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Thread: Off-grid well pump options

  1. #1

    Default Off-grid well pump options

    So, found my little farm - dream property... Drove a well, 220' deep, 150' from the house (far away because the second and final house will eventually sit there). I will just be pumping over to a reservoir in the house this year, don't want to fuss with trying to put a fullblown heating system or pressure tank yet.

    I am only going to have a 2k generator this year for power, and a few batteries (haven't sized the system yet because I don't know exactly what loads I'm gonna have yet, first house/cabin under construction).

    My brain is spinning with the options, and then someone suggested a mechanical-drive windmill or a bicycle attached to a pulley driven pump. Well heck yeah, I'm all for a bicycle-driven pump!
    So, what I'm wondering is, what sort of manual options (including brand!) have people used on deep pumps? What about windmill- driven pumps (including brand, climate used)? I am in a good spot for wind, will likely do solar thermal and a windmill for power eventually, but once you get into a decent sized tower, you're talking an awful lot of money.
    I was looking at the Bison hand pumps, they are just barely rated for the depth I need to go, and I can install an electric submersible below it for when I do get power...
    There's gotta be somebody from farm country on this forum! Look forward to hearing your tips or pointers on good resources for the info.

  2. #2
    Member Ak Bird Brain's Avatar
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    Whats the static water level of your well? There are some relatively inexpensive battery powered pumps such as http://www.fondriest.com/products/proactive_p-10400.htm but the cheaper ones will only pump as deep as 85' the ones that will work deeper require a control box that doubles the price. The one I use has alligator clips on the cord so you can connect it to a battery.
    If you want really low tech with a little bit of elbow grease you could use a bailer http://www.geotechenv.com/sampling_bailers.html a 3 inch by 36 inch bailer holds 1 gallon of water. They sell for $10-20 each just lower it down your well let it fill, pull it up and repeat until you have enough water. I keep one around for power outages.
    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day,
    Teach a man to fish and he'll also learn to drink, lie, and avoid the honey do list.

  3. #3
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    What you are looking for is a deep well pump. The deep well types are expensive for a reason, they do alot of work to lift water that far. lets geek out and look at some standard well/pump configurations. Lets start with the weight of the water in your pipe to water level. To do this we start with volume: volume of a pipe (in cubic feet)= radius squared x pi x length. So, with a standard 1 1/4" pipe, it would look like this: .052 (radius in feet)x .052 x 3.1416 x 225 = 1.91 cubic feet for water. Since there is 7.48 galions in a cubic foot, multiply: 1.91 x 7.48 = 14.29 gal. and since each gal of water weighs about 8.35lbs, multiply again: 14.29 x 8.35 = 119.32 lbs. This means just to get water up to ground level, with NO flow and NO pressure. As you can see from this a pump is doing alot of work just to get the water to ground level, not to mention getting a flow and pressure for use!
    Knowing this, i would think that a hand pump wound take alot of work to get a usable amount of water. Most deep well hand pumps i have seen only expell around 8-9 oz of water per stroke once they are "broken in", so 128oz per gal/8 oz = about 16 full strokes for each gal of water. If you look at a full set of specs for deep well hand pumps, below 20 degrees F, their depth rating i about 3/4 of normal and at -10 it is 1/2 of norm due to the chance of breakage from brittle metal
    I know from some farmers with deep wells that use wind for barn water. A 200-250 foot deep wind powered well takes a 40-60 foot diameter windmill that cost over $10,000 as a kit to buy and then you need to get it installed, not to mention some kind of storage for times when there is no wind. the only reason they (the farmers) use these is because the systems are at remote locations where electric was not worth the set-up costs when installed and because they are existing systems from way back. When asked about the wind systems, most said they would replace them with a different method if the windmill died. If you pay attention to most wind systems you can see on farms today, almost all of them are really old or abandoned.
    Considering all of this, i would just get the pump you eventually plan to use and install it now, or as was mentioned get a well bucket type setup just for now. with this you are never trying to lift more than 1-2 gal of water. if you do use the bucket, use a good, strong, new rope with some kind of strong tie-off or X bar so the whole rope doesn't fall in, it sould really stink trying to fish out a bucket from a well if the rope broke or fell in!
    Im not trying to say that either method you mentioned is not for you, i am just trying to play "devil's advocate" to try to show you the down sides of the systems you mentioned, ultimately the decision is yours, good luck with everything!

  4. #4
    Member tboehm's Avatar
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    try this out for size. I'm ordering one today http://www.altestore.com/store/Solar...FcFo4Aod-B3T5A

    Can run 12 or 24v dc. Im planning on starting with the solor but you can just hook it to a battery. It will do 230' of lift but if you go that far I would do the 24v
    Semper Fi and God Bless

  5. #5

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    Thanks for the input, folks. Busy weekends, haven't had time to reply till now. And just deleted several paragraphs that I wrote >:-[

    The water is over 200' down, that geotech setup might work to get by with this year if I can't afford to pipe water over to the house and have to haul it.

    Thanks for all the stats, bklausman. One of the many things I was wondering is "just how hard is it" to operate a handpump. I'm not afraid of hard work... But it seemed to me just by guessing that a bicycle driven system would be easier and quicker than a hand operated pump, and I will be asking this pump system to do quite a bit of work. And I have a hard time believing there aren't a zillion farmers out there who don't want to bring power out to their watering holes. Hoping to find some pre-fabbed, decent quality pulley driven, totally mechanical system that I could at least adapt to the bicycle.
    On the windmill, do you have a brand name? I don't know about a 40-60 ft diameter, that seems excessive, but any spot to start researching mech-drive windmills for wells is great. If a 1 Hp pump would pull water out of the well and push it over to the house, that's only 746 Watts... You can get a 5kW windmill (actually produces about 4.9kW at 10 mph windspeed, which is a reliable number where I live) with a 21ft diameter. Maybe a submersible pump is a more effective way to get water than a push-pull sort of mechanical pump.

    tboehm, yeah. I had looked at a few 12-24VDC pumps but dismissed them since they didn't really get above 3gpm at my depth. But, I will probably end up with a reservoir in the house anyway (the thing I most wanted to avoid, oh well) and I have a little bicycle generator that comfortably produces 60-65Watts. I can pedal that for around 40 minutes a day and get about 18 gallons according to the specs on that pump. That would be sufficient for me, and I can just do my laundry at the laundromat as planned this year. When I get a power system in, I would be able to use the same pump also.

    Thanks again for the input!

    Would still love to hear from anyone who has used a pulley-driven (bicycle, small generator, or windmill powered) pump on a well of this depth!

  6. #6
    Member KelvinG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thekernel View Post
    ..... You can get a 5kW windmill (actually produces about 4.9kW at 10 mph windspeed, which is a reliable number where I live) with a 21ft diameter.....
    Which windmill is that?

    I have a Southwest Windpower Whisper 200 windmill which is supposedly designed for low wind speed. They claim it will start producing power in a 7.5 mph and produce 1kw at 26 mph. In real life it doesn’t produce power until 12 mph or so. I called the company and after a bit of stalling the answer I got was “Well we are sure once the wind starts blowing more you will really like it.”

    So any way don’t buy into the BS they sell about well windmills produce power in low wind speeds. The Whisper 200 is a well built product but I got the distinct impression they figured they had to lie about the low speed capabilities to compete with all the other manufactures lying about their product.

  7. #7

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    “Well we are sure once the wind starts blowing more you will really like it.”

    I bet that didn't aggravate! Man. All the feedback I've heard is similar in terms of durability - that it's a good product, as long as it's installed right. They try to sell them on 50' towers, which is far too short in the vast majority of applications. Are you well up and out of turbulent winds?

  8. #8
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    I called one of the farmers i know with a wind pump for his well, while 40-60 ft does seem excessive, he said, "You have to look at the highest demand which is hot days with little cooling winds. This is when the livestock need more water, and when there is less wind to supply it." now it makes more sence to me.
    Although i have not used any of them, all the bicycle type systems i have seen show their use in a system with collected rain water from a ground level tank and don't seem to address the problem of raising the water 200'. If you do try a bicycle system, i would suggest getting one that requires the smallest head pipe diameter since the smaller the pipe = less static weight you have to move to get it to ground level.
    It seems like the hand pump is last on you list of options at this point, but i forgot to mention this in my last post: at the depth you are looking at, according to their specs, it will take 60-80 cycles (pumps) to get the water to fill the pump dip pipe.

    here is another dip bucket for you to look at if you want, its from Lehman's, i have had great customer service from them with every order i placed there. http://www.lehmans.com/store/Water__...___550202?Args=

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  10. #10

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    BTW, KelvinG, the first 5kW turbine I looked up was an endurance. I think that's a pretty typical swept area/ power ratio though.

    Wow, 60-80 cycles is not something I want to do by hand! I am so glad you mentioned Lehman's bklausman... I was trying to figure out what they were called, someone showed me their site a few years ago. I've requested more info on their system to "motorize" one of the hand pumps. They have no pictures, but is sounds like it's a pulley-drive setup that you can bolt on opposed to up-down hand crank movement.

    Also found an article that mentioned Aermotor... Made in the USA, but first glance doesn't look to me like it would hold up in our Winters, around $9k without shipping or tower, would make more sense to get an electric windmill and a slow 24VDC pump. Emailing them also to find out about just ordering the pump and gearbox.
    And Airlift technologies... Also emailed them for more info.

    "Simplepump" appears to be the most promising though... Will update as I get more information!

  11. #11
    Member KelvinG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by thekernel View Post
    “Well we are sure once the wind starts blowing more you will really like it.”

    I bet that didn't aggravate! Man. All the feedback I've heard is similar in terms of durability - that it's a good product, as long as it's installed right. They try to sell them on 50' towers, which is far too short in the vast majority of applications. Are you well up and out of turbulent winds?
    Yea, I've got mine on an 80 ft tower. It's constantly spinning but not producing any power until the wind gets up to 12 mph or so.

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