Constant pressure pumps. Are they worth it?

Over the last decade, we have seen a huge increase in the sale of constant pressure pumps. Everyone sells them and most people are buying them. Everyone wants better pressure and many of you are willing to pay more to get it. Here are my thoughts.

What is the difference? There are 2 main differences that you will see between a conventional and a constant pressure system. 

  1. When the pump turns on. A conventional water system turns on the pump when the pressure drops 20 psi. A pressure switch controls the pump and usually turns the pump on at 40 psi and off at 60 psi. A constant pressure water system is controlled by a pressure sensor. The controller usually turns the pump on when the pressure drops by only 5 psi. This means that you won’t have a large fluctuation in the pressure and that is why it is called a “constant pressure system”.
  2. The speed that the pump runs. On a conventional system, the pump runs at full speed or not at all. It is either turning 3,450 rpm or zero. A constant pressure system will vary the speed of the pump to maintain a constant pressure. You might be taking a shower and only using 4 gpm. The pump will run the entire time you are using water. But, instead of running at full speed and turning off, it will turn slowly and maintain the pressure the whole time. Its kind of like “cruise control” for your well pump.

There are some additional benefits to a constant pressure system. 

  1. You don’t need a big pressure tank. Because the pump starts with a “soft start” it allows you to use a much smaller pressure tank.
  2. There are built in pump protections. Most controllers do a good job of protecting the pump from dry run, voltage supply issues, waterlogged pressure tanks, etc.
  3. Some controllers can email or text you if there is a problem. Usually these devices are additional to the constant pressure controller, but this is an option on many units.

But, there are also draw-backs to the constant pressure system.

  1. The controllers can have problems with rural power supplies. The unit is basically a computer and it can be damaged by voltage spikes that are more common in rural areas. You should consider the power supply to your property before purchasing one of these units. If you do get one, make sure you get some sort of surge protection. 
  2. The controllers don’t like hot weather. They produce a lot of heat and they have to stay cool. So, when it is really hot outside, you might find that your controller will stop working or at least slow the pump down due to the excessive heat. Conventional systems rarely have this issue.
  3. You don’t get the best pump protection. While the units do have built in pump protection, they are not the best at protecting your pump. A simple Pumpsaver is a great unit on a conventional system, but it won’t work on a constant pressure system. If you want great protection, stick with the original.
  4. They are expensive. These units can range from $1,000 to $10,000 depending upon your needs. And they don’t last forever. Most units have to be completely replaced when one component goes out. If cost is an issue for you, I recommend a conventional system. In the end, they cost less to install and will cost you less over the lifetime of the well.

Do they work? Yes and no. Yes, they do a great job of keeping the pressure right in the range that you like. But, they don’t pump more water than conventional pumps. In fact, they use the exact same pump but with a different motor. So, if you have a problem with low water pressure due to high demand (like when the irrigation system is running) then switching to a constant pressure system will do nothing for you. 

Is it worth it? Only you can decide that. Are you willing to pay more money and have more potential nuisance issues so that you can have very little fluctuation in pressure? A growing number of you are saying yes.