The Best Solar-Powered Water Pumps of 2022

Harness renewable energy to hydrate crops, pump water from a well, or operate a garden fountain with one of the best solar-powered water pumps.

By JG Wall | Published Aug 23, 2022 10:20 AM

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Solar-powered water pumps use the sun to generate power and efficiently move water from a well, storage tank, pond or other water sources to the desired location. They work well for irrigation, livestock, bird baths, and off-grid applications, and are an excellent alternative to traditional water pumps. As a renewable energy source, solar offers many advantages: it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, allows for energy independence and is easy to install. When setting up a solar-powered water pump, additional electric wiring from the grid is unnecessary, saving you time and money.

There are many different solar water pump options, including pumps that are fully submersible, making them ideal for ponds and wells. Above-ground water pumps are perfect for water features like bird baths and fountains, as well as many other outdoor uses.

We’ve sorted through the available products, and present our top picks for the best solar-powered water pumps.

  1. BEST OVERALL: AquaJet 24v High-Powered Solar Pump
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: AquaJet Small Solar Pump Kit
  3. BEST FOR FOUNTAINS: Solariver Solar Water Pump Kit
  4. BEST FOR IRRIGATION: Dankoff Solar Slow Pump
  5. BEST SUBMERSIBLE: Aquatec SWP-4000 Solar Pump Kit
  6. BEST LARGE: Grundfos SQFlex

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Solar-Powered Water Pumps

When choosing a solar water pump, consider the type of pump you’ll need (surface or submersible), how much water will be moved, and how far it will travel from the water source. Other factors to think about include the size of the system, solar panel wattage, and the maximum flow rate of the pump.

Types of Solar Water Pumps

Surface pumps are versatile units placed at the water level that can be used for things like irrigation, shallow ponds and flooded basements. One side of the surface pump is the intake from the water source, and the other is the discharge to the desired location.

Submersible pumps work best when entirely immersed underwater, and are used for wells and deeper water features. Once activated, the pump will suck water through a network of pipes or tubes before delivering it to the destination.

It’s important that both types be placed within the limits of max vertical head (MVH), because pump lift capabilities are reduced at higher altitudes. Additionally, dry-run protection is an important feature for both types to avoid damage to the solar water pump shaft and other internal components.

Max Vertical Head

The max vertical head (MVH) is the maximum height that water can reach when pumped from the source. It’s an important consideration because the water pump is placed on the bottom of the water source, so you’ll need to make sure the pump is capable of moving water all the way to the surface. For example, if your fish pond is 4 feet deep and the max head of the pump is 3 feet, then the pump will not be able to lift enough water for your application.

Max Flow

The max flow (MF) capacity is how much water the pump can move in a certain amount of time. Most pumps list their maximum flow rate capacity in gallons per hour (GPH) or minute (GPM). If the max flow is too low, filling a tank or watering a backyard might take significantly longer than expected.

Solar Panels and Inverters

The solar panels used in water pump systems produce electricity using photovoltaics (PVs). The photovoltaic effect takes place when sunlight hits a material and creates an electrical current. Placing the solar panel in a location that receives significant sunlight is essential for the water pumps to run efficiently and produce the maximum power.

Additionally, the more powerful pumps will need higher watt solar panels in order to keep batteries fully charged. Sizeable solar systems also require higher-voltage inverters to produce more AC power. This is important for applications requiring larger volumes of water, such as deep wells or large ponds. When choosing a solar inverter, it’s essential to select one that’s compatible with the output of the solar panel.

Batteries

Some solar-powered water pumps (often for smaller applications) only function when exposed to sunlight, while others can utilize batteries to store energy for longer, overnight pumping times. For those residing in overcast regions, it’s highly recommended to have a backup battery. In addition, a charge controller can help prevent batteries from being overcharged or damaged.

Power Types For Water Pumps

Solar pumps run on two different types of power: direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC).

DC power is inexpensive and commonly used for smaller projects, like bird baths and water fountains. Although a higher-watt solar panel can connect directly to a DC-powered pump without the need for a solar controller, it’s not recommended due to possible power surges. Typically, DC pumps are sold as a complete unit that includes a solar panel, water pump, and necessary hoses. They’re also easy to set up and are the most common type of water pump.

On the other hand, AC-powered pumps are ideal for agriculture or industrial applications because they often provide a much higher flow rate than DC water pumps. They’re also especially useful in scenarios when emergency pumping is needed and grid power is available. However, one drawback is that inverters are necessary to operate AC water pumps — adding to the overall cost. In addition, when an inverter converts the direct current generated by a solar panel to an alternating current, some energy is lost in the process.

Size of Water System for Agriculture Uses

When sizing a solar water system for livestock or crops, it’s essential to consider how much water is needed per day. Water demand is expressed in either (GPD) gallons per day or (LPD) liters. In most cases, it’s best to have three or four days’ worth of stored water to account for extended cloudy conditions.

Warmer weather can also impact the output of your system. The optimal temperature for solar panel efficiency is around 77 degrees, so the energy output actually decreases in higher temperatures.

Our Top Picks

We researched an array of products available online, and analysed the benefits and various applications for each pump. Here you’ll find some of the best solar-powered water pumps that stand out for their quality, versatility, value, performance, and durability.

BEST OVERALL

The Best Solar Powered Water Pumps Option: AquaJet 24V High-Powered Solar Pump
photo: Silicon Solar

The affordably-priced, AquaJet 24V 650 GPH Solar Powered Pump Kit, is built to last and can be used for multiple applications around the home like fish ponds, greenhouses, gardens, and small waterfalls. The kit’s 25-watt solar panel comes with a 15-year warranty, plus there’s a two-year warranty on the pump itself.

The AquaJet is a brushless pump that also includes dry-run protection, meaning it will last longer and is easier to maintain than other models. With a strong solar panel and the ability to run up to 100 feet away from the water source, this pump is perfect for backyard solar projects.

AquaJet pumps are engineered and manufactured in the United States with high-quality parts. Founded in 1999, Silicon Solar, the manufacturer of AquaJet, is a member of the American Solar Energy Society and the US Green Building Council.

Specs:

  • Voltage: 12-24V ‎
  • Max Head: 6.9 feet ‎
  • Flow Rate‎: 647.9 GPH
  • Dry Run Protected: Yes

Pros

  • 15-year warranty on the solar panel; two years on the pump
  • Brushless pump for maximum reliability
  • Strong output and flow rate
  • Made in the U.S.

Cons

  • Packaged with plastic mailer
  • Tubing sold separately

Get the AquaJet 24V High-Powered Solar Pump at Silicon Solar

BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK

The Best Solar Powered Water Pumps Option: Small Solar Fountain Kit
photo: Silicon Solar

Sometimes simplicity has its advantages, and that’s certainly the case with this solar pump. In addition to the low price tag, the AquaJet small solar fountain pump kit is also one of the easiest to operate and maintain. However, if you do have questions, Silicon Solar has online customer support as well as several how-to guides for fountains and other water features.

Despite its small size, the pump can raise enough water to create lovely bird baths and small waterfalls, making it a popular choice for backyard gardens. Plus, the durable solar panel’s 15-year warranty ensures that it will last for a long time.

The operation is simple: just place the AquaJet solar panel in the sun and enjoy the soothing sound of water. The kit includes a solar panel with a stake, submersible water pump, three different spray heads, and tubing to raise the water above the surface.

Specs

  • Voltage: 9v
  • Max Flow Rate: 39.6 GPH
  • Max Head: 24 inches
  • Dry Run Protection: No

Pros

  • Includes 1-year warranty (pump); 5-year warranty (panel)
  • Easy to install
  • Versatile in creating unique water features
  • US Green Building Council Member
  • Made in the U.S.

Cons

  • No battery
  • No dry run protection
  • Small solar panel (3 watts)

Get the AquaJet Small Solar Fountain Pump Kit at Silicon Solar.

BEST FOR FOUNTAINS

The Best Solar Powered Water Pumps Option: Solariver Solar Water Pump Kit -160+GPH Submersible Water Pump with Adjustable Flow
photo: amazon.com

Bring life to a stagnant water fountain with the Solariver Water Pump Kit that comes with everything you need to get up and running in no time. The kit includes a brushless, magnetic submersible pump that is long-lasting and efficient, as well as a 12 watt, polycrystalline solar panel and two fountain attachment options (apple or volcano) for unique displays of water.

This submersible can move an impressive 160 gallons of water per hour, and is also one of the most energy-efficient solar pumps for fountains, with a low power consumption of just 12 volts. The pump runs off durable, brushless motors and includes a one-year warranty — although it has a lifespan of more than 20,000 hours. Other features include adjustable flow control, dry-run protection, and a removable pre filter to protect it from particles.

Solariver is a member of the US Green Building Council, and the company also assists schools with educational programming.

Specs

  • Voltage: 12-24 Volt
  • Dry Run Protected: Yes
  • Max Head: 4.9 feet (optimal)
  • Flow Rate: 160 GPH

Pros

  • Includes solar panel
  • Long-lasting submersible pump
  • Easy to install

Cons

  • No battery backup

Get the Solariver Solar Pump Kit at Amazon.

BEST FOR IRRIGATION

The Best Solar Powered Water Pumps Option: Dankoff Solar Slow Pump Model 1303-XX
photo: Silicon Solar

The Dankoff Solar Slow Pump is a terrific solar-powered water pump for agricultural irrigation because it is able to transport water up to 450 vertical feet from the source to the destination. Two different horsepower motor options are available depending on the desired water lift and volume. With 15 to 20 years of life expectancy, it’s also one of the most reliable pumps on the market and its motor is fully rebuildable.

A forged brass encasing gives this rotary vane pump its strength, however, it must be operated in clean water to preserve longevity. If the water source for your crops is prone to debris, an optional filter kit is recommended to ensure years of efficient service.

Detailed instructions and the ability to run directly from a photovoltaic (PV) solar array means that even a novice can get this pump installed fairly easily. This pump is safe to use with saltwater applications or potable water, and is certified by the National Sanitation Foundation.

Specs

  • Voltage: Several options (12V, 24v, 48v, 115v)
  • Dry Run Protected: No (sold separately)
  • Flow Rate: 0.2 – 6.2 GPM
  • Max Head: 450 feet

Pros

  • Durable (15 to 20 years with proper care)
  • Quiet operation
  • NSF Certified
  • Made in the U.S.

Cons

  • Clean, debris-free water only; it must be filtered
  • Filter and dry run protection sold separately

Get the Dankoff Solar Slow Pump at The Solar Store.

BEST SUBMERSIBLE

The Best Solar Powered Water Pumps Option: Aquatec swp-4000 solar water pumping kit
photo: Silicon Solar

The Aquatec SWP-4000 is one of the most versatile submersible pumps, and can be used with solar, wind, or battery power as a perfect choice for wells, livestock or off-grid living. This kit includes a SolarLand 120w 24v polycrystalline panel and an Aquatec MPPT solar controller for a DIY installation. Or, if you already have a solar system, the pump can be purchased individually.

The stainless-steel housing is corrosion-resistant, and a built-in debris screen protects the pump from damage. The Aquatec brand pump and solar controller are manufactured in Southern California, packed in recyclable packaging and approved for potable water use by the FDA and the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF). The pump also includes a thermal protector that will shut it down if the unit gets too hot (which can occur if water pumps run low on water or don’t receive adequate airflow to cool the battery).

The Aquatec 4000 is a diaphragm pump (versus a rotary pump), so it’s recommended that it gets serviced every 3 to 5 years, however, it can be serviced on site. The SWP-4000 has a max flow rate of 1.7 GPM (at a 20-foot head) and can be used in depths up to 230 feet.

A real bonus for this submersible solar pump is the factory-installed plug wires. In order to prevent any water from entering, the manufacturer wires the power cable directly, and adds anti-wicking to the splice.

Specs

  • Voltage: 12-30 volts
  • Dry Run Protected: Yes (thermal heat shut off)
  • Max Head: 230 feet
  • Max Flow Rate: 1.7 GPM (at 20-foot head)

Pros

  • FDA and NSF approved with potable water use
  • Corrosion-resistant stainless steel shell
  • Pump and controller are made in the U.S.
  • Works with smaller wells (4-inch diameter)
  • RoHS and ISO 9001 compliant

Con

  • Needs full sun for optimal performance
  • Service recommended every 3 to 5 years

Get the Aquatec SWP-4000 Solar Pump Kit at The Solar Store.

Our Verdict

All the solar-powered water pumps on our list are designed for long-term use, with some models equipped with rebuildable components. If you’re looking for a small pump to irrigate your garden, fountain, or bird bath our top choice overall is the AquaJet 24V High-Powered Solar Pump. Or, if you need a sturdy submersible pump for a well, we’d suggest the Aquatec SWP Solar Water Pumping Kit.

How We Chose the Best Solar-Powered Water Pumps

When choosing the best solar-powered water pumps, we evaluated dozens of products, looking closely at durability, materials, construction, max head, and max flow. We selected pumps that offer the best combination of value and performance.

Solar-powered water pumps that could deliver ample water flow to an acceptable height with minimal maintenance requirements rose on our list. We prioritized products with a long service life that were made from quality materials such as stainless steel components. Some of the pumps we reviewed utilize ABS plastics for UV protection and longevity. Technically, these types of plastics are recyclable, however, it can be difficult for consumers to do so depending on resources available in their area.

Most of the pumps listed are made in the United States, and all of our choices came from manufacturers with a track record of good customer service. We also considered companies’ sustainability practices and ratings, looking for reputable industry certifications, packaging, and charitable initiatives.

FAQs

Q: How much water can a solar-powered water pump move?

Some solar water pumps can move up to 10,000 plus gallons per day. The max flow will depend on pump size, the amount of sunlight the panel receives, and whether the system has battery backup.

Q: How much do solar pumps cost?

A solar water pumping system comes in a wide range of prices, from around $20 for a small water fountain pump, to well over a thousand for deep well submersibles or irrigation pumps. The cost will depend on the size and power of the pump, manufacturer, and if you’re only buying the pump or the accessories and solar panel to go along with it.

Q: Can you buy used solar water pumps?

The short answer is yes, you can buy used solar water pumps. However, it’s essential to do your research before buying to ensure you’re getting a quality product, and keep in mind that the warranties provided by the manufacturer may not carry over to used products. Ebay.com is a good source for second-hand or open-box items.

Q: How deep will a solar water pump work?

Solar water pumps will work to a max depth of around 800 to 1,000 feet.

Q: How do I install a solar-powered pump?

Installation will vary depending on the type of water pump, but setups like bird baths and fountains are fairly simple DIY projects. Silicon Solar offers several guides and video tutorials to assist with basic installations of these water features.

No matter the pump type, solar panels should be installed facing south (in the Northern Hemisphere) to capture the most sunlight. If you’re not mounting the solar panel to a structure, you may have to create a mount by digging a hole and pouring concrete.

If you’re installing a submersible pump in a well, you’ll need to connect a solar controller to the panels. Once you’ve connected the wiring and piping to the pump and submerged it, connect the wiring to the solar system. Most manufacturers will provide installation guides, and this video from Sun Pumps can assist with general information, however, each product will require slightly different setups.

Q: How can I recycle my solar-powered pump?

When making purchasing decisions, it’s essential for our planet that consumers consider proper disposal at the end of service. Landfills are full of items that will take generations to decompose, so choosing durable and repairable products can help reduce waste.

When water pumps reach the end of their product life, there are several resources that can assist with recycling and waste management. For example, some Habitat for Humanity Restore shops will accept plastics and motors for repurposing. Recycle Nation offers a searchable database to find recycling centers in your area.

Batteries are recyclable, but should not be placed in home recycling bins. Both Home Depot and Lowes offer battery recycling drop boxes in most store locations.

Solar panel recycling companies like Zeep Technology are emerging as an option for those with end-of-life panels and other solar equipment, including PV panels, batteries, inverters, and mounts. The recycling process for solar panels begins with the removal of metals like copper, aluminum, and lead. Next, the glass is separated from the rest of the panel, and finally the remaining plastic and solar cells are shredded into small pieces.

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