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Off Grid Shallow Well Pump

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Hello!
I have been skimming the internet and am overwhelmed with all of the different types of pumps there are! Hoping someone can enlighten me with their knowledge and experience <3.

I am going to have a shallow well dug (told in this area they are typically 12-16 feet deep), and would like to install both an electric 12v DC pump, with hand-operated back-up. I have a 60W solar panel with battery clamps and a deep-cycle battery I can use. I am going to be pumping my water for irrigation for our gardens that are roughly 60-80 feet from where the well will be (ideally with a hose and nozzle although may just fill barrels and hand water depending on the flow rate). I will also be filling up 19L jugs for use in our yurt.
We are in Nova Scotia: zone 6B, and the winters aren't too crazy cold (-15C at the worst, typically -2C to 5C) with no very deep or long lasting snowfalls.

I am stuck between a submersible pump vs. 12V RV pump, and for the hand pump am looking for something cheap and practical that I can use in the winter without it becoming damaged. I have been suggested a guzzler pump, and the antique style hand pumps.... was intrigued by the Simple and Bison pump but they are out of my budget! The more simple the set up the better for our busy life off grid with our toddler! haha

ANY recommendations would be greatly appreciated; I love to hear others experiences, both positive and negative.

Thanks in advance!!! :)
 
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Location: Allen Park, United States
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We have a shallow well pump now (ours is about 25ft down).  We are going to install air lifts in the well for backup.  We will store compressed air in old 1000 gallon propane tanks and then use that to power our pump when we don't have electricity.

https://www.iamcountryside.com/self-reliance/diy-airlift-pump-design-pump-water-with-compressed-air/

Marc
campdarling.com
 
Posts: 1007
Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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Hi, Megan.

I am no pump expert, but I've used several pumps in a rural setting, and here's a couple tips.  

Are you really remote and cannot get grid power?  It is a good option in a remote location, because things are tough enough.  No point in adding getting water to the list.

And sorry, metric fails me, here, but if you are doing it with a permit, there will be a minimum of so many gallons/liters per minute the well must produce.  Not sure what that is in your area.   Where I am 5 gallons per minute is the minimum, and a powerful pump could pump that dry quickly, then you wait for it to refill, and go again.  20 gallons per minute would give you a good amount of water.

Seems like what you've got in mind is quite labor intensive.   After 6 months to a year, in freezing, windy, sleeting, raining, hot conditions hauling water will get old in a hurry.  That size panel and one battery won't run a submersible, but it seems your well would be shallow enough to use a pump in a pump house.

I would not rely on solar for the pump, unless you get big water tanks, like a couple of 1200 gallons, fill them when it's sunny, then you'll have a good sized water supply.  Solar won't work overnight, and if your gallons-per-minute are not very big, you will not get that water for 12-14 hours until the sun is on the panels again.  For me that's lost water.  

If you can put the tanks uphill from your yurt, it can run via gravity flow to your yurt.    It's always good to put tanks on a concrete slab.  They are your lifeline, and need a solid, level base.  Plain ground has the risk of sinking on one side and putting the tank at risk.  Gravel can risk making the bottom of the tank have indentations that could thin that out, gophers can dig through gravel anyway.   It's a lot of work, but it's one of those crucial infrastructure things.  It also makes your place more valuable if you change your mind about being there.

Even a couple days of overcast will have no power for the pump.  Pumps need a lot of power 24/7/365, and that's a lot to ask of a solar setup, even if you have enough batteries and panels  (plural).   Batteries are expensive and using them constantly, running them down below half overnight because the pump keeps going on and off, shortens the life of the batteries.

If local people have their pumps on solar find out everything you can from them, and what they would do differently.  You'll need special equipment to control when the pump tries to start because it senses there's enough power.  But with solar that power can come and go with clouds passing by, fog, etc.  Some storms in the winter can go for days with overcast.  

Wind storms can be tough on wind-power backups, and be quite expensive to fix.

AC, on-the-grid submersible pumps use a lot of electricity and that can be quite expensive.

A submersible pump runs the risk of the well caving in on it at some point and then it's lost, and a whole new well needs to be dug, a new pump bought.  A well can be lined to prevent this, and it's a good idea to do that, regardless of the cost, since it is a good protection from losing the submersible pump.

We have to have 5,000 gallons for fire, but for a good-sized house that is not a lot of water  if the gallons-per-minute in a well get lower and lower during possible dry seasons.  You may not have to water your garden where you are, if it rains enough, but for those who need water for the garden, that can be almost as much as a house would use.

There is nothing safer and more comforting than the sound of water running into those tanks, at least where I am.   Even just one good-sized tank for backup is a good idea.  Make sure the rodents can't get in it.  We have one that is 30 years old and it's in fine shape.  I keep it covered so it's not in the sun, but it has lasted.

If it were me, and I wanted something I didn't have to worry about, I'd get a gas water pump, a good quality one, because they never get cheaper  (my favorite has been mentioned in these forums) and fill the tanks at the speed that your well can produce water.  You don't want to pump the well dry because your pump is too efficient, so you can do the math and calculate your gallons/liters per minute and get a pump that works with that.   A good quality pump will shut off if it doesn't get enough water.  They all should, but a good one has the ability to do it over and over again without straining the pump.   A gas pump that can fill a 1200 gallon tank wouldn't cost that much, and it may only take a couple of hours if you have a good well.  That's a lot less "power" than solar.   It's easy to get and store gasoline, since you are probably already using it for other pieces of equipment.  

:-)





 
Cristo Balete
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Location: In the woods, West Coast USA
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Something else you could do, since you ought to have a small generator as backup for several things, have an 12V AC pump in the pump house that can be run for a few hours by the generator, and that fills a tank or tanks.  I know 1200 gallons sounds like more than enough, but I can run through almost half of that in an afternoon for a garden just using drippers.

My really good little generator, same brand as before (that now has 2300 hours on it and is fit as a fiddle, having changed the oil every 100 hours religiously) gets 8 hours on about 2 1/2 liters of gas.  That would fill a good sized tank easily using less gas than a water pump.   The tank might only need filling once a week or once every two weeks depending on the time of year.  Plus you'd have the generator for other things.  
 
pollinator
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I would add, avoid cheap.
It never is!

If you have a generator, why not just run an AC pump, I assume its 120V where you are.
You dont need to pump often, and if you have a tank you can strech the pump intervals.
I use 5000 gal tanks.
 
Megan De la Montagne
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Thanks everyone for your suggestions and input!
I suppose I left out a few details;
We have lived here for a bit over a year and have relied on filling up 5 gallon water jugs at a community centre about 10 minutes up the road, and have very low water consumption so this has been sustaining us fine thus far.
Having the well dug here will give us that extra luxury of not driving up the road to fill jugs, and lugging water by hand from our 2 brooks to the gardens and fruit trees.  We are already set up on solar (have 3 Bluetti AC200P power stations, plus a solar fridge and internet motem that run on a separate 400W solar set up and LifePo4 batteries. We do not intend to connect to the grid.
Gas prices are sky rocketing by the day and we do not have a gas generator, nor intend to purchase one either at this point in time.
I know 60W is not a strong panel but thought it may be adequate to power a transfer pump to a water tote by the garden while the battery is charged. Our Bluetti can run AC, but also has a DC car plug port and I have seen some pumps like this one ( https://www.thecabindepot.ca/collections/pumps/products/camplux-seaflo-3gpm-12v-water-pump-kit ) that are able to run via that port or alligator clamps... If anyone has experience with this one please let me know!
 
steward
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Hey megan

So there a few things which would be helpful with this.

First is your well going to be located close to the bluettis?  This will help determine if its worth considering using the ac/dc from that source of power.

Second, What type of head are we talking here? Are you pumping up to a tank which is 60' above your well? Or is it going to only be pumping from the well into a tank on ground level?

Third, That pump you linked to most likely does not have a lot of suction. Our 12v diaphragm pump only has a suction of 5'. Meaning it can only suck water into it from 5 feet below it. I am not sure how you can place the pump so that is is constantly 5' from the water level of your well.

Fourth, How fast does your well recharge? Will taking 3GPM from it cause the well to run dry? Or will the water level stay the same?

Fifth, Our Well's water level changes throughout the year. When the soil is saturated it comes almost to the top.

Sixth, We power our drinking water from a 120v ac pump. It uses 7amp and is located 250' from our battery source. It pumps the water up about 40' of head into a 2000gallon tank which then gravity feeds back to the house. This last us quite a long time when we are not doing laundry. Almost a month. Than when we need to in the dead of winter when we only get 1 hour of sunlight we put our honda generator on for 30 minutes and power our pump from that. I would hate to have gas spill near our well. When we can we power it from our solar system. Which is 80% of the time. Its only in the fall/winter where we cannot do that whenever we want.

Seventh, Our garden water is powered by a 12vdc pump. It pumps it up about 40' again into a 1200gallon tank. It than gravity feeds to our garden. Our pump is rated for 10amps so we have 130watts of solar to power it. Our pump sits right on the edge of our pond. The pump never needs to suck below 5 feet. It works wonders and only requires the sun!!

Eighth, Have you seen this Solar pump setup PEP
IMG_1488.JPG
our panels next to the pond. 130 watts
our panels next to the pond. 130 watts
IMG_1492.JPG
our 12vdc pump
our 12vdc pump
IMG_1493.JPG
Where our pump pumps up to. Our tank is right behind the where i took the photo.
Where our pump pumps up to. Our tank is right behind where I took the photo.
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