Cycle Stop Valve or Smart Pump: Which Is Better?
While basic well pump technology remains pretty constant, there have been advancements. Two technologies, the cycle stop valve and constant pressure smart pump, offer the possibility of more efficient water well operations, constant water supply, smaller pressure tanks and reduced operating costs. Let’s take a look at the similarities and differences.
Cycle Stop Valves
Cycle stop valves (CSVs) or constant pressure valves (CPVs) are designed to provide a variable flow of water in response to water demand. Most CSVs feature mechanical stop valves placed between the pump and the pressure switch and tank. When a tap is opened or toilet is flushed, water moves out of the tank into the plumbing system, but if the volume of water in the tank is sufficient, the valve stays closed. This prevents the pump from turning on and off for routine, small volume water use. When the pressure tank water volume falls below the preset level, the valve opens and the pump turns on to supply water at an even pressure until the demand ceases.
CSVs reduce pump wear and tear from stop-start cycles, which can prolong pump life and may reduce electric bills. The valve can prevent line breaks and eliminate water hammer, the pounding sound that occurs when a tap is suddenly closed. You still need a pressure tank, but often that tank can be much smaller. The simplicity of the design, ease of installation and low cost (often just a few hundred dollars) means a CSV can be a smart, affordable way to improve well system performance and save money.
Constant pressure smart pumps maintain a steady water pressure using a variable speed drive (VSD) motor that starts and stops the pump and speeds it up or down in response to demand. The pump features electronic sensors to monitor water pressure and a computerized controller so you can make adjustments to the system. Like the CSV, when a tap is opened or toilet is flushed, water moves out of the tank into the plumbing system. As the water pressure in the tank falls, the controller turns on the pump at a speed designed to match the outflow as long as the water is running.
Smart pumps tend to be smaller and simpler and have lower hp-ratings than traditional well pumps. They’re also designed to be more energy efficient, but some homeowners report routine household use can cause the pump to run almost constantly, which can offset the potential savings. Smart pump systems generally cost several thousand dollars and must be installed by someone experienced with the system.
Which is better? Only you can decide which approach suits your needs and your budget. If your pump is in good shape, the CSV is an affordable option that could extend pump life. If your pump is at the end of its projected lifespan, it might make sense to explore whether a smart pump system is right for you.