Solar water pumps
Solar power, or energy created by the sun, can be harnessed in a number of ways, including through solar panels that convert the sun's rays into electricity. In the case of a solar pump, solar energy is converted into electricity and fed to a pump that circulates water. These types of units can be used in swimming pools, fountains and larger agricultural projects.
Types of Solar Pumps
There are two main types of solar pumps. Surface pumps sit above ground and move water through pipes. These are handy for moving large quantities of water at a slow pace. Surface pumps are commonly found on farms or large irrigation systems where water needs to be moved from a lake or other body to fields or landscaping. There are also submersible solar water pumps. These units are installed underground, but the solar panels are connected above ground. Submersible pumps are used to move water from inside wells to the surface. (See References 1, 2)
Solar Pump Components
Solar pumps operate using three main components. Solar cells collect the sun's rays and convert them into usable electricity. These cells are usually covered in silicon or another semiconductor material that produces direct-current electricity. Wiring moves the electricity from the cells to the pump, and the pump does the work of moving the water. Some systems may also contain a battery, which is charged when the sun is shining for use when it's dark outside. (See Reference 2)
Solar Pump Considerations
When installing a solar pump, keep a few things in mind. Solar panels operate more efficiently when pointed in a southerly direction because the majority of the sun's rays are directed at North America from the south. Solar cells can be mounted on the ground or atop a pole. Consider mounting solar collectors on polls to avoid damage from children or animals, and to keep the cells from being covered by snow.
Solar Pumps vs. Wind Pumps
Both solar- and wind-powered pumps are commercially available, but solar pumps have some distinct advantages. Solar-power systems collect energy even when it's cloudy outside, while wind systems rely on gusty conditions for peak efficiency. Solar-power systems also often cost less than wind systems, and are less expensive to maintain. Solar systems are also more mobile than wind systems, which, in most cases, have to be mounted in a stationary position with a concrete base. (See Reference 1)
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