Simple Pump vs. Bison Deep Well Hand Pump
A hand well pump is one of the largest purchases that the average prepared homesteaders will make, so it's important to get it right. You don't want to lay out that much cash only to decide later that you should have bought the other brand. MacKenzie and I did a lot of research before choosing which hand well pump was right for us, and here's what we found:
Both pumps are high quality in materials and workmanship. The Bison pump is welded, and hand made so each one is slightly different, while the Simple Pump is machined, and standardized so spare parts, if ever needed, can be ordered. The Bison pump is designed to look like a traditional hand well pump, while the Simple Pump is engineered for maximum function. That's not to say that the Bison pump doesn't work, or that the Simple Pump isn't attractive, but it's clear where each company focused it's energy.
There are three key differences that that made it clear which hand well pump was right for us: The maximum depth the pump is capable of pumping from, the ability of the pump to integrate with our current plumbing fixtures, and the force or effort required to pump the water.
The Bison Deep Well Hand Pump can pump water from a maximum of 200 feet. As hand well pumps go, that's pretty impressive, but the Simple Pump can pump from 350 feet! The static water level in our well is far shallower than either of those figures, but we may not always live in our current home. If we move someday, we are taking our pump with us so we wanted the pump that is most likely to work in a future well. With 150 feet more reach, the Simple Pump ensures that if our future water level is over 200 feet, we haven't wasted our initial investment.
The Simple Pump can not only pump water to the surface, but it can pump into pressure. This means you can pump water straight into your home's plumbing and build pressure in the pressure tank. Now, instead of bucketing water to where it's needed, you can take a shower, flush toilets, etc. just like you always have. Of course, that water pressure won't last very long, so we suggest adding a larger pressure tank. No other hand pump can pump into pressure (the one other company that claims this capability goes on to admit that their pump can't bring the pressure anywhere near standard useable levels). While not critical, the ability to take showers and use all our normal plumbing fixtures sounded a lot nicer than carrying buckets of water everywhere it's needed.
The difference in the effort required to pump water is so significant between the two pumps that this one feature alone would have sold us on the Simple pump. For example, with the Simple Pump, it takes about 9 pounds of force on the lever arm to pump from 40 feet and into a pressurized tank. According to the Bison pump website, a Bison pump, from ten feet shallower (30 feet) and not pumping into a pressure tank, requires about 15 pounds of force. Bison lists several measurements from actual wells of different depths using a Bison pump. From the Bison site: Force in pounds required to pump water from 17 different actual wells of different depths (wells with a static water level of zero feet were omitted for obvious reasons)- 15, 50, 80, 110, 110, 5, 40, 50, 60, 60, 60, 60, 60, 10, 15, 35, 40. The well that only required 5 pounds of force had a static water level of only 7 feet. The maximum depth represented by those numbers is a well with a 200 foot static water level. Contrast this to a Simple Pump at 200 feet which only requires about 10 pounds of force. Considering that pumping water will be a daily activity, I can't imagine using even a pump on the lower end of Bison's numbers.
Not surprisingly, we purchased a Simple Pump for our well, and have tested and verified Simple Pump's claims. It was as easy and quick to install as they claim, easily pressurizes our system like they claim, and is as easy to pump as they claim. Our friend's 3(almost 4) year old daughter was even able to pump water with our Simple Pump!