Water Powered Sump Pump Vs Battery Backup Which is better

Water Powered Sump Pump Vs Battery Backup: Which is better?

Excessive rainfall or storms could dump more water and cause a flood in the basement. That’s why homeowners have an AC-powered sump pump to expel water from the sump tank.

But what if there’s a power outage? Homeowners use backup sump pumps such as the water-powered or the battery-backup sump pump in such cases. Battery backup pumps have limited runtime, but they’re more efficient and easier to install. Whereas, water-powered pumps are less expensive and provide uninterrupted removal of basement water for homes (having pressurized municipal water supply).

They’re different in many ways and we’ve got some reasonable comparisons between the Water Powered Sump Pump Vs Battery Backup Pump to help you decide the better option.

Water Powered Sump Pump Vs Battery Backup: Comparison Table

Let’s have a brief look at the major differences between these pumps.

TopicWater Powered Sump PumpBattery Backup Sump Pump
Pump RuntimePotentially unlimited time5 to 7 hours for a single battery on average
Pumping VolumeUp to 3,000 GPH at 10 ft of liftUp to 2,000 GPH at 90 PSI and 10 ft of lift
Inefficiency FactorInoperable with home wells or low municipality pressureBattery loses frequency and efficiency over time
InstallationRequires expert installationStraightforward
Cost & BillLess upfront cost but raises the water billMore upfront cost with no additional energy bills
Life SpanUp to 20 years3 to 5 years for a single battery

Overview Of Water Powered & Battery Backup Sump Pump

A hard-wired AC pump (connected to the home’s electrical system) is generally used as the primary sump pump during flooding. But it becomes inoperable in case of a power outage or mechanical failure.

So every home needs to have a backup sump pump to avoid damage to the basement. The two most common backup sump pump systems available are-

water powered backup sump pump
  • Water Powered Sump Pump: Water-powered pump is an emergency backup pump. It allows the pressurized municipal water supply of the home to go into the pump through the ejector to create a strong suction. The suction expels the water in the basement and disposes it outside your home.

When the water rises beyond the float of the primary pump, the water-powered pump automatically activates and starts expelling water. Here are some advantages and disadvantages of water powered sump pump.

battery backup sump pump
  • Battery Backup Sump Pump: A battery backup sump pump is installed near the primary pump. It automatically switches the system over to battery power once the AC power goes out. So the backup pump can continue pumping out the water from the basement as long as the battery is charged.

The battery is automatically recharged with its built-in charger when the AC power is restored. Some even has advanced alert system for battery monitoring.

Differences Between Water Powered Sump Pump And Battery Backup

Here we’ve got an elaboration of the key differences between these backup pumps. Let’s find them out.

Pump Runtime

The run time is the most critical difference here. The brand-new batteries can provide a run time of about 7 to 8 hours and it reduces with aging. A 3-year-old battery can provide a pump run time of only 2 to 3 hours. 

On the other hand, water-powered backup sump pumps can run for potentially unlimited time (when there’s a pressurized municipal water supply available). They don’t need any replacement and there’s nothing that limits their runtime.

Pumping Volume

The standard battery backup pumps are more powerful. They generally come with a ⅓ or ½ HP rating motor and the more powerful one can pump out up to 3,00GPH at 10 ft of lift in new conditions.

On the other hand, powerful water-powered sump pumps can remove up to 2000GPH at 90 PSI and 10 ft of lift. However, some expensive models can match the pumping volume of the backup pumps at high pressures.


Since you can plumb the discharge pipe of the battery backup pump in the same one as your primary sump pump, it’s easier to install.

On the other hand, water-powered sump pumps require more involvement for installation. It often requires hiring an expert to complete this sump pump installation.

Cost & Bills

Typically, a good battery backup pump will cost around $500 for the kit and around $150 for the battery. You’ve to replace the battery every 3 years which increases the total cost over its entire lifespan. But it doesn’t increase the energy bills.

On the other hand, you’ve got water-powered sump pumps that are less expensive and a standard option shouldn’t cost you more than $200. But there’s an installation charge separately for about $100 to $200. The typical pumps use two gallons of your home’s municipal water to remove one gallon of water from the sump. This could result in additional water bills.

Life Span & Maintenance

The most well-designed battery will need to be replaced every three to five years to obtain the required pumping efficiency. They can even fail mechanically in case of frequent prolonged use. So they require monitoring and running periodic tests for maintenance.

Whereas, the water-powered pump has an average lifespan of 10 years and can be extended to up to 20 years. The water-driven sump pumps require no battery, and hence, no parts replacement. You only have to go for routine maintenance once or twice a year by lifting or unplugging the primary electric pump. Thus, it’s quite easy to check for leaks, noises, or any malfunctions.

Similarities Of Water Powered Sump Pump And Battery Backup

Although water-powered sump pumps are different from battery backup pumps, there are also a few similarities between them.

  • Both these pumps are a backup for the primary sump pump and can’t be as efficient as AC-powered sump pumps.
  • They both activate when the primary sump pump faces obstruction such as power outage, mechanical failure, obstruction of the level control, and clogging caused by the debris.
  • Both these pumps typically use a separate discharge pipe from the primary discharge pipe. However, a battery backup can use the same discharge pipe as the primary pump.
  • The water-powered and battery backup pump activates more or less the same way and has a separate float that activates them.

Water Powered Sump Pump or Battery Backup: Which One Is Better? and Why?

It’s not easy to choose between both these sump pump backup options. Let’s find out which one excels where.

If you’re living in an area with high-pressure (minimum 60 PSI) municipal water and you often encounter heavy rainfall, flood, and prolonged power outage (like for days); a water-powered sump pump is a better solution because of its potentially unlimited runtime. Besides, this pump is also low maintenance and has an increased lifespan, less upfront cost, and decent pumping efficiency.

But there are some drawbacks as well such as it’s inoperable for the homes that rely on wells or when the municipal water pressure isn’t adequate. Also, it could raise water bills and include the risk of contamination due to backflow. The water-powered sump pump also has an environmental impact because of using drinkable water.

On the other hand, the battery backup pump makes a better choice when you face shorter power outages and want to avoid installation hassle. Its shorter runtime can also be overcome by using a dual battery case and adding an extra battery. Besides, it’s a more powerful option with better pumping efficiency.

It doesn’t increase energy bills and also doesn’t have an environmental impact or the risk of contamination like the water-powered counterpart. The battery monitoring system also makes maintenance quite easier. However, the battery backup pump has some drawbacks such as limited backup time, shorter lifespan, frequent replacement cost, and expensive upfront cost.

Is Sump Pump Battery Backup Worth It?

Generally, power outages rarely last for more than a day. But a short period of heavy rainfall can dump excessive water and require a sump pump with a high pumping rate. The battery backup sump pump has an increased pumping rate and its runtime is also good enough for shorter power outages, which makes it worth it.

It’s also easier to install and more understandable than the complex water-powered pumps. When you consider the benefits of a battery backup sump pump, the expensive upfront cost or battery replacement cost will also seem justified.


How Long Does A Water Powered Sump Pump Last?

The water-powered pump last 10 years on average, but proper maintenance can extend it to up to 20 years.

How Much Does It Cost To Install A Water Powered Backup Sump Pump?

The installation charge will be around $45 to $200 per hour depending on your area and it generally takes 2 to 4 hours based on the project complexity.

Can You Add Battery Backup To Existing Sump Pump?

Battery backup isn’t just a battery hook-up to add in the primary pump. So you can’t simply add it to the existing system, rather you’ve to buy a separate system and install it adjacent to the existing pump in the sump basin.


If you’ve got a volatile weather pattern, it makes more sense to have a relatively low-cost backup sump. Instead of going through the basement repairing cost, time, and aggravation. You should’ve found your option while figuring out between the Water Powered Sump Pump Vs Battery Backup Pump.

So choose the water-powered sump pump only if you face prolonged power outages. Otherwise, there’s hardly any reason to go for it instead of battery backup pumps. The upfront and battery replacement cost could be an issue, but they’re worth it considering the hassle-free service they provide to keep your basement dry.

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