Sunday, May 31, 2015

A water pump for rain barrels

I like rain barrels.  I've written about several projects that I've done with them.  One of the issues that I have had is moving the water.  All of my rain barrels are plumbed together.  I can transfer water between them by turning valves and letting gravity do the rest.  This takes a long time.  I'm also only able to transfer water down hill.  The 5 barrels I have in my front yard are at the same level, but my barrels in the back yard are lower.

I decided that it was finally time to get a pump.  I've looked at several types but finally decided on an RV pump.  It's the Shurflow 4008-171-E65.  I decided on this pump for a few reasons.  It has a pressure switch built in and shuts off automatically when it reaches 55 PSI.  The other big reason is that it can be run dry.  It can suck a barrel empty and not be harmed.  It's also thermally protected and shuts itself off if it gets too hot. 

There are a few downsides.  It didn't come with a plug.  I had to pick up an appliance cord at Home Depot.  Also, there's no ON/OFF switch.  I haven't found that to be a big deal, but I thought I'd mention it.
Below are the supplies I needed to get the thing ready to go.  A power cord, 1/2 PVC pipe fittings to go from pipe threads to hose threads, and a strainer to catch debris that might otherwise enter the pump.
Wiring the connections was pretty straight forward. 
The pump has male pipe threads.  I couldn't find a 1/2" FPT to MHT fitting so I had to make one from a 1/2" FPT to slip fitting and a slip to MHT fitting.  Normally I don't glue my fittings, but I did for this since it is under pressure.
The next step was to connect to one of the rain barrels in the back yard. 
I ran a hose from the output of the pump to one of the barrels in the front yard using a brass FHTxFHT fitting.
Success!  The pump moved water from the back yard to the front yard.
Next I connected the output of the pump to the manifold on the hose bib at the back of the house.  I turned off the house water.  The house water is 80 PSI.  I'm no expert, but I don't want that kind of pressure running through the pump backwards.  I can't imagine that would be good.

With this setup I was able to verify that the pump does shutoff when high enough pressure is reached.  It's supposed to shut off at 55 PSI, but my gauge looked like it was closer to 48 PSI.  Who knows, maybe the gauge isn't right.  I'm not going to worry about it. 
I connected the input side of the pump to the nearest rain barrel.
I turned the valve on manifold for the sprinkler.  It worked.  I'm able to water my grass with rain water!
I think this is just the beginning.  I have a lot of ideas for projects involving this pump.

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