If you’re lucky enough to have a well that’s not too deep, you won’t have to spend a fortune on a well pump. Shallow well pumps have become more advanced over the years and can be used to move well water to large storage tanks (to be fed via a booster pump through a house’s piping).
Of course, different manufacturers will have different approaches when it comes to design. What’s important to know is that almost every shallow well pump comes with a cast iron casing. But not all of them are of the highest quality or the easiest to adjust.
8 Best Shallow Well Pumps That You Can Install
The Red Lion RJS-100 features a very impressive cast iron build. It has good anti-corrosion and anti-rust protection. If you’re worried about reliability, this pump may just help you sleep better at night.
With the 1 HP motor, the pump has a 25 feet head, i.e. it can move water up to a 25ft vertical distance. The 23 GPM flow rate is good enough to fill up the storage tank quickly. And if the motor does come close to overloading, there’s an automatic shut-off function that kicks in to protect it.
The Red Lion is a 115/230V pump. Of course, I’d expect all industrial-grade pumps to be dual voltage since they’re all meant for worldwide sales. (It’s just a matter of tapping the 115V or 230V winding of the motor transformer, not unlike PC case power supply.) With the voltage selector, you can use it for more applications than just bringing water to your storage tank. However, it is not powerful enough to be used in irrigation.
2. Wayne SWS50
The SWS50 is a rather small pump. It has a ½ HP motor with a maximum flow rate of 420 GPH when set to 50 PSI. That’s enough for wells of up to 25ft deep.
Like all pumps in this write-up, it is dual voltage. What’s really great about the pump is the highly affordable price. Although it’s not the most powerful pump on the market, it is highly durable and features both corrosion and rust protective coatings.
The SWS50 comes with a shut-off function but you may have to adjust the PSI limit to 40 or 50 depending on your needs. The factory setting puts it at 30 PSI which may cause it to turn off too soon.
You may also want to think twice between running it on a generator as yours may not be powerful enough to handle the 11A start-up load. You should also know that the main output hole is 7/8”. You may need to purchase an adapter separately to fit the 1” NPT standard.
This ½ HP water pump works well at depths of up to 20 or 25 feet. However, if you’re sensitive to noise, this may not be for you. The fiberglass-reinforced thermoplastic pump could keep you up at night if your well is close to the main building. The upside is that you get a light 26lb pump.
In terms of design and power, the Flotec FP4012-10 is rated at a high maximum pressure of 77 PSI. It can also handle a max lift of 25 feet. At 40 PSI, the maximum flow rate is 10 GPM -naturally, it goes down depending on the height of the pipe.
The pressure switch is set at 30 or 50 PSI. The discharge fitting is 1” NPT so the pump should work with standard plumbing systems. This model is also available with ¾ or 1 HP motor. Once again, it’s dual voltage.
4. Goulds J5S
The J5S is not just about power but also high-quality construction. If you’re looking for something to last for many years to come, the J5S might just be the solution. It has a heavy-duty cast iron casing with multiple protective coatings. It also has a high-quality stainless steel shaft that’s built to last.
Although it comes with a ½ HP motor, the J5S can deliver 8.6 GPM at 30 PSI for a 25ft lift. The maximum flow rate is 16.5 GPM at 5 feet. Given these specs, I would say that the J5S is well-suited for most households, as long as the well isn’t too deep.
The cutoff pressure is 63 PSI. The pump comes with an automatic shut-off and it’s set at 60 PSI. You can, of course, adjust this to bring it down to 50 if you’re worried that the motor could overheat too often.
The connections are standard 1-1/4” and 1” NPT for the suction and discharge. This means that installing the pump is easy without the help of a professional and it also doesn’t require extra adapters.
The Superior Pump 94505 is one of the cheapest shallow well water pumps I’ve come across that still maintains a good balance of durability and performance. It also comes with a multi-setting pressure switch as is standard on all such pumps.
The cast iron seal looks pretty solid and the thermoplastic impeller seems rugged enough to handle a couple of years of hard work. The ½ HP motor is pretty much what you would expect – offers a decent flow rate but may overheat easily.
Although the pump can put out a 6.8 GPM flow rate at a 25ft lift, chances are it won’t sustain it for long. Instead, you might consider this pump for 15 to 20ft lift where it can give a maximum flow rate of 7.5 GPM. That’s still within optimal parameters for many households, if they have a good-sized storage tank.
The good news is that the pump only has a 6.4A starting load which makes it easy to hook up and run on smaller generators. All that, and the fact that it comes with standard 1-1/4” and 1” NPT suction and discharge holes, makes it a suitable choice for anyone in need of a shallow water pump at a great price.
With a ¾ HP motor attached, you can expect up to a 7 GPM flow rate at around 20 feet but no more without risking overloading the motor. The maximum flow rate is 900 GPH, which you might get close to that when the voltage is high.
It runs on both 115 and 230V so you can also run it on a generator in more remote locations. However, it may not be the most optimal solution for irrigation. This is a well-built pump with cast iron housing and metal internal parts.
The 2-year warranty on labor and parts shows the manufacturer’s trust in the quality of this pump. There’s also a factory pre-set pressure switch which is a standard 30/50 switch, but there’s no pressure gauge. Not a big deal as most well water systems would have multiple pressure gauges downstream.
With dual voltage functionality and easy installation, the ½ HP Red Lion PWJET50 is a capable shallow well pump. It has a standard cast iron casing and a quiet operation with little adjustability but enough built-in safety features.
The pressure switch is a standard 30/50. The flow rate fluctuates a lot depending on the lift. The PWJET50 is rated at 23 GPM but in reality, you’ll get around 6.7 GPM at a 15ft lift. If you use the pump for a 25ft lift, the flow rate drops to 3.3 GPM.
It’s certainly not as powerful as it looks on paper. But the quiet operation does make up for that to some degree, and since it has an affordable price tag, anyone who has a well that’s never or rarely empty and a sizable water storage tank would do great with the PWJET50.
The Burcam 506221P is a budget-friendly shallow well pump that’s surprisingly well-built. The chassis of the pump is made of Noryl resin which is great for long-term use under heavy load. It can lift up to 25ft at 7 GPM flow rate. At this price range, that’s quite impressive.
Due to the good flow rate, this pump can stick enough water in the storage tank to support quite a bit of gardening needs. Just don’t expect to irrigate crops with a well water system that’s based on this pump. There is some noise but nothing that doesn’t blend into the background after a while.
The pressure switch and pressure gauge are included. And, because the gauge is installed horizontally, you can easily check the pressure on the pump without having to get down on your hands and knees.
How Deep Is Your Well?
Before looking at shallow well pumps, you need to know the depth of your well. Shallow well pumps can only do so much work. Although some of them are rated for 25 feet, you’ll generally get the best results at a maximum of 20 feet.
Above 25 feet, you’ll need a deep well pump or even a submersible pump, if the well is deep and the water level is never very high. Though there are shallow well pumps that can handle a 25ft lift and maintain decent flow rate upwards of 6.5 GPM, there is a danger of overloading the motor too often – one way to solve that would be to run the pump at 230V, which effectively halves the current.
Is It Powerful Enough?
A pump that can dish out 8 to 12 GPM is pretty good. It should be able to handle a four-bedroom home. You can also use a quick rule of thumb to see how much flow rate and power you need. Find out the number of fixtures you have in your house and assume 1 GPM for each fixture. Multiply by 60 to convert to gallons per hour.
There’s another aspect to water pumps that affects the flow. It’s called vertical lift (or the head of the pump). If your home needs a 12 GPM of water, then a ½ HP motor should do just fine.
Shallow Well Pump Features
Overload and thermal protection features are very important. The motor can overheat even when using the pump at less than its maximum capacity. As mentioned above, that’s usually related to high current, which you can cut in half by running the pump at 230V.
To prevent water from going back out, a foot valve is needed. A water pressure switch can also allow you to control the water pressure. There are many accessories or built-in features that you can get with a shallow water pump. However, only a few of them are really mandatory to ensure good performance.
Ready to Install Your First Jet Pump?
Now that you’ve wet your beak in shallow well pumps, you should know just how important it is to get the right one. Always figure out your whole plumbing system before making a decision.
Once you know how deep the well is and how many fixtures you have, making sense of the specs is easy as pie. And, as you’ve noticed, not all of the best shallow well pumps have to cost a fortune.
A hardcore woodworking and welding enthusiast, Russ is the editor-in-chief of TAH. In his spare time, Russ loves watching sports, and (binge) watching Netflix.