When I purchased my home, one of the things I wanted most was a well. I wanted to have my own water supply without being dependent on city water. But what I didn’t realize when I bought the house was that when the power goes out, there goes my water supply because well pumps require electricity to run.
If you’re a prepper, you know that it’s always a good idea to have several methods of backups. So while I store water for short-term emergencies, I also need to plan for more extended periods without power. Long-term emergencies and off-grid living are definitely times where a hand well pump comes in very, well, handy!
The best hand well pumps for deep and shallow wells are made by Excelsior, Bison Pumps, Simple Pumps, Lehmans, and Flojak. These pumps are affordable, and many will work for both emergency and daily use. To choose the right pump, you’ll need to know the depth of your well and how heavily or often you’ll need to use it.
In this article, we’ll look at the best hand well pumps for both shallow and deep wells. We’ll also talk about a few factors you need to consider when purchasing your well pump. But first, let’s take a look at why you even need a hand well pump in the first place.
Why You Need a Hand Well Pump
There is no question that water is essential to life. We can’t go for more than three days without water. And if you have a homestead, your animals need water, too. You need drinking water, washing water, and water for cooking. For example, brushing your teeth with dirty water is just as dangerous as drinking it! You need clean, potable water available all of the time.
The CDC recommends that you store a gallon of water per person per day for at least three days. This amount of water storage is pretty doable for a short-term emergency since most of us can find a little space in our homes to stash a few gallons of water.
But if you have a large family, it could be pretty much impossible to store enough water for a more extended time- it would just take up too much space. And if you need to store up water for your animals, you’ll need much, much more water. For this reason, you’ll need to find some additional water resources.
Hand Well Pump Alternatives
You could use a rain catchment system and filter the water, but even that is limited by how many rain barrels you have and how much it rains. Some locations have laws against rainwater collection, too. And if you are completely off-grid, you’ll need a steady supply of water, anyway.
Generators are helpful for power outages. However, most electric wells are hard-wired into your household electrical system. You wouldn’t be able to plug your well pump into a generator if you wanted to unless you have an electrician set it up that way. And well pumps draw a significant amount of power, so you would have to have a large generator to run it. A standard household generator might not be enough to run all of your home appliances alongside your well pump.
So your best choice to have potable water all of the time just might be a hand well pump. And although hand well pumps may seem expensive, they are definitely worth the cost if it keeps you and your family out of harm’s way during an emergency.
Hand well pumps are made for either deep wells or shallow wells, and they work a little bit differently.
Shallow and Deep Pumps
How a Shallow Well Pump Works
A shallow well pump works by creating suction that pulls the water upwards through the pipe when you pump it. But the deeper the well, the harder it is to pump the water up. Eventually, the weight of the water is too heavy for the amount of suction you can create with a well pump. So shallow well pumps are best for wells that are less than 25 feet deep.
If you have a shallow well, you might be more at risk of running it dry, but you will have an easier time pumping up the water.
How a Deep Well Pump Works
On the other hand, a deep well pump pushes the water up from the bottom rather than suctioning it from the top of the well. In addition, a cylinder is installed below the water level that can push up to 300 feet of water from the bottom of the well to the top, where you can access it.
My well is about 250 feet deep, so I would need to use a deep well pump. Deep well pumps may require more physical effort to pump.
How to Choose a Well Pump
Before you purchase a well pump, you’ll need to know which type of pump to choose. Here are a few factors you need to consider.
- Well depth. The depth of your well is probably the most important factor in choosing a well pump. It simply won’t work if you try to install a shallow well pump in a deep well.
- Pump handle. Pump handles may sound like a trivial topic, but the length of the pump handle will affect how easy or hard it is to pump the water out of the well. A short handle will be harder to pump than a long handle.
- Installation. Professional installation of a hand pump can be expensive, but consider if you can install it yourself or if you will need help. Some hand well pumps can be installed alongside the electric pump, and some cannot. If you are using the hand well pump often, you might want one that can be installed alongside your regular pump. However, if you are just keeping it as a backup for emergencies, this might be less important to you.
- Flow Rate. You’ll want to consider the flow rate of the pump you will use. A slow flow rate isn’t a bad thing, but it does mean you’ll get less water in the same amount of time. If you are using a lot of water, you’ll probably want a higher flow rate.
- Price. Hands pumps aren’t cheap, but the deeper your well, the more expensive the pump will be. However, you don’t want to sacrifice quality because water is such an essential element in survival.
Shallow Well Pumps
|Depth||Flow Rate||Materials||Best for|
|Pressurized Sealed-Top Water Pump||Up to 20 feet deep||1 Gallon Per minute||Brass and cast iron||Off-grid or emergencies|
|Cincinnati Gem Chain Pump||Up to 30 feet deep||5 gallons per minute|
|TBVECHI Suction Pump||Up to 10 feet deep||Stainless Steel||Emergency Back-Up|
|Green Hand Cistern Pump||Up to 25 feet deep||5 gallons per minute||Aluminum and Cast iron||Private home|
|Bison Stainless Steel Shallow Well Pump||Up to 25 feet deep||4.5 gallons per minute||Stainless Steel||Heavy, daily use|
|Excelsior E2 Hand Pump||Up to 22 feet deep||6 gallons per minute||Emergency use|
Best Shallow Well Pumps
The chart above gives you a quick look at several of the best shallow well pumps available. You’ll be able to compare the well depth, flow rate, materials, and primary use for most of the pumps. This chart and guide will give you an idea of which shallow well pump would work best for your situation.
If you have a very shallow well and are just planning on lightly using a well pump in emergencies, then the TBVECHI Suction pump is a good option. This pump is a very budget-friendly pump, but it only works in wells up to ten feet deep. This pump is great as a backup plan, but it simply won’t stand up to the rigors of heavy, off-grid full-time use.
The Pressurized Seal Top Water Pump is available from Lehman’s. This pump is sturdy and will last many years as a backup emergency pump. This shallow well pump can pump water from a depth of 20 feet. It can also pump water up to the second floor of your home. This pump is designed to hook into your home’s plumbing fixtures and is self-priming.
The Cincinnati gem well pump works a little differently. With this pump, you turn the crank, which provides a continuous supply of water. This pump will require additional parts to install, such as the ‘buckets’ and chain used to draw up the water. It will pump from a depth of up to 30 feet from wells, lakes, and cisterns.
The Green Hand Cistern Pump is a very budget-friendly pump. This pump is a pitcher pump, so it won’t’ hook up to your house plumbing. Installation is extremely easy, making it great to use as a backup for emergencies. It’s durable and will keep you in water for a long time.
The Excelsior E2 Hand Pump works great as a backup pump. Water is pumped through a hand-wing handle, making it easy to pull water from a shallow well. The E2 can pressurize a water tank and even pump water through a submersible pump. It needs to be bolted to a sturdy surface. The E2 requires occasional light maintenance to prevent rust from forming inside.
Deep Well Pumps
|Depth||Flow Rate||Materials||Best for|
|Bison Stainless Steel Deep Well Pump||Up to 300 feet deep||5 gallons per minute||Stainless Steel||Preppers and off-grid use|
|Deep Well Double Action Force Pump||Up to 200 feet deep||Off-grid (cannot be combined with an electric pump)|
|Simple Pump||Up to 325 feet|
|Flojak||Up to 100 Feet||10 Gallons per minute||PVC||Emergency use|
Deep Well Pumps
If your well is deeper than 25 feet, you’ll need a deep well pump. Although deep well pumps can be a little more costly, they are just as important. There are plenty of quality construction deep well pumps that can get you water when you need it.
Bison is known for its high-quality well pumps, including shallow, inline, and of course, deep well pumps.
The standard deep well pump will go up to 300 feet deep and pump out a steady 5 gallons per minute. This pump is compatible with most electric pumps, as well. It won’t need priming or routine maintenance and comes with a lifetime warranty.
The deep well double-acting force pump is a real workhorse. It’s best for off-grid situations since it can’t be used along with an electric well pump. There just isn’t enough room in the wellhouse for both. It will pump plenty of water for your barn and home. The pump cylinder sits below the frost line, meaning you won’t have to worry about frozen pipes. These pumps have long pump arms to facilitate easier pumping from up to 200 feet deep.
The simple pump fits in almost all deep wells up to 325 feet deep. Use it alone, or in most cases, alongside an electric pump. This pump can attach to your pressure tank if needed. If desired, you can purchase a separate motor (which can be run by solar power) to run the simple pump. It is freeze-proof and easy to pump.
The Flojak plus model is a stainless-steel version of their original Flojak well pump. This pump can draw water from up to 150 feet down. It can be permanently installed next to your electric well pump. It can also be stored as a backup pump since installation is quick and easy. This type of pump uses a T handle rather than a typical pump handle. Use the system calculator on their website to determine what length of pipe you will need for your well.
Choosing the right well pump can be a difficult decision. However, most hand well pump manufacturers have in-depth FAQs available on their website, tools to calculate which pump you need, and better yet, excellent customer service to help answer your questions. In addition, don’t be afraid to call in a professional to help you get the right pump.
Do I need to prime the pump when I use it?
Most handwell pumps will need to be primed when you use them, especially if you store them and only install them for emergencies. You might want to keep enough water on hand to prime the pump in emergencies. Make sure you consult your owner’s manual for details about your specific pump.
Will the pump freeze in the winter?
Your pump might freeze in the winter. Some pumps, however, are designed to sit below the frost line, which means they will not freeze in winter. You might need to drain the hoses each time you use them, however.
How do I measure my well depth to know which pump I should buy?
You can use a string and fishing sinker to measure the depth of the well. Simply tie a weight to the end of the string and lower it until it hits the bottom. Then you can measure how much of the string was underwater.
However, you might need more information than just the well’s depth. Check out this article for more details.