TECHNICAL NOTESU.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURENATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICEENGINEERING #15SPOKANE, WASHINGTONOctober 2009DESIGN OF SOLAR POWEREDWATER PUMP SYSTEMSSUMMARYWhere conventional power supplies are unavailable or an alternative energy source is desired,solar energy can power water pumps. This technical note provides guidance for the design ofsolar powered water pump systems.BACKGROUNDSolar powered water pumps are comprised of three basic components: solar panels, controller,and pump.Solar panelsThe type and number of solar panels required are a function of: the geographic locationof the site, the rating of the solar panels, the volume of water needed, and the heightdifferential between the water in the well and the receiving body on the surface.ControllerThe controller monitors the energy generated from the solar panels and the operation ofthe pump. It combines this information to more efficiently supply power for theoperation of the pump.PumpA direct current submersible pump designed to operate under a range of voltages likely tooccur during changing light conditions.Figure 1 provides an example of a typical solar powered water pump system. This systemconsists of solar panels, a controller, a pump and a tank for water storage. This system willpump water only when there is sufficient solar radiation to power the pump. Some systemsincorporate batteries to store excess solar power that can then be used to power the pump whenthere is no sunshine.1 of 12WA EngineeringTechnical Note #15

Figure 1. Typical layout for a solar powered water pump system.DESIGN PARAMETERS1. Quantity of water required (e.g. 100 animals @ 10 gallons/day 1000 gallons/day).2. Maximum feet of lift required from water well to trough or tank (e.g. trough elev. 100 ft –water surface elev. 40 ft 60 ft of lift).3. Installation location (e.g. Yakima, Yakima County, WA, 46.57 degrees North latitude).4. Solar panel energy rating (i.e. wattage, voltage and amperage).DESIGN OF SYSTEM COMPONENTSSolar Panels1. Solar InsolationSolar panels receive solar radiation. Solar insolation is the measure of the amount of solarradiation received and is recorded in units of kilowatt-hours per square meter per day(kWh/m2/day). Solar insolation varies by geographic location and time of year. Most referencemaps (Figures 2 and 3) report annual average solar insolation, so for the northern hemisphereusers can expect higher values in the summer months and lower values in the winter months.2 of 12WA EngineeringTechnical Note #15

Figure 2. Western US Average Annual Solar Insolation (kWh/m2/day)Source: U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL)Figure 3. Washington State Average Annual Solar Insolation (kWh/m2/day)3 of 12WA EngineeringTechnical Note #15

The tables in Appendix A should be used for design of solar powered watering systems inWashington State. The designer can use the values from the five stations in Appendix A forinterpolation of values for specific project sites.Appendix A includes tables of average monthly insolation (solar radiation) values for fivestations in Washington State. For example, the average monthly solar radiation (kWh/m2/day)available in Yakima for a fixed plate collector facing south with a tilt angle of latitude minus 15degrees would 8Sep6.0Oct4.4Nov2.5Dec1.9Ann4.82. Solar powerSolar panels are commonly called photovoltaic (PV) panels and are rated in Watts (Wp) anddirect current (DC) volts. The rating is measured at a maximum available power of 1000 W/m2of solar irradiance. For the panels, Wp can be found by multiplying volts times amps (Wp voltsx amps). By wiring multiple panels in parallel or in series, the designer can increase theavailable voltage or amperage.When panels are wired in parallel, the amps are added and the voltage remains equal to the valueof a single panel. When panels are wired in series, the voltage of each panel is added together,while the amps remain equal to the value from a single panel. For example, if the pump motorneeds 36 volts and each panel produces 12 volts, three panels wired in series would be needed.3. OrientationThe amount of solar radiation received is also a function of the orientation of the solar panel.Solar panels can either be set in a fixed position or can be allowed to rotate along one or twoaxes to track the path of the sun. If panels are mounted in a fixed position, the most efficientposition for collecting summer sun is with the solar panels facing south with a tilt angle fromhorizontal equal to the latitude of the site less 15 degrees. For a site at 47 degrees north latitude,the most efficient tilt angle would be 47 – 15 32 degrees from horizontal.One axis tracking (fixed tilt angle, tracks sun from east to west during the day) can increase solarcollection by 25 to 40% in Washington State. Two axes tracking (changing tilt angle throughoutthe year, tracks sun from east to west during the day) provides a slight 2% increase in solarcollection over one axis summer tracking.4. Sunshine hoursThe hours of available sunshine are used with the solar radiation data in Appendix A to size thesolar panels for the given project. The actual hours of sunshine per day will be only a fraction ofthe clear day values shown in Table 1 as some days will be cloudy, foggy, overcast or otherwiseobstructed due to changing weather conditions. Designers in western Washington shall apply afactor of 0.5 to the above clear day values (Table 2) and designers in eastern Washington shallapply a factor of 0.67 (Table 3) to adjust for local weather conditions.4 of 12WA EngineeringTechnical Note #15

Month JanHours .1Sep12.3Oct10.6Nov9.1Dec8.3Table 1. The mean hours of clear day sunshine per day at 47 degrees north latitude (center ofWashington State) for the 15th day of the month (Source: FAO Paper 56).Month JanHours 2Oct5.3Nov4.6Dec4.2Table 2. Mean hours of sunshine for design of solar powered water pumps in WesternWashington.Month JanHours p8.2Oct7.1Nov6.1Dec5.6Table 3. Mean hours of sunshine for design of solar powered water pumps in EasternWashington.ControllerControllers regulate the pump and monitor the voltage from the solar panels. Controllers canalso accommodate connections from other power sources such as batteries, wind machines, andgenerators. The controller ensures the most efficient use of power to pump the most water. Thecontroller will also vary the voltage and amperage to start the pump during low sun times andprotect the motor from overheating. It is recommended to use controllers and pumps that aremade by the same manufacturer to ensure compatibility.Controllers may be configured in a number of different ways depending on the system needs andconditions where they will be installed. Caution should be used in researching the power sourcefor the planned system to identify the correct controller.Solar PumpsSolar pumps are designed to use direct current (DC) from either solar panels or batteries. Theycan generally operate under a range of voltages from 24 to 300 volts DC, so are ideal for useunder changing light conditions. During times of low sunlight, the solar panels will still produceelectricity, but the pump will run at a lower speed reducing both the flow and lift produced.Solar pumps are rated by flow, Q (measured in gallons per minute, gpm), lift (measured in feet,ft), and power required, Wp (measured in watts, W). The efficiency of the pump determines thepower required to achieve the planned flow and lift. Establish solar pump specifications tomatch project site conditions.The flow, Q, which the pump must produce, is a function of the amount of water needed(gallons/day) and the number of hours of sunshine per day to power the pump (hours/day).5 of 12WA EngineeringTechnical Note #15

For example:Q 3000 (gal/day) / 10 (hrs/day) of sunshine / 60 (min/hr) 5 (gal/min)Submersible solar pumps are used to lift a volume of water to a desired elevation. The change inheight from the water surface elevation in the well to the discharge point (e.g. tank or trough) is ameasure of the lift or feet of head pressure, H. The pump must develop enough force toovercome this head plus any friction loss.H 100 (ft) discharge elev. – 40 (ft) water surface elev. friction loss 60 (ft) friction loss.SitingAccess for upkeep and maintenance to the solar pump and panels is important to ensure a longlife for the system. Locate the components of the system in sites where there is full sun to thepanels but out of the way. Locate the solar panels to reduce the possibility of damage fromvandalism and target practice. Clear sun view is important but placing the panels off of the topof a ridge should not drastically reduce the amount of water pumped.EXAMPLE DESIGNLivestock watering systemDetermine the solar panel, controller and pump requirements for a typical livestock wateringsystem, given the following design parameters: 1500 gallons of water per day pumped to a trough for storage6-inch diameter well, with a static water level of 126 ft and total depth of 180 ft5 gallon per minute maximum flow rateTrough located 100 ft from well, at the same elevation plus trough height of 3 ft100 watt solar panels at a fixed angle of latitude minus 15 degreesLocated in Okanogan CountyWater needed from May 1 to October 31Solar insolationReferring to the tables of solar radiation in Appendix A and interpolating from the available datafor Spokane and Yakima, there are a minimum of 4.2 kWh/m2/day of solar radiation availableduring the period from May 1 to Oct 31.Sunshine hoursIn order to provide 1500 gallons of water per day, a 5 gallon/minute pump must work for at least5 hours per day ([1500 gallons/day]/[5 gallons/minute * 60 minutes/hour] 5 hours/day). UsingTable 3, the mean number of hours of sunshine available in October are 7.1 hours per day, sothere are sufficient hours of available sunshine.6 of 12WA EngineeringTechnical Note #15

Lift or feet of Head PressureThe well has a static water level of 126 ft which will be drawn down during pumping and willvary seasonally, but will not be less than 180 ft unless the well runs dry. The trough where thewater will be stored is located 100 ft from the well and the inlet is 3 ft above ground surface.The maximum head equals 183 ft 10% to accommodate friction loss. Apply a head of 200 ft asthe pressure the pump will need to produce.Pump selectionA solar pump must be selected from a manufacturer that can generate 200 feet of vertical lift at arate of 5 gpm. A number of manufacturers can provide solar pumps that meet these criteria, butthe one recommended can do this using only 450 watts of power.Solar panelsFor this design the solar panels must supply a minimum of 450 watts of power. The individualpanels recommended are capable of generating 100 watts each, so a minimum of 5 panels arerequired, in order to get up to the 450 watts. The panels are wired in parallel to provide theadditive amperage power needs of the pump.However, if higher voltage is required the panels could be wired in series for additive voltage.Work with your dealer/supplier/electrician to ensure adequate voltage and wattage and capabilityof the pump and solar panels.ControllerA controller from any manufacturer that meets the system needs could be used, but it is oftenbest to select a controller made by the same manufacturer as the pump to ensure compatibilityand proper functioning. The controller will adjust the power generated by the solar panels to thevoltage and amperage requirements of the pump for the most efficient use of power.REFERENCESBushermohle, M.J. and R.T. Burns, Solar-powered Livestock Watering Systems, PB1640-1M1/00, Agricultural Extension Service, University of Tennessee, 16p.U.S. Department of Energy, National Renewable Energy Laboratoryhttp://www.nrel.govRenewable Energy Atlas of the WestHttp://www.energyatlas.orgFAO Irrigation and Drainage Paper 56 - Crop evapotranspiration; Guidelines for computingcrop water requirements; Table 2.7; Mean daylight hours (N) for different latitudes for the 15th ofthe monthLorentz Solar Pumps and Panels of 12WA EngineeringTechnical Note #15

Appendix A8 of 12WA EngineeringTechnical Note #15

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solar powered water pump systems. BACKGROUND Solar powered water pumps are comprised of three basic components: solar panels, controller, and pump. Solar panels The type and number of solar panels required are a function of: the geographic location of the site, the rating of the solar panels, the volume of water needed, and the height