As you may know from other information on this site, Simple Pump Company is all for "do it yourself", if you are comfortable with that. Many of our clients install their own pump, using the installation documents and videos.
But in the case of developing a solar system to power your motorized Simple Pump, we would caution you against trying to do it yourself, unless you have professional-level knowledge in this area. To develop a cost-effective and efficient system, there's much more involved that buying a panel and a couple of batteries. Here are a few of the things that will influence a decision.
Regarding panel direct versus batteries
For household use or other similar use where you want water available 24/7, a battery system is most often the solution. For pumping up to a tank, water storage, livestock, irrigation, with no need for pumping at night, then direct from panel to motor is the cost effective and low maintenance way to go.
Regarding panel sizes and battery sizes, basic questions are:
- Gallons of water needed per day
- Seasonal reliability based on sun hours available
- Consecutive days of cloudy weather
- Pump cylinder size
- Depth of the well plus
- Whether pumping into pressure or not
- Whether pumping uphill or not
These factors tell the run time and the size of battery bank needed.
The subject of absolute reliability versus willingness to compromise on consumption is also important because we are dependent on the weather.
Next - the Panels
Once you know how many battery amps you need, then you can determine what size panels you need based on sun hours per day.
Latitude is also critical. We recommend you over-size your system at higher latitudes because the low sun angle requires sunlight passing through a lot more of the atmosphere, diminishing intensity. This is especially important during the winter quarter of when sun hours available are lowest in the Northern Hemisphere.
Ambient temperature is also a factor
But not usually critical with a small system to operate a Simple Pump. Solar panels are rated at a nominal temperature of 25°C/77°F based on sun energy intensity irradiance of 1000 watts per square meter and an air mass, the atmosphere effect, of 1.5 (a measurement of how much irradiance is absorbed by the atmosphere). This is referred to as the STC or standard test conditions.
Cooler panels produce more volts. (When the panel temperature approaches 65°C/149°F the panel performance plummets.) So it is important for components like voltage limited charge controllers to look at total volts in cold climates. And in really hot climates, panel mounting for ventilation is important. There are also certain types of thin film panels that perform better in high ambient temperatures.
When choosing panels, watts is a general indicator of size but it is the panel amps that are used to calculate battery recovery. The more amps the panel produces the more efficient it is. Assuming that the system is a long term installation, the panels should be at least 1.25 times larger than the current energy requirement because the panel performance will depreciate over time.
And the above complexity is not even everything you need to think about! We highly recommend obtaining information and quote from someone who is professionally knowledgeable about solar AND about water wells. If you are interested in obtaining a quote for a solar system to power your Simple Pump motor, please indicate so when asking for your pump quote through our Get-A-Quote form.
Or, of course, please phone (toll-free 877-492-8711) or email with any questions.