Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

Off Grid Mountain ManOff Grid Mountain Man Posts: 12Registered Users
Hello,

I am trying to figure out how to pump water at my off grid site. I will eventually have PV power, but for now, just a HondaEU2000i generator.

I need a way to pump water in two ways, now, before I have any PV power at my site.

1) Pump water from my creek about, 100 feet length, and about 20 feet up into my cistern.

2) Pump water from cistern when I need it into a garden hose to water plants or do whatever I need to with with running water from a hose.

My first plan was to use a cheap trash pump to do I was going to use to do #1, and a jacuzzi pump attached to a small pressure tank, powered by my generator I was going to use to do #2. I was given two of these by my Dad, but unfortunately neither are in working order.

I am looking for the CHEAPEST way to do both...do I need a new trash pump, and a new small pressure tank....or could one or the other do both???? I would like to get at least 10 gallons a minute for #1.

Thank you in advance for any opinions, thoughts & suggestions. Much appreciated.


AC

Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 6,347Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    A "trash pump" may be at it's max lift, for 20'. They are generally used to pump out a manhole, or sump pit, and not for moving water to elevation. You will have to shop around for a right sized pump, because, generally the more lift, the less flow, and using that same pump for less lift, may not give you more flow.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
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  • nielniel Posts: 10,311Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    to make matters worse is that once you get an ac pump or pumps that suffice for the application that going to pvs will mean firstly many of them(pvs) to do the job and secondly a loss due to the inverter creating the ac needed for the pump(s) unless you plan on changing out the pumps to all dc later and that's not cheap. starting with dc pumps may avoid the change-over later or inverter losses, but presents the problem of changing from ac to dc(power supply) for the pumps to operate from your generator now and it would be an expense too, but far cheaper than the prices for good inverters.
    what the cheapest way might be is hard to say with many variables and options out there to influence this. my initial gut reaction was any pump capable to a raise the water to that height that can fill a tank(even if a small flow rate) in the air above for storage. that stored water will have its own pressure through using gravity so an additional pump won't be needed.
  • Off Grid Mountain ManOff Grid Mountain Man Posts: 12Registered Users
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    Hi,

    Thanks for the replies.

    My creek is probably around 20 feet in altitude from where the top of my cistern is.

    However, it's about 100 feet in length from the creek to my cistern.

    I have a trash pump I can't get working that says it will work with up to 90 feet of head....but does the "head" mean the actual height gained, or the total length of the pumping?

    Since I have a generator, for the quick and dirty pumping from the creek, I can use an AC pump for this, and this will be just an occasional thing, as I also rely on catchment. I have no problem cranking my genny now and then for this high power usage - no way will I ever attempt to run an AC pump of my future PV system.

    But I need a way to get a garden hose flow from the cistern right now, so I don't know if maybe I should go with a DC pump for this, as I will eventually have for everything once my PV system is up and running - I am rigging up a 1000 watt system, but it will be mid summer before this is up and running.

    Thanks again for any and all replies, I fully realize there are probably a "jillion" different ways to approach this.......AC
  • EcnerwalEcnerwal Posts: 101Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    If you have good flow in the creek, and can run back up it a ways, you might look into archaic technology - a hydraulic ram - a water-powered water pump, no electricity required.

    Loaded with annoying ads, but seems to be a valid DIY...

    http://www.instructables.com/id/Hydraulic_Ram_Pump/

    Fewer ads:

    http://www.judyofthewoods.net/ram_pump.html

    I think this is the source of the design for the first link. Also no ads:

    http://www.clemson.edu/irrig/equip/ram.htm

    <edit>
    Reading up on the clemson design, I'd skip their inner tube if you will be drinking the water, and just buy a small bladder (captive air) tank instead. If your drinking water comes from elsewhere, the inner tube (not exactly food contact safe material) is less of an issue.

    What you do when it freezes needs to be thought out...
  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 6,347Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    When you say "trash pump" are you speaking of a pump designed to pump water with debris in it, or a pump you got out of a dumpster ? Debris water pumps are seldom designed to pump much of a head, and 90' is a LOT. The long 100' distance run will only slow the pump down a little, elevation is the killer. Are you priming it ? They will suck water, but seldom enough air to start the water flow.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 6,347Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    ram pumps:


    http://www.theramcompany.com/history.html

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b2kv8BUVy6E&NR=1

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oLl_IVSW-08

    http://virtual.clemson.edu/groups/irrig/Equip/ram.htm

    http://www.greenandcarter.com/main/products.htm :
    Every pump is guaranteed forever. Most RAMs, installed prior to 1800, are still working as well as the day they were installed, and we still maintain a stock of all parts on the shelf.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    you will get also interesting information at www.meribah-ram-pump.com
    there you will find out also how to build a fitting ram pump.......
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    OGMM,

    I just installed a solar DC pump to pump well water from my shallow well at a depth of about 12'.

    How far do you have to draw the water or how close can you mount your pump to the cistern?

    Drawing from 12 ft yields about 2 gpm with my system however when I prime the pump from the barrel I use as a resevoir the gpm is near pump capacity of 4 gpm.

    I will do an experiment in the next few days that will be like this. I will hang a 100' hose about 20' in a tree and I will let you know what happens.

    I've been thinking of building an elevated tank, not 20', but some elevation for a drip irrigation system.

    Anyway, this sounds like fun....

    Scratch the tree....I'll hook the hose up to my tractor FEL forks and get the hose end way up in the air...can't wait to see what happens!

    I put my pump together for about $300 (solar panels, pump and plumbing parts). I copied my Dad's design. He's been using this rig all summer to pump groundwater to water his garden...thousands of gallons. Beats hand pumping for sure.

    Here is a link to a very short non commercial flash video which shows pump components and the pump in action. Will be checking back in in the next few days with the results of the experiment.

    http://www.redbayfarm.com/files/solarwaterpump.swf
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    OK, scratch the tractor...I was going to do a job but didn't have time. So I went to the shed and got my 12' pruning pole and attached the 100hose that I use to fill my little dragonfly pond.

    I'm 6'3" and can reach at least 8ft. So, raising the pruning pole with the hose attached gets pretty close to 20'.

    Here are the results. Drawing water from a depth of 12 ft I was elevate the hose end and have water flow to about 12 ft.

    However, Drawing water directly from my barrel I was able to raise the hose end to my full reach holding the pruning pole...very close to if not over 20'. The water flowed at at least 2 gpm...I was taking a shower.

    Conclusion.

    Place pump as near water source as possible to pump water up 20'. Using a solar pump like this with a float switch in the cistern would probably allow pretty good operation of your water system.

    The flow out of the cistern to achieve 10 gpm is beyond the capability of this pump. However, another solar system pumping water up to an elevated tank might be able to give good water pressure.

    When I was in Saudi Arabia we had rooftop resevoirs into which water was pumped. The resevoir was about 10 ft in elevation and water pressure was very good. I'm sure that there is a formula for the elevation and volume required to achieve 10 gpm.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    If your water source (creek) is moving but not falling, then your question is similar to mine, I have been contemplating. Can a flow under waterwheel be used to power a low rpm water pump?

    We have a stream and ditches with flowing water that we would like to use to pump water to a higher storage location to be used for a gravity feed irrigation system.

    Here is some research links that I've found:

    spiral pumps
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rY-AQrWOjw4&NR=1

    ram pumps
    http://www.backwoodshome.com/forum/v...read.php?t=574

    Waterwheels
    http://www.tumklipleri.com/klip/qUMo...l-gearing.html

    and now I'm looking at a version of the small pump below as a prototype (probably not suitable for continuous use) hooked to a waterwheel and am wondering if there are standard commercial, small scale waterwheels available to drive the pump giving a self contained irrigation system.
    www.youtube.com/user/karsaj81

    It would be great to share ideas.
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,070Super Moderators admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?
    Hello,

    I am trying to figure out how to pump water at my off grid site. I will eventually have PV power, but for now, just a HondaEU2000i generator.

    I need a way to pump water in two ways, now, before I have any PV power at my site.

    1) Pump water from my creek about, 100 feet length, and about 20 feet up into my cistern.

    2) Pump water from cistern when I need it into a garden hose to water plants or do whatever I need to with with running water from a hose.

    My first plan was to use a cheap trash pump to do I was going to use to do #1, and a jacuzzi pump attached to a small pressure tank, powered by my generator I was going to use to do #2. I was given two of these by my Dad, but unfortunately neither are in working order.

    I am looking for the CHEAPEST way to do both...do I need a new trash pump, and a new small pressure tank....or could one or the other do both???? I would like to get at least 10 gallons a minute for #1.

    Thank you in advance for any opinions, thoughts & suggestions. Much appreciated.


    AC

    I am struck by the continual use of the word cheap or cheapest. In almost every event, the "cheapest" short term never turns out to be the least expensive net/net in the long term.

    I would suggest that you define your problem a bit more exactly. How much water do you need over how long a time for example? Are you only concerned with getting water into the cistern, and willing to let gravity do the work getting it out? Or are you going to eventually wish to get pressure out of the cistern?

    Bulk pumping using a positive displacement gasoline powered pump is probably the best way to pump volume into the cistern. Remember that it is always easier to "push" water up the hill rather than "pull" it up the hill. Most pumps therefore have a suction head (pull) and a discharge head (push) rating. A 3-5 hp honda pump might pump 20 gpm up the 20 ft, so for a few hundred dollars and a few gallons of gas a year, you can have lots of water in the cistern.

    If however you are looking for longer term, more efficient, more useful solutions, including pressure water to house for example a different solution would present itself. Until you define your needs better, it makes it tough to recommend a solution. If for example, you need say 300 gallons per day total, one sets of solutions would make sense, 3000 gmd, with some at 'street' pressure, would present a very different alternative.

    Tony

    PS. Are you not able to use gravity to get water out of the cistern now?

    PPS. If you are having trouble pumping now with your trash pump, I would suggest that you are probably sucking air on the suction side. Most pumps won't tolerate air leaks on the suction side!
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    Hey guys,

    I found this thread and wanted to ask a variation of the same question. I have a 19.34kW photovoltaic system currently. I'm told by Entergy it is the largest residential system in Louisiana. I live on a bayou. My idea is to build an elevated cistern off the bayou. Fill it with bayou water using a DC pump, or with rain as well. At night, when I have no sun, set a photo sensor to open a valve releasing water through a hydro generator and the water would go into my sprinkler system. Currently I have a 220v 2hp pump in the bayou for my sprinkler system. I know there are pressure elements to work out. There's a lot of pieces to work out.

    Is my effort/idea more cost prohibitive or efficiency prohibitive than I'm thinking? I was hoping to get power at night and water my yard at the same time. Natuarally during extreme cold months it would be drained to prevent freezing.

    What do you guys think?
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,070Super Moderators admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    Here is a link that can give you an idea of how much power you might be able to expect given how much head and flow rate your might likely have.

    http://www.oregon.gov/ENERGY/RENEW/Hydro/Hydro_index.shtml

    That said, it sort of begs the question. If you are grid tied, you most certainly would be better off selling your excess PV to the grid, and buying it back when you need to. Now if the only thing that you are using your PV for is to pump water, then the idea of running it back through a generator MIGHT make some sense. My gut intuition is that it would be dollars chasing pennies, but you might do a few quick calcs to see.

    Also, looking at your situation a bit further, it seems that you require a fair bit of pressure for your sprinklers to work properly. Unless you can elevate your cistern quite high, you are not going to have enough pressure to turn a turbine, and then turn sprinkler heads, it is essentially a zero sum game. The head and the flow rate determine available potential power, and using up the energy in the stored head, leave none (or little) left.

    If you are now using 2 hp to pump the sprinklers now, that is a pretty significant amount of energy.

    From the above link:

    "Determining Power
    Once you have the flow and head figures, you can roughly estimate the potential power available, in kilowatts (kW), with the following formula:

    Gross Head x Flow x System Efficiency (in decimal equivalent) x C = Power (kW)

    C is a constant (the value is different in English and metric units).
    Examples:
    20 feet x 2 cfs x 0.55 x 0.085 = 1.9 kW or: 6 meters x 0.05 cms x 0.55 x 9.81 = 1.62 kW
    50 feet x 0.8 cfs x 0.55 x 0.085 = 1.9 kW or: 15 meters x 0.02 cms x 0.55 x 9.81 = 1.62 kW"

    You can see a 20' head with 2 cfs gives a net of ~ 1.9 kw. That a flow rate of ~7.5 gpm. How much power will it take to pump enough water (when the suns out) to 20' to have enough to flow at 7.5 gp,.

    If you could pump 5 gpm for 6 hours that would be ~1800 gallons, enough to power your generator for 4 hours.

    Interesting, I'm sure sharper minds will chime in,

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Posts: 24,674Super Moderators admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    I think Tony has the numbers down (Yea! ;)).

    Unless you can raise the cistern way high above the crops/irrigated area--you cannot do both have XX PSI of water flowing at YY GPM and take a bunch of energy out of that to power your water turbine too...

    Big dams, as I understand, can approach 80% efficiency from pumped hydro... With a small system, you will probably not achieve anything close to that.

    Given that a typical flooded cell storage battery is already around 80%--There is not much gain there (batteries do require replacement every 4-8+ years--hopefully a hydro system would require less long term maintenance costs).

    As we usually say here--conservation will be your best return on investment... If you pumping system is old--a redesign/update may save you significant amounts of power.

    And, if you have a good net metering plan with your utility--then your best bet is to optimize your return through billing (adjusting your loads based on time of use, tiered power, etc.).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,070Super Moderators admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    Bill,

    "I think Tony has the numbers down (Yea! ).

    I resemble that remark!

    There has to be a first time for everything,

    T.
  • BB.BB. Posts: 24,674Super Moderators admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?
    icarus wrote: »
    You can see a 20' head with 2 cfs gives a net of ~ 1.9 kw. That a flow rate of ~7.5 gpm. How much power will it take to pump enough water (when the suns out) to 20' to have enough to flow at 7.5 gp,.

    If you could pump 5 gpm for 6 hours that would be ~1800 gallons, enough to power your generator for 4 hours.

    Oops... CFS is cubic feet per second... 1 CF = 7.48 Gallons
    • 2 CFS = 15 GPS = 900 GPM = 54,000 Gallons per Hour = 320,000 per 6 hours
    I missed the conversion error.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,070Super Moderators admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    So that only changes the numbers by a factor of 60! What's the big deal. Instead of being able to run the water genny for about 6 minutes, give or take!

    Beware looking at my math, that's what I always tell folks. (I missed the cfs as opposed to cfm myself,) DoH!

    Tony
  • BB.BB. Posts: 24,674Super Moderators admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    Every time I look at small hydro--I am always blown away by how much water they need... It is all in Cubic Feet per Second instead of gallon per minute or per hour...

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,070Super Moderators admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    It almost makes wind look good!

    T
  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 6,347Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?
    icarus wrote: »
    It almost makes wind look good!

    T

    And wind has the benefit of not shorting out your wires !
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    Hello all,
    I have installed a rainwater harvesting system that feeds an underground storage tank. It is all powered and controlled by a 195 watt solar system. The tank is directly below the ground surface. It acts as an overflow for an above ground cistern. We are pumping the water out of the underground storage to a micro jet system with a 12v Shurflo 2088(45psi, 3.5gpm). We are having trouble keeping the pressure up enough to power about 15 heads spread out over about 100 feet of line. I am looking for a bit of help with the design of this system. The question I have is if anyone knows of a 12v valve and solenoid. We have considered splitting the load going out to the heads into two zones powered by a 12v irrigation timer. All I can find in the retail market is 24v. Can I use the 24v valve and a transformer? I would rather keep the power drain to a minimum.

    Thanks,
    John

    P.S. I am in Florida, a bit different conditions and less info.
  • icarusicarus Posts: 5,070Super Moderators admin
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    Do a google search. They are all over the net. Normally open/normally closed. They will only draw power when energized doing the opposite.

    You can search the water pumping thread with my posts about freeze proof off grid water system where I may have referenced a source.

    Tony

    PS: http://www.virtualvillage.com/12v-dc-1-2-solenoid-valve-for-water-train-air-pipeline-001540-024.html

    http://www.giplindia.com/water_valve.htm

    http://www.freshwatersystems.com/p-2967-34-port-solenoid-valve-normally-closed-no-flow-control-stem-12vdc.aspx

    http://www.nextag.com/solenoid-water-valve/products-html

    Just to keep you busy!
  • mike95490mike95490 Posts: 6,347Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    DC timer: http://www.dripworksusa.com/store/controlers.php#THXHY6

    DC latching valve: http://www.dripworksusa.com/store/dig.php#TDIGVA34
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • Dave AngeliniDave Angelini Posts: 2,219Solar Expert ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Cheapest way to pump water from creek/cistern?

    Or, use a 5.9GPM shurflo pump "smart sensor" 65PSI should help!
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Mountains near Mariposa CA
     http://members.sti.net/offgridsolar/
    E-mail offgridsolar@sti.net

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