Are Solar Water Pumps Expensive? Let’s break down the numbers.


When it comes to installing a water pump system, one of the most frequently asked questions is, “Are solar water pumps expensive?” To answer this question, we need to delve into the specifics of solar pump costs and compare them with other common water pump systems. For the TLDR (too long didn’t read) check out this video.

Upfront and Operating Costs

The cost of a solar pump system like the RPS 200 with a ‘Turnkey’ kit is $2,318. This includes the cost of the system and the necessary parts such as the pipe. There is no additional expense for grid hookup, installation, an electrician, or trenching.

Comparatively, the upfront cost for a 220V AC Pump amounts to $2,600. This includes the cost of the system, other parts, grid hookup, installation, electrician, and trenching.

A Windmill Pump system, with a 25′ Steel Rig, 8ft diameter, has the highest upfront cost at $9,600, while a Generator fed AC Pump system, similar to the Grid AC Pump, has a lower upfront cost at $1,250.

Operating Costs

However, the upfront cost is just part of the story. When we factor in the operating costs over five years, the picture changes drastically. The RPS Solar Pump incurs $0 in operating costs, while the Grid AC Pump incurs $2,425, and the Generator AC Pump incurs a whopping $3,650. The Windmill Pump, like the Solar Pump, also has minimal operating costs.

Labor Costs

Labor costs are another significant factor when considering the total cost of a pump system. The RPS Solar Pump requires only about 15 hours of labor over five years, mainly for cleaning solar panels twice a year. This amounts to a labor cost of $150.

In contrast, a Grid AC Pump requires the same amount of labor time, with tasks mainly involving writing checks and dealing with the Power Company. A Windmill Pump requires 75 hours over five years, with tasks including greasing bearings and replacing leathers as needed. The labor costs for these systems are $150 and $750, respectively.

The Generator AC Pump demands the most labor time – 530 hours over five years, which involves driving, starting and running the generator, oil changes, and general generator maintenance. This results in a labor cost of $5,300.

Total Costs After Five Years

When we tally up all these costs, we find that the total cost of the RPS Solar Pump after five years is $2,468. In contrast, the total cost of the Grid AC Pump is $5,175, which is almost 2.5 times more expensive. The Windmill Pump and the Generator AC Pump are even more expensive, with total costs after five years of $10,350 and $10,400, respectively.

The Results

So, are solar water pumps expensive? The answer is both yes and no. While the upfront cost of a solar pump might be higher than some alternatives, the long-term savings due to zero operating costs and minimal labor requirements make it an affordable and sustainable choice. In fact, compared to other types of pumps, solar pumps are significantly less expensive over time. 

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