How can I start a 220V well pump in a blackout if I don't have a 220V generator?

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I'm looking for a way to run the deep well pump, I don't know how much HP is it, but I think its on a 40 amp circuit at 220V. I've looked for a 220V inverter, but I can't find anything online.
Is there ANY other way to start a well pump, without buying a large generator?
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Hi Dean, You should be able to tell what amperage you need by just looking at the circut breakers that are presently supporting your well pump ... I have a 5000 watt Honda Generator that I use for camping and possible power outage.What do you consider a LARGE generator? The one I have I can carry by myself...it's heavy...but managable. I also am on a well system and my pump is 220 volts, on a pair of breakers that read 15 amps. I bought an emergency transfer switch for any long power outages. It will give me six 110 volt circuts or can be wired to give one 220 volt circut with four 110 volt circuts...I bought the one seen here:
http://www.emergencyswitch.com/yspecsf.html?id  It works great and am actually disapointed that I haven't been able to use it yet...powers always on....!...Jim

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dean wrote:

Not practically. It's probably otoa 2 hp if it's in the 200ft range.
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The inverter, batteries and associated equipment for a 40 amp circuit are going to cost considerably more than a generator.
motor starting current is 6 times FLA or full load amps.
Best place to start is from what exactly you have, then look for a solution. Guessing in the beginning,........ garbage in garbage out.
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I was really hoping there was something built for just this purpose, to start a motor, for example a bank of capacitors or something like that.
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You not only need to start it, you need to run it too. And there is no practical solution to run a 220V well pump off of a 120V generator. Getting the right generator is the solution.
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Ok look, I don't mean to moan, but I have a generator already, I'm not going out to buy a 10000W monster just to start my well pump, I'm only doing a little searching to see if there was anything other cheap and quiet option. If not, then that's fine, I will be water-conservative those black days and put up with it.
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There's probably plenty of options, but without knowing the specifics on the pump (actual amps and volts the motor's rated for), it's fairly impossible to help. Although it's a 220v circuit, that doesn't mean the motor itself requires 220v. My garage is wired with a 50a 220v circuit, but I'm only using one side for 110v gear. I wired it this way so in the future I can easily add another circuit or run 220v gear. It's quite possible the well pump circuit is also powering other plugs and whatnot. You really need to check the motor itself. All the specs should be there, and it's good to know anyway.
Anyway, inverters are probably not an option for anything much over 10 amps. At this point they're too expensive and require most than just a couple car batteries to run for any significant time, approaching the cost of a generator.
If power outages are frequent enough to worry about this, and assuming you do have a 220v 40a pump, your options are either a larger generator or smaller 110v well pump. I doubt a smaller well pump is going to be satisfactory, unless you want a large tank sitting around for a water reserve, which would probably solve your problems by itself with your current pump.
I'd keep an eye out for a used generator for sale or trade.
By the way, if your well pump is very old, you may want to consider replacing it anyway. Newer motors run on much less power than ones built just 10 years ago. In fact, that 40a circuit may have been put in for an older pump, and yours may not be rated anywhere near that high, if it's been replaced since the circuit was installed.
Pagan
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"By the way, if your well pump is very old, you may want to consider replacing it anyway. Newer motors run on much less power than ones built just 10 years ago. "
You'd have to pump a hell of a lot of water for any difference in pump efficiency to make up the cost of a new submersible pump, including installation.
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Neither electric motors nor the laws of physics have changed much in the past few decades. At most, it could be a few percentage points more efficient. Absolutely NO reason to replace a decent working pump on that basis.
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Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
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dean wrote:

I'm still curious as to why a residential well pump is on a 40A circuit?
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Maybe because his well is very deep? Our well is 750 feet deep, and has a 3HP pump (14.5A when running) on a 240V 30A circuit. I have heard of people in the area with 1000 foot deep wells using 5HP pumps; those would require either 40A or 50A circuits.
Or maybe because he needs lots of water? For example, in our area the county requires a well to yield 3 GPM before they will permit construction of a house. If the house has a lot of landscaping that wants to be irrigated, a small holding tank, and a really good well, then a 5HP well pump is the cheapest way to get enough water quickly. A big set of yard sprinklers can run through 30 or 50 GPM in a hurry, and some wells will give you that much water, but you need a serious pump to move that water around.
Or maybe because the person who built the circuit had no clue, or had parts for a 40A circuit sitting around, or was planning to add other loads to the circuit later (whether legally or illegally is another question). Or maybe the circuit was planned with addition of a larger well pump later on in mind.
You are right: For the typical east coast / midwest aquifer (which often needs a 30 foot driven well with a 3/4 HP jet pump), a 40A circuit is quite ridiculous. Once you are into deep well with submerged pumps (common in the west), the situation is different.
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_firstname_@lr_dot_los-gatos_dot_ca.us wrote:

....
Maybe, certainly. I just asked because OP didn't say and it means a lot to know what he actually has.
I'm certainly familiar w/ large capacity wells---the house well is 200' (we're fortunate to be on top of the Ogalalla aquifer) and pumps 20 gpm or so w/ which we irrigate a good sized lawn and garden area and water up to 1500 head or so of cattle. The serious irrigation wells pump a minimum of 600 gpm and are typically set closer to 300 ft and run a whole 1/4-section (160 A) center pivot. They are mostly gas although there are a lot that are diesel and some that are electric. Just noticed the local REA co-op is setting a new pole in the feedlot's field on the other side of the road--I presume that means they're getting ready to put a new pump in on that quarter.
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We have a fantastic well (30GPM draws down the level to about 90', but of course the house pump can't pull that much...). We do irrigation (peaking at about 13GPM) on a mere 1/2HP pump (a jet pump at that!). Can even have showers and run the DW at the same time as the irrigation system is running.

Chances are that the thing was setup by a succession of idiot "handymen" who didn't have a clue of any sort and set it up any old way that "works".
A friend of mine discovered that his pump got its 240V from bridging two _completely_ unrelated circuits (separate cables from different panels!!!!), which were also feeding 120V to the oil furnace, UV sterilizer, general lighting and outlets. That was shortly after finding out that the metal sheath on the BX cable running through the low headroom ceiling was live (melted the hook on the serviceman's trouble light).
The original poster will simply have to figure out what the rating of the pump is. If he's lucky, the control box will be accessible, and say what the rating is. Or perhaps the previous owner left an invoice with a model number. Or something. Otherwise, he's going to need an ammeter to measure it (and add lots of head room).
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As near as we can tell from your description, you want to drive a 240V circut at 40A, for what, 5 minutes at a time?, so that's 9600 VA.
APC sells a UPC that will drive that: Symmetra PX 10kW Scalable to 40kW N+1, 208V.
It only costs about $20,000, an you can probably cut that in half, if you hunt around. :-)
So a battery powered system is apparently not an option.
On the other hand, pressure tanks are cheap, depending on how much total water you expect to need before getting power back. A Battery of pressure tanks will store the water, and if you run low, use the generature to run an AIR pump to force more water out of the pressure tanks, if you're thinking in the vicinity of 200 gallons or less. If you're thinking more than that, then a non-pressurized cistern, and a surface pump would probably work better. If you want to be REALLY cool, you can get a 5000 gallon fiberglass storage tank, and a fire hydrant.
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Chances are that you can run the pump on a 3500W generator, but there's no way to know for sure without knowing the FLA of the pump. Doing that with an inverter will cost about 4x as much (as in $2000+), and not run very long before you have to recharge the batteries.
Have you thought of setting aside a few 5 gallon carboys of water for those times?
That's what we do.
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Short of finding a _big_ (at least 3-4 times the wattage rating of the pump - ie: at least 2500W) 240V inverter (they _are_ available), no.
40A at 240V is 9600W. That's a honking big inverter. You could just about buy a new car for how much one of those costs.
[And it'd draw >800A from a 12V battery. Oooch!]
[The pump probably draws somewhere between 5 and 10A at 240V, depending on rating. You NEED to know this before buying an inverter or generator.]
Inverters just aren't an economical choice for driving AC motors > 1/6HP or so.
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Well I've been reading about Low Switching Frequency inverters that can handle large start-up loads, but looking for them online is a bit of a nightmare.
I run my sump pump on a 1000W inverter and it runs fine on and off all night. Not sure how many HP it is I will look tonight.
Dean
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It might be possible to combine an off the shelf converter with an off the shelf Variable Frequency Drive (VFD).
The VFD has a "front end" something like the front end of a PC (computer) power supply. It just converts the incoming AC to DC. The rest of the electronics converts the DC back to AC (and in the PC, back to DC again. Believe me, it really makes sense to do it that way.)

You must have a very small pump.
My pump is on a 20 amp circuit and draws 11 amps.

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John Gilmer wrote:

And OP said his was on a 40A (!) circuit and didn't know how much it draws...
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