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We've just hooked up our indoor shower to our gravity fed water system. Although there is plenty of flow with our approx. 20' of head the standard 1/2" shower riser is not allowing enough pressure to get a decent flow from the shower head (tub faucet is fine). Any experience with booster systems like the UK "power shower" pumps that are available in the US or any other solutions that have worked for anyone?

Thanks in advance! judy
 
Jeffrey Lando
Posts: 31
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Sounds very similar to the situtation we have in our new house we are building.  We have 25 or so of head plenty of flow (maybe 15 to 20 gpm) . 

I have not gotten to this point yet in our build.  However we have a 2" main pipe that feeds 2 1" lines (one for water pre-heater one for cold. 

My thought when we got to this point was to move the shower head to over your head.
2nd part would be to get a bigger head this way the low pressure water falls on your head instead of having to shoot outward.  If you find any shower heads that accomidate bigger then 1/2" pipes this would help also.  Let me know what you find or decide.  Saves one more piece of junk to fail,maintain and pay to run.

Jeff
 
                                
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Thanks Jeff,

We have had the same thoughts about the placement and flow of the shower head  but haven't found anything larger than 1/2" and there is also an even smaller choke point just above the diverter/mixer feeding into the riser. Today a friend with a similar situation pointed me to a 12 volt battery hookup pump meant for RV applications. We may be able to modify that - it's on the schedule for next week's foray into unknown territory!

judy
 
Jeffrey Lando
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Well you starting me on a search.  I become obsessive when it comes to passive solutions lol. 

Just figure I would share it with you. 

http://mises.org/daily/2007



This is expensive I'm sure but something similar could be hacked.  It mentioned 12 GPM in company website. 

maybe just a T in your plumbing and 2 elbows then add another shower head....
 
Len Ovens
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Location: Vancouver Island
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hmm, quick question. Are the heater and water flow controls lower than the shower head? I know in hydro applications straight line flow is very important for max output. We are used to excess pressure with city water, lots of Ls, Ts and restrictions. Maybe with gravity feed these things are more important.
 
Philip Freddolino
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We have a gravity fed water system but our bathroom is on the second floor of our house, so we use a 12v rv style booster pump. The advantage is that we use less water for cleaning (think pressure washer) and it gives us a lot more flexability with plumbing, ie.smaller, cheaper pipes.
 
                                                
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My experience in the developing world- go to a pipe and skip the head- they restrict flow, and without a pressurized system, you are fighting a backwards battle trying to get more flow while trying to force water through a shower head- Commercially available "rain" heads use lower pressure and more volume, but, again, are engineered for volume and pressure... Consider how a military shower with chain works, free-flow, with regulated volume- this seems ideal to me. One could easily make a "rain" head from sheet copper designed for desired volume, and use a valve with chain above so that water is not wasted. Conclusion- Pressure and Volume are tradeoffs- with a gravity system you forsake pressure and thereby necessitate more volume, which then should be regulated by duration.
 
Ardilla Esch
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Location: Northern New Mexico, Zone 5b
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If you are looking to boost the pressure for your shower, these kinds of systems work.  Of course, you are adding a pump to the situation.

http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200330143_200330143
 
Walter Jeffries
Posts: 1095
Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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We too have about 20' of head to our water tank at the spring up above our house on the mountain. We have a booster pump. It is Australian made or engineered. An agricultural pump. Works great - except we don't use it. At least we don't use it for our household pressure. We do use it for pressure washing our farm clothing, barrels, etc. I put it in really for the farm use. Since our hot water heater is in our cottage the pump is there too, taking up space, and theoretically could be used for the domestic water. It is LOUD. Did I mention it is LOUD?!? It is VERY LOUD! I might have mentioned that, I can't hear myself think when it is on.

The pump we have is a:

Grundfos MQ3-35 (115V) 3/4 HP Pressure Booster Pump

I would like the water pressure to be a little stronger during showers but it is okay. I put in big diameter pipes - that helps. I am not willing to listen to the pump more than necessary. Maybe someday I'll move it out of the cottage and into its own special little insulated shed. Until then, it does great for a pressure washer of hot and cold water which is its real purpose.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
 
Rebecca Dane
Posts: 211
Location: Missoula Montana
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I found this article regarding a rainwater catchment system built on a hillside with the greenhouse below it.  The gravity gives enough water pressure to water the greenhouse.  Really cool!

www.appropedia.org/Rainwater_catchment_at_Pedregal

 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Nice system. In the far north where we are there is one addition to make it so the winter roof snow and ice doesn't rip the gutter off: The joists of the roof extend past the edge of the roof and then a gap lets water drop down into the gutter but snow slides beyond to fall to the ground.

Cheers

-Walter
Sugar Mountain Farm
Pastured Pigs, Sheep & Kids
in the mountains of Vermont
Read about our on-farm butcher shop project:
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/butchershop
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/csa
 
marty reed
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this is my first time posting about any thing but im a plumber and the make low flow shower heads that need less pressure to be used to right way for every foot your water is  0.43 PSI so at 20 feet you have 8.6 pound of pressure most homes near mine have as least 50 psi ill try and find the low flow rate head for ya but im not sure thay make one that low

the cheap guy
 
                    
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We've just hooked up our indoor shower to our gravity fed water system. Although there is plenty of flow with our approx. 20' of head the standard 1/2" shower riser is not allowing enough pressure to get a decent flow from the shower head (tub faucet is fine). Any experience with booster systems like the UK "power shower" pumps that are available in the US or any other solutions that have worked for anyone?

Thanks in advance! judy


Hello Judy, we're in a similar situation and can share what we've done to get a decent shower.  Sometimes you can get around needing a pump by doing other things to get higher volume of water flowing through the shower head. 

One could easily make a "rain" head from sheet copper designed for desired volume, and use a valve with chain above so that water is not wasted.

Conclusion- Pressure and Volume are tradeoffs- with a gravity system you forsake pressure and thereby necessitate more volume, which then should be regulated by duration.


What other people have already said is true, most fixtures are made for highly pressured municipal water systems.  At the height of the showerhead, we have three pounds of gravity pressure from our spring, and we had the same dribbling problem UNTIL we took our showerhead apart a little bit and removed the plastic gasket that shrinks down the pipe-head intersection.  Construction debris can sometimes end up clogging that tiny opening even further. 

We also drilled that hole in the shower head open wider, but that might not be necessary for you.  You'll probably see a big difference just with the gasket removed.  Ours is a gentle shower, but it actually gets you wet.  Helps that we have one of those large "rain" heads. 

If your head isn't modifiable, I'd consider making your own shower riser and head, with 3/4" pipe for the riser and shower head pipe.  Might be too much trouble, but it would never break (unlike a pump) and uses no energy (unlike a pump).  If you know a good welder, maybe you could trade for for a cool handmade shower head? 
 
marty reed
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just an idea but RV or trailer water pumps are DC pumps if you want to go that rout and a small solar panels can run them or a battery at night just and idea every thing that make you power will save you money in the long run

the cheap guy
 
marty reed
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sorry it took so long but here is the shower head that i found 3 psi http://www.showerheadstore.com/lowpressure.html

i hope this helps

the cheap guy
 
Nathan Bernard
Posts: 3
Location: Yachats, OR
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I recently designed and installed a gravity water system for a client's cabin. They also have a yurt on a different part of the property (also on a gravity system, with less pressure) and asked my to diagnose the poor performance of the shower in the yurt. I installed one of the low-flow shower heads that the cheap guy mentions and it completely transformed the shower experience. They couldn't believe the difference. There was no more water, or pressure, than before, but the way that the water comes out of the low flow shower head made all the difference.

Nathan
 
solomon martin
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I saw a micro hydro system once that generated great psi from a relatively modest flow.  The resevoir at the top of the rise fell into an oil drum which in turn fell into a large diameter well casing, into a smaller well casing and so on, so that all the flow went through a gradated set of pipes.  The volume within the fall, combined with constriction really did the trick.
 
Mike Dayton
Posts: 149
Location: sw pa zone 5
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The info from the cheap guy is right on the money.  I think that because your shower is 5' or 6" above your floor your water pressure is actually several pounds less than he was figuring for you.  The low flow shower head is what I would try 1st,  2nd try moving the shower hear directly over your head,  3rd and last resort I would look into adding a 12 volt pump from an RV.  If none of those options work for you,  well, then how do you feel about taking baths? 
  One other thing you might look into if your spring has a strong flow is a Ram Pump.  It uses the water pressure of the water falling down the hill to actually pump a portion of the water to a higher level.  Adding a tank at that higher lever would increase your preasure at the house and improve your gravity flow preasure.  I am guessing your flow rate may not be enough to make that option work,  but you might look into it and see.  A wind mill water pump to pump water up to a higher storage tank is also possible,  but expensive.  I have a gravety flow fountain at my pond that works the same as your house system works with just a bit more fall.  It shoots water about 12' in the air.  Since your shower head is at least 5' off the floor You are not getting much preasure.  The water gets there,  but that is about all. 
 
                                              
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water pressure problem is really a bog problem .Total home water pressure booster pump is a solution for it.
It will increase the pressure and give better results so you can enjoy better
shower ana big cleaning and many more.It consume less power.
Its safe and easy to install and fully automatic that maximize and mainrain household water presure.
Maximum pumping capacity to 26 GPM ,Maximum additional pressure 40 PSI 
 
                              
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Does anyone know what the avaerage psi of a gravity fed water supply is? I have been looking into a pump but not sure if I am defeating the whole object of being green. The mains psi is around 6 bar I think.
 
Walter Jeffries
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Location: Mountains of Vermont, USDA Zone 3
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Hi,

We too have about 20' of gravity fed head on the water from our spring. It is not as high a pressure as one would get from city water but it is free water and a lot better water. There are some tricks to getting the most out of the pressure by using larger line sizes up to the end point of use, minimizing elbows, using curves instead, etc.

We do have a nice pressure pump. We do not use it unless we're pressure washing farm equipment. It is in the house (freezing issue) and it produces a great shower but is loud even though it is claimed as a quiet model. We have aGrundfos MQ3-35 pump.

-Walter Jeffries
Sugar Mountain Farm
in Vermont
http://SugarMtnFarm.com/blog
 
Kathy Smith
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We recently purchased a home with gravity fed water system. There is a covered reservoir about 4’ deep 7’ x 7’. It sits about 150’ above House about 650’ away. Pipe is 1 1/2” black poly. Previous owners stated no water issues with set up. There is a filtration system at entry to house consisting of 2 5 micron filters and a UV filter. We had a big rain storm and lost all water to the home. Contacted previous owner for advice and he doubted it was filter issue. However, we replaced the filters and got water back. Our water pressure is not anything like it was previousously and if toilet is filling there is just a trickle elsewhere. The reservoir is overflowing. Any suggestions what the problem might be or what we can do to get water pressure back? Thank you !
 
James Freyr
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Hi Kathy, welcome to permies. Turn off the valve feeding into your filter setup and unscrew your first 5 micron filter in line, then open the valve. Water should come gushing out, if not, then you've identified some form of resistance in the flow from the tank, maybe sediment buildup at the lowest point in the line or some other sort of clog. If water does come gushing out, then the problem may likely be past the filter housing, or the filters/filter housing itself. This is just a simple way determine if there is a clog in the line and if it is before or after your check point. Hope this helps you figure it out!
 
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