Last updated: August 15, 2021

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The hand pump can make many jobs easier for you, because it allows you to easily and safely extract and transfer any liquid. You can empty a tank with the hand pump without getting your hands dirty or being exposed to harmful vapours. The hand pump is also suitable for sucking out water, so you can empty your aquarium or transport water from the rain barrel in no time.

With our large hand pump test 2022 we would like to help you find the right hand pump for you. For this purpose, we have compared simple manual transfer pumps with siphon pumps and hand pumps with containers and compiled the respective advantages and disadvantages for you. This way you can easily make your purchase decision.


  • In general, hand pumps are any manually operated pumps. However, the term usually refers to a device with which you can extract and transfer liquids.
  • In addition to water, this device can also be used to transfer fuel easily and safely. You can use the hand pump for petrol or diesel without risking contact with dangerous vapours.
  • In the case of hand pumps, a distinction can be made between the simple transfer pump with a pump ball, the suction pump with a collecting container and the siphon pump.

The Best Hand Pump: Our Picks

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Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a hand pump

What is a hand pump?

In general, the term hand pump refers to those pumps that are operated manually, i.e. by hand.

In the broadest sense, so many different types of pumps fall under this term, from the air pump for the bicycle to the milk pump.

As a rule, however, the term hand pump refers to a device with which liquids (e.g. petrol) can be sucked out of one container and transferred to another. It is therefore also called a suction pump or transfer pump.


The hand pump is used to transfer liquids. You can fill or empty petrol canisters like this easily and safely.
(Image source: / Willi Heidelbach)

This type of hand pump usually consists of two hoses with a pump ball or similar device attached between them for manual pumping. However, the appearance of the pump may differ somewhat depending on the type and model.

What are hand pumps used for?

You can use the hand pump for all jobs where any kind of liquid needs to be transferred to another container. It is therefore very versatile.

The hand pump is used for various liquids, such as fuel.

Of course, a hand pump or transfer pump can also be used to transport water as a liquid. For example, you can use the device to quickly and easily empty and clean your aquarium instead of having to laboriously siphon off the water with a cup.

Mostly, however, the hand pump is used for work in the area of the vehicle. For example, it can be used to easily empty or fill the petrol or diesel tank. But you can also use the hand pump to pump out oil without any problems.


If you run out of petrol or diesel while on the road, you can simply transfer it from a canister with the hand pump.
(Image source: / Hebi B.)

You can not only fill or empty your car's tank with the help of the hand pump. You can also use it to fill up a lawn mower or drain the petrol from it to make it winterproof.

Other examples of what you can fill with the hand pump:

  • Cooling water
  • Heating oil
  • Water from the rain barrel
  • various liquids from canisters or barrels

The hand pump is used around the car, in the house and in the garden.

How does a hand pump work?

The hand pump transports liquid through negative pressure, also called vacuum. That is why some people also call it a vacuum pump.

The principle can be explained quite simply. Just imagine a straw in a filled glass. When you suck on one end with your mouth, a vacuum is created. This pressure allows the liquid to flow out of the glass through the straw.


The hand pump works similarly to a straw that you pull on with your mouth. Both create negative pressure, which causes liquid to move.
(Photo source: / Aleksandr)

The hand pump works in a similar way. In this case, however, the pressure is not created by sucking with the mouth, but by pressing the pump ball or the respective device to pump. In this way, fuel and chemicals can also be transferred safely.

What are the alternatives to a hand pump?

Depending on which liquid you want to transfer from which container, there are different alternatives to the hand pump. In the following section, we have therefore compiled an overview of alternative devices. There you can read which alternative is suitable for which tasks.

Device Description
Electric transfer pump These work in principle like the hand pump, but they are not driven by hand, but electrically. They have two power terminals that allow you to connect them to the car battery, and are mostly used for changing oil.
Electric siphon pumps These electric suction pumps have a siphon shape and are not powered externally from the car battery, but have their own battery. This makes them versatile, such as for emptying aquariums or transferring fuel.
Funnel with hose If you want to pour liquid (e.g. petrol) from a canister into another container, you can also use a funnel with a hose if necessary. However, when transferring liquid with a funnel, it is easier to make a mistake. You can also use it to transfer petrol from a canister into a tank, but not vice versa.
Cup/bucket You can use a cup or bucket to siphon off water from a rain barrel or an aquarium, for example, but it takes much longer compared to the hand pump. In addition, you should not transport dangerous liquids and chemicals in this way.

Some tasks can therefore also be carried out with other devices. However, alternatives such as a funnel or beaker or bucket are limited to only one area of application. The hand pump, on the other hand, is very versatile and ideal for private use.

You should use special devices such as the hand pump, especially for extracting and transferring hazardous liquids. You can also find instructions on the internet on how to siphon petrol or diesel by mouth via a hose. However, you should never do this, as it is extremely harmful to your health!

Decision: What types of hand pumps are there and which is the right one for you?

If you want to buy a hand pump, you can choose between three types:

  • simple transfer pump
  • Suction pump with collecting tank
  • Siphon pump

These hand pumps are quite similar in the way they work, but the handling is quite different for each type. Depending on what you want to use the hand pump for and what your handling preferences are, one type will be more suitable than the other. Therefore, we have summarised all the advantages and disadvantages of the respective hand pumps for you in the following section.

What are the characteristics of a transfer pump and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

A simple transfer pump consists of two flexible tubes with a pump ball between them.

The two hoses of equal length on each side make this type of hand pump particularly flexible to use. You can use it to transfer liquids directly into a container of your choice. In this way, petrol or diesel can be transferred from a tank into a canister as well as the other way round.

  • Versatile and flexible use
  • Direct transfer of liquids into any container
  • Any quantity can be pumped out at once
  • Space-saving to transport and store
  • Extra container needed for pumped liquid
  • Hoses are usually very soft and can kink or slip more easily
  • Hose cannot stand firmly on its own and must be held

Although you need an extra container for use, you can choose how big it should be. If you want to transfer a large amount of liquid at once, this is no problem with the simple transfer pump.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a suction pump with a collection container?

The suction pump has an integrated collection container in which the extracted liquid is collected. On top of this container is the actual pump, which consists of a handle instead of a pump ball. This handle is pressed down in a similar way to an air pump. The resulting vacuum transports the desired liquid via a hose into the collection container.

If you are looking for a hand pump with a container, this is the right type for you. This way you don't have to worry about which container you use to collect the liquid.

  • Container for suction directly integrated
  • Particularly suitable for pumping petrol or diesel out of the tank
  • More stable stand due to container
  • Easy pumping
  • Max. Max. quantity for pumping out predefined by container
  • Not possible to transfer liquid directly from one container to any other
  • Takes up more space

This type of hand pump is particularly suitable for petrol and diesel to be siphoned from a tank.

Due to the integrated container, the siphon pump has a stable stand and handling is very easy due to the pump handle.

What distinguishes a siphon pump and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

This type of hand pump has the special shape of a siphon. The liquid therefore flows upwards through a straight hose that resembles a rod. You can easily put it into a canister or a barrel. At the end of the hose, a flexible tube is attached horizontally and above it a cylindrical device for pumping.

  • Comfortable to work with due to the siphon shape
  • Particularly suitable for pumping liquid from a canister or barrel
  • Direct transfer of liquids into any container
  • Extra container needed for pumped liquid
  • Usually completely made of plastic and pumping device therefore less stable
  • Hose may be shorter

Due to its special shape, the siphon pump offers you a lot of convenience when transferring liquids. The straight hose can be easily inserted into containers and the liquid can be pumped upwards comfortably.

With the siphon pump, you also need an extra container to collect the liquid. However, this also allows you to freely choose the size of the container and transfer the liquid directly into your desired container.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate hand pumps

In the next section, we will show you which factors you can use to decide which hand pump is right for you.

We have compiled an overview so that you can see these buying criteria at a glance.

Purchase criterion Description
Hose length Depending on the container from which liquid is to be aspirated, the length of the corresponding hose is decisive.
Hose diameter The inner diameter of the hose determines how much liquid can be aspirated or transferred at once. The outer diameter should not be larger than the opening of the respective container (e.g. tank opening).
Suitability for petrol If you want to siphon off or transfer fuel, the hand pump must be suitable for this.
Material The pumping device in particular can be made of different materials depending on the type.

In the following, we show you exactly what you should look for in the respective criteria.

Hose length

Depending on the type of hand pump and model, the length of the hose can vary.

If you want to aspirate or transfer liquid from a deeper container, you should make sure that the hose is long enough. If you do not need a long hose, in most cases you can simply shorten it yourself.

Most hand pumps have a hose of approx. 90 to 160 cm for suction. This length should usually be sufficient.

Siphon pumps often have a shorter suction hose. This is often no longer than 40 cm. However, this length should be sufficient for a canister.

Hose diameter

You should pay attention to the inner and outer diameter of the hose.

The outer hose diameter should not be larger than the opening into which you want to insert the hand pump.

The inner diameter determines how much liquid can flow through the hose at one time. If it is larger, a correspondingly larger amount can flow through. Common hand pumps have an inner diameter between approx. 6 and 15 mm.

To ensure that you can easily insert the hose into the opening of the desired container, you should measure the container before buying it and make sure that the outer diameter of the hose is suitable. For most hand pumps, this is approx. 10 to 20 mm.

Suitability for petrol

If you want to use the hand pump for transferring fuel, you should check before buying whether the product is suitable for petrol (or diesel).

In general, manual suction pumps or transfer pumps should be able to transfer fuel without any problems. Nevertheless, make sure that this is explicitly stated on the product.

If you want to use the hand pump for petrol, it should also be absolutely leak-proof.


To ensure that you are satisfied with your hand pump in the end, you should not disregard the material when buying it.

The pumping device in particular should be stable and easy to operate. Transfer pumps with a rubber pump ball are usually easier to use and more robust than siphon pumps with a plastic pump.

The material of the hoses should be very flexible so that no annoying kinks occur.

Trivia: Facts worth knowing on the subject of hand pumps

How do I empty a tank with a hand pump?

In the following, we will give you a brief guide on how to empty a tank using a hand pump for petrol or diesel.

Especially if you have filled up incorrectly, it is necessary to empty your car's tank completely. In such an emergency, the hand pump is very useful. It is also called an emergency pump.

To empty a tank with the hand pump, proceed as follows:

  1. Collecting container: If you use a hand pump without a container, first find a suitable collecting container. This could be a canister of sufficient size. This container must be placed lower than the tank. Therefore, place the container on the ground.
  2. Insert the hose into the tank: Place the suction hose in the tank of your car. The direction of suction is determined by the hand pump, as it has an inlet and an outlet for the liquid. Therefore, check that the correct end is in the tank. Some models have extra coloured markings for this.
  3. Theother end into the container: Guide the other end of the hose into the collection container provided. If you have a suction pump with a collection container, this step is not necessary.
  4. Pumping: Operate the respective device for pumping. This can be, for example, the pump ball. A few pumping movements should be enough.
  5. Drain the petrol or diesel: After you have pumped a few times, gravity will do the rest. Simply allow the petrol or diesel to drain into the container.
  6. If necessary, stop the suction: If you do not want to empty the entire tank, you can hold the hose or the hose with the collection container above the height of the fuel tank. This should stop any liquid flowing out of the tank.
  7. Remove the hose from the tank: If there is no more fuel in the hose, you can remove the hose from the tank.

The exact procedure may be slightly different depending on the type of hand pump.

How do I clean a hand pump?

Some hand pumps are recommended to be cleaned after use.

If you have only transferred water with the hand pump, this will most likely not be necessary. However, if pumping oil or fuel has left residue in the hand pump, it is usually recommended to clean it.

The best thing to do is to check the instructions for use to see how you should clean your hand pump. Often it will be enough to run a little warm water or water with a little bile soap through the pump. Stubborn or old residues may need to be removed with a special grease remover.