once you confirm the C-channel is level, fasten it to the I-beams using nuts and bolts.
Mount the 7 ft. I-Beams on the 13 ft. I-Beams: Place the two 7 ft. I-beams directly over the two 13 ft. I-beams, ensuring their base plates meet. Using the spirit level, make sure the 7 ft. I-beams are plumb.
Fasten the 7 ft. I-beams to the 13 ft. beams using bolts and nuts. Then join the two 7 ft. I-beams with a 25 ft. C-channel, following the same steps as before.
Install the Remaining Two 13 ft. I-Beams and Attach Them to Each Other: Following the same steps as before, dig two holes. Then install the remaining two 13 ft. I-beams 20 ft. away from the already installed 13 ft. beams and 25 ft. away from each other.
After ensuring that they are plumb, attach the two 13 ft. beams to each other with a 25 ft. C-channel. Then bolt them.
Attach the 13 ft. I-Beams With the 20 ft. C-Channels: After installing the remaining two 13 ft. I-beams, attach them to the already installed 13 ft. beams using the two 20 ft. C-channels.
Ensure the C-channels are level and the I-beams are plumb. Then fasten them to each other using bolts and nuts.
Add the Inclined C-Channel: Once you have the base covered, install the C-channels that will incline the solar panels towards the sun’s rays (the 21.18 ft. C-channel).
To install these C-channels, place one end on the taller side of the stand. Then place the other end on the shorter side of the stand.
You may choose to weld the inclined C-channels to the taller and shorter sides of the stand. Alternatively, you may bolt them.
Repeat the same step for all five 21.18 ft. C-channels. Also ensure each inclined C-channel is equidistant from the other.
Mount the Support C-Channels: Once the inclined C-channels are in place, mount the support C-channels (the remaining six 25 ft. C-channels) across them horizontally.
Ensure the C-channels are equidistant from each other. Then fasten them to the inclined C-channels with bolts and nuts. Then again, you may weld them.
Mount the Solar Panels: With the stand all set up, place each solar panel on the inclined part of the solar panel stand. Then bolt them to the stand. Welding may not be the best option for fastening the solar panels because it won’t be so easy to remove the panels if you have to replace them.
For this article on how to install solar water pump, each of our solar panel was 7 ft. long and about 4 ft. wide. So, we were able to mount 18 solar panels on the stand.
The electrical ratings of the solar panels you get when working on how to install solar water pump will depend on the solar power needs of your solar pump. For us, 18 solar panels with a solar output of 300W each was sufficient.
Wiring Your Solar Pump
- Solar pump controller
- Solar panel connector box
- Solar-powered water pump
- Circuit breakers
- Cable (at least 2 ft. longer than the depth of the well if you’re using a submersible pump)
Connecting the Solar Panels Using a Solar Panel Connector Box
When wiring your solar water pump, the first thing you must do is connect the solar panels to each other.
You may connect all the panels in series or parallel. But since the solar power system of solar water pumps is typically large, series connection might be the better option.
If you are trying to tap into the upsides of connecting the solar panel system in parallel, you may create multiple series circuits then connect them in parallel.
In other words, if you have 18 panels, you can form three groups of six panels. Then connect the six panels in each group in series, leaving you with three series circuits. You may then connect the three circuits in parallel through a solar panel connector box.
While working on this, we created 3 series circuits of six panels each. However, we will not connect them in parallel.
To connect the panels to each other, we must first determine the polarity of the solar connector box. The multimeter will come in handy here.
Once we know the polarity of the solar connector box terminals, we can correctly connect the panels: negative to negative and positive to positive.
Wiring the Circuit Breaker
Being the most vital part of the solar-powered water pump system, it is essential that we provide sufficient protection for the solar pump controller. So, instead of connecting the photovoltaic panels directly to the solar water pump controller, we place a circuit breaker in between them.
Basically, we connect the solar water pump to the solar panels via a circuit breakers.
To wire the circuit breaker:
- Mount the circuit breakers in the circuit breaker panel.
- Connect each one of the positive terminals of the three series circuits to the input terminal of three circuit breakers. Then connect their output terminals to each other.
- Connect each negative terminal of the series circuits to the input terminal of three other circuit breakers. Then connect their output terminals to each other.
- Connect the output wires of the positive circuit breakers to the corresponding screw terminal. Then connect the output wires of the negative circuit breakers to the neutral bus bar.
Connecting the Circuit Breaker to the Solar Pump System Controller
After connecting the terminals of the three series circuits to circuit breakers, we can now connect the circuit breaker to the solar pump system controller. To do this, we’ll connect two wires to the output terminals of the circuit breaker panel – one for each terminal.
Then we’ll connect each of those two wires to their corresponding input terminals in the solar-powered water pump controller.
Connecting Solar Pump Controllers to Solar Pumps
In many cases, connecting solar pump controllers to solar-powered water pumps is pretty straightforward.
Solar-powered water pumps and solar water pump controllers have terminals labelled L1, L2, L3, and Ground. Connect the L1 terminal of the solar water pump to the L1 terminal of the controller. Then connect L2 to L2, L3 to L3, and ground to ground, and everything should work fine.
Some solar-powered water pumps come with additional features like low water sensors and float switch. For such solar water pumping system, there’ll surely be some extra steps for connecting the pump to the water pump controller.
Mounting the Solar Water Pump
After connecting the solar water pump to the controller, connect a long pipe to the pump. Then you may connect that pipe to a storage tank or use it to pump water directly to wherever you need it.
The way you’ll mount your solar-powered water pump largely depends on the type of pump. If it’s a submersible pump, you’ll have to place it in a well in the ground. But if it’s a surface pump, it will stay right on the ground.
So, if your solar-powered water pump is submersible, make plans ahead for a well. Then if it is a surface pump, plan for a way to anchor the pump.
How Many Types Of Solar Pumps Are There?
Based on how you mount them, there are two main types of solar pumps:
- Submersible pumps
- Surface pumps
As their name says, submersible pumps are submerged in water inside a borewell. They are generally more expensive to install and maintain because of their borewell-dependent installation.
Unlike submersible pumps, surface pumps stay on the ground. They are relatively less expensive to maintain and install because they do not need borewells. Surface pumps are typically used to pump water around areas with ample amounts of surface water (e.g. pools).
Submersible pumps are generally more efficient than surface pumps since they pump water by pushing rather than sucking. They also do not need to be primed since they are already in water.
Based on the type of current they run on, the two main types of solar water pumps are:
- AC Solar Water Pumps
- DC Solar Water Pumps
AC solar water pumps run on alternating current. So, before you can use them with a solar power system, you need a solar pump inverter to convert the panels’ DC power to AC power.
DC solar pumps, on the other hand, do not need an inverter. They run on dc electricity. So, they can use the direct current supplied by panels without any conversion.
The good thing about AC water pumps is the relative easy of maintenance and low initial cost. However, AC solar pumps come with the extra cost of getting an inverter. Some of the power supplied by the panels to the solar pumping system is also lost during conversion from DC power to AC.
DC pumps are more energy-efficient than AC pumps, and you will not incur the extra cost of an inverter when you buy them. However, they are generally more expensive than AC pumps.
Are Solar Powered Water Pumps Any Good?
A solar-powered water pumping system can do pretty much the same things as a traditional water pump. They come with the advantage of running on renewable energy. However, their initial cost is usually steep. Plus, they do not work at night, except they come with a battery.
How High Can A Solar Powered Water Pump Lift Water?
The height through which a solar-powered water pump can lift water depends on the specification of the pump. But generally, a solar water pump can lift water anywhere between 200 and 1000 feet.