12-Volt Vs 110-Volt: Comparing Electric Motor Driven Pumps

Electric motor-driven pumps work great for many applications. When selecting an electric pump you might not think it matters much if you use a 12-volt or 110-volt motor-driven version. However, the choice between a 12-volt DC motor and a 110-volt AC motor can significantly impact performance. 

Here is what you need to know about the difference between a 12V and a 110V pump.

Electrical Differences

Voltage and Power Output

The most fundamental distinction lies in the voltage and subsequent power output of each of these motor types. A 12-volt DC motor operates at a lower voltage (typically 11-14V). Lower voltage results in relatively lower torque. This will limit the pump’s maximum flow rate and pressure it can achieve. 

You can learn more in this full guide on 12-volt sprayer pumps.

As expected, a 110-volt AC motor functions at a higher voltage than a 12-volt motor, leading to greater power output, and higher torque. This translates into the pump’s capability to potentially achieve higher flow and pressure.

Power Source

DC motors are typically powered by a 12-volt battery. They are chosen for applications where portability, off-grid operation, or battery power is required, making them suitable for agricultural spraying, mobile and remote locations.

AC motors must be used in locations with reliable access to electricity. While they do provide potentially higher flow rates and pressure, they do not work in mobile applications or onboard sprayers without power inverters. Using a power inverter can be complicated and it’s not always reasonable in all applications. 

When higher flow and pressure are required for a job above what a 12-volt pump can provide, but there is no source of electricity an alternative is a gas engine or diesel engine-driven pump.

Pressure Switch

Many 12-volt sprayer pumps are equipped with a pressure switch. This allows them to be turned on and off at a certain pressure. This makes them ideal for use on small lawn sprayers

Learn more in this article about 12-volt pump control.


The specific performance capability of 12 V and 110 V pumps will vary depending on many factors including the type of pump, what type of motor, RPM, amp draw, and more. The relationship between horsepower (HP), revolutions per minute (RPM), flow rate, and pressure is intricately connected. Here is how these variables specifically interact within the context of electric motor-driven pumps:

  • Horsepower (HP): In terms of pumps, it represents the power required to move a certain amount of fluid against a given pressure.
  • Revolutions per Minute (RPM): Refers to the number of rotations the pump’s impeller or rotor makes in a minute. RPM directly affects the amount of fluid a pump can move in a given amount of time and generate pressure. Generally, higher RPMs result in higher flow rates and pressures, given that other factors remain constant.
  • Flow Rate: Flow rate is the volume of fluid passing through the pump in a given amount of time. Usually, this is measured in gallons per minute (GPM). RPM and flow rate have a linear relationship: as RPM increases, the flow rate also increases, assuming all other variables remain constant.
  • Pressure: This is the force applied to the fluid in the pump. It is measured in pounds per square inch (PSI). Generating pressure is vital to a pump’s ability to push the fluid through pipes or hoses. The pressure generated by a pump is tied to the RPM and flow rate it produces. 

The actual performance range of 12 V and 110 V pumps varies widely based on different specific motor and pump types and designs. In general, here are the potential flow rates and pressures that can be achieved:

Approximate 12-Volt Pump Outputs

  • 0.2-10 gallons per minute
  • 10-800 psi

Approximate 110-Volt Pump Outputs

  • 10-200 gallons per minute
  • 10-2000

These values are general guides and not exact. The pump type as well as many other factors will affect the maximum output of a pump. For example, a plunger pump on a 110-volt motor may generate over 1000 psi, but a 110-volt centrifugal pump will max out at about 100 psi depending on the design. 

Cost and Installation

12-volt DC motors can be more cost-effective when only low-voltage is required. They are typically easier to install since they don’t require complex wiring or the use of inverters.

AC motors might have a higher cost due to their larger hp output. They would also require inverters in some mobile or remote applications. Installation can also be slightly more complicated due to wiring requirements.


Choosing the right type of electric pump motor is vital to ensuring your pump will be capable of meeting the demands of your application. 12-volt motors provide flexibility and simplicity, while 110-volt motor-driven pumps offer higher flow rates and produce more pressure. In general, for small sprayers or other mobile applications, 12-volt pumps are ideal, but when greater flow and pressure are required, 110-volt power will be necessary. 


I have more than a decade of experience using, building, studying, and testing sprayers in several applications. With the knowledge I have gained I want to provide straight forward and detailed answers for DIY homeowners, farmers, and commercial turf and tree care pros.

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