Solar Pump

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solar pump

The essential need for every human being is a clean and steady water supply. With solar technology, it becomes an affordable and easy way to ensure a steady supply of water in isolated regions. These solar pumps replace the current pumps so that numerous weather and socio-economic benefits can be achieved.

A solar water pump system is simply an electrical pump system with one or more PhotoVoltaic (PV) panels supplying the power. A solar-powered pumping system typically comprises a solar panel array that powers an electric motor, which then drives a bore or surface pump. Because the water is usually pumped from the ground or a stream into a storage tank that offers gravity feed, these systems do not require energy storage.

Solar water pumps are robust that are hassle-free to install and require minimum maintenance. The life span of these pumps is a maximum of 20-25 years. These solar pumping systems are usually used in irrigation, and water stock.

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To ensure a better return on your investments, you need to be mindful while choosing the components of the solar water pumping system. A typical solar pump generally includes a solar panel, motor pump, controller, structure, and pipes.

The most integral part of a solar pumping system is the solar pumps. Solar cells, often known as photovoltaic (PV) cells, are constructed of semiconducting materials that can directly convert sunlight into energy. When sunlight strikes the cells, it disintegrates and releases electrons within the cells, resulting in a direct electrical current (DC). PV cells are joined together to form modules,’ which are generally coated in glass or a transparent plastic covering. Furthermore, these modules are organized to form an ‘array’ that is tailored to the individual application.

The pump is another important component of a solar water pumping system. They are specifically built to maximize the usage of solar energy. Solar pumps, as opposed to conventional pumps, which require a constant AC supplied by utility lines or generators, utilize DC power from batteries and/or PV solar panels. Likewise, these pumps are intended to operate in low-light settings and at low voltage without stopping or overheating. There are four types of solar pumps that are available in the market which are powered by PV solar panels, namely, diaphragm, piston, helical, and centrifugal.

The first three types of the solar water pump are referred to as positive displacement. Positive displacement solar pumps can pump water from far deeper depths but have a limited flow rate. The properties of centrifugal solar pumps are exactly the reverse. It has been discovered to have better flow rates, however, it cannot pump water from great depths unless fitted with a higher power rating.

Now not all solar pumps require a controller. For Diaphragm water pumps, a simple controller can perform various tasks. Limiting the power to the solar pump motor to prevent it from being damaged, adding a manual disconnect switch between the solar panel and the pump motor, aids in regulating the voltage and current to increase pumping performance at lower solar radiation levels, along with a float switch to allow the PV solar modules and solar pump motor to be automatically disconnected when the storage tank is full.

Helium solar pump controllers are more complex than diaphragm solar pump controllers, yet they are still highly dependable. Some manufacturers incorporate the majority of the controller function into the submersible motor’s casing. As a result, the controller can safeguard the motor from running dry using a wire sensor linked to the motor. This embedded controller can also identify whether the input current is DC or single-phase alternating current, and if it is single-phase alternating current, it rectifies and converts it to DC before connecting to a DC motor.

Because the DC power generated by the solar panels must be converted to single or three-phase AC electricity, the controllers used for AC solar water pumping systems are more intricate than helium solar pump controllers. This has a significant impact on motor/pump pricing since off-the-shelf motors and pumps may be utilized, which are significantly less expensive due to their high demand. This, however, is only relevant to large-scale activities.

SunShell power’s controller, which comes with the solar pumps, employs MPPT technology to convert the DC power of the SPV into the needed DC or AC power for the solar pumps. These controllers have LED displays, IP54 enclosure protection standards, and the MODBUS protocol via the RS-485 interface. It also assures safety by offering a switch by mechanical isolation, so that even if the farmers come into touch with it with wet hands or feet, they will not be electrocuted. The controllers additionally have an IGBT switching mechanism and a provision for warning when there is an issue with high/low voltage, current overload, low irradiance, or dry run.

While all these make up for a crucial part of the smooth operation of the solar water pumping system, the external components are just as essential to ensure the longevity of the solar pumps. The dimensions of these components often vary depending on the precise function for which the solar water pumps are to be utilized. However, the essential components required to construct the framework are a ‘base structure column,’ which lays the groundwork for the solar panels. The ‘solar base structure’ is then installed on top of the base structure using nuts and bolts. Following that, it should be determined whether the structure can be moved to accommodate dual-axis tracking. Further, the PV solar panels are attached on top of this with plate mounting clamps. Finally, the solar controller is put on the base column, together with all of the wires and the pump, to complete the structural construction of a solar water pumping system.

As you can see, the benefits of switching to solar pumps are numerous. It provides an eco-friendly solution to supply water in remote areas. Not only that, since these solar pumps are a stand-alone system and are not connected to the grid to generate energy, they are not affected by power cuts, low voltage, single-phase problems, or motor burning. After the initial investment, these pumps require little to no maintenance and can continue to reap benefits for over 25 years. On top of that, seeing the rise in popularity of solar power, the government also offers a 90% subsidy on solar pumps.


Still not sure? Here are some answers to the frequently asked questions.
What are solar water pumps?
A solar water pump, also known as a solar photovoltaic water pumping system, is a solar-powered system. It functions similarly to a standard electric pump, with the exception that it is powered by solar energy rather than fossil fuels or electricity. It comprises of one or more solar panels, also known as solar photovoltaic modules, a motor pump set, electronic controls or a controller device to drive the pump, the necessary hardware, and, in certain cases, additional items such as inverters, batteries, and so on.
What is the use of solar water pumps?
A solar water pump is used to extract water from ponds, rivers, borewells, and other sources of water, which is then used to fulfil requirements of irrigation, community water supply, livestock, and other needs.
How does a solar water pump work?
As previously stated, it functions similarly to any other pump set, with the exception that it is powered by solar energy rather than non-renewable energy. When sunlight strikes the solar panels, it generates direct current (DC), which is fed to the motor, which pumps the water out. Although when a motor call for an alternating current (AC), the DC generated by solar panels is transformed to AC using an inverter.
How are solar water pumps more useful than conventional electric pumps?
Solar water pumps have lots of advantages over conventional electric pumps as they function without the use of any fuel or electricity. It can also be used in distant locations where electricity is unavailable or diesel is difficult to get. Since Solar water pumps contain fewer moving parts than diesel-powered pumps, it suffers lower maintenance costs and it's easy to use. These water pumps also do not get affected by power outages, low voltage, single-phase issues, or a burning motor.
What are the different types of solar water pumps?
Depending on how they're categorized, there are different types of solar-powered pumps. Submersible pumps are typically submerged in water at a depth of several feet below ground level. The pump's suction head extends beyond a depth of 10 meters and requires building a borewell, which increases the expense of installation and maintenance, Surface pumps are used where the water table is less than 10 meters deep. Because they are on the surface, they are easy to install and maintain, Direct current (DC) pumps are powered by a direct-current motor, no battery or inverter is required, and Alternate current (AC) pumps whose motor functions on alternating current, which means that the inverter converts the direct current generated by the solar panels into AC. The loss of power from generation and consumption occurs during the conversion from DC to AC. These are the four major types of solar water pumps.
How does one know if they should use a submersible or a surface pump?
The choice is made based on the depth of the groundwater and the source of the water. A submersible pump is utilized when the water table is deeper than 10-15 meters in a borewell. If the source is an open well, pond, or other body of water, a surface pump is preferable. When the water level is less than 10 meters, the surface pump is also installed. The types of motor pump sets are available based on the classification are a Set of motor pumps with a surface mount, a set of submersible motor pumps, a set of floating motor pumps, and any other sort of motor pump set that has been approved by the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy's test centres.
Which is better -- a DC or an AC pump?
Although DC pumps are more efficient than AC pumps and do not require an inverter to operate, the cost of DC pumps is higher. In addition, due to a shortage of service centres in rural and isolated places, DC pump repair and maintenance is challenging.
Are there any criteria for selecting where to install the solar water pump sets?
Yes, there are some criteria to consider when deciding where to put the solar panels and the pump. In the case of solar panels, they should be located in an area that is free of shadow, dust, and filth has a reduced risk of bird droppings and allows for unhindered tracking movement. In addition, the surface on which the panels are attached must be uniform. Panels should be easily reachable for cleaning and as close to the pump and water source as feasible. If there are many water sources, the pump should be placed closest to the source with the highest water table.
How much area can a system irrigate?
In general, a 2 HP pump can irrigate around two acres of land, whereas a 7.5 HP pump can irrigate about ten acres, but this data varies based on groundwater levels and the sort of irrigation necessary for a certain crop.
What are the capacities at which solar water pumps are available and what is the average discharge?
The capacity of the motor pump set for irrigation and residential drinking water should be between 0.1 and 5 horsepower. The municipal and rural community uses, on the other hand, could prefer a higher-capacity solar pump. The discharge of a DC motor pump set ranges from 14 to 100 liters of water per watt peak of the PV array, whereas the discharge of an AC motor pump ranges from 13 to 19 liters of water per watt peak of the PV array. The average discharge, on the other hand, is affected by solar strength, location, season, and other variables.
Once installed, is it possible to relocate the solar pump system?
The solar pump system should not be relocated. However, the system can be relocated utilizing a mobile mounting platform, although this is an expensive operation that may also result in system damage.
Does a solar water pump work during cloudy and foggy days?
No. Solar water pumps are affected by a lack of sunlight. On such days, though, the pump might be given a hybrid power supply. After making the necessary adjustments to the controller, the pump can be connected to the state electrical grid or a diesel generator set. However, such an arrangement should only be created after checking with the solar water pump manufacturer.
Can hail storms and/or lighting lead to the damage of the panels? What precautions should be taken during cyclones/storms to save the panels?
Modern solar panels are equipped with suitable safety mechanisms and are unlikely to be harmed by hail. A direct lightning strike, on the other hand, could cause significant damage to the solar panels in rare situations. However, by integrating an external lightning protection device with the solar array, the chance of a lightning strike can be reduced.
The panel is only harmed during a hurricane or cyclone if the surface on which it is installed collapses. Building sturdy foundations for the installation of a fixed panel should be given special consideration in locations prone to cyclones and storms. During storms or cyclones, the array should also be kept horizontally at 180 degrees to provide the least amount of resistance to the wind.
What maintenance is required for a solar-powered pump? Does the performance of the solar water pumps get affected over the years of use?
The system requires very little care, including frequent cleaning of the panels. The panel's efficiency is maintained through cleaning, without which the panel's surface is exposed to irradiation from the dust and debris on it.
Solar water pumps have a substantially longer life expectancy than diesel pumps and can continue to produce electricity for up to 25 years.
Has the government provided any schemes to promote solar water pumps?
In 2014-15, the Ministry of New and Renewable Energy (MNRE) launched the Solar Pumping Programme for Irrigation and Drinking Water, a five-year initiative with the initial financial support of Rs 400 crores to install 10 lakh solar water pumping systems across the country for irrigation and drinking water needs. The initiative is being administered by state governments, which can either carry out solar pumping projects or provide financial assistance to farmers through NABARD, commercial banks, and other agencies. Many states now provide subsidies to encourage the usage of solar water pumps.