A Short History by Windy Dankoff
Dankoff Solar Pumps began with the work of Windy Dankoff in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Windy started business in 1977 to supply wind-generated electricity to remote (off-grid) homes. In 1980, when photovoltaic panels became available, his was the first business in New Mexico to supply them to private homes. Windy explains how he was “forced” into solar pump development:
“In the early 80’s, I had customers who didn’t even own a gasoline generator. I considered that a sign of success. But then there were those who depended on well pumps for their water supply. That was a different story. I recall one customer with a sun-tracking PV system successfully powering a home and a jewelry-casting studio. The only time they ran their generator a lot was in SUNNY summer weather! It was the only way to keep their garden from drying out without depleting their battery bank. It drove me crazy! What WAS it about these damned water pumps that made them suck so much power?
“I measured the power draw and the performance of that customer’s pump, and found the energy efficiency to be only 35%. I called a well pump engineer and learned that it was quite normal. In fact, he said, that was pretty good! Modern well pumps, he explained, are designed to be cheap and reliable. To make them that way, the design has to be “sloppy”. A couple extra $ on the monthly energy bill would be insignificant, compared to a low initial cost. He told me that pumps made before the cheap-energy era of the 1950’s were much more efficient, but they were expensive and required maintenance.
“I knew what I had to do. For the next 20 years, my goal was to bridge the gap between old and new, to start with the classic principles, and re-invent an efficient line of pumps, modernized and adapted to solar power. I worked with other developers around the world to produce reliable and affordable systems. I did a minimum of promotion, but a lot of educating. The markets found me. My products became standards for solar pumping for homes, livestock watering, small irrigation, purification, camp sites, international aid projects, and much more.
“My little home business grew beyond all expectations, until annual sales reached millions of dollars in the 2000’s. I felt complete. I am delighted that Solar Power & Pump Co. acquired Dankoff Solar Pumps in 2014. They are doing an excellent job of upgrading and expanding the line for the coming years.”
Windy Dankoff is now a consultant to Dankoff Solar Pumps, division of Solar Power & Pump Co.