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Sizing a Solar Pump System:

Step 1:

Determine whether a submersible pump or a surface pump is best. This is based on the nature of the water source.
Submersible pumps are sometimes suitable for either deep well or surface water sources. Surface pumps can draw water from
only 20-25 feet (7-8 m) below ground level, but they can push it far uphill.

Step 2:

Determine how much water per day is required for your application from the table below:

Each person, for all purposes, requires

Each milking cow requires
Each cow/calf pair requires
Each horse, dry cow or beef animal requires
Each sheep requires
Each hog requires
Each 100 chickens requires

75 gallons per day

30-35 gallons per day
20 gallons per day
15-20 gallons per day
2 gallons per day
4 gallons per day
4 gallons per day

285 liters per day

114-133 liters per day
76 liters per day
57-76 liters per day
7.6 liters per day
15.2 liters per day
15.2 liters per day

Gallons per hour = Gallons per day divided by peak sun hours per day
Gallons per minute = Gallons per hour divided by 60
Peak sun hours (also known as solar insolation) refers to the average equivalent hours of full sun energy received per day. It
varies with the geographic location and the season. For example, the arid central-western USA averages 5-6 peak hours in
summer, and dips to as low as 3-4 peak hours in mid-winter. Five hours is a good average figure for summertime pumping
applications. For your convenience we have provided both U.S. and global solar insolation maps at the end of this document.

You can also click here to visit for complete solar insolation information.

Calulation Example:

Lets say you need to design a solar water pumping system to water 50 cow/calf pairs. First, take the daiily
requirement of 20 gallons and multiply by the 50 cow/calf pairs for a daily requirement of 1,000 gallons. Now divide the 1,000 gallons by
your peak sun hours (lets assume 5 for this example), and then divide again by 60 minutes to obtain your gallons per minute requirement.
(50 x 20 = 1,000/5 = 200/60 = 3.33 Gallons per minute)
This means you will need a pumping system capable of pumping at least 3.33 gallons per minute to sustain the watering requirement from
this example. Due to variations in peak sun hours from summer to winter months, it is best to use this amount as an absolute minimum.
From this example, 4 gallons per minute would yield extra water in summer months, yet still meet the water reuirement in the winter

Step 3:

The most important question you need to answer is whether or not your water source will produce enough water to supply
the application and the pump system. You may determine you need 8 gallons per minute; however, if your water soucre only produces
3 gallons per minute, then you will be unsable to sustain your daily water requirement. If the water source is a well or a stream and the
flow rate or recovery is unknown, you can have a pump test performed to determine whether or not the water source will produce enough
water to supply the pump system and water delivery requirements. We recommend visiting
for links to a vast stockpile of information on everything regarding groundwater and water wells.

What was the production rate (gallons per minute) during pump testing? Pump Test GPM = ________________


Step 4:

Determine other key measures crucial in accurately designing a solar water pumping system:


If the application is a well, measure the well depth. Total Depth (TD) = _______ feet.


Water Levels:

* For surface pump systems the suction lift is the distance from the water surface to the pump inlet port.
The pressure lift requirement from the pump outlet to the delivery point are required.


If the water delivery point is far from the water source, refer to the pipe sizing charts to determine which pipe size is required
for the application flow rate. Also, determine the elevation difference between the water source and the delivery point and add
the elevation difference to the total lift requirement.


What is the unside diameter of the well casing pipe? ______ inches.

* Small well casing sizes may prevent the use of some solar pumps.

Distance from the casing top to the dynamic water level during pump testing? ________ feet.
Dynamic Water Level = ________ feet.
Distance from the casing top to the static water level? ________ feet.
Static Water Level = ________ feet.
Surface Pump Applications:
Suction Lift = ________ feet.
Pressure Lift = ________ feet.

Step 5:

Click here for SunRotor Data Sheets, and find the pumping system which will best perform for your application. The vertical
columns represent the various depths in feet and the horizontal rows reflect the various pumping configurations (number of solar modules in the array). The results are the gallons per minute each pump will produce at a given depth with a given array of solar modules.
SunRotor Solar Products will happily assist you in designing a pumping system customized for your specific pumping application. Just
call us at 866-246-7652 or click here to visit our website and request a quote from one of our sales representatives. We can get you a free
quote by email or phone within minutes. No job is too big or small for SunRotor, we can design systems as simple as a basic water well
pumping system to a complex solar powered irrigation pumping system.

For more information on your drinking water, the following sites provide up-to-date information on efforts to
protect public water supplies as well as steps you can take as a private well owner:

Home*A*Syst Program
Water Quality Association
The Groundwater Foundation
American Water Works Association

Global Solar Insolation Map