Honing in on the pump requirements for your irrigation system is only half the battle. After calculating the minimum specifications needed for your system, the next step is to zero in on a specific pump and decide whether or not it is suitable for your application. With so many different pump choices available, it can be quite difficult to decide what kind of pump might be best for you. Here at Drip Depot, the two primary pump styles we offer fall under the category of submersible pumps and centrifugal pumps. Although both types of pumps are commonly used in irrigation, they both serve different purposes and vary in their application.
The main difference between a submersible and centrifugal pump primarily has to do with the operation of the pump itself. A submersible pump is designed to operate within the actual water that is intended to be pumped; most submersible pumps are either partially submerged or fully submerged. This type of pump uses a spinning impeller to force water from the water source up through your pipes or tubing and into your system. A centrifugal pump is installed on dry land and uses centrifugal force to pull water from the water source up into the intake pipe of the pump and then the water is pushed back out of the pump discharge outlet with increased pressure. Now that we know the technical differences, the question then becomes, which pump type is best for your application?
A submersible pump can be used for a variety of different applications, most commonly used for water features and water transfer. In drip irrigation, you will most likely use a submersible pump in applications where you will be pulling water from a deep well, pond, or a water tank. Submersible pumps are quiet, efficient, and require very little maintenance. These types of pumps do not need to maintain a prime, thus they are capable of operating for very long periods of time. Although, these pumps do have some drawbacks, considering they can only operate on electrical power and can only move water to locations higher than the pump itself.
Centrifugal pumps are very common in many irrigation systems and are typically used when pulling water from sources such as lakes, ponds, cisterns, and shallow wells. These pumps are very versatile and are ideal for any system pulling from a dirty water source. Centrifugal pumps can take water from a non-pressurized source and pressurize the water for your system, or they can even increase the operating pressure of your pre-existing pressurized water line (also known as a “booster pump”). If you need to increase the water pressure throughout your system, a centrifugal pump would be the most ideal choice. While centrifugal pumps are highly efficient for most turf irrigation applications, they do have some limitations as well. These types of pumps must maintain a prime to successfully operate, and they are only capable of operating intermittently. Centrifugal pump performance also suffers in instances when suction lift is too high, which is disadvantageous when pulling from water sources where the water level is variable.
Once you have a general idea of what type of pump you will need for your application, you can then proceed with sizing a pump and hone in on the best option for your system. Take a look at our pump sizing chart and an overview of all the pumps we carry below: