My house is one of about 70 on a community water system. There are 3 wells, but 95% of the time, one well pump is operating to supply all the water. We tend to have 1-3 power outages that last from 1-8 hours each year. When that happens, we lose water fairly quickly. I’d like to come up with a solution that doesn’t break the bank.
Without looking at anything, I came up with the following options last year:
Option 0: Do nothing $0, but comes with outages
Option 1: Just a manual transfer switch (MTS) or interlock kit
Option 2: ~15 kW propane generator with automatic transfer switch (ATS)
Option 3: Replumb and put in a smaller emergency pump
Today, I toured the pump house with the Water Master (Sue) and saw the following (in probably too much detail):
There’s a 5hp, 60 GPM submersible pump, though it was flowing 71 GPM when it kicked on. It fills 3 pressure tanks in this pump house and ~20 in total (Sue thinks there are 2-3 pressure tanks in a second pump house and another ~15 in a third). If they’re each ~100 gallons that’s 2000 gallons or ~15 minutes to fill them all from half full to full. I was in there for ~20 minutes and it only kicked on after ~10 minutes for 3-5 minutes. Those number mostly make sense, though I’d like the ~15 minutes I calculated to be more equal to the 3-5 minutes I observed.
Anyway, the electrical box is 1 double pole 50A breaker for the pump and 2 20A breakers (for the light and the outlet they use for a heater to keep the tanks from freezing). The pumphouse is a cinder block , ~6’ by 6’ building with an insulated roof.
From the electrical box it goes into the motor contactor and from there into the well. When I took the covering off that contactor box, this is what I saw, which I don’t totally understand:
My guess is that 240V comes in, with the help of a pressure switch, is sent to the pump. From reading online, I think there’s 240V between Yellow and Red and 120V between each and Black. So it’s a single phase motor. The 3 circular things on top are starting and/or running capacitors, and maybe the little round things under the wiring block are resettable overload fuses?
The pump is Franklin Electric FPS 4400 Model 60FA5S4-PE. From this pdf, it looks like the pump is discontinued/depricated/obsolete: https://franklinwater.com/media/314791/mi7900_4in_high_capacity_catalog.pdf (see page 3/12 to find the model number listed and pages 8 and 9 for pump curves). Unfortunately, that pdf doesn’t list motor characteristics like FLA.
I had thought of upgrading the motor starter to a VFD would allow me to buy a smaller generator (because I don’t have to worry about the 6-7x inrush current as compared to Full Load Amperage). But if I can’t find out if the motor on the pump is inverter rated, etc, maybe that’s not a great idea. Besides, a generator at 15 kW isn’t that much more expensive than a 5kW, and the difference won’t pay for a VFD.
So, what would you guys do to give yourselves and your community a bit more reliable water supply? Thanks for any suggestions.
My uncurrated photos/video are visible here in case the upload feature doesn’t work: