The 5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps [2020 Buying Guide]

The 5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps [2020 Buying Guide]
off grid water pump
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One of the most critical aspects of off grid living is finding a reliable source of water.

Wells have been used by people in remote communities for millennia and are still a great source of fresh water.

Once you’ve got a well, though, you still need to draw up water and put it to use.

That’s where water pumps and well pumps come into play.

Below you’ll find an in-depth review on the top 5 water pumps money can buy, researched by yours truly. I really dove deep when researching these so I hope you guys get a ton out of it. 

Towards the end of this buying guide, you’ll also find helpful information about the different types of water pumps and the most important water pump features you need to pay attention to. 

5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
Little Giant
Hallmark Industries
WAYNE SWS50
Shurflo 2088
Simmons No. 2 Pitcher Pump
Little Giant WE20G05P4-21 Submersible Pump, black
Hallmark Industries MA0343X-4 Deep Well Submersible Pump, 1/2 hp, 110V, 60 Hz, 25 GPM, 150' Head, Stainless Steel, 4"
WAYNE SWS50 1/2 HP Cast Iron Shallow Well Jet Pump
Shurflo 2088-554-144 Fresh Water Pump, 12 Volts, 3.5 Gallons Per Minute, 45 Psi
Simmons 1160/PM500 No.2 Pitcher Pump
Our Ranking
Best overall option on the market today
2nd best bang for your buck
Best surface jet pump option
Best option for THOW or RV
Best manual pump on the market
Flow Rate
20 gallons/minute
25 gallons/minute
6.25 gallons/minute
3.5 gallons/minute
No power, manual labor
Water Draw Depth
Perfroms best at 100′ (pressurized), 150′ (max draw)
Up to 40′ (pressurized), up to 150′ (unpressurized)
Any depth below 25′
*Does not pull from water wells
25′
Required Voltage
115 V AC
115 V AC
120/240 V
12 V DC
No power, manual labor
Why We Love This One
Optimal performance and energy consumption
Best durable option
Decent option for shallow waters
Best option for solar power
No power needed
Prime Status
Price
$562.28
$130.00
$236.40
$63.00
$70.49
5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
Little Giant
Little Giant WE20G05P4-21 Submersible Pump, black
Our Ranking
Best overall option on the market today
Flow Rate
20 gallons/minute
Water Draw Depth
Perfroms best at 100′ (pressurized), 150′ (max draw)
Required Voltage
115 V AC
Why We Love This One
Optimal performance and energy consumption
Prime Status
Price
$562.28
More Information
5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
Hallmark Industries
Hallmark Industries MA0343X-4 Deep Well Submersible Pump, 1/2 hp, 110V, 60 Hz, 25 GPM, 150' Head, Stainless Steel, 4"
Our Ranking
2nd best bang for your buck
Flow Rate
25 gallons/minute
Water Draw Depth
Up to 40′ (pressurized), up to 150′ (unpressurized)
Required Voltage
115 V AC
Why We Love This One
Best durable option
Prime Status
Price
$130.00
More Information
5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
WAYNE SWS50
WAYNE SWS50 1/2 HP Cast Iron Shallow Well Jet Pump
Our Ranking
Best surface jet pump option
Flow Rate
6.25 gallons/minute
Water Draw Depth
Any depth below 25′
Required Voltage
120/240 V
Why We Love This One
Decent option for shallow waters
Prime Status
Price
$236.40
More Information
5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
Shurflo 2088
Shurflo 2088-554-144 Fresh Water Pump, 12 Volts, 3.5 Gallons Per Minute, 45 Psi
Our Ranking
Best option for THOW or RV
Flow Rate
3.5 gallons/minute
Water Draw Depth
*Does not pull from water wells
Required Voltage
12 V DC
Why We Love This One
Best option for solar power
Prime Status
Price
$63.00
More Information
5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
Simmons No. 2 Pitcher Pump
Simmons 1160/PM500 No.2 Pitcher Pump
Our Ranking
Best manual pump on the market
Flow Rate
No power, manual labor
Water Draw Depth
25′
Required Voltage
No power, manual labor
Why We Love This One
No power needed
Prime Status
Price
$70.49
More Information

The Little Giant WE20G05P4-21 is a submersible well pump capable of deep well use. It fits in any well greater than 4″ in diameter and can provide an impressive flow rate even at depth.

It can provide pressurized water at depths of up to 150′. At 100′ you can consistently draw 20 gallons per minute up your well. That’s plenty of water for even a sizeable off grid home running multiple taps and appliances at once.

Little Giant Pump

It runs off of 115 V power and draws 670 watts when operating. That’s a lot of energy to be sure, but its high flow rate means you won’t have to run it that often to meet your water needs. A quality pressurized storage tank will give you excellent water pressure throughout the day.

The Little Giant has the number one spot on my list because of its overall quality and feature set. It’s capability, reliability, durability, and long lifespan makes it a no-brainer for our #1 spot and I can’t recommend it enough for your off-grid setup.

Specifications:

  • Power Draw: 670 Watts
  • Dimensions/Diameter: 22” long, 4” diameter
  • Horse Power: ½ HP
  • Required Voltage: 115 V AC
  • Flow Rate: 20 GPM at 100 ft depth

Pros 

  • Provides 20 gallons per minute flow rate at 100′ depth
  • Good to depths of 150′
  • Great for larger homes with more taps
  • Capable of providing ample water for full-time residents

Cons

  • High surge draw requires careful planning or a powerful inverter
  • Loses usefulness rapidly below 150′ deep wells

Our #2 Rated Off Grid Water Pump: Hallmark Industries MA0343X-4 (Best Value Submersible Water Pump)

Why We Love It!

  • Provides ample water for an off grid home at depths of up to 150′
  • Works with both pressurized and nonpressurized storage tanks
  • Durable construction gives it a long working life
  • Great for tiny homes or alternative living enthusiasts

OUR RATING



Our #2 Rated

4.8/5

4.8 out of 5

The Hallmark Industries MA0343X-4 is a submersible deep well pump designed for use in wells up to 150′ in-depth. It’s capable of providing a flow rate of up to 25 gallons per minute into a nonpressurized storage tank. MA0343X-4 It’s built from heavy-duty stainless steel and cast iron components with a hermetically sealed motor. This makes it corrosion resistant and gives it an impressively long working life. It functions best at between 50 and 120 feet in depth. In that range, it has a minimum flow rate of 9 gallons per minute, plenty to provide water for full time off grid life. Pump Selection Guide If your well’s depth is above 40′ it can even provide up to 40 psi into a pressurized tank. This gives you a much more traditional water system for your home. All in all, the Hallmark Industries MA0343X-4 is an inexpensive yet high-value water pump. It’s capable of limited deep well usage and can provide an excellent source of off grid water for a full family, and when it comes the best bang for your buck, you won’t find a water pump better.  MA0343X-4 Review Want to find out some other great ways to use this well pump? Check out this awesome video from Almost Homestead:

Specifications:

  • Power Draw: 670 Wh
  • Dimensions/Diameter: 25.3” long, 4” diameter
  • Horse Power: ½ HP
  • Required Voltage: 115 V AC
  • Flow Rate: Up to 25 gallons per minute

Pros 

  • Provides ample water for an off grid home at depths of up to 150′
  • Works with both pressurized and non-pressurized storage tanks
  • Durable construction gives it a long working life
  • Great for tiny homes or alternative living enthusiasts

Cons

  • Can’t provide pressurized water below 40′ depth
  • Requires a substantial initial surge

Our #3 Rated Off Grid Water Pump: WAYNE SWS50 1/2 HP Shallow Well Jet Pump (Best Surface-Mounted Well Pump)

Why We Love It!

  • Works with both surface-level water and shallow wells
  • Provides water pressure comparable to standard grid connections
  • Can operate on both 120 V or 240 V power sources
  • Made from durable cast iron for a long working life

OUR RATING



Our #3 Rated

4.6/5

4.6 out of 5

The Wayne SWS50 is a ½ hp surface jet pump designed for use at well depths above 25′. This makes it perfect for off-grid homes with high water tables, natural springs, or other near-surface sources of water. Wayne Preview It’s capable of providing a consistent 6.25 gallons per minute flow rate at between 30 and 50 psi. That’s comparable to standard grid-tied water pressure. As long as you’re conscious of how you use water, that’s plenty of flow to take hot showers and even run a washing machine if you’re so inclined. The downside to this capability is its high power draw. The SWS50 has a constant draw of nearly 1,300 watts and an even higher surge. You’re going to need a serious solar system or a fuel-powered generator to run this pump regularly. Review Info It’s also loud, especially if you run it in your home. If that doesn’t bother you, though, it’s a good option for shallow wells and surface water. It has plenty of power and is easy to set up and use.

Specifications:

  • Power Draw: 1,300 watts
  • Dimensions/Diameter: 22” x 12” x 11”
  • Horse Power: 1/2
  • Required Voltage: 120/240 V
  • Flow Rate: 6.25 gallons per hour

Pros 

  • Works with both surface-level water and shallow wells
  • Provides water pressure comparable to standard grid connections
  • Can operate on both 120 V or 240 V power sources
  • Made from durable cast iron for a long working life

Cons

  • Very high power draw and initial surge
  • Noisy while running

Our #4 Rated Off Grid Water Pump: Shurflo 2088-554-144 Fresh Water Pump (Best Interior Use Water Pump)

Why We Love It!

  • Runs off 12 V DC power
  • Very affordably priced
  • Provides up to 45 psi of water pressure
  • Great for am RV or Tiny House On Wheels
  •  

OUR RATING



Our #4 Rated

4.5/5

4.5 out of 5

Not every off-grid water pump needs to draw water from a well. This Shurflo water pump is designed to provide good water pressure for RVs, boats, and tiny homes.  It pulls water from tank storage and pressurizes it for showers and other uses. It doesn’t draw water from a well or similar source at all. Shurflo 2088-554-144 It’s capable of providing up to a 3.5 gallons per minute flow rate. This is plenty to run showers, a dishwasher, or similar appliances as long as they aren’t all going at once. Even better, the Shurflo is powered by 12 V DC power. This allows you to hook it up directly to a solar battery system without the inversion loss that comes from using an inverter. It requires a lot less power than the other pumps on my list. Shurflo Amazon Review The Shurflo is excellent for people traveling in their tiny home or RV dwelling. It gives you traditional water pressure without a significant draw on your inverter.

Specifications:

  • Power Draw: 50 to 55 watts
  • Dimensions/Diameter: 8.5” x 4.5” x 5”
  • Horse Power: 1/2
  • Required Voltage: 12 V
  • Flow Rate: 3.5 gallons per minute

Pros 

  • Runs off 12 V DC power
  • Very affordably priced
  • Provides up to 45 psi of water pressure
  • Great for am RV or Tiny House On Wheels 

Cons

  • Requires a source of tanked water
  • Flow rate too low for simultaneous use of multiple taps

Our #5 Rated Off Grid Water Pump: Simmons No. 2 Pitcher Pump (Best Manual Well Pump)

Propane Refrigerator

Why We Love It!

  • Requires no power or other hookups
  • Provides a reliable way to pump water from a shallow well
  • A fun way to get in touch with your pioneer roots
  • Durable and easy to maintain
  •  

OUR RATING



Our #5 Rated

4.3/5

4.3 out of 5

The Simmons No. 2 Pitcher Pump is a modern example of technology that’s been in use ever since the Pioneers set out across the Great Plains. It’s a manual water pump operated by nothing more than the strength of your arm.

It’s made from closed-grain cast iron and is the next best thing to indestructible. When you work the long pump arm, it creates a suction effect that draws water up from the well shaft and spills it out into a bucket, trough, or storage tank. 

Simmons

This same process has been used for centuries to draw water and is basically foolproof. The No. 2 requires no power, little maintenance, and will work under just about any conditions. It’s a cool way to take your off grid lifestyle to the next level, so long as you’re willing to accept the tradeoffs.

To begin with, the Simmons No. 2 can only draw water up from about 25′. Even then, you need a strong arm to get it up from deeper than about 15′. You have to prime the pump with a few cups of water when you’re beginning to draw water. This helps create the initial suction that starts drawing water.

Simmons Product Review

If you’re sturdily built and can get into the rhythm of pumping, you can draw several gallons per minute, though not into a pipe system. 

At its heart, the Simmons No. 2 is a product that was built knowing there were better options. Electric pumps are faster, easier to use, provide pressurized water, and are only a little more expensive than the Simmons. 

Despite that, I like this little pump. It’s a genuine piece of history that’s every bit as functional today as it was in the 1800s. If you also like the idea of getting in touch with your ancestors while using a great piece of equipment the Simmons No. 2 is a viable option.

Check out this sweet video by Engineer775 to see the Simmons No. 2 in action:

Specifications:

  • Power Draw: N/A
  • Dimensions/Diameter: 8” x 8” x 16”
  • Horse Power: N/A
  • Required Voltage: N/A
  • Flow Rate: Varies depending on strength, well depth, and pumping speed

Pros 

  • Requires no power or other hookups
  • Provides a reliable way to pump water from a shallow well
  • A fun way to get in touch with your pioneer roots
  • Durable and easy to maintain

Cons

  • Cannot be connected to a house plumbing system
  • Must be primed before you start drawing water
  • Flow rate is a lot slower than a powered pump
  • A serious workout if you need a lot of water

Types of Well Pumps

There are three broad categories of wells that include dozens of subclassifications and styles literally. Thankfully, it comes down to three different kinds for modern off-grid use.

Manual Water Pump 

Manual well pumps are inexpensive, rugged, and provide a workable flow of water. They rely on basic mechanical principles to draw water from your well shaft using nothing but muscle power.

They also provide a delightfully pastoral functional tool for people looking to live more sustainably in an off-grid home.

Sadly, they’re only a viable option for shallow wells and specific climates. The vast majority of hand pumps can only lift water by about 25 feet. There are specially designed deep well hand pumps, but these are quite large and usually more costly than a far more capable solar pump.

If you have a shallow and productive well that’s not at danger of freezing, a hand pump can be a great option. Otherwise, you should stick with an electric water pump.

Manual Well Pump

Surface Mounted Pumps

If you have a shallow well a surface mounted pump may be the cheapest and easiest option. There are two main types of surface mounted well pumps:

  • Centrifugal Pump
  • Jet Pump

Centrifugal pumps use the rotational energy of a spinning rotor to create suction. This draws water up from your well and into your home or a storage tank. It’s a functional design but requires a good bit of maintenance.

Jet pumps use a centrifugal motor but in a much more novel way. The force of the spinning rotor causes a pressure imbalance that creates suction. This suction then draws water up from your well into a storage tank.

You can use a jet pump for a deep well with some modifications. The problem is that it’s not as efficient as a truly submersible pump. They have much larger surge requirements and are significantly louder.

Submersible Pumps

Submersible well pumps are the real workhorses of modern off-grid water. They’re designed to fit within your well shaft and rest below the groundwater level.

This allows them to push water up from the depths of your well rather than try to pull it from the surface. Submersible wells are by far the most efficient, affordable, and versatile. They’re capable of drawing water from wells of any depth and feed into a pressurized storage tank.

Because the actual pumping action takes place below ground, they work silently. The pump itself is also immune to temperature changes, a great bonus if you live in a cold-weather climate.

A submersible pump is the way to go for most well users.

Deep vs. Shallow Wells

The depth of your well plays a significant role in the type of pump you should use. If you’re lucky enough to have a shallow well, you can go with basically any kind of well pump.

A lot of the U.S. has deep groundwater levels. It’s not unusual at all to have a well with over 100 ft depth. At that point, your only option is a pump optimized for deep well use.

One thing to keep in mind is the difference between the static and dynamic depth of your well water.

Static Depth vs. Dynamic Depth

Static depth is the level of water in your well shaft when it’s at rest. If it’s a new well this is the figure your contractor will give you the basic water level. Your pump needs to be at least this deep to be able to draw water.

The dynamic depth of your well is the water level when the pump is in use. Every well will draw down some as you pull out water. You need to make sure your pump is at or below the dynamic depth to ensure a steady supply of water.

Off-Grid Water Pump Buying Guide

There are several key factors that you should look at when comparing different well pumps. These are flow rate, power consumption, and diameter.

Flow Rate

The flow rate of a well determines how much water it can move over a given time. This is measured in gallons per minute (GPM) and affects how much water you can use at any one time and still have adequate water pressure.

Figuring out how much capacity you need comes down to a few factors. First, how many taps, faucets, showerheads, and appliances draw water. The term most contractors use is peak demand. Most people aren’t drawing water at a consistent rate throughout the day.

You shower in the morning/evening, do laundry, wash your dishes, and generally go about your activities. Calculate the required pressure for your various taps and any appliances you have and add those up.

That will give you your maximum peak demand at any point. To be fair, it’s unlikely you’ll ever run all your possible water sources together at once. You can reduce your required capacity by structuring your water usage throughout the day.

Many sources recommend a minimum flow rate of 6 GPM for your average single-family home. This is ample to provide peak demand but assumes normal usage. If you’re planning an off-grid home, there’s a good chance your water usage will be lower than the average American’s. 

Power Consumption and Surge Wattage

Power consumption is one of the most important considerations when comparing electric water pumps. A well pump that provides enough gallons per minute to run your home will draw at least several hundred watts.

Once you factor in surge wattage you’re looking at a minimum of a 2,000-watt inverter to start up your pump. That’s just for the well itself, if you have any other appliances such as an off-grid refrigerator, you’ll need even more capacity.

Make sure and include your well pump when you’re calculating your power needs. A properly sized solar system allows you to draw up all the water you need during the day. 

Diameter

This one’s pretty obvious. Any well pump you consider has to fit into the shaft of your well.

Double-check the actual dimension of your well shaft and leave a little bit of wiggle room for issues and improper specs. You know your well pump will fit smoothly down your well shaft that way.

The Importance of Foot Valves

The last thing I’ll cover is foot valves. Foot valves are one of the most essential yet overlooked components of a productive well system. They fit over the pick-up end of your water pipe and work as a one-way valve.

Foot valves prevent the water within the water pipe and your storage tank from flowing back into the ground. Without one, you would need to keep your well on always to prevent the pressure differential from draining your system.

Further reading: If you’re looking for a well water filtration system, I wrote a really helpful buying guide on the 4 best well water filtration systems. Make sure to check it out if you’re looking for an efficient, cost-effective way to filter your well water. 

5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
Little Giant
Hallmark Industries
WAYNE SWS50
Shurflo 2088
Simmons No. 2 Pitcher Pump
Little Giant WE20G05P4-21 Submersible Pump, black
Hallmark Industries MA0343X-4 Deep Well Submersible Pump, 1/2 hp, 110V, 60 Hz, 25 GPM, 150' Head, Stainless Steel, 4"
WAYNE SWS50 1/2 HP Cast Iron Shallow Well Jet Pump
Shurflo 2088-554-144 Fresh Water Pump, 12 Volts, 3.5 Gallons Per Minute, 45 Psi
Simmons 1160/PM500 No.2 Pitcher Pump
Our Ranking
Best overall option on the market today
2nd best bang for your buck
Best surface jet pump option
Best option for THOW or RV
Best manual pump on the market
Flow Rate
20 gallons/minute
25 gallons/minute
6.25 gallons/minute
3.5 gallons/minute
No power, manual labor
Water Draw Depth
Perfroms best at 100′ (pressurized), 150′ (max draw)
Up to 40′ (pressurized), up to 150′ (unpressurized)
Any depth below 25′
*Does not pull from water wells
25′
Required Voltage
115 V AC
115 V AC
120/240 V
12 V DC
No power, manual labor
Why We Love This One
Optimal performance and energy consumption
Best durable option
Decent option for shallow waters
Best option for solar power
No power needed
Prime Status
Price
$562.28
$130.00
$236.40
$63.00
$70.49
5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
Little Giant
Little Giant WE20G05P4-21 Submersible Pump, black
Our Ranking
Best overall option on the market today
Flow Rate
20 gallons/minute
Water Draw Depth
Perfroms best at 100′ (pressurized), 150′ (max draw)
Required Voltage
115 V AC
Why We Love This One
Optimal performance and energy consumption
Prime Status
Price
$562.28
More Information
5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
Hallmark Industries
Hallmark Industries MA0343X-4 Deep Well Submersible Pump, 1/2 hp, 110V, 60 Hz, 25 GPM, 150' Head, Stainless Steel, 4"
Our Ranking
2nd best bang for your buck
Flow Rate
25 gallons/minute
Water Draw Depth
Up to 40′ (pressurized), up to 150′ (unpressurized)
Required Voltage
115 V AC
Why We Love This One
Best durable option
Prime Status
Price
$130.00
More Information
5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
WAYNE SWS50
WAYNE SWS50 1/2 HP Cast Iron Shallow Well Jet Pump
Our Ranking
Best surface jet pump option
Flow Rate
6.25 gallons/minute
Water Draw Depth
Any depth below 25′
Required Voltage
120/240 V
Why We Love This One
Decent option for shallow waters
Prime Status
Price
$236.40
More Information
5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
Shurflo 2088
Shurflo 2088-554-144 Fresh Water Pump, 12 Volts, 3.5 Gallons Per Minute, 45 Psi
Our Ranking
Best option for THOW or RV
Flow Rate
3.5 gallons/minute
Water Draw Depth
*Does not pull from water wells
Required Voltage
12 V DC
Why We Love This One
Best option for solar power
Prime Status
Price
$63.00
More Information
5 Best Off-Grid Water Pumps
Simmons No. 2 Pitcher Pump
Simmons 1160/PM500 No.2 Pitcher Pump
Our Ranking
Best manual pump on the market
Flow Rate
No power, manual labor
Water Draw Depth
25′
Required Voltage
No power, manual labor
Why We Love This One
No power needed
Prime Status
Price
$70.49
More Information
https://tinylivinglife.com/2020/10/4-best-well-water-filtration-systems-remove-100-of-contaminants/

 

 

 

 

Final Thoughts

The best water pump for you comes down to your well, the power you have available, and the capacity you need. If you’ve got a shallow well and ample power you pretty much have your pick of any modern well and water pump. For most off grid dwellers, the Little Giant WE20G05P4-21 is an excellent option. It’s efficient, provides excellent flow rate and water pressure, and reasonably priced for its performance. If you’re looking to get started on a budget, I recommend the Hallmark Industries MA0343X-4. It provides mostly comparable performance to the Little Giant at less than half the price. Looking to pressurize the water system on your tiny house or RV without a well? The Shurflo 2088-554-144 is a robust and highly capable internal water pump that won’t let you down. Finally, for those of you lucky enough to have a shallow well you have your pick of the either the Simmons No. 2 or WAYNE SWS50. They each fulfill a different niche but are workable nonetheless.

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