Introduction: Inexpensive, Easy to Build, Peristaltic Pump

Picture of Inexpensive, Easy to Build, Peristaltic Pump

Why Peristaltic Pumps? Peristaltic pumps are great! They require no priming, they can pump uphill, they can pump viscous liquids or fluids that have 'chunks', require no special materials, and can be cleaned/sanitized very easily. In short, they may be the perfect pump for the home brewer!
Learn more here

How Peristaltic Pumps Work? Peristaltic pumps work by squeezing a tube like you might squeeze a tube of toothpaste - except in this case the tube is a 5-foot-long silicone hose, with as much "toothpaste" as can fit in your bucket. This squeezing action is called 'occlusion'. Usually, you get this squeezing force by pressing the tube against the wall of the housing with a roller. The number of rollers in a pump determines how much fluid gets pumped for each pulse, the more rollers, the more pulses per revolution, the less fluid per pulse. All things being equal you get less fluid per revolution with more rollers, but smoother output. More rollers can also reduce the hose life.

Why build your own? As mentioned previously, peristaltic pumps don't require special materials, but there's a serious dearth of manufacturers building for the home market. You can buy little peri pumps for lab use or giant ones for industrial use, but not much in between. So, if you need to pump some wort around, want to water cool your laptop or just want to make a pump you can take with you and power with a drill, then a peristaltic pump may be the answer.

Ready to have a go? Follow along and get pumped up! (har har)

Here's some info on my setup:

Test 2
A 'tour' of the pump

Step 1: Mise En Plas

Picture of Mise En Plas
The first step is to get your stuff together.

Here's my materials list you can probably edit for what you have available:
  • 1x 9.5" springform cake pan - I got mine from goodwill, but you can get similar from
  • 4x 2" casters from harbor freight
  • 5 ft silicone hose from the local home brew shop - it's 1/2"ID, 3/4"OD IIRC
  • A block of wood - nothing special, I'm using an offcut from an ikea hack. It's 1 1/2" deep. You could easily use a 2x4 off cut. You may just need to make more cuts. A much larger piece of wood will necessitate a longer bolt, too.
  • 2 large (1" or larger) washers and 2 small (1/2" or so) washers. If you have large fender washers, that will work,too. These act as bushings, so don't skip there
  • 2 1/4" -20 t-nuts
  • 2 1/4" -20 nuts, or 1 nut and one cap nut.
  • 1 1/4"x 3" - 20 bolt
  • 8 #12x 3/4" wood screws
  • Zipties (what project doesn't need a few zip ties
Tools (again, use what's available to you):
  • Hammer
  • compass
  • drill
  • drill bits
  • dremel tool or similar with grinding stone and cutting wheel (I really like the reinforced cutting wheels because they are less likely to break apart and poke my eye out)
  • 7/16 socket/rachet
  • 7/16" wrench
  • 7/16" drill driver (if for some reason your 1/4" bolt and nuts have a different head size, you'll need a different size set of drives)
  • screwdriver
  • tsquare or framing square
  • circular saw, chop saw, table saw, hand saw, or laser vision
  • Coffee!

Now, let's begin!

Step 2: Cut and Drill Roller Mount

Picture of Cut and Drill Roller Mount
Sadly, I don't have any pics of this step, but it's pretty straightforward.
  1. Begin by laying your block of wood in the cake pan with your casters (rollers).
  2. Figure out the size your wooden block needs to be to mount all 4 rollers, in my case it was 3 3/16" square
  3. Measure twice cut once. Use the framing square to mark your cuts, then use the table saw to cut the block of wood to size.
  4. Use framing square to mark midpoint of your square. This step is important, so measure 3 times. one half of 3 3/16" is 1 19/32" that's a real PITA to find on a rusty framing square. Life goes on.
  5. Drill a hole in the middle of your square of wood.
  6. Now drill a bigger hole.
  7. You may need to drill out the very top and bottom of the hole to accommodate the the t-nuts
  8. Now insert the t-nuts. The BFH comes in very handy for this operation to help 'seat' the t-nuts. You can also thread in the bolt and nuts on either side, tightening them will help tighten down the t-nuts. The t-nuts are very important to the drive system at this point, so don't half-ass this step.
  9. Remove the bolt, not doing so makes the next step more difficult.

Step 3: Drill & Mount the Casters

Picture of Drill & Mount the Casters
Since our rollers for occluding the pump are in fact cheap casters, care needs to be taken in this step to ensure that each unique hole pattern matches up with the holes in the wood block. You'll notice that I have written numbers 1-4 on the wooden block and on the casters themselves. Also, the casters are all oriented with the divoted side of their rivet facing up. That helps keep things aligned.

  1. Take the wood block and decide which side is "up" it doesn't matter which, just go for it, you wild man/woman, you!
  2. Lay the block face up on a horizontal surface. The floor works just fine. If the block is wobbly because of the T-nut, just place one of those big washers underneath at the center.
  3. Place each of the casters up against the block, as evenly as possible.
  4. Now mark the center of the hole with a pencil, drill bit, or center punch. Or all three. Why not? Go wild!
  5. Once all the holes are marked, drill the holes for the screws. I forgot which drill bit I used, but since the wood screws are #12, it was probably 5/32 or 5/16. Drill the holes at an angle so that the evens are angled up and the odds are angled down. This is easier if you start with a small drill bit and step up to a larger one. The reason for doing this is so that the screws don't hit each other. Alternatively, you could uses a larger caster with more mounting holes and alternate them, couldn't you, big spender!
  6. Once the holes have been drilled, line up the caster with the holes and screw them down. You did remember to mark which caster went with which side of the block, right? Tighten the screws slowly, going around to each caster until everything is cinched down, you don't want to strip your wood.
  7. Now that the casters are mounted they should be relatively flush with the bottom of the wooden block.

Step 4: Put Some Holes in Your Housing

Picture of Put Some Holes in Your Housing
Where housing = cake pan
  1. Take out the bottom of the springform pan. It should be round and flat. If either of those statements don't apply to your cake pan, you may need another one.
  2. Find the center of the cake pan. Using a compass, stick the point on the edge, and use a scribing tool (or drill bit, or pencil, or...) to mark and arc. Now move the point to another point on the circumference of the circle. Make another arc. Repeat twice more. Where the arcs overlap will define where the center is. Now tighten up your arcs by making the compass angle bigger or smaller and repeat. Eventually you'll have a tight # shape that defines the center of the circle. Put your hole there.
  3. Drill out the center of the cake pan bottom. I like to start with a spring loaded center punch. It's pretty thin metal so be careful drilling as you can get little bits of metal going everywhere.
  4. Smooth out the hole with some dremel grinding.

Step 5: Mount the Roller Assembly to the Housing

Picture of Mount the Roller Assembly to the Housing
  1. Start by adding your washers to the bolt that goes through the wooden block. I happened to have 2 that fit one-inside-the-other. If you don't, that's okay. A fender washer should work just as well.
  2. Insert the bolt through the hole in the cake pan bottom. Make sure you have it going the right way. There is a "top" and "bottom" on cake pan bottoms - who knew?
  3. Add washers to the underside of the bolt. Again, one inside the other.
  4. Thread on your nuts. I use two, one to go snug against the washers (not tight, it needs to allow the bolt to spin!), then another snug against it. Then loosen the first nut (the one on the underside of the cake pan bottom), so that it tightens against the top nut. There's a name for this technique, but damned if I remember. If you had a cap nut, this would be a good place to use it for a more finished look, and to allow an easier time driving from the back, since you wouldn't have to worry about overtightening the nuts and locking everything up.
  5. You now have a roller assembly, huzzah!

Step 6: Cut Some More Holes in Your Housing

Picture of Cut Some More Holes in Your Housing
I hope you weren't using granny's priceless antique heirloom cake pan for this, because here's where you'd make granny cry. You now need to cut holes in the cake pan for the tubing to ingress and egress.
  1. Figure out where you want your holes. I figured I wanted mine at about 10 and 2, like driving. I put the holes on either side of the spring catch mechanism, so the rivets wouldn't hit the tube. Make sure you are avoiding the catch itself as well as the part that slides in/out.
  2. Draw some rectangles near the bottom of the pan walls, where the rollers will be. I used a drill bit as a scribing tool again. Ensure that your tubing will fit through the holes.
  3. Cut out your rectangles with a dremel-type tool. Leave one edge attached. This will be how you mount the tubing.
  4. Bend out the tabs.
  5. Grind away sharp edges.
  6. Now insert your hose.
  7. Zip tie the hose to the tabs.

Step 7: The Marriage

Picture of The Marriage

Here's the fun bit... the end!

  1. Drop the top onto the bottom. Or vice versa, you rebel! The tubing will sit on top of the rollers, but that's ok.
  2. Cinch down the springform mechanism, ensuring the bottom of the pan is aligned with the groove in the bottom part of the side.
  3. Turn the pump assembly a few times by hand. The tubing should be pulled down to squished...erm...occluded by the rollers.

Now you can go pump something!

Attach that 7/16 driver to your drill, put the drill in forward drive, put the drill on the bolt and give it a few spins. Now put the inflow end of the tube in some liquid to pump, then goose the drill up slowly. You should be pumping!

I hope that has shown you how you too can build a cheap, awesome, peristaltic pump at home! Good luck :)

Step 8: Next Steps?

The next steps are to try some different power sources, like an ac or dc gearmotor.
Try doing some wort pumping, see if hot wort hurts the systems performance.
Maybe experiment with different materials. Different casters, different pans, etc
Try a more robust "hub" . I'd love to try a nice bit of bent steel, but setup costs are expensive for a one-off

Whatever you guys think - I'd love to hear your suggestions!


Big ups to those who have inspired this work, particularly Bumbler and TheFlyingBeer over at

I wouldn't have thought such things were possible without other netizens blazing a trail and showing their work - Thank you.


boston7513 (author)2014-01-19

my fist impression is one could substitute the silicone hose with an inner-tube from a bike or truck tire. could be made into a hand powered water filter for back wood camping, or wind powered well pump. thanks for sharing this insparation instructable

BRAINDISIS (author)boston75132015-08-28

You can't use the bicycle tube because that one hasn't enough elastic power, no form memory, doesn't get back to circle when uncompressed, and peristaltic pump is all based on this effect: if the walls of the tube don't spread, there is no suction effect.

mbeukes (author)2015-03-04

Brilliant idea and simplistic! Thanx!

siddharthaj1 (author)2014-12-18

Is there a vacuum pump that can pump both gas and liquids

Lord Napier (author)2014-11-15

jack ruby (author)Lord Napier2014-11-15

Your comment is blank, Lord Napier. Were you trying to post a video?

Lord Napier (author)2014-11-13

Ok, how much occlusion is enough occlusion? Will try out other hose materials tomorrow (can't seem to find silicon hose here)...will try posting a video tomorrow

Lord Napier (author)2014-11-13

Made one with the regular garden hosepipe, not getting any suction. Any suggestions as to why there wasn't suction? Will appreciate a response

jack ruby (author)Lord Napier2014-11-13

Not sure. Perhaps your hose is not getting enough occlusion? Garden hose is pretty stiff stuff, resistant to the walls collapsing together by design. Care to post a video?

Filipb87 (author)2014-06-12

Hey I'm in a process of running my home made hose pump and I have only one problem right now. The hose walks and slips of the rollers. I have longer rollers so I thought even if the hose moves it can only go so far but it ends up on the edge. That's when I get lose of suction. Any one can explain or help?

jack ruby (author)Filipb872014-06-12

Can you post a pic? What are you using for rollers? There are a few ways you could mitigate this, depending on your pump design.check out my references, there are a couple of different ways that others have dealt with this problem in their threads.

soulhunter0 (author)2014-05-10

How about using a "soft" fabric regular garden hose instead of that silicon tubing? Have you tried that? Do you think it works?

C I A H (author)2014-02-22

looks like this would work well for moving water from a flowing source to wherever you needed it, attach a paddle wheel where the motor would be and put the input hose in the water and there ya go, probably wouldnt get very fast but small scale would work for moving water to a bucket for camping or something

Strider3019 (author)2014-01-23

Step 4, you are refering to a jam nut?

jack ruby (author)Strider30192014-01-23

YES! That's it! Amazing what one's mind forgets :)

Strider3019 (author)2014-01-23

Nice! Adding a paddle wheel would make a quiet alternative to a hydraulic ram.

thomas9666 (author)2014-01-22

Awesome, I've always loved watching the peristaltic pumps in dialysis machines, I know it sounds quite morbid but I love it changing from faint pink through to deep crimson... But I digress, great ible, would love to try making one

the_burrito_master (author)2014-01-16

Awesome i cant help but think a pvc pipe pump wouldn't be more efficient if you can find a way to motorize it, but this is cool.

What is a PVC pipe pump? I'm curious now :)

It's literally just a piston made from pvc with 2 self adjusting valves!

you could make a smaller one powered by a Sawsall!

kyle brinkerhoff (author)2014-01-16

what kind of suction can you pull? and how much pressure can you build with it?

I don't know I don't have any way to measure, though I did put my thumb over the hose and got about 20ft of spray

FreeBaseBuzz (author)jack ruby2014-01-19

That sounds about as scientific as I get testing pressure too :)

Like your work!

veeguy (author)kyle brinkerhoff2014-01-18

If you look at commercial peristaltic pumps, most of them are rated at about 28 feet of suction lift. I'm assuming that must be about the physical limit of the pump type. To get PSI from 28 feet of water column, you divide by 2.31 which gives you about 12 PSI.

jjavorsky (author)2014-01-19

if you haven't seen this type of pump before, look in the medical field. IV pain killers with a button for dispensing use this idea of pump turns when you press button. also seen in in a platelets donation center on the pheresis machines.

boston7513 (author)jjavorsky2014-01-19

that's what I was thinking when I was watching the video

cyberdove (author)2014-01-19

Elegantly simple.

Tanzer26 (author)2014-01-18

Very nice. For those looking for lower speed pumps, another design to consider I gear pump, but this one is better for particulates. As for pump performance, pumps generally work better close to the source, pushing fluids up, rather at the top, vacuuming them up. Unassisted, a pump won't pull more than about 30 feet, but as long as enough power is available, can push much higher. Above 30 feet, you just end up with a vacuum bubble in the suction line, if the pump has enough power and the line doesn't collapse first.

grt57 (author)2014-01-17

Great post! This would be good for pumping cooling fluid on the cold end of a Stirling Engine.

jack ruby (author)grt572014-01-18

Thanks, the tricky part is that the flow isn't smooth, it pulses. That may be a problem for a stirling engine, but you could possibly synch the pulses to the stirling engines cycle to get cold water pulses when you need them.

jack ruby (author)grt572014-01-18

Thanks, the tricky part is that the flow isn't smooth, it pulses. That may be a problem for a stirling engine, but you could possibly synch the pulses to the stirling engines cycle to get cold water pulses when you need them.

cody1000 (author)2014-01-17

do you think this pump would pump UP 2 feet and ACROSS 40 feet? or would i need a larger version of this one?

jack ruby (author)cody10002014-01-18

It may be easier to pump up 3 feet and down 1 across 40, if you catch my drift. Going up. 4 feet doesn't seem much of a problem. That's about the limit of what I can test at the moment, since I only have 5ft of hose :)

tovey (author)cody10002014-01-18

If you went up 4 feet and then declined the 40 feet, gravity would assist in moving the water and the pump would have to do less work.

wdsims63 (author)cody10002014-01-18

Horizontal distance usually doesn't affect a pump as much as vertical distance (known as the pump head). So, if you could pump it vertically 4 feet or so, you will be fine. The only problem with pumping it through 40 feet of hose is the resistance offered by the hose, but you can reduce that with a larger hose diameter. So, connect this output to a larger diameter hose (say 1" or so) and that will provide less resistance to pumping it that distance.

veeguy (author)wdsims632014-01-18

I don't think he will have any problem at all with a 4' head. Peristaltic pumps are used extensively in wastewater samplers. I had one pump station where I had to draw a sample up 24 feet with a small sampler pump and it worked fine for months at a time until I needed to replace the working section of tubing. The pump in question, on a ISCO GLS sampler ( sampler was about the same size as yours and used silicon tubing 1/2" ID by 5/8" OD. as its working tubing.

SSimon (author)2014-01-18

Very nice work. I built a similar peristaltic pump about 35 years ago using a wooden rolling pin cut into three equal sections, and a bicycle inner tube hose clamped to garden hose barbed ends. The case was a chopped off five gallon paint bucket (steel, straight sides). I refiited the lid after reinforcing it with 12 mm plywood, and set it up with a hand crank. Worked great, and would easily pull a 3 meter head of water out of the Hlotse river in Lesotho, where we used it. All that was required was a group of adolescent boys who wanted to make a bit of money, as it would wear you out cranking it.

Also, finding the center of your rotor block is a trivia step on a square rotor - just draw two diagonals from opposing corners. The center is the intersection. On a three roller triangular rotor, just cut it carefully as a 60/60/60 equilateral triangle, then use a tri-squate against each flat face to draw a vertical line bisecting the face with the straight edge on the points. Again, the intersection is your center.l

ChrisMentrek (author)2014-01-18

(Whoops -- here's the second attempt at a sketch of my question. Is this right?)

jack ruby (author)ChrisMentrek2014-01-18

That's it, Chris!

etywoniak (author)2014-01-18

I am so going to build that in a tiny scale for my tea machine, thanks a lot for the idea!

ChrisMentrek (author)2014-01-17

Howdy, Jack:

This is a great idea! I have a quick question about the construction process:

Could you clarify exactly what kind of hardware is between the wooden hub and the base of the pan? (The orange region in the attached sketch.)

I feel that if I tried to build this myself, I'd end up with a block of wood that's tightly bolted to the base of the pan. How do I ensure that the bolt "axle" spins free of the base of the pan?

Thanks for the advice!

jack ruby (author)ChrisMentrek2014-01-17

Hey Chris, hopefully this clarifies. From top (where top = bolt head which gets spun by the drill) to bottom the order is:
Block of wood
Big washer
Small washer
Bottom of springform pan
Big washer
Small washer
Nut 1

Nut 1 is made snug, then but 2 is spun down to nut 1, after that nut 1 gets backed off a bit so that it's tight against nut2 but loose against the washers. It's this play between nut 1 and the washers that allows everything to turn .

ChrisMentrek (author)jack ruby2014-01-18

Thanks, Jack -- that helped a lot! (If I've got things right in the attached sketch, that is.)

going to suggest your pump design to some school-age inventors who need
to find a way to pump water from a rain barrel to the school garden.
Thanks for posting this project!

rycollier (author)2014-01-18

This version of the pump seems to work pretty well. You could make a HERMS system pretty easy by controlling a pump motor with your Ardrino temperature controller. You would just add a copper coil sitting in very hot water to the line. That might be easier that messing with a pilot light. Gives me ideas. Thanks for sharing!

cody1000 (author)2014-01-18

excellent. i am going to try it. (it will be springtime) before i do it though.

veeguy (author)2014-01-18

Great instructable! This may be the most practical type of pump for people to build. The nice thing about a peristaltic pump is they are *totally* scaleable. You can hand turn one with 1/16" tubing at 1/4 revolution per day to deliver maybe 1/10 ml of fluid, or build one of 4" tubing turned at 200 RPM to pump 400 gallons of viscous fluid per minute. They will pump anything from gasoline to toothpaste in viscosity and the process fluid is totally isolated from the atmosphere. (until the tubing wears out!)

rolandcontreras (author)2014-01-17

I believe that peristaltic pumps are ideal for slow pumping small volumes. Don't try to pump big volumes in short times. Regulate with motor speed and tube diameter.

Nice try though.

veeguy (author)rolandcontreras2014-01-18

You can scale peristaltic pumps *way* up. There is a large ~4" peristaltic pump on the market that does 400 gallons per minute and can pump up to a 27 foot head. (

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