What Are The Disadvantages of a Solar Water Pump?

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Today’s question is, “What are the disadvantages of a solar water pump?” So while there are a ton of benefits of solar water pumps, there are a few disadvantages that most can be overcome with a little bit of planning upfront.

The first disadvantage is going to be cost of the solar pump system. With a solar pump we have to provide both a pump and motor like a classic AC pump. There are other components such as the controller and solar panels that can help add onto the cost. In general, if you’re looking at a pure AC pump versus a solar pump system, the solar pump system in general is going to be a little bit more expensive.

However, if you look at the cost of installing utility power and AC power lines, that cost comparison shifts dramatically. If you have to install AC power to these remote locations, that’s going to greatly exceed the cost of the solar system, often by a large magnitude.

We’re talking ten times more expensive or 100 times more expensive in order to bring that AC power to a rural property. Most of our customers find, over time, they’re able to shut off that AC power, if it’s a dedicated line and reduce their utility bill by a lot. So even if you do keep your AC power, you’re going to be saving on your bill each month. Over time, that solar pump is going to pay for itself.

So another disadvantage of a solar pump is that it relies on the sun. If you have extended overcast or cloudy days, you can start to run out of water at nighttime. There is a little bit of planning up front when we’re going to use a solar pump which includes water storage. With a solar pump we recommend 3 to 5 days of water storage to account for nighttime usage and to account for the extended cloudy, stormy days.

There are also some backup options to help alleviate that concern. One of those is generator input. For our bigger pump systems, they take generator input natively. For others, they require a little converter box to convert that AC to DC, so the controller can send solar power to the pump. We have some systems, the smaller ones in general, with battery backup. Instead of storing water, you can store the electricity in batteries. At nighttime or on a cloudy day you can draw that stored power in and pump the water.

One other minor disadvantage is you do need to go out and clean your solar panels every once while, in order to optimize the amount of power and water you’re pumping. We actually have a great video on it. It demonstrates the before and after of dirty panels. So while there are some disadvantages of solar pumps, all of that can be easily overcome. The advantages are far greater.

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