I need advice!

SystemSystem Posts: 2,511 admin
First I want to thank any kind soul who will try to help me with my project!
Here is what I want to do:
A solar panel to keep a battery loaded to run a water pump, including nights.
The pump needs to run water through a filter, and have a lift of about 2-3 feet.
The idea is to have a small pond with fish, and a little waterfall over some rocks to run the water back into the pool.
I have seen panels to load 12V batteries.
Are there pumps around that can be run with such batteries, and handle the load? And will the panel recharge it daily, so it can run through the night as well?
If you can suggest products that could do the job I would be grateful!

Comments

  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,170 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I need advice!

    We first need to know the specifications for the pump you have chosen. Volts & amps, or watts.

    Try to chose a pump that has a long life, some cheap DC pumps have no warranty, some AC pumps have a 5 year warranty.

    Also, how reliable is the sun in your area, if there were 3 or 4 cloudy days, and the pump shut off, would the fish die ? What city are you near? Will the pond/fountain freeze in winter? Summer with long days is not the problem, what about winter, short days, long nights, dead battery. So the solar panel has to be large enough to charge 3 nights of battery, in 1 sunny day. May take 2 panels.

    A good solar panel will be pretty expensive, would an extension cord from your house work better ?
    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: I need advice!

    Since I have no idea of what would work best, I have not decided on any specifics yet. I have seen lots of panels for 12V batteries. Is that a good way to go?
    I live in Medford, OR. Summer is all sun, but winter can often be overcast or rainy. Is it unreasonable to want fish included? I really don't want to run a line from the house and use all that 110V electricity. The idea of the water feature was based on the possibility of using solar power only.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    Upon further internet research I came across the Xantrex xPower Powerpack Solar 400 battery, that comes with a 5watt solar panel connected to it, which recharges the battery.
    Product Features:

    * Runs 120-volt AC or 12-volt DC products anywhere
    * Built-in 400-watt inverter
    * Sealed, non-spillable 10 amp-hour AGM battery
    * Two 120-volt AC outlets, on 12-volt DC socket and one USB port
    * Three-digital display for easy battery status monitoring
    * Rubberized protection to guard against unit slipping
    * AC charger included so you can charge from a standard wall outlet
    * DC charger included so you can charge from a vehicle or RV

    Could this the answer for me?
    I could then use a regular 120V AC pump, which is much cheaper than the 12V units, and also would be able to recharge the battery from a 120V outlet in the house, when there is not enough sunshine.
    Any thoughts on this?
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,170 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I need advice!
    alsenor wrote: »
    Xantrex xPower Powerpack Solar 400 battery, that comes with a 5watt solar panel connected to it,
    >
    >
    Could this the answer for me?

    Not hardly, you will need a lot more panel to pump water with, at least 50W to get much of an effect.
    Go to some garden sites, and look at pumps, GPM specs, and wattage needed, choose a pump, highth & GPM, find out the wattage, and then ask the magic 8 ball again.

    http://www.realgoods.com/category/water-heating-pumping/ponds-fountains.do
    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: I need advice!

    Well, loading method notwithstanding, the battery packs 400 watts. Shouldn't that be enough to power a pump?
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,170 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: I need advice!

    You are only allowed to use 50% of the battery capacity, so you are down to 200W of storage.

    Say the pump is 40W, so in 5 hours, the battery needs recharge.
    To carry you thru one winter day, with 5 solar charge hours (really optimistic) you have 19 hours to run the pump. That's 760W
    To recharge (and continue to run the pump for the 5 daytime hours) you need a panel sized to (760 + 200) x (80% efficient charging ) x (80% of STC panel rating) my guess is you will need 300W of solar panels to get thru the night, and recharged the next sunny day. A cloudy day, and you loose power to the pump. 3 cloudy days and you take 2 months off your battery life due to sulfated plates.

    So price out a pair of 150W panels, and charge controller, and battery, and see if an extension cord looks better. This guess is with a 40W pump. Your mileage may vary, and I think the effect you want will need over 100W of pump.
    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: I need advice!

    So, with other words, no fish.
    Because without having to push all the water through a filter every hour, it shouldn't take a 40 watt pump.
    Or, I would have to get REAL tough fish only! ;)
  • halfcrazyhalfcrazy Solar Expert Posts: 718 ✭✭✭
    Re: I need advice!

    with a quick search i found this pump it moves like 100 liters per hour and uses 1.4 watts it comes as a kit but disregard that
    so if this pump would work for you you would need roughly 48 watt hours a day so to do a 3 day system you would need the following
    40-50 watt solar panel will give you a good bufferincase you upgrade pump
    one small charge controller 5 amps or less
    small 12volt deep cycle batery with at least 25 amphours i would go around 100ah



    http://stores.channeladvisor.com/best-choice/items/item.aspx?itemid=3536089

    do some digging on dc powerd fountain pumps and let us know what you find and we can put better numbers to it for you
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    So, OK, let's look at this from another angle.
    My daughter runs a horse training ranch, where they have gold fish in the horses' watering troughs. Those troughs have no filter, and only modest fresh water supply from replenishment of what the horses drink. In winter there is often just a few inches of liquid water below the frozen layer, and the darn fish are multiplying in those troughs.
    What they are telling me is the fish doesn't need the GPH rates of pumping and filtration we try to build.
    What's the thoughts on that? :confused:
  • sam csam c Registered Users Posts: 16
    Re: I need advice!

    I built a frog pond, ( I love frogs) it held 50-70 gal. ran a small pump over a waterfall, put some gold fish in it, ran the pump 1- 2 times a week for 3-4 hrs
    everybody was happy,
    if the horses are happy with the fish, then the amount of fresh water needed to water the horses, keeps the fish alive.
    I used no filtration.
    for the waterfalls ,if its for viewing only, a small solar powered fountain pump would work, ( would you want the falls on rain days)
    if you have too many fish then its time to go fishing ?.
    Sam
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    Sam, I am glad to hear that!
    I did have the feeling that I was overly cautious, and some advice I was getting made things sound overly complicated.
    I think I will go ahead with my solar planning, and the goldfish will be added if it is suitable. My wife and I like frogs too, and they may be a good alliance against mosquito breeding as well. ;)
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    I am looking at this battery (http://safecastleroyal.com/item_417/Xantrex-XPower-Powerpack-Solar.html), which stores 400 watts, but also mentions it is a 10amp/h battery. What does the 10 amp per hour imply?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,624 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    Al,

    Not a bad question... The actual battery rating was written as 10 Amp-Hour which is written sort of incorrectly... It is actually 10 Amp*Hour (times, sometimes written as AH or AmpHr) rating.

    And the 400 watt is the size of the internal inverter (more or less Peak Output load of the inverter)--and indicates nothing specific about the size or storage capacity of the battery...

    Now, there are some basic electricity / algebra / understanding specifications with these numbers.

    400 watts is "Power" (or rate of work per unit time)--sort of like MPH... You can go 75 MPH on the freeway (maximum)--but it does not tell you how far you went.

    So 400 Watts means you can run 4x 100 watt light bulbs, or 2x 200 watt bulbs, or 400x 1 watt bulbs... As long as the Watt*Number of Loads is 400 watts or less. But this does not tell you how long your lights will stay lit on a charge.

    Some basic equations for electrical work (and you can use basic Algebra to mix and match to solve for the unknown):

    Volts=Current (Amperes) * Resistance (Ohms) =>

    V = I*R
    I=V/R
    R=V/I

    "Power" (rate)
    Watts=V*I
    Watts=V^2 / R
    Watts=I^2 * R

    "Work" (like distance; Rate*Time)
    Watt*Hours=Watts*Time (in hours)

    Sort of like Work (missing Volts--but used a lot by battery mfg and DC engineers):

    Battery Capacity = Amp*Hours (batteries typically rated at "20 Hour" discharge rate)

    Now, the size of the battery tells you how long you can light those 400 watts of light bulbs... a 10 Amp*Hour rated battery stores, roughly,

    10 AH * 12 volts = 120 AHV or 120 Watt*Hours

    You 400 watt load would run:

    120 Watt*Hours (battery capacity) / 400 watt (load) = 0.3 hours (or 18 minutes)...

    And, in reality, that 18 minutes will be closer to 4.5 minutes for several reasons...

    1. you should not discharge a battery below 50% capacity or it will quickly die.
    2. The 10 Amp*Hour battery rating is based on discharging over 20 hours... The real rating when discharging over 20 minutes is much less.
    3. The inverter is not 100% efficient, but closer to 80-85% efficient.

    So, basically, adding up all of the issues above, your 400 watt 10 A*H emergency power pack will power your 400 watt load (reliably) for about 5 minutes.

    I am not saying that this is a good or bad product--just one has to set their requirements and expectations such they match reality.

    In the end, this unit might be OK for powering a small TV, Radio, or some LED lights in an emergency. Or powering an electric drill where you have short uses of high power (400 watts for a few seconds at a time).

    But, units like these will never power, for example, a refrigerator through a 1 day blackout.

    Does this help? Questions?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    Dear Bill,
    first, thanks a lot for the detailed explanations.
    Second, unfortunately, most of it is way over my head!
    My question is, can I expect this battery to power a small pond pump, and for how long before it needs recharging?
    I have not bought any pump yet, since this will depend on what the battery can do. I would assume that while the solar panel get sunlight it may keep running, or not?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,624 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    It has a 5 watt solar panel... When everything is taken into account, take the number of sun hours per day (typcially around 4-5+ during 9 months of the year) and multiply times 1/2 * solar panel wattage. Example:

    5 hours * 1/2 * 5 watt panel = ~ 12.5 Watt*Hours per day...

    If you have a 1 Watt pump, it will run ~12.5 hours on a single day.

    If you h ave a 12.5 watt pump, it will run ~1 hours per day.

    Or:

    Hours = Watt*Hours (battery or solar panel) / Watt Load

    Using this link, you can quickly see how much sun you get (by month) and how much power a 1 kW reference panel will generate (use a derating factor of 0.52 for a solar+battery system).

    The Solar kWatts per meter^2 is works out to "hours of sun per day"... So you can see in the winter you are looking at 3.7-3.8 hours of sun per day (assuming you are near Atlanta, Georgia). And in the summer 5-6 hours per day of sun.

    To be honest, this "all in one" battery+solar+inverter would be pretty much useless for your pumping application.

    Your best bet is to use a solar panel sized for you motor/pump/etc. and have it only run with the sun...

    If, however, you want the pump to run longer and/or in the evening (water feature, etc.)--then you will need a solar panel + solar charge controller + battery to do this.

    And, you will need something to prevent the battery from being over discharged.

    Then you will probably some thing like this:

    Sunlight solar lighting controller 20-amp 12 volt
    (10 amp version also available)

    This controller is designed to turn on lights--so it turns on at sunset and can be programmed for how long to stay on...

    A problem is that you don't want to completely drain the batteries--and the typical LVD (low voltage disconnect) is set around 10.5 volts--when the batteries are pretty much dead...

    If you can build a system that does not use batteries--it will be much easier to maintain if there is no battery in the system.

    In the end, you need to know the pump (voltage/current/AC or DC) and how long you want it to run (per day, summer/winter/etc.). We can then give you some idea about the size of panels, charge controller, batteries you would need.

    If you can bury a power cable from your home to the pond/pump--it will probably cost less to build/run, be more reliable, and more useful.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    So, in a nut shell, what you are saying is that it would be smarter just to get a photo-voltaic panel and a pump to match it, and forget about running the pump after sundown. I guess we could live with that as well, since the fish should make it through the night without water circulation, and we don't need to hear the waterfall splashing at night either.
    What do I have to look for to make this a match of panel and pump?
    I plan on lifting the water about 2 to 3 feet and let it run over some rocks down into a small pond, maybe 6'L x 3'W x 2'D.
    For instance, would this one be of use? http://cgi.ebay.com/Solar-Power-Panel-12-Volt-4-5-Watt-Car-Boat-RV-Charger_W0QQitemZ320287230141QQihZ011QQcategoryZ41981QQssPageNameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem
    and what should the pump specs be to get for it?
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,624 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    What you really need to do is pick a pump (lowest power DC pump you can use--so you can get the least expensive panel). Then match the pump's requirements with a panel that is the correct voltage, and around 2x the pump's rated current (more is OK, less--and the pump will not run well in the morning/afternoons, may have troubles starting in the morning).

    I am not sure where you will find decent quality small DC pumps.

    Here is one pump I found--seems to be good quality (40,000 hour rating--most of the small pumps I found will last you a year or two). Made fo use with 9-30 watt solar panel. Not cheap though.

    Or, you can check with our host and see if they recommend any of these pumps for your pond use.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    Some people suggest that I am better off forgetting about the solar panel and just installing a 120V pump with a line from the house. It all comes down to overall cost. I figure on about 9cent per kW in electricity usage, and don't want to spend more than $3 or $4 per month to hear the splashing in our yard.
    So, if my figuring is right, a 45wh pump would consume 45wx24x30=32400 watts, or 32.4kW, which would cost me $2.92 per month.
    Is my math correct on this? I could live with that! ;)
    Next:
    I just read that external pumps are more energy efficient than submersible ones.
    Are they also much noisier than submersed ones?
    Sorry about all the naive questions - I just have no idea! :confused:
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,624 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    Yep, you got the monthly electric bill correct... I too believe that a small efficient pump powered from your home's AC mains is going to save you money over solar--unless you have a very long wire run or need to pull up concrete patio to run the cable. Plus you will have an AC outlet at the pond for other uses (lighting, electric weed whacker, etc.).

    Using as small as pump as possible/needed for your application will help save power/money too... Also, you can put a simple timer on and only run the pump 12 hours per day (during the day/evening, every other hour, etc.).

    External pumps can be cheaper, more efficient, and longer lasting (if you compare two otherwise identically rated pumps). Usually an external pump will either need priming/foot valve (to keep prime in the pump--i.e., keep water in the pump so that it will pump again when restarted) or it will need to be mounted below the pond's water level.

    Some other questions... If you get hard freezes, an external pump will need to be kept warm. And you don't want any external fittings/pipes to freeze/leak/fail or you may pump your pond dry (father-in-law's pond has a backflush valve for cleaning the filter, and it started leaking--and he lost 1/2 the water in a 2,000 gallon pond before he noticed).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    Ok, placing the pump below water level outside the pond should not be a problem. As a matter of fact I would like to bury it under some sound-proofing anyway to make sure I don't hear it (I am obsessively opposed to unwanted noise... :blush:). That should also keep it from freezing. We do get a few days of freezing night temps in Medford, OR.
    Seems we have arrived at a plan, after all, thanks to your input.
    All help by everyone in here was greatly appreciated, thanks again! :D
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    Kyocera makes really nice D.C. pumps but they sure aren't cheap. It probably would be cheaper to use grid power. Unless you sleep within hearing distance of the running water then a pumps while the sun is shining only set up would do and is a lot cheaper than involving batteries etc.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    What do you mean by " external pumps "? What is their lift capacity? Grainger catalog says a jet pump uses 30% more power to do the same job. Are you talking about transfer pumps? I'm using 4 @ 1/2 H.P. submersible, 230 V. 2 wire pumps right now on inverted solar which use 900 watts each while running but the Kyocera D.C. pumps won't move enough water to make the irrigation system work. You got anything better?
    __________________________________________

    36 @ 180 W. Evergreen, 50 @ 170 W. Suntech, 5 @ MX-60, 8 @ 1875 A.H. Crown 12 V. Batt in 48 V. config. 4 @ FX-3248T 3200 W. inverters.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 28,624 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    Todd,

    Go ahead and create a thread with your questions... This thread was for a 45watt pump in a fish pond--not multiple pump irrigation system.

    Bits for a new thread are cheap. ;)

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: I need advice!

    alsenor,
    I hate to burst your bubble but the answer is no. Unless a trickle from an aquarium pump is all you're looking for. There's a formula plumbers use to figure what volume of water is needed to create that sheet of water effect on various widths of water falls and it's a lot. trickling down some rocks or a narrow stream falling in a pool isn't out of reach though. Take a garden hose and play with it until you like the effect you get and then time how long it takes to fill a 5 gallon bucket. To figure GPM ( gallons per minute ) using a 5 gal bucket divide 300 by the number of seconds it took to fill the bucket. Then look for a pump that is in the range you want and tell us it' ratings ( Volts, Amps and Watts ). Then someone here, I'm sure can tell you how to figure out your solar needs. Also, does this pump have to keep the pond filled from a well? It's a lot cheaper and easier, If you well is very deep at all, to just recirculate the water over the waterfall to get the desired effect than it is to bring the water up from below ground. Brace yourself. solar isn't cheap. To put it in perspective it would take 3 or 4 5W panels to light a compact flourescent twisty light bulb, which uses 15W, for five hours a day. That said, I wholeheartedly encourage you to push on. There's just something satisfying about having things that work when the utilities are down and knowing there's no bill in the mail for the pleasure of relaxing by your own waterfall. Warning!!! clinical studies have shown " going solar " to be habit forming. side effects may include uncontrollable urges to call the utility company and tell them to get their greedy little meter off your property.
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