Solar Powered Well Project

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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,239
Northern NH
I did an upgrade to the project I started last summer to pump water out of unused surface water well for my garden and grass watering. When I built my house 30 years ago in my development I had no nearby neighbors and was tight on cash so I had a ground water well put in. It never ran out of water for 10 plus years but slowly the neighborhood got built out including a new house across the street upslope of my well so I put in deep well (320 feet). When I started a garden I decided to set up the old well for watering. I used run of the mill 12volt bilge pumps. Initially I just pumped out of the well directly to the tank but as the water level dropped I ran out of pump lift. I tried a different style pump but it didnt last long so I rigged up the blue barrel. I now have a bilge pump on the end of long pipe stuck down in the well near the bottom. It pumps up to the blue barrel. There is float switch in the barrel that turns the well pump off when the tank is full. I have second bilge pump in the bottom of the blue barrel that pumps up to the plastic tank on the pile of wood. It does distort a bit when full. There is a second float switch in the big plastic tank that turns off the barrel pump when its full. The solar panels are spares left over from one of the iterations of my solar array. They are around 60 watts each. Two in series feeds the well pump and one feeds the barrel pump (the well pump needs more power as it has more lift as the water table drops). The panels are 12 volt at least 25 years old and still put out reasonable power. I used up scrap I had around the house for the tilting frame.

There is no battery, everything is wired direct and it controls itself. I used bilge pump float switches hung upside down and they stick on occasion but worse case is some wet ground. On sunny day I can fill up the tank in less than a day. The pressure going out the house is not a lot. I have whirly bird sprinkler that I have to move around as it only covers about 8 foot radius. I do have a electric pump that I can hook up the outlet to run a lawn sprinkler but normally i just let gravity do its thing.

Right now its just got temporary wiring, I plan to wire it up with proper outdoor rated wire and clean things up a bit but for now its working.

well pump small.jpg
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,758
South Puget Sound, WA
Cool stone platform. Is it dry-stacked?
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,239
Northern NH
Cool stone platform. Is it dry-stacked?
Its actually slabs of beech (wood). I am going to need to make a new pile so I can grab the fire wood this fall ;) The rocks around me are all glacial cobbles of mostly granite, it rare to find sedimentary rock nearby so stone slabs are hard to get unless I drive over to Vermont.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,239
Northern NH
I really do not need it for my garden in winter or actually when the temps get below freezing as the plants are dead. I just drain the big tank and pull the pumps. I could leave the pump in the deep well as it never freezes. The biggest hassle was rewiring everything from taking it apart last year. I will probably swing the panels down to vertical to keep snow from building up or maybe just pull them for the winter. I may get fancy and put in terminal box and some MC connectors so that everything is plug and play. The biggest hassle is snow builds up on top of the plastic tank and squashes it a bit but I have a larger solar array not in the picture so I just give the tank a quick clean off when I am cleaning off my array.
 

gthomas785

Feeling the Heat
Feb 8, 2020
413
Central MA
This is great. I just finished installing a pump for my shallow well also to use for irrigation. However since the well is under the house I used a 120v AC jet pump.

Since I am on this topic I just have to mention that there is a cool story behind this well. In 1917 when the US was getting ready to join WWI they were training soldiers at camp Devens and they would march by the (now my) house in Shirley Center on training drills. In the peak of summer all the hand dug wells in the area would run dry except this one. Who knows why. Anyway the young lady named Shirley Lawton who lived here would bring out water for the soldiers to drink. Later on she wrote a book about that and her other experiences growing up around the start of the war. The book is called "water for soldiers". A bit of a snooze fest and way too long, but still interesting to see some old pictures of my house and the people who owned it back then.

Its kinda cool to think that over 100 years later, I am still using the water from that same well that is mentioned in the book. I have not tested it but I'm sure by now it's full of lead and probably hydrocarbon contaminants so I would not drink it or water vegetables with it. The flower gardens don't mind, though.
 
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begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
87,758
South Puget Sound, WA
Its actually slabs of beech (wood). I am going to need to make a new pile so I can grab the fire wood this fall ;) The rocks around me are all glacial cobbles of mostly granite, it rare to find sedimentary rock nearby so stone slabs are hard to get unless I drive over to Vermont.
I see now when I look at it full sized on my computer. On the phone it looked like stacked stone. I think I would make (or find) a permanent platform with a roof to reduce UV degradation of the container.
 

clancey

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2021
708
Colorado
That looks like a new invention to me although for me a bit complicated to figure out but somewhere on this forum there is a grant that I believe some government entity is giving grant money for new inventions and thinking --maybe for stoves or something--cannot remember and I hope someone else can remember--lol---but this seems like something is really working with filling water up--good for you..clancey
 

ABMax24

Minister of Fire
That's cool. Being direct wired, wouldn't there be a chance of premature failure of the motor from inadequate voltage/current causing heating of the windings without turning the pump shaft?
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
6,239
Northern NH
Yes I thought about it but they ran all last summer. I do see in the early morning or evening that the pump is turning slolwy but no flow is coming out. Its a centrifugal pump instead of positive displacement so it always turns even though it doesnt have enough speed to develop enough pressure to ovecome the discharge pressure. The pump is submerged in 40 degree water so it does not heat up. My guess is being a bilge pump its set up to survive running clogged. I did buy a Rule inline pump with higher discharge head to see if I could skip the intermediate pump, it worked but didnt last long before it stopped working.
 

gthomas785

Feeling the Heat
Feb 8, 2020
413
Central MA
Yes I thought about it but they ran all last summer. I do see in the early morning or evening that the pump is turning slolwy but no flow is coming out. Its a centrifugal pump instead of positive displacement so it always turns even though it doesnt have enough speed to develop enough pressure to ovecome the discharge pressure. The pump is submerged in 40 degree water so it does not heat up. My guess is being a bilge pump its set up to survive running clogged. I did buy a Rule inline pump with higher discharge head to see if I could skip the intermediate pump, it worked but didnt last long before it stopped working.
Also, a solar panel is not capable of providing unlimited amps the way a utility transformer can. If the voltage is low it's due to low power output, so the pump simply cannot draw that much current from it.