A Guide to Diesel and Fuel Transfer Pumps

Fuel Transfer Pumps

Fuel transfer pumps move fuel between tanks or from a tank to a vehicle via a nozzle. Fuel pumps can also be used to transfer fuel between vehicles and even extract it from a vehicle into a container. 

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What Kind of Fuel Does a Fuel Transfer Pump Work With?

Most fuel transfer pumps designed for commercial applications work with diesel. Nevertheless, there are also pumps on the market that can be used with other fuels such as petrol and even other liquids and food products.  

How do I Choose a Fuel Transfer Pump? 

Your choice of a fuel transfer pump should take into account a number of factors. Some of these include the refuelling setup and the type of vehicles you are planning to refuel. With this in mind, here are a few other factors to consider before investing in a fuel transfer pump.

Flow rate 

The flow rate measures the speed at which a pump dispenses liquid. This measurement usually comes in litres per minute. Petrol or diesel transfer pumps need to have a flow rate that matches the tank capacity of the vehicles they are used to refill. Pumps with a low flow rate will take a long time to refuel a large vehicle. Conversely, pumps with a high flow rate can lead to spillages and frothing if they are used to refill a small vehicle. 

As a rule of thumb, small-sized vehicles such as vans, cars and forklifts require a flow rate of 50 litres per minute and larger vehicles such as vans, lorries and agricultural vehicles require a flow rate of 70 litres per minute. Meanwhile, extra-large vehicles including buses, coaches and heavy plant vehicles require a flow rate of 90 litres per minute. 


Manual, mains or battery 

Different types of fuel transfer pumps run on different power sources. As such, it is crucial to take into account the environment in which a pump will be operated. Manual fuel transfer pumps are a cost-effective way of moving small volumes of fuel between containers.  

Meanwhile, refuelling stations with a power supply will benefit from stationary 110v or 230v AC petrol or diesel transfer pumps, which can be connected to a high-voltage power supply. If you are looking for a pump that will let you refuel away from a refuelling station, select a 12v or 24v DC electric fuel transfer pump. This type of pump can source power from a vehicle battery and usually comes with cables and crocodile clips. 

Static or portable fuel tanks 

The type of fuel transfer pump you select should depend on where you will be refuelling. For static fuel tanks (for example, at a refuelling station), it is best to set up a permanent pump. These can be mounted to the wall or a tank or even placed in a cabinet. For portable fuel tanks, opt for a pump that can be mounted to intermediate bulk containers or drums.  

Does the pump need to be weight and measure approved 

Pumps used to transfer fuel that is being sold have to be highly accurate. After all, they are used to ensure that customers receive the exact amount of fuel they pay for. If you are planning to use the electric fuel transfer pump to sell diesel or petrol, make sure that it is approved under the Weights & Measures Act (1985) and any other applicable regulations. This said, most fuel transfer pumps made for commercial applications that are not used to resell fuel do not require this approval. This includes pumps operated to supply fuel to a company’s own fleet of vehicles. 


ATEX certification 

Under European law, petrol or diesel transfer pumps need to comply with a set of criteria if they will be used in areas where there is a possibility of an explosion caused by explosive gases. As a rule of thumb, all electric fuel transfer pumps used in Europe to move petrol, diesel or kerosene have to fulfil a number of strict criteria.

Fuel filters 

Fuel filters are used to ensure that the fuel in an engine combustion chamber is clean. Fuel that is free from contaminants is crucial to the optimal performance of a fuel supply system and engine. Fuel filters are designed to extract particles such as debris, dust or grit from fuel before it makes its way to the engine and the combustion chamber. It is important that fuel filters are kept in good condition since a dirty or old fuel filter could lead to dirty, blocked or even damaged fuel injectors or carburettors. This, in turn, can lead to a reduction in fuel efficiency, poor performance and even engine failure. Fuel filters come in different types depending on whether they are designed for petrol or diesel. There are also inline fuel filters that are placed between fuel tanks, fuel injectors and fuel lines. 

Fuel Hoses 

Also called fuel lines, fuel hoses move fuel from tanks to engines. Fuel hoses are usually made from reinforced rubber that is strong enough to withstand the pressure of a vehicle's fuel system. While fuel hoses typically have a long lifespan, they can wear out over time. And since petrol is highly flammable, any fuel leaks can be a safety hazard. Here are just some signs that indicate that a fuel hose needs replacing:   

  • Cracks along the exterior of the fuel hose.
  • Fuel odour caused by small leaks. 
  • Visible fuel leaks (drips or even puddles underneath a vehicle).
  • Drop in fuel pressure that causes stalling and engine misfires. 

Fuel Nozzles 

Fuel nozzles move fuel from the fuel manifold to the combustor. Despite the high pressure of the fuel, jet nozzles ensure that it is delivered to the combustor in the form of a precisely patterned spray. This prevents overheating by ensuring that the flame remains centred in the burner. 


Syphon Pumps 

Usually utilized to transfer fuel or oil from one tank to another, syphon pumps work on the same principle as simple hoses used to empty containers of water. Syphon pumps are made of a tube that goes over the edge of a container and empties its contents into a container located at a lower level. When the fluid is sucked up the tube and goes over the edge of the container, gravity ensures that it continues being pulled through the tube. 


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The refuelling environment has a huge impact on the choice of a fuel transfer pump. This is because different fuel transfer pumps are designed for different power sources. At their most basic, fuel pumps are powered manually. More advanced pumps are either stationary for use at refuelling stations or portable for use away from refuelling stations.

Manual fuel transfer pumps are usually used to fuel small vehicles or transfer fuel from drum to drum. Most significantly, they are best suited to situations where only small volumes of fuel are either dispensed or transferred. Manual fuel transfer pumps are highly portable and cost-effective.  

Used in situations that require more power and portability, 12v and 24v electric fuel transfer pumps have higher flow rates than their manual counterparts. As such, they are often used at construction sites and quarries and in the agriculture industry. Also, since these electric fuel transfer pumps are low voltage, they can source power from a vehicle battery. Conveniently, many such pumps come with cables and crocodile clips.  

Static petrol or diesel transfer pumps are powerful but not portable. Often used at refuelling stations, they are usually fixed to a wall, tank or drum. Since refuelling stations tend to have access to a high-voltage power supply, these pumps are usually 110v or 230v. Many such pumps come with connectors and down tubes.