Is it practical to run a deep well pump from an inverter? : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

I have a deep well (>450') with a pump that requires max 17.5 Amps (surge) at 220V. Is an inverter practical for running the pump? What would such an inverter cost? Is it cheaper to get a 5000W generator (probably more efficient)? I would only run the pump to fill our 1500 gallon water storage tank (well-share with 3 families). Could this inverter be run from a car's (or my riding lawnmower's) 12V system (i.e. >320 Amps at 12V) or do I need to run off a higher DC voltage (i.e. have some batteries in series) to drop the current? Any practical advise/experience is appreciated.

-- Preparing in Albuquerque (, October 26, 1998


I also have several water well related question and would appreciate some links to recommended resources (discussion forums, products, advice, etc).

I've currently got a 200 foot well and am considering having a second, hand-pumped well drilled. One contractor I spoke with hasn't installed a hand-pumped well in years. He said it would need to be as deep as my current well. He didn't indicate that the hand-pump would be a problem but one book I read mentioned that 175 feet was the maximum depth for a hand pump. Also, apparently my house sit on top of 200 feet of sand. The folks we bought the house from said that when the well was drilled, it was 'sand all the way'. Said that they stopped when they hit bedrock at 200 feet.


-- Arnie Rimmer (, October 26, 1998.

Scheesh.......where do we start?

Preparing, Ill run through your question, and will provide URLs. Arnie, Ill post to you separately. OK?

Preparing, the simple answer to your question is -- yes you can do it. The minimum inverter you'd want to consider is the Trace 3624 (3600 watts continuous, 24 vdc)


This will set you back from $1250 to $1500, and in addition you would need a 120/240 volt transformer (Trace T-220)

Possible suppliers are:

Roy @ 4 winds (he posts here sometimes, is very Y2K aware) ->

Wind Sun (Phoenix, AZ) ->

Jade Mountain

Mr. Solar ->

Theres a good set of design data at ->

By the way, you wont get by with using a car battery. At the very least youll need to put together a 24 volt pack of deep discharge batteries. Recommend Trojan L105s if you arent interested in longest battery life, Trojan L-16s if you want a bit longer life. The dealers will be able to steer you to really long life exchange for a second mortgage on your house. (L-105s are about $77 each, and youd need 4 min -- theyre 6 volts; L-16s are $189 each)

The sheets here show you how to calculate the load youll have, the battery pack youll need, and anything else associated with putting together a system. My suggestion is to run through any calculations on your own, get an idea of what you want, and then check your solution out with people at one of the sites referenced above. Although Roy, Wind Sun, Jade Mountain, and Mr. Solar would like to sell you something, all of them will sit down, talk to you, and suggest improvements in anything you might come up with.

-- rocky (, October 26, 1998.


Source: Cumberland General Store


#1 Highway 68

Crossville, TN 38555


has a good catalog. I'm looking now at the section on hand pumps.

On page 155 is a table of depth to water that can be pumped by the average person, using 6", 8" and 10" strokes. The entries in this table go up to 384 feet, for a 6" stroke and using a 1-11/16" cylinder. So, what you're asking about is feasible. The rate of water flow isn't very large, however. At 200 feet, using a 2" cylinder and a 6" stroke, you'd get a little over 0.082 gallons per stroke. This means you'd need about 12 strokes to the gallon.

Moreover, you can add the hand pump to your existing well, especially if the pump is below current water level (which is common). You just move the pipe over to the side of the well as far as possible and insert the hand pump cylinder down until it's submerged.

Both Cumberland General and Lehman's ( have hand pumps and accessories. I suspecxt that Lehman's is a longer wait because they were well publicized on the GN forums and are really backed up. Both of these outfits specialize in supplying to the Amish who live off-grid.

hope this helps


-- rocky (, October 26, 1998.

BTW, Preparing and Arnie, the Gary North Home Power Generation forum is located at:

Right now it's down, but when it's up there's a lot of discussion of wells and pumps.

-- rocky (, October 26, 1998.

Check the "power" required very carefully when considering running from even a deep-cycle battery: I don't remember the numbers, so won't try to quote, but water is "heavy" and difficult to move long distances sideways (??? feet head loss in pipe) + high lift distance (200 + feet head loss vertically) + typical inefficiency of a pump(+/-80%) + typical inefficiency of motor (+/- 85%) + inefficiency of the invertor (??? %) means a large load on the battery system = little water moved to the house.

I tried once emptying a few gallons of water from a busted dishwasher (no vertical head loss, 2 feet of hose, simple B&D battery drill-mounted pump) => and drained the battery before moving less than a 1/2 gallon. Changed to a larger, plug-in drill, and was able to finish the job.

But there may be no "plug-in" power availble if the troubles begin.

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (, October 26, 1998.

Thanks for the feedback. (I've lurked here since seeing Ed Yourdon speak in May, above was my first post). I suspected that inverters were expensive. I'm set for all (food, heat, light) except power for my well. I've tried to approach this whole thing from the perspective of only getting Y2K contingency items that I would use anyways (camping equipment, etc). I just didn't want to shell out for a generator (I despise those "campers" in the forest with generators, didn't want to be one also). The 1500 gallon water tank will easily see us through a minor disruption, I suppose I'll have to play the ogre and ration the water to last, or buy some "insurance" (i.e. generator).

-- Prep. in ABQ (, October 26, 1998.

Thanks Rocky - that's good news and this information may have just saved me an important bundle of money.


-- Arnie Rimmer (, October 27, 1998.

Hi "Prep"

There's a crucial difference here (about your attitude towards generators and camping.):

In camping, and when I'm camping, I completely share your sentiments - we're leaving the house to get away and get some quiet, not to carry all our "stuff: with us. The isolation (and dirt, and discomfort, and bugs, and sweat, and cold, and lack of electricity are part of that transistion (the Indians would maybe have called it "cleansing" of the soul) from civilization to camping AND back to civilization.

Now, through the Y2K troubles, you are trying to maintain a semblence of dignity (indoor plumbing, heat and fans for furnace , maybe lights, pehaps tools, water pressure, etc. You are (by being able to run a generator, if you choose) directly maintaining a standard of living for your family so they aren't harmed or made miserable by the weather and loss (potentially) of other services..

-- Robert A. Cook, P.E. (, October 27, 1998.

Robert, the gentleman supplied the surge current for the pump....17.5 amps at 220 vac, which is 3850 watts at startup. The draw will drop down to about 1/4th of this when the pump is running. Say 5 amps? Thats 1100 watts. Using the published efficiency of the inverter (95%), the current drain on the batteries is 231 amps. The batteries are rated at 230 amp-hours, so pumping for half an hour -- to the 50% point of the batteries -- is feasible before recharging.

Note that he does need to recharge, though......these things aren't magic.....but it's a question of when. Actually, if he were now to add a few solar panels and a wind generator he could ditch the generator -- as long as the only thing he wanted to do was to pump water occasionally in order to keep the tank full.

Arnie - you're welcome. I'll let you make it up and buy me a big dinner if it turns out to be bump in the road.


-- rocky (, October 27, 1998.

please elaborate more on moving your current pump over and placing a hand pump down. I have a 180 foot well and have been trying to solve my water problem. No well drillers will talk to me about a "hand pump". They all think I have lost my mind. Generators take fuel, and there is a chance we could run out if this goes on for an extended period of time. Lehman's is backlogged. I was there last weekend looking around. However, I am "pump" illiterate and don't know how to decipher what I need when reading the catalog's. Thanks, DAC

-- deborah cunningham (, October 27, 1998.

Note that the depth of a well is not that important to hand pumping. Static level is. That is the level that the water rises to in the shaft due to pressure in the aquifer. Its not uncommon to have a 200 foot well have a static level of less than 50 feet. In fact, some wells must be "capped" to prevent them from continually discharging.

-- a (a@a.a), October 28, 1998.

Interesting, I imagine I could check my 'static level' by taking 200 feet of cotton rope, attach a large lead sinker to one end, then a smaller sinker every 10 feet. Then I drop the line down the well and see where the line becomes saturated. Is there an easier way?

How far under the 'static level' does the hand pump intake need to be placed?

-- Arnie Rimmer (, October 28, 1998.

Arnie, from your initial description you said that you have sand down to 200 feet. I doubt if the water would rise in the well above this level. If, on the other hand, you had a well down in rock it's typical that the water will rise in the well to some level (50-150 feet, depending on the hydraulic pressure it's under).

Measuring is the only way to know for sure......but the point is that you can rig up the hand point.

When I mentioned "moving the pump over" it refers to the following: the electric pump in the current well is attacked to pipe that runs in the general center of a much larger casing. You're trying to add a new hand pump cylinder which is fastened to 1 1/4" pipe to the same casing. The old pipe must be moved to one side of the casing (4 to 6", normally) so that both fit down the casing.

-- rocky (, October 29, 1998.

rocky : thanks. DO I need to pull the first (electric) pump so that I can place both intakes down together or can I simply force (gently) the first pipe aside by lowering the hand-pumped pipe?

Also, I don't know if this is important but my closest neighbor's well is located about 200 feet from mine. He tells me that when they drilled his, they went through sand for 50ft then hid bedrock and then drilled down another 150ft -- i.e. his well is as deep as mine but somewhere between my well and his, under about 50ft of sand is a 150ft cliff/steep incline. There is a fairly large river about 3/4 of a mile to my west and a large wetland area inbetween. We are currently on a bit of rise roughly 100-150ft above the current level of the river. We concluded that our house sits on an ancient path of this river.

To ramble here just a bit, the nice thing about this location is that we don't have to worry about flooding and we almost never have puddles except for during torrential downpours. Around our property live the only true lizards in this part of the state (6-lined skinks actually). Shortly after we moved in, our cats started bringing them home. We took a live one to a local nature center and the folks there were amazed, it is nearly 100 miles north of it's supposed northern limits. Before we took them a live one they tried to convince us on the phone that what we had was a salamander. I don't know why they are here but we try to rescue them from the cats when possible.

-- Arnie Rimmer (, October 30, 1998.

Why not just get a gas powered pump? Even at only 30 gal per minute - you could fill your tank in about an hour. BTW - is this a double jet pump or a completely submerged job?

-- Paul Davis (, November 02, 1998.

Paul, If your question is to me.... My situation is as follows, I have a submerged 220V pump 450 feet down in the well, this pumps into the 1500 gal non-pressurized tank that has high and low level sense lines that control the submerged pump. From there I pump (110V jetpump) into the pressurized system (pressure tank) which feeds to 3 houses. How does a gas powered pump work as a down-hole pump?

A complementary question to Arnie's above is does anyone know of a well bucket that can be lowered within the well casing without removing the electric pump and pipe? This would have to have a cross section that is "C" shaped so that it could slip past the pipe and wires. Thanks.

-- Prep. in ABQ (, November 02, 1998.

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