Windmills vs Solar Pumps

Which is better: Solar Pumps or Windmills?

Today, many people find themselves asking the question of whether they should install a windmill or solar pump on their property. With modern technology always improving, new options can present themselves forcing us to make decisions that we wouldn’t have had to make previously, and this conundrum is similar.

The advent of modern pumping technologies does come with its benefits, but also with its drawbacks. Solar pumps are the first pumping technologies to rival windmills in the sense that they both produce clean energy, and require no fuel or daily maintenance to run.

Below are some of the main differences, advantages and disadvantages between Solar Water Pumps and Windmill style windpumps.

Windmills Advantages and Disadvantages

Pros

Windmills can frequently last up to 50 or 60 years
— All Southern Cross Windmills have a 30+ year design life, and we have a network of Windmill Contractors who can assist you with any maintenance throughout its service life.

Windmills operate night or day, rain or shine; as long as there is wind
— Even a light breeze will be enough to ensure that your windmill continues pumping water in any conditions.

Cheaper to maintain
—No electrical components means that maintenance and part replacement is cheaper and easier than for Solar Pumps.

No electrical components
— No chance of electrical surge and less complex maintenance.

Fully recyclable
—At the end of its service life, either due to age or necessity, windmills are fully recyclable – and new steel windmills are made from at least 25% recycled content. Once no longer needed

Cons

Don’t operate with no wind
— On particularly still days, windmills will not pump water, which will cause tanks to empty if is the case for too long.

No pressure switch
—There is no simple pressure switch that will stop the windmill from pumping once the tank is full.

Required to be built at heights
— To catch enough wind, windmills must be built to a certain height, meaning more difficulty to access and build.

Solar Pumps Advantages and Disadvantages

Pros

Pumps without wind
— Solar pumps require no wind to pump water, meaning that in drier, calmer climates they may be more reliable.

Low maintenance
— Solar pumps are designed to require little maintenance over their operational life time as they have no mechanical parts.

Can be installed on the ground
— Don’t need to be installed at heights, as they will run anywhere the sunlight reaches them.

Can be simply turned off when the tank is full
— Simple pressure switch means that it will stop pumping if the destination tank is full

Cons

Do not operate at night
— With no batteries or storage, solar water pumps will stop pumping water as soon as the sun sets

Will not operate when raining
— On rainy days the sun will not be able to reach the solar panels, meaning no energy will be transferred into the pump.

Reduced pumping capacity on overcast days
— With limited and sporadic sunshine, solar pumps will operate at a reduced efficiency, possibly meaning not enough water will be pumped at the time

Reduced capacity over time
— Solar panels are known to lose their power over time, and even a solar pump with a 25 year design life will not maintain optimal pumping efficiency for the full 25 year service life. At the end of its service life the whole unit must be disposed of

Conclusion

Much of your decision of which pumping system is best for you may boil down to what kind of climate region your property is in; as the sunlight hours, and amount of windy or rainy days has a heavy influence on the operational capacity of both Windmills and Solar Pumps.

For longevity and proven results, Windmills still hold the upper hand, as they have been tried and tested in Australian conditions for 150 years, and many stay in operation for well over 50 years provided they are well maintained.

While new technology is constantly improving our quality of life, and providing lower priced solutions, Windmills are an icon of Australian rural life, and are still turned to by many for a reliable long term water harvesting solution

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