How to Select Lawn Sprinkler Pumps

Before installing a lawn sprinkler system in your yard, it's important to understand the different types of sprinkler pumps that are available and how they work. Here's how to select the right sprinkler pump to suit your needs.

Step 1 - Displacement Pumps

This type of pump forces water to move by displacement. Pumps covered by this category include:

  • Piston pumps
  • Diaphragm pumps
  • Roller tubes
  • Rotary pumps

Hand pumps are an old fashioned version of this type of sprinkler system. Displacement pumps are good for creating precise flow volumes or very high pressure. Because of the power this type of sprinkler has, it's often used for applying fertilizer to crops.

Step 2 - Centrifugal Pumps

This type of sprinkler pump uses an impeller to spin water rapidly in a chamber. The spinning action moves water through the pump through centrifugal force. Sometimes this type of pump passes water through several impellers before spraying it out for increased pressure. This type of pump can't suck air into the system, only water.

Although a centrifugal pump always needs water in the pump in order to work properly, most of these pumps are designed to hold water in the system for continuous pumping.

Step 3 - End Suction Centrifugal Pumps

This is the most common type of pump. It is usually coupled to an electric motor. With this type of pump, water enters through a suction inlet on one side of the pump, and exits at the top.

Most portable pumps fall under this category of sprinkler system. This type of system is designed to push water, rather than pull it. These pumps are good at pumping water from any source where the water level is higher than the pump. However, when they have to send water up into the pump they do not work as efficiently. These sprinkler systems do not work well when mounted on the back of a pond or river, which can be rather inconvenient.  

Step 4 - Submersible Pumps

These are installed underwater (even the motor). This type of pump has an electric motor and pump in a single unit, and a long cylindrical shape that can fit easily inside a well.
These pumps are designed to be installed in a well, but they can also be placed on their side on the bottom of a lake or stream. These pumps are very efficient because they push water through the pump. Because the power cord runs into the water as well, you have to be careful not to cause damage to the cord.

Step 5 - Booster Pump

This type of pump increases the water pressure of water that is already moving into the sprinkler system. If you need to change the pressure of a sprinkler system, for example, installing a booster pump will raise the pressure to the level required.