The practical application of your knowledge should be the goal of any DIY project you may decide to undertake. A DIY project can be a simple solution to a major problem. If you just give it some careful thought and a little basic planning, you can find a solution that will solve the problem.
Mrs. RW had a big problem in getting water from our rain barrels to her plants. With numerous rain barrels (and plants) in different places and spread out over a couple of acres, Mrs. RW needed some way to get the rain water that was collected to her plants without having to pack a jug or bucket. The solution was fairly simple. A portable water pump was needed to move the rainwater to the plants.
Building a DIY Portable Water Pump - Basic Planning
1. Choosing a Portable Platform
A decision was made to use a Stanley Mobile Work Center for the platform to build a portable water pump. It was fairly inexpensive and cheap enough to scrap the whole thing if the project went south. This is the case in many instances in my DIY projects and more often than you might think. It also offered a large storage bin that would be ideal to house a battery that would be needed to run the pump and it also had a folding handle that would also work great for this DIY project. The top toolbox also offered a decent amount of storage. Although the sliding door to the bin sometimes comes off its track, the door is easy enough to put back on its track. It has wheels and a fairly strong axle to accommodate the weight of any items stored in the bin and the tool box. The next step is choosing a power source.
2. Choosing a Portable Power Source
Any portable water pump is going to need a power source and grid plugs and gasoline aren’t always available. Consider that a good grid-powered water pump can cost upwards of $150 and one powered by a two or four cycle engine can cost several hundred dollars or more. This made the decision to use 12 volt power easy. The problem would be keeping the battery or batteries charged. Since the pump’s primary use would be in the daytime, a little solar action would take care of keeping the batteries charged.
Several battery options were considered. When a large deep cycle battery (24 series) wouldn’t fit and was way too heavy for the toolbox, a smaller and lighter battery option was needed. Four 6 volt / 13 Amp Hour
glass mat) batteries were purchased on special for less than $60. This solved
the problem as far as powering the portable pump. Using a couple of 12 volt
(2.5 watt) solar panels that were purchased for less than $10 each would solve
the problem of keeping the batteries charged. A solar charge controller would
also be needed to protect the batteries from being overcharged and to regulate
the load that would be placed on the batteries.
3. Choosing a Portable Water Pump
Several features were going to be needed for our portable water pump to get the maximum use and benefit out of a portable system. A 12 volt water pump with a flow rate of 1.2 GPH (gallons per hour) with a pressure of 35
PSI was decided as the best option. The pump would also need to be
lightweight and with a very minimal current draw to prevent exceeding battery
capacity. It also needed to be cost effective and allow for the maximum size
possible for our toolbox platform.
Suction and discharge hoses can also take up a lot of space and greatly increase the weight factor. The size of the discharge and suction ports on the water pump should be a major factor when choosing a pump. The pump in this case had 3/8 inch ports which were suitable for this application.
4. Choosing Accessories
There are also additional accessories that may be needed in order to minimize any problems with your portable water pump. Some are required for safe and efficient operation. Others are optional and can be used or not used depending upon personal preferences. Fuses, switches, disconnects and battery monitors are just some of the items that are required for a safely functioning system.
With a platform, water pump, power source and the accessories chosen, the only thing left was to put all the pieces together and hopefully end up with what should be an extremely versatile and useful piece of equipment.
In Part Two, the actual details of building the portable water pump will be outlined. The manner in which problems were handled and the solutions that were chosen to deal with the problems encountered during the build process will also be covered.
Got pumping power?
Staying above the water pumping line!