I want to monitor how much water we're pumping out of our shallow well every day (residential). We want to figure out how many gallons per day we're using. Doesn't have to be crazy accurate.

First thought was hooking up some kind of inline flow meter to a computer.

Then I thought, hey, since the pump always outputs the same amount of water when it's running, wouldn't monitoring the amount of time the pump is running be fairly accurate as well without needing an inline flow meter?

I'm thinking a relay or something similar that's triggered when the pump turns on. What would be a simple way to hook this up to a computer? A usb trigger thingy? (don't know if exists) Or an arduino?

  • $\begingroup$ Should be the same if the pump is truly outputting the same amount of water per amount of time $\endgroup$ Nov 4, 2015 at 20:41
  • $\begingroup$ Is it supplying the house with water or pumping to an open ended pipe (into a ditch or something)? $\endgroup$
    – morristtu
    Nov 4, 2015 at 21:30
  • $\begingroup$ supplying the house with water. $\endgroup$ Nov 4, 2015 at 23:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @cannotcompute The only way it would always be the same flow was it it were refilling a tank or something like a water tower. If it's piped directly to the house as the supply, the flow really depends on the system and pressure drops through the house piping. Does it have a pressure gauge on the discharge of the pump? $\endgroup$
    – morristtu
    Nov 5, 2015 at 1:55

1 Answer 1


Typically a well pump fills a pressure tank. By knowing the max and min fill levels of the pressure tank and how often it cycles, you would roughly know consumption. The measurement would be off by the amount used when the pump was running, but it would get you close.

To measure the difference between min and max fill, turn off all water use in the house except for a bath tub faucet or a place you can fill a five gallon bucket. Turn on the water until the pump starts then turn the water off. Wait until the pump is finished then begin filling and emptying a 5 gallon bucket until the pump starts again. Counting the number of buckets gives you the volume difference.

You could also try to determine the flow rate of your pump, but since the flow rate is pressure dependent, it may give you a less accurate answer unless you put a pressure transducer in the line and calibrated.

There are a variety of ways you could count the pump start up/ durration. It really depends on your skill set as to which one is easier. An arduino, raspberry pi, or PC with a daq or other inputs would all work well. A relay to the pressure switch would work, but a little dangerous and unnecessary. A split core current sensor is a nice solution that can also tell you when there are issues with your pump. You could also do it simply with a well placed microphone. You could use a python library on the PC with standard audio input or a pre-made board for arduino or rpi.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.