Using a Dankoff Solar Powered Water Pump – Part 1, by Tunnel Rabbit

The Mission: To “Survive and Thrive”
In my opinion, the ability to irrigate crops is not covered adequately.  Few have a plan, or the ability pump water for decades without electricity from the grid.  And fewer still have a contingency plan that includes relocating with this critical ability. Not only is our currency at risk, at the same time, so is our food supply and the ability to grow it.  Famine could soon be in the land.
What is occurring in the world today has no equal in modern history books, but has been foretold in the Book of Revelation. Fleeing to the wilderness is Biblical. Regardless of faith, a contingency plan to do so, would be wise, in general. Those who would choose freedom over compliance will face persecution, and might be forced to move. Fleeing to parts unknown, or into the wilderness, might be our only option. This has been my contingency plan since 2008, when I purchased a Dankoff pump.
If possible, we should have several optional destinations in our planning to avoid being thrust into the wilderness, yet wherever we might land, we’ll need the ability to grow food, and lots of it.  Gardens will need to be irrigated. Even those with hundreds of acres of fertile farmland might not be able to irrigate it. And those who do have deep wells powered by PV panels, their ability to move to an unknown location and continue irrigate with PV power is unlikely, due to the limitations of their pumps. And even if we have a solar-powered deep well pump, or a hand pump, we might need a secondary pump to deliver it to the field. It is a pump we could take with us if forced to move to our alternate location, or a contingency location. The Dankoff pumps discussed here fit into this niche better than any other pump for a variety of reasons.
Why Choose the Dankoff Slow Pump?

I should mention that what can be accomplished by this pump, can also be done in part by a deep well, or an all-metal constructed ram pump.  However, I should equip the reader with what I believe is the best choice.  It is a pump designed for the stated mission, one that is better suited than any other pump for this situation.  As there are pros and cons with anything. If one has a well with a static level that is less than 250 feet, then a Sureflow 9300 (or its replacement equivalent), would be a better choice for the least amount of money. I would have two spare ShureFlow 9300 pumps, and if forced to flee, these would go with me. However, these pumps are not as robust, and are only suitable for low lift, and lower volume requirements. A quality-built ram pump from Lehman’s, if one has the correct situation, requires no electricity and can produce as much, or more water, more reliability than any other pump known.  However, a ram pump can only used in certain locations with a head of water available.

Note:  I noticed that Readymade Resources has an outstanding price on the Shurflow 9325 submersible pump. I do not know if these pumps can be run array-direct, but there is a chance that they could be.  It might be possible to do so with a 12vdc panel only as voltages would not exceed the pumps rating.   Regardless, it can be run off a PV system, or via a pump controller.  Perhaps I can one day afford one of these myself should my summertime income permit it.

The choice of the Dankoff Slow Pump has been well thought out over many years. Indeed other pumps have been investigated, and used by this author, and found wanting. Although I am a college drop-out, I use an engineer’s eye, and have considered the various methods to solving a long-term irrigation requirement, as if it were a part of rocketship payload headed for Mars.  I claim to have no qualifications other than messing with this sort of thing starting at age 7.  I am otherwise not qualified to put forth an opinion.  The knowledge and experience acquired over 30 years in the automotive maintenance business, and decades of experience in plumbing and electrical, were easily applied to this project.  Beware of Internet experts, credentialed or not, and salesman.
Fortunately, these pumps have been in the field since 1983, and have a reputation that is second to none.  To see examples in the field, do a web search using the terms ‘Dankoff Slow Pump, Engineer775’.  He has numerous and excellent videos, and praise for this pump. I introduced this pump to him around 2010, and he has successfully installed it at many locations.  I consider him to be an actual ‘expert’ on these and many other pumps when installed in the conventional way.  He is available for consultation.  Thad at sells and operates these pumps at his home.  He is also available for consultation and equally is qualified. Some of the information provided here goes beyond conventional installation advice.

Here is an example of the Dankoff Slow Pump being used as a part of a community garden.

Simplicity, Reliability, and Durability Means Sustainability
As a rule in engineering circles, the fewer components in a system, the simpler it is, the more reliable it will be. Fortunately, there is a safe way to operate these pumps without batteries, and directly off of solar panels (Array Direct) in a way that ensures the full service-life of the pump.  Properly operated, the replaceable pump head can last an estimated 5 years of continuous operation and 10 years of seasonal operation under the prescribed conditions.  Brushes can also last just as long, 5 to 10 years.  The motor is said to has a service life of 15 to 20 years, and indeed there are many reports that support the claim. The pump used in an area where there are shorter growing seasons, the pump can last longer.
Avoid consuming the pump, that is, using it for anything other than irrigating crops, when the rain does not, and it will continue to operate longer. As with any precious and finite resource, it should be managed shrewdly.  This is especially the case if we can only afford to have one. I have built my own second slow pump for only $150, but it is not as capable.  It is only adequate for certain applications. I do have a plan to acquire another motor. The proper type, is however a specialty item that is difficult to locate at a price that I can afford, but only as a used, and a relatively rare item.
The price of these pumps have in recent years shot up to close to $1,000, yet given the alternatives, I believe it is a good value. It was good to have purchased it in 2008 at half the current price. It is far better to be way too early than one second too late. Hopefully, the reader can avoid the many years needed to learn how to operate this pump, especially austere situations, that they might face in the future.  The article could save the reader a costly mistake that could be made with this, or some other pump, where there is not adequate information provided by the manufacturer.  With knowledge, we might avoid a costly mistake, wherein from a catastrophic mistake, we could not recover from, and all is lost. If you choose a different pump, please study it thoroughly, and within the context of long-term austere settings.
The Pump Controller, A Victim of 2022 Shortages
According to the current manufacturer of Dankoff pumps, a pump controller could become available sometime in late 2022. The reason given for the delayed introduction is the ongoing shortage of microchips needed for its manufacture. We should note that microchips are in short supply, and susceptible to EMP. And the cost of a spare pump controller might be prohibitive.  Pump controllers for PV-powered water pumps are an expensive component, that could cost nearly as much as the pump itself. It would actually be better to buy two complete pumps than a spare pump controller, and one pump.

There are many reasons to learn how to operate this pump, and other pumps without electronics.  While very desirable, and in high lift situations, necessary, as it protects the pump head and motor from potential damage, this electronic device could can also fail. And if it does, or if we cannot obtain one, then we could also regulate voltage and current, by using a small PV system. For a long service life, a pump controller is good to have, but a PV system is even better at extending the life of this pump. A pump controller is only a necessity if the pump will be operated without batteries at greater than what is considered to be the low-lift situations as defined in the Dankoff-provided chart.  A pump controller, it if were available, can improve output upwards of 40%, because it can convert voltage into amperage. Yet with a full PV system, we can triple the output of the pump by running it during the night, and better protect the motor by using lower voltages.

(To be continued tomorrow, in Part 2.)