Judith is a fairy in the world of writing: she manages to turn any topic (far not only a kitchen-related) into an entertaining text that is so easy and educating to read. Fond of gardening, reading, and cooking, of course.
Emily has over 10 years of professional experience using, testing and comparing kitchen appliances. Her knowledge helps to easily and naturally solve everyday problems. She is also the owner of the lifestyle blog emilyreviews.com
Last updated: July 15, 2021
If you get your home water from a well but don’t have too deep a hole to the water table, you’re in luck. Shallow well pumps are significantly less expensive than submersible or jet pumps and you have a lot more options to choose from.
In order to help you find the best shallow well pump, we looked at 18 of the most popular pumps on the market today. It was tough choosing a favorite pump, but we landed on the BURCAM 506547SS pump as our Editor’s Choice. It features a 16 gallon-per-minute flow rate, 1” discharge and suction pipes, and a 6.6-gallon stainless steel pressure tank for more reliable operation. Of course, we couldn’t just pick one well pump – we’ll also highlight six other pumps that we think are worth a closer look.
We spent tens of hours researching the best shallow well pumps using customer reviews and technical specifications as our guide. We looked at features like flow rates and engine horsepower, both of which play a big role in determining how well your pump will work for you. You’ll find all seven of our top picks in the table below, followed by detailed reviews of each shallow well pump. Plus, our buying guide covers everything you need to know about choosing the best pump for your needs.
This powerful pump from BURCAM won our Editor’s Choice pick. It features a 3/4-horsepower pump and comes with an integrated 6.6-gallon pressure tank. That’s large enough to provide your entire home with water pressure from your well water, while the 16-gallon per minute flow rate means that you never have to worry about running low on pressure even when using a lot of water. The pump can run on either 115 or 230-volt power – the latter is recommended if you’re using the pump for a well that exceeds 20 feet.
The pressure tank and pump are built with a stainless-steel housing that does a very good job of resisting corrosion over time. However, users did find that the housing might be a little bit on the thin side. When the pump loses its prime, the pressure buildup can be enough to break the seal and render the pump useless. This is just something you’ll need to be wary of, especially if you’re using the pump for a relatively deep well.
The advantage of that thinner construction, though, is that the pump is impressively lightweight at just 24 pounds. That makes it much easier to install and maintain when needed. Thermal protection around the engine and overload protection built into the wiring also help to extend the life of the pump. Plus, you’re covered by a two-year warranty from BURCAM.
This impressively affordable shallow well pump from Flotec is great if you need a modest amount of water and don’t want to spend a ton of money. The ½-horsepower motor can deliver up to 8.8 gallons of water per minute, which is perfect for a household of two people. If you have a full household and use a lot of water, keep in mind that this may not be quite enough flow for your needs. Helpfully, the discharge pipe is ¼-inch smaller in diameter than the suction pipe, so pressure increases as water moves from the well into your home.
One of the major advantages to this shallow well pump is that it requires very little maintenance. The pump is self-priming after you’ve primed it the first time, and the reinforced thermoplastic housing helps to dissipate heat so the motor doesn’t overheat when you need a lot of water. There’s also a built-in pressure switch, which can save you money on a separate pressure tank for this pump. However, you will need to buy a pressure check valve separately, as that safety feature isn’t included with the pump.
Overall, users found that this pump is extraordinarily durable. One customer reported using it for more than a decade – for the price, it’s hard to beat that kind of longevity. Just keep in mind that Flotec only offers a short one-year warranty in case anything goes wrong with the pump.
If you’re looking to upgrade your existing shallow well pump to something with a little more power, it’s hard to beat the J10S from Goulds. This pump packs a one-horsepower motor, which is pretty beefy for a pump that’s designed for less than 25 feet of pumping. The result is a very impressive 16.6-gallon per minute flow rate, which is enough to service your house and a sprinkler or irrigation system at the same time.
You also don’t have to worry too much about getting water pressure in your home with this pump. It comes with a 30–50 PSI pressure switch built in, although you’ll likely still want to buy a pressure tank if you’re using a lot of water.
The pump is built to be extremely durable, with a heavy iron housing that weighs twice what other pumps do because it’s so thick. There’s a built-in overload protection with automatic reset in case the pump experiences a power surge, as well as thermal protection to keep the motor from overheating. Users rave about the durability of this pump – the part most likely to fail is the impeller, and that only becomes susceptible to issues after a decade or more of use.
The only thing we’d like to see from this well pump is a longer warranty. Given the high price tag, a one-year warranty doesn’t provide a lot of coverage in case something goes wrong.
This high-quality well pump from WAYNE is perfect for running an irrigation system or for providing water for a small home. The motor is small, at just ½ horsepower, so you’re limited to a relatively light flow rate of just seven gallons per minute. Thankfully, there’s a built-in pressure switch that’s set between 30 and 50 PSI so you don’t have to worry about low pressure or cavitation with this pump. If you want to adjust the pressure switch, it’s a little bit tricky because it uses two screws rather than just one.
As soon as you get this pump in your hands, you can feel the quality. It’s made with a thick cast iron casing that gives it some serious heft compared to other pumps. WAYNE is also the only manufacturer that we reviewed that offers a full three-year warranty, and users note that the company offers excellent customer service.
There are a few things to keep in mind during the installation process for this pump. First, the discharge hole is only ¾-inch as opposed to one-inch, so you may need an adapter if you’re switching from another well pump to this one. Second, the pump doesn’t come with an outlet wire. You’ll need to do the electrical wiring yourself, following instructions given in the manual. You can run the pump on either a 120-volt or 240-volt power supply.
This burly shallow well pump from Acquaer is an inexpensive option for any home. The pump is equipped with a ¾-horsepower motor and produces a flow rate up to 15 gallons per minute, so it has more than enough power and pressure to supply a whole home with water. On top of that, the pump has a built-in pressure switch that can be set between 30 and 50 PSI. Users note that it’s also relatively straightforward to replace the existing switch with a 40–60 PSI pressure switch.
The pump is built from thick cast iron, which allows it to work for many years without corroding or yielding to leaks as a result of pressure. In fact, one user noted that the pump continued to work even after running it dry repeatedly as a result of lowering water levels in their well. The motor is thermally protected, which ensures that the pump won’t overheat and burn out with extended use. You’ll also find a standard one-inch discharge hole, which makes it easy to connect this pump to a pressure tank or any other secondary system. There’s a lot to like about this pump, including the two-year warranty from Acquaer.
The only thing you have to watch out for with this pump is the wiring. By default, it is wired for 230-volt power. It’s important to check what power your home supply uses and rewire the pump as needed before running it. Instructions for wiring are included in the user manual.
This burly one-horsepower shallow well pump from Acquaer offers a very solid water flow at a price that won’t break the bank. The pump is capable of pumping up to 11.8 gallons per minute, and it has a pressure switch that can be adjusted between 30 and 50 PSI to help regulate and pressurize that flow.
Users were also very impressed with the construction of this pump. The housing is made of thick cast iron, and the motor is surrounded by heat diffusing material to prevent burn out. The wiring, which can be hooked up for 115- or 230-volt power, comes with built-in overload protection and automatic restart to help protect the pump against surges.
On the whole, users were very pleased with the pump’s performance. They noted that the pump does make some noise, as you’d expect for such a large motor, but it’s not overly loud and can easily be quieted with some insulation. While no issues were reported, it’s nice to know that Acquaer offers a two-year warranty on this well pump.
The suction power is excellent, although you may need to adjust the pressure switch or flow settings to get the pump to prime properly. Users pointed out that the priming power is somewhat weak, which is surprising given the power of the motor. The pump is meant to self-prime, but you’ll want to be cautious when counting on this feature.
This small one-half horsepower pump from Red Lion is a close competitor to the WAYNE pump. It’s significantly less expensive, which is a big plus. However, this pump does have some shortcomings that make it somewhat less durable.
To start, this pump produces the same seven gallon per minute flow rate as the WAYNE pump. It increases pressure through the pump by narrowing to a standard one-inch discharge hole. It also comes with a 30 to 50 PSI pressure switch.
The thing to watch out for with this pump is that it’s not the most durable unit on the market. Users who have used multiple models note that they typically fail after a couple of years of use, which appears to be a result of weak leak sealing around the cast iron housing. It’s possible to take the pump apart and replace the gaskets, so this isn’t a fatal flaw – but it does add a lot to your maintenance burden for the pump. The warranty is somewhat short, at just one year. Users also note that this pump is somewhat noisier than larger well pumps with greater horsepower.
The main attraction to this pump is the ease of use. The pressure switch is much easier to adjust within the 30 to 50 PSI range than the WAYNE pump makes this process. In addition, the wiring is provided with the pump, so it’s fairly straightforward to connect to either 115-volt or 230-volt power depending on what your home uses.
What do we love it for?
Very easy to adjust pressure switch
Simple electrical wiring
What were we disappointed with?
Gaskets need to be replaced every few years
Short one-year warranty
Things to Consider
Now that you’ve learned more about our seven favorite shallow well pumps, how do you decide which one is best for you? There are a few important considerations to keep in mind when choosing a well pump, such as making sure your pump has enough power and flow for your needs. In our Buying Guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about getting the right shallow well pump for your needs.
What is a shallow well pump and how can it be used?
A shallow well pump is an electrical pump that sits on the ground surface and pumps water up from the bottom of your well. “Shallow” typically refers to wells where the water level is less than 20 feet deep – some pumps can create enough pressure to lift water from 25 feet below ground, but even these will burn out if you run them at full power around the clock.
Shallow well pumps consist of three parts: an electric motor, which creates pressure; a jet assembly, which dramatically increases the suction and flow; and an impeller that drives water through the system.
The advantage of a shallow well pump is that relative to other types of pumps, it is fairly inexpensive and requires very little maintenance. Since shallow well pumps sit on the ground surface, you can easily control and fix them as needed
Features to consider before you buy a shallow well pump
There are a few important things to think about when choosing a pump for your shallow well. Let’s take a look at what they are, why they matter, and how they can affect your choice of pump.
Your pump’s horsepower describes the power of the motor. This plays a major role in determining the maximum depth at which the pump can reach water and the flow rate that it will achieve. Most shallow well pumps have between ½ and 1 horsepower. Keep in mind that, as you’d expect, a larger motor will draw more electricity and land you with a larger utility bill.
The voltage that your shallow well pump runs at determines what kind of outlet you’ll be able to use it with. All of the pumps that we reviewed can be switched between 115/120 volts and 230/240 volts depending on your power supply. For reference, a standard household electrical outlet produces around 120 volts.
If you have a well that is 20 to 25 feet deep, you’ll likely want to power your pump at 230/240 volts. That’s because the higher voltage effectively halves the current running through the pump to provide the same power. As a result, you’re less likely to burn out the pump motor.
The flow rate of your shallow well pump is probably the thing you’ll notice most when you install it. A higher flow rate means that the pump can send water from the bottom of the well to your home or storage tank more quickly, so it will have an easier time keeping up with water demand.
As a rule of thumb, a home of four will be okay with a pump that’s capable of flow up to 12 gallons per minute.
If you use a lot of water or have more people in your home, you’ll probably want a pump with a higher flow – like the BURCAM, Goulds, or Acquaer pumps.
Suction and discharge
The diameters of the suction and discharge pipes of your pump are not hugely important for shallow well pumps. That’s because they’re typically far narrower than the casing of your well, so there’s no issue with getting the inlet pipe to the bottom of your well. The vast majority of shallow well pumps use a 1-1/4” diameter pipe, while our Editor’s Choice pick from BURCAM uses a 1” diameter inlet. The discharge pipe can be slightly smaller than the suction pipe as a way of increasing the pressure coming from your water system.
Pressure tank switch settings
A pressure tank switch can be added to your pump after market, although it will impact the effective pressure generation and flow of your pump. Alternatively, models like the one from BURCAM have a built-in pressure tank. Typically, the pressure will be switchable between 30 and 50 PSI.
The purpose of these pressure tanks is that they ensure that your pump doesn’t run dry. The well pump needs to be primed, which will create a pressure gradient. If the pressure doesn’t reach the threshold set by your pressure tank switch, indicating that the pump isn’t primed, the pump won’t turn on so that it doesn’t overheat and burn out.
Shallow well pumps should work for several years or more if they are properly built and maintained. But, since there’s moving parts in contact with water, and manufacturing flaws are typically exposed pretty quickly. Most of the shallow well pumps we reviewed come with one-year or two-year limited warranties to protect your purchase. The WAYNE well pump stands out for it’s extended three-year warranty policy.
How to maintain a shallow well pump?
Shallow well pumps are designed to need very little maintenance, which is great for you as the owner. But, there are still a few things you need to check on around the pump from time to time to make sure it’s running smoothly.
First, it’s a good idea to simply give the pump a visual inspection to make sure all of the seals are intact and it’s not leaking water. Second, you’ll want to look at the piping and wiring to make sure nothing is frayed or wearing out – if it is, you’ll need to replace the component.
If you find that there is no water being pumped, the problem is likely that the pump does not have an adequate power supply.
In that case, check your circuit breaker and test the voltage coming from the outlet that the pump is plugged into before moving on to checking the pump engine (which will require a professional).
The power you need from a well pump depends on the depth of your well and the pressure imparted from your pressure tank switch. Most shallow well pumps don’t offer a specific maximum depth, measured as a pressure head, like deeper well pumps do, however. As a rule of thumb, shallow well pumps should only be used for wells shallower than about 25 feet, and ideally shallower than 20 feet. Power will also impact flow rate – you can expect to use around 12 gallons per minute for a family of four.
The size of the pressure tank you need for your pump will depend on the pump’s flow rate and how long you plan to run the pump continuously for. If you’re using your pump for a single home without watering your lawn or garden, you can expect to need about a five-gallon tank. If you add in irrigation or share your well with a neighbor, you will need a 10- to 15-gallon pressure tank.
Shallow well pumps are designed to operate relatively quietly. They do make noise when pumping, however, so this is a concern if your pump is inside your home or directly next to it. If your pump is in a dedicated room, you can soundproof the enclosure to reduce the amount of noise that reaches the rest of the house.
Our three overall favorite shallow well pumps on the market today are the BURCAM 506547SS, the Flotec FP4012-10, and the Goulds J10S. The Goulds pump is ideal if you’re looking to upgrade your current well pump to something with more power. The large one-horsepower motor offers 16.6 gallons of flow per minute, which allows you to run water for your home and an irrigation system at the same time. The Flotec pump offers an incredible value for a standard home well pump. The pump is durable, the flow plenty strong, and the price extremely reasonable – it’s a favorite among users. We feel the BURCAM pump is the overall best shallow well pump thanks to the fact that it includes not just a pressure switch, but an entire 6.6-gallon pressure tank. While the stainless steel construction leaves some durability to be desired, the simplicity and power of this pump makes it a great choice for the majority of homeowners.