Solar Pumping Toolkit - Installation and O&M

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Solar Pumping Toolkit - The Global Solar & Water Initiative


Solar powered water schemes will suffer fewer breakdowns and have much less intensive maintenance than generator or hand pump schemes. However solar powered schemes can and will experience problems at some point that cannot be solved at community level (or for which the managing NGO will probably need support), regardless of the training provided.

As such it is important that if possible, service agreements are established prior to any installation, and renewed as years pass by, with a quality private contractor, water utility, water service provider of relevant government technical office. The possibility to remotely operate and monitor solar pumping schemes could also be considered in certain contexts as a way to reinforce preventive maintenance.


In order to get a good quality solar pumping installation, monitoring the field work carried out by the private contractor selected is of paramount importance. It is therefore strongly recommended to WASH officers to follow up as much as possible the below list of actions.

Introduction: 4 steps

  1. Check the references of all components of the system to ensure that the installed components are those provided in the design.
  2. Check orientation and the inclination of the panels, and shadow on the Solar PV generator. The orientation and inclination values must be close enough to those that were determined during calculations sizing. The acceptable variations will be less than 5 ° for the inclination and 15 ° with respect to the geographic North- South orientation
  3. Check the cleanliness and protection of the wiring, and its compliance with the standards.
  4. Finally inspect civil works (castle, basin, trough, fixing the solar supports ...), piping, valves and all other important elements that can compromise the sound operation of the system



This section of the toolkit outlines the things that community users should look out for during the set-up of solar-water pumping systems. Committee members and scheme operators are encouraged to work with system installers and donating agencies to ensure the five measures below are adhered to.

Installation: Step 01

Installation: Step 02

Installation: Step 03

Installation: Step 04

Installation: Step 05

Operation & Maintenance

This section of the toolkit details the steps that the scheme operator and the water point committee members should to take to ensure that the system is running efficiently.

Operation & Maintenance: Step 01

Operation & Maintenance: Step 02

Operation & Maintenance: Step 03

Operation & Maintenance: Step 04

When to call a technician

  • When the pump is making unusual noises.
  • When there is any change in the rate of pumping- The system is pumping less water than it used to yet the solar panels are clean.
  • When a bi-annual maintenance check needs to be performed.

Financial Management

This section details the prices of various solar powered water system components and demonstrates why water point leadership must ensure that they are collecting and saving water fees. Failure to collect adequate money from the community will mean that if a system component fails the committee will be unable to replace it resulting in extended periods of non-functionality (no water access).

Solar Powered Water System Components

Prices of system components: why you MUST have water point savings [1]
  • A.Solar Array - app. KES 120 per Watt e.g. replacing a panel of 250W costs 30,000
  • B.Inverter Controller - > Kshs 100,000
  • C.Submersible Pump- Kshs 350,000
  • Labour- Kshs 100,000

Why make sure you are collecting and saving water fees?
  •  Replacement of system parts can be done
  • Regular Maintenance on the system can be conducted
  • Scheme Operators and other labourer like night guards can be paid
  • Funds for community projects
  1. These are estimated values for a system with 130m total dynamic head and a yield of 8m 3/ hr. System Component costs normally depend on the size of the array as well as the type of pump used.

Financial Management: Advice 01
Financial Management: Advice 02

Checklist and Important Numbers

This section highlights the required documents and necessary numbers that scheme operators and committee members MUST maintain.

Important Telephone Numbers

  • Installation Technician________________________________
  • Certified PV Installer_________________________________
  • Certified Pump Expert________________________________

Important Documents

  • Bank Account Registration Documents
  • Equipment Warranty Certificates
  • Equipment repair logs
  • Pumping log / register
  • Minutes of AGM meetings with the community

Important Training

  • Financial Management Training
  • Systems Operation Training (The scheme operator and members of the committee should be trained on how to operate the system on a day to day basis) O&M Toolkit for Communities: SPWSS | April | 2018 Page 7 of 7

 = Contacts =

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