How To Choose A Water Transfer Pump

Want to move water out of your property or around your yard...and fast? Follow our easy steps to choosing the right water transfer pump.

As their name suggests, water transfer pumps "transfer" water from one place to another. This might be moving water from a dam to a tank, out of your basement, or from one part of the construction site / yard to another.

Water Transfer Pumps; a great way to move water from once place to another around your property

That's why a water transfer pump is also known as a dewatering pump - because it helps you remove water from areas prone to flooding.

Simply they might be, but there's a huge selection of water transfer pumps to choose from. So it pays to take some time to work out what you want before you start shopping. That way you can be sure you've chosen the right water transfer pump for the job.

Remember that Transfer Pumps are for pumping clear water - if your job requires you to move water with debris and other solids, then you need to consider a Trash Pump.

Here's our no-fuss guide to choosing the right water transfer pump:


Choose The Inlet/Outlet Size:

Water transfer pumps come in a range of sizes, depending on the application. For example a lightweight pump is designed for use around a home, garden and for boating, while a larger pump is better for pumping large volumes for dams, site flooding etc.

Whatever size you choose, the water transfer pump works in the same way. Water is sucked in through an inlet valve and ejected from a discharge valve. The difference is in how quickly it will get the job done.

The speed of water transfer depends on the size of the suction/discharge ports - (inlet and outlet). They typically range from 1 inch in size up to 4 inches. The 4-inch port will move water four times faster than the 1-inch port.


Choose Flow Rate/Maxiumum Head:

Typically, Water Transfer Pumps will have lower PSI capacity compared to say a High Pressure Fire Fighting Pump, but can move larger volumes of water; this is measured in a Litres per Minute of Flow Rate. How much flow rate you need obviously depends on the size of the task - a small domestic job might only require 100 - 200 litres/per minute flow rate, whereas a larger property or commercial task may require ten times (or more) that flow rate.

The flow rate needs to be considered in conjunction with the 'Maximum Head' capability of the pump - this refers to the maximum height/distance the pump can pump to. If you have a pump with a maximum head of 60 metres, your flow rate will about zero at 60 metres. So, the flow rate diminishes with the distance/height.

As a rule of thumb, the Maximum Head capacity of the pump will tell you what the pump can do in terms of height; suction height + uplift. For example, if you needed to draw up water 8 metres from the water source to the pump, then move the water from the pump up a gradient of 15 metres, then you would need a pump with a maximum head greater than 23 meters (8 +15). You will also experience some small head loss through friction and so you should choose a pump with greater max head capacity than your requirements to account for this.

Refer to the helpful chart below which graphs the specs of Maximum Head and Flow Rate for the Water Master Pump range:

Water Master Transfer Pump range - charting the Flow Rate and Maxiumum Head capability of each model

In our experience, the most popular Transfer Pump models are the Honda Water Master 2" Transfer Pump (MH20), the Honda Water Master 3" Transfer Pump (MH30), and the Yamaha Water Master 4" Transfer Pump (MY40E). For the full range of Water Master Pump Performance curves, including Fire Fighting Pumps and Trash Pumps, CLICK HERE.

Generally speaking, Transfer Pumps will have lower PSI capacity, but can move larger volumes of water (higher flow rates), whereas High Pressure Fire Fighting Pumps for example, will have a higher PSI but move lower water flow rate volumes on a litres per minute measure.


Choose Your Engine Type:

Think about what type of engine you need for your pump; electrical, petrol or diesel powered. Most electric water transfer pumps are used for indoor smaller requirements They are typically designed for the DIY user for smaller domestic tasks, are often less powerful and require less maintenance than petrol/diesel pumps.

The majority of the pumps used on large properties, in farming, construction and mining and by professional contractors are powered by petrol or diesel. Diesel engines are more fuel efficient, will usually perform for longer and are considered a safer fuel option than Petrol. However, petrol options are cheaper and there is often a greater range of petrol models to choose from.

If you go with a petrol or diesel engine, then the reliability and power of your water transfer pump will come down to the engine. Look at the type of engine. Is it reliable in tough conditions? Will it be easy to start? Does it have enough power to see the job through? Its best to opt for a quality engine brand such as Honda, Yanmar, Robin or Koshin.

The most popular engine for powering Petrol Water Transfer Pumps is Honda

Consider The Design Features:

Where will you be using your water transfer pump? Pumps built for commercial use generally come designed with special features for use around a jobsite. Alternatively, these can be added on spec. Here are a few things to look for:

  • Rollover casing to protect the water pump in case it's knocked.

  • Anti-vibration dampening to keep the pump in place and prevent noisy rattling while in use.

  • Low oil shutoff to automatically stop the engine if it's running low on oil, so it doesn't damage itself.

  • Portability If you want to move it around your garden or boat, look for a lightweight, portable design with handles


Lastly, Go For a Good Warranty:

A guarantee is a massive bonus with any piece of equipment and a water transfer pump is no exception. As mentioned, If you go for a pump powered by a quality engine (which is strongly recommended), you will get a good engine warranty period of 2-3 years and backed by a national service network; for example with a Honda powered transfer pump, you get the peace of mind of over 400 accredited agents around the country.

Check out the full range of Water Transfer Pumps here!


DISCLAIMER* Please note, this advice is general in nature and we strongly recommend consulting the product manual and where relevant, a professional installer.

3 thoughts on How To Choose A Water Transfer Pump

7 January 2018
Hi, I am wanting to move water over a 250 Metre distance - probably uphill 15 meters over the entire distance. I don’t need massive flow rates, would be happy with a very small amount as I am pulling from a dam/spring into a water tank then using a pressure pump to water the surrounds etc. If possible I’d like an electric pump near the water the tank that I can just turn on as a water to maintain the water level. I have been using a petrol 5.5hp pump pushing water up from the water source without any issues (except the pump water casing has now split). For ease of use if I can suck the water all the way up to the house water tank, then this would be fabulous. My research seems to suggest it’s not possible though?

25 May 2016
Can I fit a 2 inch hose to a 3 inch pump outlet? If so, would that help with pressure output?...or do the house and pump outlet sizes need to match up the same?

My Generator Response
Hi Ryan, it is always recommended that you use the same diameter hose/piping as the suction and discharge ports on the pump. While it is sometimes necessary to reduce that diameter, it is strongly advised that you do not reduce the hose size by more than half an inch. While you may see an increased pressure due to the slightly smaller piping, this will also see an increased backpressure on the pump. The more you reduce the hose/piping diameter, the more you increase this backpressure and likely cause the pump to fail and that would not be covered under warranty. Thanks

11 November 2015
Hey, nice site you have here! Keep up the excellent work!

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