High-Pressure Electric Pumps vs. Gas Powered Pumps
Shawn Glover, VP of Sales, Nov 8, 2022
Manufacturers of commercial pump systems have often relied on gas-powered units as their bread and butter. Most haven’t considered using battery-powered high-pressure electric pumps in their equipment because they didn’t have to.
That all changed when recent legislation in California banned gas-powered small off-road engine (SORE) equipment. Other states will likely follow suit. The legislation affects numerous industries, including soft wash, agricultural spraying, commercial cleaning, pest control, portable sanitation, and others.
Manufacturers of such equipment are concerned that electric pumps can’t compete with gas-powered equipment in the key performance areas that matter most.
Custom-engineered electric plunger pumps, however, can and do. To demonstrate just how competitive a high-pressure electric pump can be, explore the following pros and cons.
- Power Differences
- Noise Levels
- Maintenance Requirements
- Size and Versatility
- Run Times
1. Power Differences
A major concern for pump operators is maintaining enough power consistently and for as long as it needs to operate. For larger applications such as industrial fluid handling, refineries, utilities, and high-volume water transfer, gas-powered water pumps have an advantage and can deliver higher flow and PSI ratings to 7000 PSI.
For most high-impact, low-flow commercial applications such as misting, disinfection, pest control, soft wash, and others, however, that kind of power is overkill. In these cases the output of electric pumps and gas-powered pumps is comparable and delivers similar performance, pumping out anywhere from 100 to 2000 PSI. The key is ensuring the pump has the highest efficiency possible.
RELATED ARTICLE: The Importance of High-Pressure Electric Pump Efficiency
2. Noise Levels
Many commercial applications such as lawn care and soft washing require technicians to operate below a certain decibel threshold to comply with noise ordinances. It’s also a simple courtesy to residents. Electric pumps clearly have an upper hand where noise is a concern, operating around 80–85 dB, whereas gas-powered pumps can exceed 100 dB and require hearing protection. Just like an electric vehicle will run quieter than gas or diesel-powered engines, electric pumps have much lower decibel ratings than gas-powered pumps.
3. Maintenance Requirements
Gas-powered pumps have more mechanical components than their electric and battery-powered counterparts. As such, operators need to regularly inspect and address issues with oil levels, cooling systems, and more to get trouble-free operation. Diligence in maintaining these components is critical to ensuring a gas motor operates properly and doesn’t require costly repairs. If an operator is willing to put in the time and money, they may be a viable option.
Because electric-powered plunger pumps are typically sealed units, fewer parts are exposed to the elements or external wear and tear. There’s simply less that can go wrong. Electric and battery-operated pumps are known for being dependable and long-lasting. Should an issue occur, the pump typically can be quickly and affordably repaired.
RELATED ARTICLE: Troubleshooting: 3 Common Pump Issues
4. Pump Size and Versatility
Size and mobility may not be a concern, depending on the application. In these cases, gas pumps are a consideration. Since electric pumps don’t have the added bulk of a fuel tank, they are smaller and more lightweight, making them more practical for individual operators and tight spaces.
If a small footprint and mobility are important to your industry, an electric pump is the clear winner. Many indoor applications simply don’t lend themselves to gas-powered pumps due to dangerous fumes, including commercial cleaning, mold remediation, and others.
5. Run Times
Depending on how large the fuel tank is, a gas-powered unit theoretically can have longer run times than a battery-powered unit. It may be a reasonable option if your application allows for the extra space that a larger fuel tank takes up and operators can easily replenish the fuel supply.
In the past, batteries struggled to maintain enough power for long periods of time, but battery technology has advanced considerably, and continues to do so. Despite many applications requiring more power, less weight, and a smaller footprint, battery life is far greater than it used to be. Today’s battery-powered pump systems rival the run times of most gas-powered pump engines and can go an entire day on a single charge. Units can also be recharged in between jobs without skipping a beat.
GET THE INFOGRAPHIC: Electric vs. Gas-Powered High-Pressure Pumps
6. Sustainability Initiatives
There’s not much competition when it comes to environmental concerns. If going green is part of your manufacturing company’s initiatives and those of your customers, battery-powered pumps are the way to go. There’s little concern over the use of fossil fuels, transporting volatile substances, or generating pollution. Rechargeable batteries and electric-powered pumps are, hands down, a more environmentally responsible choice.
There are two major considerations when calculating prices for pump motors: the initial purchase price and the price to operate it. Because there are more moving parts, materials, and components, gas-powered pumps typically cost more to manufacture than electric pumps. What’s often overlooked in calculating price, however, is the total cost of ownership.
Gas and diesel price volatility makes it extremely difficult for companies to maintain consistent pricing and profit margins. On the contrary, the average price of commercial electricity and battery technology has remained relatively stable for the past decade. And because battery-powered pumps require less maintenance and fewer repairs, downtime and other associated costs are also reduced.
Electric vs. Gas: Which Pump is Better?
Deciding between gas and electric pump motors all comes down to the intended use and application. There is a place for both.
Gas-Powered Pump Applications: If you produce high-powered, high-flow pumps for industrial applications and can afford to compromise on issues like noise, size, and sustainability, gas-powered units may be the best option.
High-Pressure Electric Pump Applications: If comparable power for general commercial applications, quiet operation, mobility, and price are top concerns for the industries you serve (agriculture, pest control, soft wash, portable sanitation, etc.), then battery-powered pumps are an ideal solution.
Your engineering team doesn’t have to figure it out on their own. Let the pump experts and engineering team at Pumptec collaborate to help you determine the right pump type, power, and configuration for your commercial application. Contact us to talk through your manufacturing challenges, and remember to check out our Gas to Electric Pump Conversion Guide.