Backup well pump

Discussion in 'Off Grid Living' started by Harbin, Jan 28, 2015.

  1. Harbin

    Harbin Monkey+

    I'm a fan of spare parts (backups to my backups), and am looking into getting a backup pump but would like some opinions. Had I known what I know now when we built, I would have preferred the well installers used a 3 wire pump, but they used a 2 wire. My logic being the capacitor can last 20 years or 2 years and is much easier to swap if it's not 150' down a pipe. I know this would require digging up the wiring and replacing cable, just looking to get some opinions on whether or not that's worth it, or if I should just get a spare 2 wire pump.
    stg58 likes this.
  2. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    I guess it all depends on $$, depth of well and cost of spare pump plus the time to pull the pump and then what happens if along the way the casing collapses and the whole well needs to be drilled and a new casing installed and a new pump?

    I started that sentence going through the motions of what if.

    Answered my question! Maybe yours.

    My well at 420 feet has the Capacitor in the well house and I have a spare plug in starter so I need not wonder if the relay works.


    Go first class or haul water till you can.

  3. azrancher

    azrancher Monkey +++

    I have a 3 wire pump and probably will not go to a 2 wire pump, however they do work differently, there is no capacitor at the pump in a 2 wire pump, and the pump guys seem to like the reliability more than a 3 wire pump, YMMV. is my go to for pumps, talk to speedbump.
  4. techsar

    techsar Monkey+++

    Or just put the pump up top. Less than 1/2 hour to swap out a pump ;)
    KAS likes this.
  5. tacmotusn

    tacmotusn RIP 1/13/21

    My submersible pump is 3 wire + ground. Capacitors are in control box in the well house. My well is a 4 inch galvanized cased well about 100 foot deep. I have spares for the whole shebang. ... as in new spare pump, [HASHTAG]#10ga[/HASHTAG] 4 wire(black-red-yellow-green), extra gauges, pressure switches, complete new control box, plus spare capacitors. I like to have my water when I want it. Additionally I have installed in the same 4 inch casing with a new special top cap, a "simple" brand manual hand pump with optional (bolt on in 15 minutes easy) 12 vdc gear motor for the simple pump. As I said, I like having my own working water supply. ... come hell or high water. jus sayin'
    Before someone points it out, I will soon have a second bladder pressure tank, as I recognize that as my weak link.
  6. azrancher

    azrancher Monkey +++

    I'm sorry but if your water level is more than 25' you can not have an above ground pump with out a deep well injector down the well. Which is unusual with current pump/well combinations.
  7. oldawg

    oldawg Monkey+++

    My experience was with sucker rod pump. Well was 260 ft. and with pump jack at the surface it could be powered by gas or electric. K series 8hp Kohler pumped fine. Spare rod and down hole supplies cheap to keep on hand and two people could service that well with light weight chain hoist before lunch was ready(well almost).The big thing was if the grid went down any 5 or 10hp gas engine could be rigged to pump. If you have windmill handy well.............and so forth.
  8. -06

    -06 Monkey+++

    When we moved we dumped the surface pump for a submersible and have been very well pleased with it. Being a housemover I have accumulated several pumps from job sites we bought. Even have two subs but do not know what condition they are in. Hope I do not have to find out the hard way. We still have plenty of 5 gallon buckets.
    Harbin and kellory like this.
  9. Harbin

    Harbin Monkey+

    Thanks for the replies and advice everyone! I can't do much right now with the ground frozen for changing over to a 3 wire system even if I wanted to, for now I'll look for a deal on a back up 2 wire pump.

    My wife's uncle offered to come over and walk me through pulling my pump, and getting an accurate measurement of the static water level. I would like to confirm whether or not I actually need a 3/4 hp pump, then go from there. That will not only help me in selecting a back up pump, but also sizing inverters for inrush as well as allow me to watch for a smaller diesel generator.
    GOG likes this.
  10. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    This past summer I had a Grundfos solar pump installed in the well that I had drilled earlier last year. My well is pretty deep (660 feet, pump is set to 580) but they make them for shallower wells with higher delivery rates and less head. The beauty of these pumps is the fact that they will accept any AC voltage from 90 to 240 V, and any DC voltage from 30 to 300 V. (When running on DC the polarity doesn't matter). This means that they will run not only on solar, but on a small portable generator, commercial power, and more than likely an inverter although you don't need one. An inverter between the pump and the solar array would be just another point of possible failure and efficiency loss.

    They take a maximum of 900 W, but will still pump adequate water on less if you're not trying to supply a large greenhouse. I run mine on a 450W array with no batteries (I do use a single 12 volt battery to run a secondary booster pump from water storage). The pump has built-in max point power tracking, run dry protection, over / under voltage protection, over temp and surge protection so you don't need a pump saver.

    The guys who installed it (not exactly the salesman type) said they don't know how long they last because they've never had to pull one. They're not cheap. But they have a reputation for reliability and because of the widely varied power options they're just about as versatile as you can get.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2015
    Asia-Off-Grid, TnAndy, GOG and 6 others like this.
  11. Airborne Monkey

    Airborne Monkey Gorilla Survivalpithecus

    I'm a "two is one and one is none" kinda guy myself ... almost to a fault. Obsessed with redundancy and back-up plans.

    I've got three wells on this property - all of them over 150' deep.

    It's really not that difficult for two healthy men to pull-up a bad two-wire pump and replace it, provided you have one ... and the modern two-wire stainless steel pumps last a long time - but three wire pumps are the way to go if you're really worried about easy swap-outs I'm just not sure there is that much of a pay-off over time.

    Quick question. If you have no grid power how are you planning on powering your well pump post shtf?

    ETA: I should have read the entire thread first. Someone else has already hit my same points and asked the same question. What's your answer btw? 3/4 HP is the minimum you want, regardless. Anything over 75' you want a minimum of 3/4 HP.
  12. Harbin

    Harbin Monkey+

    For power, I recently upgraded at an onan 12.5kw natural gas genset, have a backup gasoline Honda, and am working on a deal for a diesel onan (Honda to be sold once diesel is procured). My end goal being to power it with solar and fill a holding tank for potable uses indoors.

    Backup would ultimately be a manual pump that I'm hoping to get this summer if funds allow.

    That gundfos solar pump sounds pretty interesting, I'll definitely dig into it and make some calls to see what I can get it for. Thanks for all the info!!

    Airborne- thanks for the confirmation on the 3/4 hp, we did measure and confirmed depth. 3/4 hp is needed.
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 5, 2015
  13. Cruisin Sloth

    Cruisin Sloth Special & Slow

    I run 3 pumps & wells , surface , 120' &220' ,shallow is 12Vdc & feeds the irrigation system.
  14. Airborne Monkey

    Airborne Monkey Gorilla Survivalpithecus

    Okay, I went back and reviewed some old notes from where we were putting-in well #3.

    We put a DC pump, well ... it's AC or DC, in on #3. Paid a bunch for it, a Grundfos SQ Flex which I am not even sure they make any longer. Our well # 3 is living 311' according to the man the put this well in ... it services one of our hay barns and the livestock who feed off the back of that barn - water for anywhere from 40 to 60 head of cattle, goats and sheep. We've got two forklift batteries and four panels that keep them charged enough to run that pump plus a few DC lights, especially during the summer time. Anyways, I cannot say enough about the Grundfos Flex line of pumps.
  15. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    The Grundfos SQ FLEX line of solar well pumps are definitely still made. That's what I had installed late last year (model 6-SQF-3).
    This place has info ...
    Grundfos Pumps do many other solar dealers.
    I've found it's easier to get specifications from the dealers who sell the pumps than it is to try to find them at Grundfos.

    Again - not cheap. But without water just about any property / BOL is practically useless, and SHTF is no time for a failure.

    I have a second (actually it was the first one I had drilled) well with no pump or casing at this point. Have to eventually figure out how to extract water from that one.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
  16. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

  17. Altoidfishfins

    Altoidfishfins Monkey+++ Site Supporter+

    Great idea! But the bore hole is only about 6 inches in dia.

    Wonder if you could use a 20 foot section of 4 inch PVC with a flapper valve in the bottom (like inside a toilet tank)? It could be lowered into the well and allowed to sink with the water pressure opening the flapper as the tube fills. Then the tube could be winched back up (it'd be pretty heavy by then), closing the flapper and trapping water inside.

    Inefficient, but could work in a pinch and would certainly produce enough water to keep you alive + some washing.
    Got me brainstorming, Kell. ;) That can be dangerous!
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2015
    kellory likes this.
  18. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    CHEAP and EASY, Emergency Well Pump Requires No Electricity:

    Yes, very easy.;)
  19. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    Hm. At high ground water times of the year, my water source is about 200 feet down a 6" casing. I suppose, if pressed, I could haul the electric pump out (from 515 feet down) and use a dipper like the 4" with a check valve, but I cannot conceive of being pressed that hard. (The main pump is that deep due to slow recharge from the rocky substrate in this area.) I might entertain drilling another well, will have to think about it some. No, I can't use a smaller dipper because of the centering rings on the main pump discharge pipe.

    So: As long as fuel holds out, it's 55 gal drums in the pickup. When that no longer works, rain catchment and conservation along with water use economies will have to do.
  20. kellory

    kellory An unemployed Jester, is nobody's fool. Banned

    Set it up with a squirrel cage centered on the crank handle, and let the dogs walk the water up.:)
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