What is a Solar Water Pump, How Does it Work, and Price
Water is essential for any living being, being present in most of the moments of our daily lives. With that in mind, new technologies, such as the solar pump, were created to capture this important resource.
The solar pumping system is used to help people who live in remote locations and need to pump water to supply small communities or irrigate crops. Continue reading and understand more about what a solar pump is, how it works, its types, and its care.
What is a solar pump?
In solar pumping, the pump captures water from the reservoir, well, or even aquifer and pumps it to the desired location. This is possible thanks to the photovoltaic effect, as it allows the production of energy that directly feeds the solar pump, dispensing with a stationary battery.
How does the solar pump work?
The solar pump works through the photovoltaic effect: the photovoltaic plate receives solar energy in the photovoltaic cells and transforms this radiation into electricity, which feeds the pump.
What types of systems use a solar pump?
A solar-powered pumping system can take on different types depending on its application.
Submersible solar pump
The solar pump is installed in water, whether in a reservoir, well, or running water. It is simple to maintain, economical, and available in small and medium sizes.
Surface solar pump
They are also economical pumps and are easy to maintain. They are located close to the water’s surface, pulling it from the source and moving it for use in a reservoir.
Generator for alternating current pumps
It is intended for considerable pumping powers, making it possible to use conventional alternating current (AC) pumps coupled to a solar energy generator.
It is necessary to pay attention to the type of solution and motor used in the solar pumping system. The DC (direct current) solar pump is generally better than a conventional AC (alternating current) pump. However, the choice must consider the cost of each solution, the size, and whether there is already an AC pump on site.
The DC solar pump, which has an integrated controller and brushless permanent magnet motor (PM-BLDC), requires deficient maintenance, is easy to install, and maintains the electrical signal even at great depths and distances. It is usually the best choice for systems that have a power output of 5HP or 10HP.
There are PM-BLDC pumps with external controllers intended for short distances (up to 70 m or 80 m), which are cheaper.
Regarding the cost factor, AC pumps are better in two scenarios: in large systems (above 5 HP or 10 HP), when this type of pump starts to cost much cheaper than PM-BLDC pumps, or in systems existing ones, where there is no need to replace the pump itself, but you want to switch from diesel power (AC) to solar power (DC).
There are also hybrid solar pumps (DC/AC), which are PM-BLDC pumps but can be powered by an AC source (off-grid or generator). It is recommended for those who want to pump water with solar energy but want to continue with AC power as a backup source or must carry out applications that pump at night.
How to choose a solar pump in the Philippines?
When choosing your solar pump, you must understand its important constructive aspects, which make it work more efficiently, reducing the need for maintenance and increasing its useful life. We separate some relevant features for submersible pumps!
Use solar pumps with water lubrication in the Philippines
Be aware of pumps that use oil lubrication in the mechanically sealed bearings. When the seal fails, the wells are contaminated, and the bearings break. Thin film water-lubricated pumps prevent contamination and breakage.
Choose thrust-bearing pumps
Low-cost pumps often use ball bearings, which can cause mechanical breakage.
Use PM-BLDC motors
Do not use pumps with brushes! They last a short time and are not efficient. Opt for brushless permanent magnet DC motors, reducing repairs and increasing durability and efficiency.
Note the material of solar pumps in the Philippines
The pump and the pump body must be made of good quality stainless steel, considering the aspects of the water or the type of liquid.
Plastic pumps are only recommended for corrosive liquids. The pump body needs to have a minimum thickness of quality, be able to last several years underwater, and avoid vibrations.
What is the ideal solar pump for pumping water in the Philippines?
Other factors that influence the choice of the type of solar water pumping system are where the liquid will be taken from, the liquid that will be transported, the required flow rate in liters per day, and the total head in meters.
To calculate the head, it must be understood that it portrays the energy the pump needs to transfer to the liquid to transport it. The calculation of this height varies according to the type of solar pump.
The total pressure head of the surface pumps is calculated from the sum of the difference in level between the surface of the well or reservoir and the water delivery point (sum between the suction head and the piping length), considering the head losses of the piping.
The manometric height of submersible pumps is calculated from the sum of the total vertical distance between the surface of the well or reservoir to the water delivery point, considering the head losses of the pipe.
Where to use the solar pumping system in the Philippines?
The solar pumping system can be used in several contexts, such as:
Reservoirs and storage;
Residential and community;
Desalination and purification.
What precautions are required for installing a solar pump in the Philippines?
When installing the solar pump, it is necessary to take some basic precautions, which vary according to the type of pump. For submersible pumps, pay attention to the necessary insulation of the cable connection, preventing damage to the equipment or infiltration.
When submerging the pump, use a steel cable or rope, causing it to descend into the reservoir or artesian well. Finally, the solar pump needs to be at least 5 m from the emotional level of the well but also have a certain distance from the bottom.
For the surface pump, confirm that it is installed in a place protected from rain. As it needs to be above the surface of the water, be sure to consider the high and low periods of the reservoir, in addition to turning your attention to the maximum suction head. During the operation of the solar pump, avoid touching your body, as it becomes hot.
What are the components that make up a solar pumping system?
A solar-powered pumping system consists of the following equipment:
1. Photovoltaic Modules: responsible for transforming sunlight into electrical energy;
2. Protection devices: circuit breakers, surge protection device (DPS), and switch disconnectors, ensuring safety for all equipment in the system;
3. Driver or Inverter for pumping: converts the energy generated by the photovoltaic modules to power the pump.
What is needed to dimension a solar pumping system?
If you want to dimension the pump model, you will need the flow rate, height, and application of the pump. If you want the size only, the solar system items, you will need the pump power and installation location to size the ideal number of modules and which driver should be used.
What types of pumps does the system work on?
Systems with solar drivers can be used with sapo, vibrating, centrifugal, submersible pumps, swimming pool filter pumps, three-phase and single-phase motors that do not exceed 6A per phase. Systems with an inverter can use these same pump models if the pump is three-phase.
Can I use it on the pump I already have at home?
Yes. As long as the pump is within the technical specifications supported by the driver and inverter, there is no need to purchase a pump for the system.
Does the pump need three-phase, or does it work with single-phase pumps?
You can work with single-phase pumps in systems that will use the solar driver and where the pump does not exceed 6A per phase. The pump must be three-phase in systems with an inverter and pumps that exceed 6A per phase.
Can I connect the modules directly to the pump?
No. The modules generate energy different from the energy needed for the pump. Thus, going through a driver or inverter is mandatory before connecting to the pumps.
What is the maximum depth of the well? And flow (L/h) of the pump?
This will depend on the pump the customer will use, which will vary according to his needs. We can recommend the best solar pumping system depending on the pump the customer selects.
How many modules does the system work with?
Pumping systems work from 3 solar modules of 330W and gradually increase according to the pump’s power.
How is the system installed?
The modules must be installed in an area with optimal sunlight and as free of shading as possible. The protection and driver devices are installed in an electrical panel, assembled and developed, which is already fully interconnected, requiring only the photovoltaic modules and the pump to be connected.
Is it possible to use solar energy to pump water at night?
Yes. However, using batteries and other equipment to charge the battery will be necessary, making the system more expensive.
Is it possible to use level sensors to control water pumping using solar energy?
Yes. Drivers, inverters, and electrical control panels have input for level sensors to control water pumping. If you do not want to use level sensors for control, pumping will only be interrupted during periods without sunlight.
Can I purchase the pumps together with the modules and drive system?
Yes. energy supplies the modules, the control panel with the pump and the inverter already assembled, and the driver has an input for the pump activation sensors.
What is the most extensive pumping system I can buy?
There are pumping systems that work with pumps up to 27.5CV.
How much does a solar pumping system cost?
The value of the pumping system depends on the power of the pump that will be used. There are companies that sell both the control cabinets separately and the control cabinets together with the pumps and modules.