Six Tips for Choosing the Right Pump for Your Needs

You may categorise Bottle, Pail and Drum pumps into three different categories such as Safety Pumps, Power Pumps and Manual Pumps. As far as choosing the right pump for your needs is concerned, here is a list of some of the important factors you need to consider:

  • Viscosity of the liquid that is going to be pumped
  • Container size
  • Fitting
  • Chemicals that are going to be pumped
  • The dispensing capacity of the pump per minute or per stroke
  • The chemical compatibility of the liquid that is going to be pumped
  • Requirement of a food grade pump

Since there are a number of pumps available in the market, here are six important factors you should consider to choose the right pump:

Manual vs Power Pumps

As the name suggests, the end user powers the manual pumps but you can use electricity for electric barrel pumps or air to run the power pumps. The choice of energy source will depend on the availability of the type of power at the facility.

If the container is going to be used for holding hazardous materials, you need to make sure that it meets the UN/DOT 49 CFR 173.3 (c) specifications for handling leaking or damage containers with hazardous material.

Dispensing Capacity

Find out the amount of liquid that needs to be dispensed per minute or per stroke as well as the pumping speed. As far as the amount of liquid pumped is concerned, there is a pre-set amount that can be pumped out with a hand pump. However, when it comes to the total amount of liquid that can be pumped per hour or per minute, it depends on the endurance and strength of the user.

Power pumps have a designated rate of gallons per minute at which they can pump the liquid. This rate depends on the viscosity of the fluid as well as the power of the pump. All the power pumps come with the published “Up To” rate. This rate gives you an idea of the gallons per minute figure that can be pumped in the best case scenario and you can use it as a guideline.


This term refers to the thickness or viscosity of the liquid and you need to know it in order to choose the right pump.

Size of Container

You will need to know the container size if you are going to use the pump only with one size and you are going to pump the same liquid every time. You will need a different pump if you are going to use it with multiple containers.

There are pumps with a wide variety of sizes that can fit containers ranging in size from one gallon to 275-gallon IBCs/Totes. If you are going to use containers of different sizes, it is important for you to choose a pump that can fit on all or most of the containers. The length of the pump tube is an indicator of the size of the container for which the pump can be used.

If you have a 15, 20 or 30-gallon drum, you can still use a 55-gallon pump but keep in mind that the pump top will be well above the smaller container’s top.

Chemical Compatibility

While choosing a pump, it is important for you to make sure that the pump materials that are going to come in touch with the liquid to be pumped are not chemically incompatible with the liquid. The best way to check chemical compatibility is to review the Material Data Safety Sheet supplied with the product. This data safety sheet specifies the name of all the chemicals or chemical combinations in the liquid that is going to be pumped.

Food Grade

If you are going to use the pump for some regulated substances or with food, you need to use a food grade pump as there are certain restrictions that apply. These pumps are available in power as well as manual modes.