As my husband and I have really begun to feel an urgency to get our final emergency preparations in order, particularly before the end of this year, securing a source of fresh, convenient water is obviously high on our list of priorities.

Since our water is supplied through a personal well, when the power goes out so does our well pump. Meaning our water stops. If the grid ever goes down for a long period of time, or electricity gets too expensive to afford, or if the power supply is rationed resulting in rolling black-outs, we would be at the mercy of the powers that be.

Obviously, that’s not good enough for us. We need an emergency backup plan.

We do have a pond on the property, but it’s a good walk down a steep hill, and we’d have a hard time getting that water back up to our house. It would be so much nicer if we could just walk a few paces from our home and hand pump fresh water into a bucket, or even a hose that could gravity feed down to the house. (Or better yet, have water pumped right through the faucets in our home! But more on that in a moment…)

A couple of years ago I looked into the cost of putting a hand pump on our well. But there were two main problems that I kept running into:

1. Almost all hand pumps are not meant for deep wells, and will not work alongside your electric pump.

2. The very few hand pumps that actually can be used in deep wells requireΒ  the use of special machinery to lift and lower the extremely heavy parts that go down into the well.

After learning that hiring a professional to install one of these pumps would cost us over $5000 (not even including the pump itself!), putting a hand pump on our well was just out of the question. In despair, I gave up hope of ever being able to afford fresh, convenient water without the use of electricity. I’d resigned myself to filtered water from our rain barrels.

But recently I started looking again… there must be a solution!! I knew there had to be a product out there that was meant for situations such as mine.

I searched and read forums for hours. And I discovered two brands that actually sell hand pumps that can be installed in the same casing as your existing electric pump, and both can be installed without a professional’s help!

Simple Pumps and Bison Pumps.

So I went about determining which was the better option for us.

well hand pumpBoth brands share some common characteristics. Both are made from top quality stainless steel. And both have really great consumer reviews. But Simple Pump offers a couple of extra features which sold me in the end.

Where the Bison states that their pumps can access water as deep as 200 ft., Simple Pumps can pump down to 350 ft. Seeing as our well is 300 ft. deep, obviously we need a pump that could reach the water if it ever dropped that low.

Simple Pumps are the only hand pumps that pump into the pressurized water tank of your house, giving you full use of ALL your household plumbing. You could pump water to run straight through your kitchen faucet, no buckets required! I don’t know about you, but I think that’s GREAT.


Simple Pumps can also be upgraded to work alongside solar power, if in the future we decided to go that route. I didn’t find anything anywhere on Bison’s website stating that their pumps can do the same.

They’re also less expensive than a Bison. And Simple Pump offers a 5 year warranty on their products, whereas I couldn’t find anything guaranteeing a warranty on any of Bison’s pumps or parts.

Another factor to consider when looking for a hand pump is the upkeep and maintenance expenses. According to SP’s official website, the average Simple Pump customer can expect to pay $25 for a seal replacement every three to ten years. That’s it.

Here’s a note from Simple Pump regarding another company’s pumps (not a Bison):

One competitor’s pump is a little cheaper, but 25-30% of these pumps are inoperable after 2-3 years of service! Ongoing maintenance cost is a critical factor in making the best purchase decision.

Whenever making a large purchase like this, I put a lot of credibility in customer reviews. Emily at Eat Close To Home wrote about her experience with their Simple Pump, and seems very pleased with her purchase. (I think it’s worth pointing out that they chose to hire a professional to install their pump, which ended up costing them quite a bit more. She also mentions her concern about drinking water from a PVC pipe, but Simple Pump actually uses Food Grade PVC.)

After reading, reading, reading, and then watching their installation video to see just how doable a self installation would be, Jerry and I were sold on a Simple Pump.

So… do we have one installed yet?

Well. Not yet. There’s always that small matter of money. But my heart is set on this one whenever that time does come around.

UPDATE (2014): We finally saved up enough money and invested in a Simple Pump. It has been one of the best purchases we’ve ever made.

I’d love to hear from any of you who have installed a hand pump alongside your existing well, especially if you have any experience using a Bison or a Simple Pump.