How to Decide Between a Water-Powered or Battery-Powered Backup Sump Pump
Both types of backup sump pump have their advantages and drawbacks. The decision over which to use in your home will be driven by your specific plumbing system setup, your water volume needs, and other preferences. To get a sense for which pump type is right for your home, consider the following attributes of each pump and see which best matches your specific situation.
Battery Backup Sump Pumps
Battery backup sump pumps have been available on the market longer than their water powered cousins, and they are generally easier to understand: a pump run by a battery – a fairly straightforward concept. Battery backup pumps are generally run by marine deep-cycle, or similar, batteries. Some are quite easy to install (like the Hydropump DH900 and DH1800 models that we carry).
Battery backup pumps’ primary advantages are:
- Versatility - Most homes can use them.
- Pumping power - Some battery backup pumps can be quite powerful, for example the Hydropump PH3000 pumps 3000 gallons per hour (GPH) at 10 feet of lift.
- Installation simplicity – Since they often use the same discharge pipe as your primary sump pump, installation is generally straightforward.
Battery backup pumps’ disadvantages stem from their power source: the battery. Their main drawbacks are:
- Run time - During a power outage, there is a limit to how long the pump will continue operating, since the battery will eventually die if it cannot recharge. There are ways to mitigate this, for example by using an extra battery as allowed by the optional Dual Battery Case for Hydropump battery backup pumps. But, ultimately battery backups will face a limit to their operating time during long power outages.
- Overall battery life – The batteries that these pumps run on must be replaced every 3-5 years. In order to have a backup system that you can rely on, you need to monitor the health of the battery, run periodic tests to make sure the pump is running properly, and replace the battery when necessary. This extra attention can prove to be very easy for some homeowners, while being quite difficult for others (for example landlords or people with vacation homes).
Water Powered Backup Sump Pumps
People often assume that these pumps are highly complex, because at first glance it may not be obvious exactly how water powered sump pumps work. However, their operating principle is actually very simple: run water through a pipe at high speed to generate suction, which then empties your sump pit.
Water powered pumps’ main advantages include the following:
- Potentially unlimited run time – Since water powered sump pumps are driven by your home’s municipal water pressure, they can run for an indefinite period of time, as long as water is available. In multi-day power outages, this might mean the difference between a dry or flooded basement. The Basepump water powered pumps that we sell are very efficient, as well, removing 2 gallons of sump pit water, for every 1 gallon of city water used.
- No battery to monitor – With a water powered pump, you no longer have to check, maintain, and replace batteries or keep an eye on a charger to make sure it is doing its job. This makes water powered pumps ideal for landlords, people with vacation properties, and those who do not want to have to monitor their backup pump as often.
Water powered sump pumps’ drawbacks mainly stem from the fact that, unfortunately, not everyone can use them:
- Homes with wells cannot use them - This is because a power outage will shut off the well pump.
- Specific plumbing system requirements – To use a Basepump water powered pump, there are some criteria that your home’s plumbing system has to meet, having to do with your water pressure, water flow rate, pipe types, and any restrictions in your piping. Learn more in the Water Supply Checklist near the bottom of our water powered sump pump product category page.
- Pumping volume – Water powered sump pumps generally will not match the pumping rate of the highest volume battery backup pumps. However, for homes with active sump pits, the Basepump CB1500 does deliver a good amount of pumping power, pumping 2,000 GPH at 10 feet of lift in a house with 90 PSI water pressure.
- Installation – Water powered sump pumps are often a bit more involved to install, compared to battery backups. Since they connect to your home’s water supply piping, it is imperative that they are installed properly. To make installation as easy as possible, we carry the Basepump RB750-EZ, a residential water powered sump pump with an included installation kit that takes a lot of effort out of the installation process.
One final, important item to note with respect to water powered pumps is backflow prevention. Since water powered pumps connect to your home’s water supply system, it is imperative that they are installed in a way that prevents backflow of sump pit water into your town’s clean water source. Learn more in our article on water powered sump pump backflow prevention.
Basepump water powered pumps are unique in that they are the only brand of water powered pump that can accommodate an Atmospheric Vacuum Breaker (AVB) Backflow Preventer, to protect your clean water source from backflow. Some Basepump models even come with this AVB device pre-installed.
Note: This article refers to the specific features of Hydropump battery backup sump pumps and Basepump water powered sump that we sell, and is not intended as commentary on the specific attributes of other brands on the market.
This article is intended for informational purposes. Before beginning any construction project at your home, please ensure that you take necessary safety precautions and consult construction professionals whenever necessary.