Published on March 16, 2019. Updated on May 13, 2023

Building a solar-powered drip irrigation system provides many benefits and is easy to design and install. We just installed a drip irrigation system this year into our garden, and it has cut our watering time down by 90%.

Our drip irrigation system uses way less water than a traditional sprinkler system, as the water is distributed directly on the plant and absorbs into the root system quickly.  

Not only does the drip irrigation system use less water, we also run the system pump on 100% solar power. 

The cherry on top is putting the pump on a timer, making the task of garden watering fully autonomous. 

You may be intimidated about setting up a solar power drip irrigation system, but it's not hard at all. 

In this comprehensive guide, I explain how to set up a drip irrigation system for your garden step-by-step. Then I break down the process of hooking up your drip irrigation to a solar and timer for a self-running watering system. 

It's finally here! Check out the companion video I created for this article:

Part One: Building a Successful Drip Irrigation System

Drip irrigation systems can be used for any of your watering needs! The only difference between irrigating small hobby gardens to large farming operations is the scale of your system. Larger watering operations will call for larger drip tubes, pumps, and drippers. But the concept is the same and can always be expanded upon down the road.

You can accommodate drip systems into all sorts of landscapes and soil types. You can go around obstacles, up hills, and into trenches, so the sky is the limit on how you want to design your drip irrigation system!

Step One: Design Your Drip Irrigation System Layout

The key is a good design from the beginning. Ideally, you will want to build your system before you plant. You can always add in a drip irrigation system, but it will be more difficult to maneuver around large crops.

Making a sketch of your garden will help you engineer the right layout and could help you see problem points that you wouldn’t have otherwise noticed. Take note of dimensions and unmovable structures and objects.

our diy drip irrigation system in the garden

Considerations for designing your drip irrigation system:

  • Location of your water source and if there are any obstacles along the way
  • The distances you will need to run your irrigation tubing
  • Designing your system without crossing over walkways or burying the pipe under walkways
  • Utilizing spaces along paths to grow vegetables and herbs (a permaculture philosophy)
  • Laying out your system to use the least amount of pipe and tube for efficiency
  • different gardening zones may require different amounts of water (a more complex form of drip irrigation)

The easiest route is designing a rectangular garden with straight rows, which suits most gardening situations.

Step Two: Set up Your Water Source

This step is interchangeable with step one as water is the ultimate dictator of how and where your garden will be.

We have found the easiest method for us is using a water tank system. We fill our water tanks (two 330 gallon food grade IBC tanks) and run the drip irrigation from those. Since we are hauling in water, it makes sense for us to have a standalone tank that we can fill which is separate from our residential water use.

If you are running a well on your property, I also suggest using a water tank system. If you are on municipal water, you can run the hose straight into the pump. If you are using a natural source of water, you can use a submersible pump straight into the drip system, but I still would recommend a tank system in this situation.

We found our IBC tanks on Facebook Marketplace for about $150.

IBC tanks used for watering garden

Step Three: Make Important Drip Irrigation Calculations

Calculating anything sounds intimidating, but this step is actually quite easy. It is highly important to know how much water your system will be using to properly size your water pump. You will also want to figure out how many drippers you need and how much footage of drip tubing you need for irrigation. 

First Calculation: Calculate the GPH Of Drippers By Soil Type

  • Clay – .5 GPH drippers
  • Regular soil – 1 GPH drippers
  • Sandy soil – 2 GPH drippers

We decided to go with adjustable drippers which has been quite a help in the garden! As our plants get larger, they require more water, so we can adjust accordingly. Some plants like more water, some plants like less. I also like that we can fully turn off the dripper in case a plant doesn’t make it or planting plans change. The only downside is that they are a bit fiddly and requires observation to see how much water your plant needs and the ground absorbs. 

Second Calculation: Add up how many drippers you will be using

This can fluctuate quite a bit! I suggest having more than fewer drippers on hand. The main issue is that you do not want to exceed your GPH flow of your pump or else you may end up not having enough water to push through to the end of the system.

Cody had a genius idea and installed valves at each line so we can control watering zones. So far it has been a huge help as our pump cannot quite keep up with our water usage.

You also can use one dripper to water an area as opposed to just one plant, which works well for carrots and radishes.

Third Calculation: Add up your total GPH Usage

This one is easy:

X amount of drippers * GPH of drippers = Total GPH usage

For example, if you have 75 drippers, multiply 75 by the GPH of the dripper (1  GPH) and your total GPH flow rate is 75 GPH.

Fourth Calculation: Determine Your Drip line tubing diameter

Now that you know your GPH usage, you can select the correct mainline tubing.

The most commonly found sizing for mainline tubing is 1/2 inch which should take care of most household gardening setups. We actually went with the 3/4 inch size for our mainline with the 1/2 for our drip lines. The results are working quite well. 

We use 1/4 inch line (which is quite small) to individual plants and containers.

Tubing Size

Max Run Length

Max GPH Flow

1/4 inch

30 feet

30 GPH

1/2 inch

200 feet

200 GPH

3/4 inch

480 feet

480 GPH

1 inch

960 feet

960 GPH 

Make sure not to surpass the maximum GPH of the tubing which will be listed on the manufacturer’s instructions and do not overextend the tubing past its maximum run length.

Step Four: Purchase Drip irrigation components

I can tell you that generic drip irrigation systems being sold on Amazon are complete CRAP. I strongly suggest staying away from those systems as the components are flimsy, do not last, and don’t even fit together!

Our drip irrigation system is 100% built with components from Drip Depot. I am so happy with their products and service that I will exclusively stick with this brand for when we expand our system.

What I love about Drip Depot is that everything fits! I don’t have to worry about ill-fitting parts and pieces from different manufacturers. They offer free shipping that arrived to us within a few days.

Their selection of parts, pieces, and kits is massive and everything syncs together so nicely if you ever want to expand your system. They pretty much have every doodad you could possibly ever want to build anything that drips!

We built our drip irrigation system for our 1500 sq ft garden for under $300 and have parts and pieces to spare (not including the water pump).

I suggest heading over to their website and checking out what they have to offer!

Drip Depot has some great kits that has everything you need to get your system up and running. Here is one you might want to consider if you have raised beds:

Premium Drip Irrigation Kit for Raised Bed Gardening

raised bed drip irrigation kit

Our garden was already planted when we built the system, so we needed to custom build. We went with building out our own system inspired by the kits, but instead of using drip tubing with pre-punched holes, we opted for mainline tubing and punched in our own holes, which is quite easy with a puncher.

Special Note

Do not switch parts between imperial and metric system! The calculations are slightly off between the measurements and you will end up with leaks all over the place. Stick with one or the other. Drip Depot only offers imperial measuring system.

Here is the list of items you will need for building your own custom drip irrigation system:

Mainline and Drip Line Tubing – this is a special tubing specifically designed for drip irrigation systems. It is a thin polyethylene tube that is much thinner than a standard hose. Drip tubing is meant for above ground use, do not bury the tubing underground, it will ruin it.

Mainline tubing does not come pre-punched with holes. We purchased 1/2 inch mainline tubing and punched holes in it for use as the drip line, as we had already planted and needed custom holes. 

drip irrigation tubing

Drip irrigation emitters – these are the drippers that you install along the tubing. Some tubes have them pre-installed, otherwise, these can be bought separately and installed onto the tubing. For manual install, you will need a hole puncher.

There are different varieties of drippers, the most common are standard drippers, bubblers, sprinklers, and sprayers, although we are really enjoying the adjustable drippers. The spacing between the emitters will depend on the plant type you are growing and how your tubing is laid out. Anywhere from 6 to 24 inches between plants is typical.

drip irrigation emitters drippers

Fittingsincludes couplings, elbow fittings, barbed tees, barbed connectors, tee fittings. All these components add options for a more complex system such as running multiple drip tubing lines from the mainline, connecting .25 inch line to .5 inch main line, creating branch lines, etc.

We used barbed fittings for our system and it has worked out quite well.

various fittings for drip irrigation system

Inline tube shutoff valves - these are great for creating gardening zones and work well if you do not have quite the water power to water your entire garden at one time. 

tubing coupling valve for shutoff drip irrigation

Hole puncherthis is a must-have tool if your tubing does not have holes. This punches the holes into the tubing where you insert your dripper. I like this cutter/puncher combo tool. It slices through the tubing very easily and makes perfect dripper holes. 

drip irrigation hole puncher and cutter

Tubing End Caps - These special end caps are a cinch to install and are leakproof. You can also get clamps and fold over the end of the tubing, but I think these work much better and they are cheap. 

drip irrigation tubing end cap

Worm Gear Clamps - Anywhere that you install a connector or fitting will require a clamp to keep tubing secure. 

worm gear clamps

Goof plugs to plug up holes in your tubing that are no longer needed or placed by mistake.

drip irrigation tubing goof plugs

Barbed Tubing Couplings these are for attaching 1/4 inch drip line to 1/2 inch drip line for containers and extending the reach of your drippers. Very helpful to have!

barbed tubing coupler

Tubing stakes – keeps the tube from rolling around – which it will – if not fixated onto the ground.

drip irrigation tubing stakes

Irrigation Backflow Preventer an essential piece to the setup, the backflow preventer keeps dirty garden water from flowing backward in the tubing. Backflow can contain contaminants that spread soil born disease. I recommend not skipping this component!

Hendrickson irrigation backflow preventer

Pressure regulator – this reduces the pressure to a consistent PSI level to not overload the system. If your water pressure is above 40 PSI then you will need a regulator. If your pressure is between 25 and 35, then you may not need one, depending on how large your system is. We have one and it really helps regulate the pressure going into the system and we get better water flow from the drippers. 

hoese pressure regulator

Inline Water FilterYour water might already be filtered , but the tiny emitters get clogged easily. Take the extra precaution and purchase an additional filter for your drip system. It may feel redundant but is worth the peace of mind knowing that your emitters will not get clogged up as easily. 

inline hose filter

Hose connect adapter this connects your garden hose to the mainline of the irrigation system.

drip irrigation hose connect adapter

Water Transfer Pump  Last, but not least, is the water pump. You will need a DC water transfer pump, as this will connect to your battery. I explain how to properly size your water pump in the next section. 

flowmax DC water transfer pump

Step Five: Install The Drip Irrigation System In the Correct Order

Now for the fun part! It really does not take much to install the system, but things need to be installed in proper order and some things can be a bit finicky. Patience, not rushing the process, and doing things in the proper order will save you time and frustration. 

1. Start installation at the water source

If you are on municipal water, you will need to install a backflow preventer to keep water from backwashing into your system. Backwashed water can introduce bacteria into your residential water. If you are using a tank only for your drip irrigation system, then you do not need a backflow preventer. However, I do recommend a backflow preventer for all drip systems as it prevents dirty garden soil from going back into the system. 

Install components in this order:

  1. Water tank to water hose
  2. Water hose to pump
  3. Pump to backflow preventer
  4. Backflow preventer to pressure regulator
  5. Pressure regulator to inline hose filter
  6. Inline hose filter to tubing adapter
  7. Tubing adapter to mainline tubing
drip hose line fitted to a water pump

2. Position, Cut and Fit All of your drip lines

Roll out your mainline and cut it at the end. Roll out your drip lines and cut at the end. Do not add end plugs at this point. Get all of your cut drip lines fitted together with your fittings onto the mainline. You can optionally install shutoff valves at this point. We like the shutoff valves and recommend them, but you don’t have to put them in.

drip mainline tubing fittings and shut off valve

3. Flush your system

Before you install all of your drippers, flush your entire system. This will keep your drippers from plugging up if you get some dirt into the line while installing, which you most likely will!

4. Install your drip emitters

Use your hole puncher and punch holes where you will be installing drippers. Now, it is not easy to push these emitters into the little holes. Rather, it's quite a pain in the ass! It goes better if your line is warmed up. Your fingers and hands will be sore and tired from fitting drippers and 1/4 inch line onto your drip line. If you have arthritis or hand issues, you may want some help with this step. 

Once your drippers are installed, stake the line to the ground. And you are done!

Part Two: Building a Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System

Now that we have built our drip irrigation system, it's time to power it up with solar power! This is a great option for those that have a garden far away from their main power source, or for those who are gardening off grid. 

This is actually a very easy setup. There is no reason to complicate your solar power build, as this works so simply and can be adjusted to scale. Pumps don't take a whole lot of energy and it only needs to run for about 20-30 minutes, depending on how much water your plants need. We find that a 20 minute run gives our plants enough water, and we live in Arizona!

How does a solar powered water pump work?

A solar powered water pump works by attaching a solar panel to a charge controller and then to a battery, it is really as simple as that. The components do not cost much, your main cost will be the battery. 

The pump will run indefinitely while power is being delivered to it, which is why it’s important to install a timer in between the pump and the battery, or choose a pump that auto shuts off at a certain PSI.

Are solar powered pump kits worth it?

There are pumps that are sold as "solar powered pumps" and they absolutely SUCK. The pumps themselves are complete garbage, and the kits don't even come with a battery. There really isn't any need to waste your time or dollars on one of those crappy solar powered water fountain pumps as they will not deliver on what you need to run a drip irrigation system. A custom build is simple, affordable, and more reliable.  

How to Build a DIY Solar Powered Irrigation Pump

The key to success is to prepare all of your calculations and components before you assemble and power up your system. Solar power systems are not all that complicated but you need to make sure all of your components will be compatible or else you could damage your system.

Let’s get started!

Parts You Will Need

50 Watt Solar Panel Kit for under $100

Let's make it easy! Get this kit and you have all the solar components you need, minus the battery. It comes with a 50 watt panel, charge controller, and cables. Easy and DONE.

You can piece these parts together from other sellers but I don't think you will get a better price.

50 watt solar kit

If you don't get this kit, then you will need to appropriately size your charge controller. No, you cannot leave out the controller!

To figure out what size controller you need, take the output watts of the solar panel and divide it by the volts of your battery. This will figure out the amps calculation for controller sizing.

100 watts / 12v = 8.33 amps

Battery – stores power in a bank so you can run your system even when the sun is not out. Here is a 35 aH battery for under $100. 

35 aH solar power battery

Battery powered timer - This step is optional, but creates a fully autonomous system and is great for when you are going to be away for a bit.  

neoteck programmer 12v dc timer

Step 1: Correctly Sizing Your Water Pump

1We need to figure out how much water we are going to need for our drip irrigation system (calculated in the first section of this article) and then purchase the correct size water pump. Too little water flow and we will not have enough water to run the system. Too much water flow and we could overload the system, causing damage.

In our example, we need 75 gallons per hour flowing through our system. Most pumps measure in gallons per minute, so we divide 75 gallons by 60 minutes to get 1.25 gallons per minute.

Try to match up the flow rate of your pump as closely as you can to the GPH of the drip irrigation system. You may not find the exact pump for your calculation, but either err on the side of less GPM as opposed to higher GPM. You can also add a few more (or less) drippers to match up better to the flow of your pump.

You also must consider the PSI that your system needs. Drip irrigation systems need 15-30 PSI. If you cannot find a pump within your PSI requirements, get the PSI regulator part. 

If your pump is having to move water to a higher ground, you need to consider the elevation change. Suction lift needs to be calculated in for loss of pressure.

You will also need to consider friction loss for larger drip irrigation systems. Most manufacturers will have a friction loss chart available. We haven't had any issues with friction loss, but our size irrigation system can be compared to a large hobby garden. For farming operations, you must consider friction loss!

For more information about selecting the proper pump, I suggest reading this very thorough, yet easy to follow, pump selection and calculation guide by Drip Depot:

This is the FlowMax DC pump that I use. moves 3 gallons per minute (90 GPH) and will work for the majority of standard size gardens.

flowmax DC water transfer pump

Step 2: Choosing the correct size solar panel

We need to figure out how many watts are needed to appropriately size the solar panel. If wattage is unknown, you can calculate it with a simple equation by using the voltage output and amps.

Volts times Amps = Power in Watts

For our example, we are using a 12 Volt DC 7.5 amp water pump. So our calculation is:

 12 Volts x 7.5 Amps = 90 Watts per hour

For our pump, a 100-watt solar panel will provide enough electricity plus a little extra to keep the battery charged while the pump is running.

However, since our pump will not be running 24/7, we can downgrade the size of the solar panel and rely on the battery backup to run the pump for an hour or two, and then while the pump is off, the solar panel will charge the battery. In this case, we can choose the commonly sized 50-watt solar panel.

Note that our pump is a DC pump, so we do not need a power inverter to power the pump as the power supplied by solar panels is also DC.

Step 3: Choosing the correct size battery

We want to make sure that we select a battery with enough capacity to run the pump if the solar panel is operating at zero capacity.

Let’s stick with the 100 watt solar panel for our example.

100 watts is the amount that the solar panel will produce per hour.

The average amount of power a solar panel can collect per day is typically 500 watts based on being in full sun for 5 hours.

While the battery is charging, there are some power losses of about 15%. So our 500 watts will probably be more along the lines of 425 watts.

Battery capacity is expressed in Amp hours (Ah).

We know that we need a 12 volt battery for our pump.

We multiply our battery Amp hours (Ah) by the voltage:

Ah * Volts = Watts by the hour

So if we have a 35Ah 12V battery we simply multiply the two 35 * 12 = 420 Wh which will store most of the output of our solar panel.

Now, our pump will only be running for 2 hours out of the day. We need 90 watts per hour, so our system will only require 180 watts. Therefore, a 35Ah battery will give us a bit more than 2 days runtime without having to be charged.

Step 4: Connecting the solar power components in correct order

Before proceeding, make sure your solar panel is not in the sun. You can place a piece of cardboard over the panel to ensure there is no electricity running through it.

The first step is to hookup the charge controller to the battery with stranded copper wire. Make sure not to cross-connect the + and -.

connect charge controller to battery diagram

The second step is to connect your timer to the battery. I suggest using the negative cable as it’s not hot. Splice in the timer on the negative cable. A battery-powered timer is ideal if you don’t want to mess with wiring power to the timer.

connect timer to battery diagram

The third step is to connect the pump to the timer and the battery.

connect pump to battery diagram

The fourth and final step is to hook up the solar panel to the charge controller with the appropriate solar panel connector cables, which are usually included with the solar panel.

Make sure not to cross-connect the + and – MC4 connectors as this will damage your system.

connect solar panel to charge controller diagram

Once all the components are connected, you can uncover the solar panel and the battery will start charging. The charge controller will inform you when it is full and regulate the battery to keep it in optimal charge.

I suggest giving the battery one good day of charging before running the pump.

I also suggest placing the battery and controller in a tote or housing to keep safe from the elements.

housing for battery and charge controller

And that's it! You now have a solar powered drip irrigation system, just like that!

You can read on for some more information about drip irrigation systems if you like, but this concludes the tutorial of how to build one. Have that wonderful day and let me know how your build went!

Is Drip Irrigation Even Worth It?

You may be wondering why using a drip irrigation system is right for your garden. After all, if your sprinkler system is working decently enough, why go through the hassle and expense of taking on a more complex garden watering system?

Before you decide that installing a drip irrigation system is worth it or not, take a look at the advantages and disadvantages first.

Advantages of drip irrigation

There are loads of advantages for installing a drip irrigation system over a sprinkler or hand watering system.

Water efficiency is superior in comparison to a sprinkler system. A drip irrigation system works by depositing the water directly onto the soil and into the plant. Hardly any of the water runs off as the system directly soaks the soil.

There is also very little evaporation, leaving the drip system to produce the least amount of water waste.

Nutrient loss is minimized as fertilizers do not run off the ground as opposed to hand or sprinkler methods. Therefore, less fertilizer needs to be used, by as much as 30%, which saves money and lessens groundwater contamination.

A drip system can be installed on any type of terrain, including hills and sandy lands, making more areas open to cultivation.

Arid, windy, and sandy environments that used to be barriers to cultivation can be utilized with a drip system.

A drip irrigation system makes desert farming possible

Yields can be increased drastically. A study done by the Directorate of Water Management Research found fruit yields to be 12% higher while using over 30% less water.

Weeds that grow around the crop are greatly reduced as the water and nutrients only go to the intended plant.

Operational costs are lower as the pressure needed is reduced; costs are driven even lower when combined with a solar power pump system.

Unusually shaped or hard to reach areas can be used for planting which is traditionally difficult to water. This could be by a twisting walkway or a narrow strip of yard along a driveway.

You can use a drip irrigation system for just about any farming method, including vertical farming. You can read about my vertical farming systems guide here.

Although there are many numerous advantages to drip systems, there are cons as well to consider.

Disadvantages of drip irrigation

As I have come to find out through all of my research, there are always downsides to any system, including systems that seem like a perfect solution. Drip irrigation is not perfect and does need to be evaluated for each unique gardening and farming situation.

There is a higher initial cost for starting a drip irrigation system. You can save money in the long run from saved resources, but be prepared to shell out a good buck or two upfront. In all reality, its really not all that expensive to set up a drip system for a hobby garden. 

Drip systems are great for small scale farming, but on a larger scale, the cost to replace damaged and worn equipment from UV light and movement will require a recurring investment.

The little holes in the hoses can get clogged up, causing them to dysfunction. Filtered water is a must and regular flushing maintenance is required to keep the system running.

Although water distribution is much easier, figuring out how much water to use for each growing phase will require some observation and research.

The salinity of the soil can increase over time as the saturated wet soil evaporates and leaves the salt on top.

In most backyard gardens, small farms, growing in arid climates and on difficult terrains, a solar power drip irrigation makes plenty of sense.

Drip irrigation vs sprinkler irrigation

Still not sure if drip irrigation is worth it? I have made this handy comparison table so you can compare drip to sprinkler:


Drip Irrigation

Sprinkler Irrigation

Water Usage

150 GPH (per 1GPH drippers @ 150 plants)

1,020 GPH (per 60 PPSI @ 5/8" Hose)


$100-$250 small to mid size system

$25-50 small to mid size sprinkler


10-15 years

15-20 years

Soil Type

soil, sand, arid


Overall, my consensus is that drip irrigation is the better watering choice for home gardens, hobby farms, and arid climates. You can utilize more spaces and soil types and will save money in the long run. Just be sure to maintain your system to get the maximum life out of the components.

What are the benefits of solar irrigation?

The main reason I love the concept of solar irrigation is the fact that you can build an autonomous energy saving off grid gardening watering system anywhere and in any climate.

When you add a solar power system to an irrigation system, you can virtually run that watering system anywhere, as long as you have a water source. This could be a spring, year-round creek, well, or pond. Solar power components used to be expensive but have come down considerably in price and have become more effective.

Solar powered drip irrigation systems are an excellent choice for off grid gardens, remote farms, and any garden that may be too far from a convenient- power source.


Ultimately, we are very happy with our drip irrigation system. And its even better operating on solar power! It saves us time, money and hassle. And we garden in the desert, so we are saving on water too.

If we were in an area that received lots of rain, we probably wouldn't have bothered with a drip system. If we had a small garden, we would probably just hand water.

A drip system works great for us in our situation and you may find the same results as well.

Regina Cal is a solo homesteader on 30 acres in Southern Arizona. She specializes in off grid water system design, homestead gardening, minimalism, and self-sufficiency.

You may also like...

ultimate guide to composting basics

The Ultimate Guide To Off-Grid Composting Basics

I love to compost! What a great way to reduce waste, reuse leftover green scraps, and add heavy hitting nutrients to (read more)

the complete guide to heirloom seed planting

The Complete Guide to Heirloom Seed Planting

Welcome to my ultimate heirloom seed planting guide!In this (very long) article, you will find out how to plant almost all (read more)

permaculture farming methods

Easy Permaculture Farming Methods for Beginners

Endless rows of crops. Heavy machinery. Toxic pesticides. Synthetic fertilizers. All of these are common tools that largescale farmers use to (read more)

Page [tcb_pagination_current_page] of [tcb_pagination_total_pages]

  • I am very impressed and would like to have a similar outfit installed in my 20 acres vegetable farm as I presently use a 3 inch honda petrol water pump to do the watering 2x a day. costing me a lot of money. I am kindly asking for technical help to reduce irrigation cost

    • Hello and thank you for your comment. Installing a solar power drip system will have a higher upfront cost but will save you money and a lot of time in the long run.

      You will need to switch from a petrol pump to a solar power water pump. You will also need to setup drip lines.

      The first step is to figure out your water usage for your 20 acre farm on a drip system. You can make a diagram like I have made in the article and also use the calculations. Once you have figured that out, then you can build the system from there.

      Please let me know how much water you will need and then I can help you figure out the components.

  • Hi i have a 7m ploy tunnel on a allotment with two 1 m sides and a 500mm centre section I’m installing 13mm pipe and adding 4mm hoses to branch off to drips placed at centres 300mm(centre section drips to main pipe 13mm).
    My problem is i don’t want to over specify the pump, the solar side I have covered (100watt panel) Uk southern

    • Do you already have the pump and do you plan for it to be submersible or above ground? It all boils down to the volume flow rate and head pressure.

      • No I do not have the water pump. This is where I’m stumped my water will be coming from water butts so people have suggested submersible pump in the water butt(after there any advances in ether system ). I think I would prefer the above ground pump as shown on your article. I just don’t want to under spec the pump. The water to come on at set time maybe twice a day ( I have estimated that I will use to a of maximum of 70 dippers (each dipper 4 LPH) when all installed.

        • So a submersible sump pump will push the water whereas an obove ground pump will pull the water. The submersible pump will be stronger, but the amount of how many gallons pushed will depend on how much head you have. You also have to keep the pump submerged or else the motor will burn out. I have an article about submersible pumps if you want to check it out.

          You also need to consider the distance and height between where your above ground pump will be installed and the water source. This will also affect flow rate. The farther and higher the water has to travel between the pump and the source, and also how far the pump has to push that water will affect how hard the pump has to work.

          Your best bet is to remove as many variables as you can (height, head, distance) so you can make an accurate measurement for your pump.

          • My fear is as explained in your comment is the water butt(running dry), I have read that the above/ground pumps can run dry without burning out.
            i’ll do some calculations on the distance between the water butt and the pipe run can I inclose a sketch?

            thank you

  • Hi Regina,
    If you are drawing water from a stream, what type of pump do you recommend and is there any other changes to the solar powered irrigation system described in your Build a Solar Powered Drip Irrigation System [In 8 Steps! article?


  • This is an awesome break down on how to do this. I’m in the process of getting all the parts. By any chance do you have any more information on the wiring of the 12v timer? Are you not running any live through it at all? If not which output/switch plug do you use?

    Thanks again!

    • I am glad you enjoyed the article! As far as the timer goes, I don’t really have much more info as this is the most basic and easy setup I could do for myself, and I am not all that familiar with electrical stuff. All I can say is that I chose the timer on a battery to not have to fuss with running power to the timer itself, and put it on the negative line since its not the live line. I hope that helps!

      • Hey, couldn’t comment on the original. I’m looking to run something like this in my allotment garden in the UK. I was wondering if you ha a done anything like this but with semi permeable “soaker” hoses rather than drip irrigation? I mainly grow squash and would like to run soaker hose around the plants under mulch. I think this would also reduce the need to filter /flush to prevent clogging .
        Also , if I raise my water butt 50cm off the ground, any idea how much this Weill affect flow rate?

        • Hello! I personally have not tried soaker hose, but it all boils down to your GPM. As long as you can get your GPM to mostly match your water pump GPM, I don’t see why it wouldn’t be a problem.

          As far as head goes, every single pump is different. So if you raise your water butt 50cm, you will need to check with the manufacturer for the head chart. They are easy to find, just google your pump make and model number with head chart.

          Hope this helps!

  • Doing research to build a low cost drip solution that uses water from rain barrel to water 10-12 pots on deck. Was looking for something that used solar and a timer so I could control water and have plants watered while I’m away.
    I bought a rainmaker brand drip irrigation but timer doesn’t work and solar doesn’t charge as advertised so trying to return.

    Looked at solar fountains and other low cost but trying to find solution with timer to build or buy.

    Any thoughts?

  • Hello Regina,
    I must say I am was delighted to find your article. It was full.of useful information and very well organized and easy to follow.
    I am the Managing director of a garlic and strawberry farm on a desert. We are currently at the planning phase of our drip irrigation. The diagram you included was very easy to follow, thank you for sharing that!
    I would like to know how I can incorporate two separate crops onto one drip irrigation system. We are growing high density garlic on open field of 9 acres and we have strawberries in high tunnels on half acre. Would you have any suggestions on how to use the same main water source and distribute that to the two crop as per each crops flow requirements?
    I would love to hear your opinion on this.
    Again, God bless you for your help.
    My email is
    Will be waiting for your response.
    Thank you.

    • Hello! I am glad you enjoyed my article!

      I have been thinking about your question…

      If you are using the same watersource, and you are using the same irrigation system, I think what you would need to do is adjust the drippers you have for each line to allow for proper water distribution.

      I think adjustable drippers will actually solve the challenge, because you can adjust the drippers for each crop type. It will take a bit of math and you may need to plant more than one crop over the other. For example, if strawberries take more water than garlic, then plant more garlic to mitigate the extra water pressure on the line.

      You could also look into sprinkler type drippers which will water more than one plant. 

      I hope that helps!

  • Thanks for all the great info! I think my will be very similar to yours when I am done. I was granted 1000′ of netafilm drip line with holes every 12″ and have 10 rows each 74′ long. Would a 50 watt solar panel be enough, along with 35 ah battery? What about pump size? And do you know if I can plug or block some of the holes in the drip line? Thanks so much, I’ve learned a lot. Chris

    • Hi Chris! I am excited to hear you are building a solar drip irrigation system! Yes, I do believe that your solar setup should be plenty to run your system. You need to add up all the drippers and gpm of those drippers to calculate the size of your pump and purchase accordingly. I actually use an RV pump that works really well with the system. Here is a link to one:

  • I live near a river, which would be the source of the water. There is a small island in the river and I’d like to start discretely farming it. I figure that a small solar pump could do the job. I’m thinking that the ability to pump a few gallons per day would do it. The elevation gain between the river and the area to be irrigated might be fifteen feet.

    Any recommendations?

    • You can consider using a small solar pump with a photovoltaic panel to pump water from the river to the island for irrigation. Consider factors such as head height, flow rate, and water volume requirements for selecting the right size pump. It’s also recommended to choose a pump with a high efficient solar controller for better performance. Additionally, consider installing a filtration system to remove any impurities from the river water before it is used for irrigation.

      For your application, a submersible solar pump or a DC surface pump powered by a solar panel would be good options to consider.

    • I am glad you enjoyed my content!

      Here are a few tips for a small terraced garden in Andalusia:

      Choose drought-tolerant and low-maintenance plants that can withstand high temperatures.
      Use terracing to create different levels and increase growing space.
      Consider using drought-resistant ground covers or decorative rock as an alternative to lawns.
      Incorporate water-saving features such as rain barrels or drip irrigation systems.
      Utilize the walls and fences for vertical gardening or trellis support for climbing plants.
      Provide shade for plants and outdoor living areas with shade sails or pergolas.
      Use drought-resistant mulches to conserve moisture in the soil.
      Make the most of outdoor living spaces by incorporating outdoor seating and dining areas.
      Consider the location and orientation of your garden to maximize light and warmth.
      Add colorful pottery, artwork, and lighting to enhance the overall aesthetic and ambiance.

  • Hi Regina, so very impressed with your website. Firstly, a very big thank you. Secondly, I am designing a walled garden with sub tropical plants in the SW of France. Looking at 4 drippers per M2 and have totalled 240! Taking water from a well which is also and underground source that also gives us drinking water via reverse osmosis which works well for us. No problem with the source, but a little confused as to what kit I need. I am presuming I need a 5pm pump, but can I still use a 35ah battery and 50 watt solar panel? Or do I need to upgrade this as well? Again, brilliant information. Thank you. All the best from France. Donna

    • I am so glad you are enjoying my content and you are very welcome!

      A 5 PM pump and a 35 Ah battery powered by a 50 watt solar panel can work for a walled garden with sub-tropical plants that requires 4 drippers per square meter. However, the actual size of the components you need may depend on several factors such as:

      Size of your garden: The larger the garden, the more water will be required to be pumped and the more energy will be required to power the pump.
      Total head height: This is the vertical distance the water has to be lifted, including the height of the garden, the height of the water source, and any other obstacles.
      Flow rate: This is the amount of water required per minute, which will determine the size of the pump and the battery.
      Irrigation schedule: If you are watering frequently, you will need a larger battery and pump to accommodate the increased energy demand.

      Of course, always DYOR, but I think this info will help you.

  • Thanks for this info. With some adaptation (low pressure pump – 20psi), I now have a solar powered soaker-hose irrigation system set up on my allotment. Should save loads of time next year.

  • Excellent work defined. I have designed a similar system but universal for a home garden in hot areas of our country. I am making one with three different modules. Instead of timer i am using temperature control switch to operate the pump. The temp in summer is high upto 45 deg c and the garden plants die within week. The total cost of the systm in india comes to about 7000 Rupees and is worth spending for saving the plants and to fight the heat in garden.

    • That is a most excellent idea with your watering system!

      Here are some more tips to help keep your garden plants from dying during periods of high heat:

      Mulching: Apply a layer of mulch around plants to help retain moisture in the soil and regulate soil temperature.
      Shade: Provide shade for plants that are sensitive to high temperatures. Use shade cloth, awnings, or other structures to reduce direct sunlight.
      Air flow: Ensure that plants have good air flow to help dissipate heat. Avoid planting in crowded areas, and prune back any foliage that is blocking air flow.
      Heat-tolerant plants: Consider planting heat-tolerant plants that are better adapted to high temperatures. Check with your local garden center for recommendations.
      Watering schedule: Water plants in the early morning or late evening when the sun is not as strong, to reduce the amount of water lost to evaporation.
      Fertilizing: Avoid fertilizing during hot, dry weather as it can cause stress to plants.

      By taking these steps, you can help protect your garden plants from the harmful effects of high heat and keep them healthy and thriving.

  • Hi Regina, wow, that was thorough. Really encouraging style too. I have 1 acre of apple trees on sand that I want to water. I think I can put the system togeather after watching and reading this now, thank you.

    • You are welcome! Let me know how things go. You can also put a pvc pipe in the ground and drill some holes in it and that will water the apple tree roots directly.

      • With your guide I was able to complete the system, thank you! I am now pondering how to interupt the dc circuit to pump based on sensing rain or not. Also, alge growth in the tank is becoming an issue. Several have suggested covering the tank so sunlight is blocked.

        • You are very welcome! I am glad the article helped you. Blocking the sunlight is your best bet, but tarps disintegrate in the sun too quickly. Let me know what you end up doing. I am having an algae issue myself!

  • Hello ..thank you s much for the information.I am however currently struggling to calculate the number of drippers am supposed to have in my field which is half a pump is 0.7 hp and am a bit confused on how to do that math…please help

    • So the best way to calculate for your dripper system is to calculate how many gallons per minute (GPM) the pump pushes, then add up the GPM of all the drippers you plan to have. This should be available from the pump manufacturer. What I have done is purchased adjustable drippers, which helps a lot. If it seems like I don’t have enough flow, I simply adjust all the drippers to have less water flow, and vice versa. It makes things a lot more flexible because you may add more or less drippers over time.

    • I apologize, I have corrected the product to the exact pump that I am using, which is a DC FlowMax transfer pump. Thank you for pointing this out to me!

  • Hi Regina,

    Your article is awesome and well detailed. I was hoping you could elaborate on what adapters were needed to hook up a hose line/main line on the plastic inflow and out flow ports.

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi there! I am glad you enjoyed my article. I believe off the top of my head that pump is a half inch port, so I just went to the hardware store and got a 3/4 to 1/2 adapter for both ends and it worked fine. But, make sure to check the documentation of the pump because I am not quite sure if I am remembering that right. Cheers!

  • I like your website very much. This knowledge is very important to me. I am going to buy Ankway’s solar drip irrigation system now. Do you think this brand of drip irrigation system is trustworthy?

    • Honestly, I can only speak for Drip Depot’s irrigation equipment. I have found Amazon drip irrigation kits to be too cheaply made. But, if you have any feedback on the system, please do let me know!

  • Hi, I need help planning out an off grid irrigation system. I work at a school and we just got a property donated to us and it is 100% off-grid. We are going to start a large school garden that is about 100’ x 100’ plot.

    We have mapped out 30 40’ garden beds. We would like to use drip irrigation. We have a 1,600 gallon water tank. There will be two 3/4” main lines coming out of the water tank that will run perpendicular to the garden beds and then two 1/4” spaghetti drip lines coming off the main line going down each bed with 1 gal/hr emitters every 12”.

    How do I figure out how big of a pump I need and what kind of solar setup I need to run it? I’d like to water for at least 15 mins everyday for seedlings.

    Thank you so much for your help!

  • {"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}