portable diesel fuel transfer pump forklift

I have been working in the remote mining sector for a while now and one problem I was always facing was having to fill all of our diesel air-compressors and generators with a portable fuel hand pump.

Having to fill each heavy machinery fuel tank a few times a day with hundreds of gallons of diesel fuel each day was a real tough job. The constant hand-winding at best was only delivering around 5 gallons a minute and you had to keep a close eye on the fuel level.

So I did some research and came up with one of the most powerful 12v high volume diesel fuel transfer pumps around that are explosion-proof and have high flow. Just like your local service station pump.

Fuel Works vs Fill-Rite Fuel Transfer Pumps

Best high volume diesel fuel transfer pumps Fuel Works 20GPM transfer pump Fill-Rite 15GPM fuel transfer pump
12v high flow fuel transfer pump fuelworks Fill-Rite 15GPM fuel syphon pump
Manufacturer TruPow Fill-Rite
Model No 10307605A FR1210GA
Maximum Flow rate 15 GPM 15  gallons per minute
Fuel Type Flammable liquids like gasoline, diesel, Mineral Spirits, and kerosene Gasoline, Diesel, Kerosene, Ethanol Blends to 15%, Methanol Blends to 15%, Bio-Diesel to B20
Motor Horsepower 1/4HP 12v 1/4 HP electric 12v, 20 amp draw
Max Runtime 30min duty cycle 30 Minutes
Powe Cable length 16Ft./5M power cable 18′ 12 gauge power cord with clips
Safety Features Thermal protection, bypass Valve built, Self-Priming, filter screen at the inlet Sealed motor bearings, thermal overload, and pressure relief valve.
Inlet/outlet Tank Adapter Male 2″ / Female 1″ hose 1″ Inlet, 3/4″ Outlet, and 2″ Bung Mount with NPT threads
Motor RPM 2400 RPM 2600 RPM
Noise Level 80dB @ 1 meter
Body Casting Heavy Duty Cast Iron Pump Chamber. Durable cast iron pump housing with rotors and vanes made from iron and bronze.
Hose Lenght 3/4″ / 14ft.(4.2m) Anti-Static Delivery Hose (wire included) / 300PSI / 20BAR Accessories include 3/4″ x 12′ discharge hose, 3/4″ automatic nozzle.
Suction Tube Included Yes, Extends from 26″ to 36″ in length. Yes, 1″ x 34″ telescoping steel suction pipe
Our Pick Due to high flow rate and long electrical cable we can recommend the fuel works pump.
Where to Buy

Portable  High Flow12v diesel, Gasoline fuel pumps

The decision to pick the best diesel fuel transfer pump came down to a few simple needs.

  • Long electrical cable with alligator clamps.
  • High fuel flow rate.
  • Weatherproof.
  • Long delivery hose.

Between the Fuel Works and the Fill-Rite pumps, there was a clear winner on paper. That was the Fuel Works 20GPM transfer pump. 

It was the little things that made this pump great like the extra fuel flow, and slightly longer fuel hose. Both have great names in the industry with the Fill-Rite models being known as Big Red in the field.

TruPow 20GPM transfer pump review

fuel works unleaded transfer pump
Click for more information over at Amazon

I really like this 12v transfer pump, Its the one we got for work due to the high fuel flow rates. We connected it up to a 400L portable diesel storage tank that can be moved around with a forklift or in the back of a ute.

Each of our mining equipment trucks, loaders, compressors, and water pumps need regular top-ups of diesel fuel and often it is not convenient to bring that piece of equipment back to the fuel depot. So we send out the portable fuel station.

It is my job to fuel up these bits of machinery so there is no downtime in mining production. As you can see in some of the photos these fuel transfer pumps get a real workout and are often covered in dust, dirt, and diesel fuel spillages. Yet the fuel works pump keeps soldering on.

We only use if for Diesel fuel but you can definitely set it up to use unleaded petrol and other liquids such as kerosene. It is not recommended to use these pumps with Aviation fuel (Avgas) as this type of fuel requires special transfer pumps which also include a visual flow meter.

If you do decide to use a different type of fuel please flush through the old fuel that still may be in the impeller and suction pipe. This will prevent cross-contamination into your machine.

I also like that you can lock the fuel nozzle to prevent unauthorized access. The last thing you need is someone stealing your gasoline or diesel fuel.

Are there other voltages of fuel transfer pumps?

Sure depending on your application there are 24v diesel fuel siphon pumps and mains voltage 120v fuel transfer pumps. The image shown below is the 12/24v portable unit.

Diesel fuel only 12v hand transfer pump review
Click for more information over at Amazon

This product is ideal for trucks, boats, and agricultural applications but it is important to know that it is for Diesel fuel only. It’s a lot cheaper than the more permanent transfer pumps but you will lose the ability to pump gasoline or petrol fuel.

What is the duty cycle?

The duty cycle is the amount of time you can run a fuel pump before it needs to be stopped to enable the motor to cool down.

Because there are no cooling fins on these fuel pumps the manufacturers recommend a duty cycle of 30 minutes. This means if you run them for 30min you must turn the pump off for another 30 minutes to cool down the motor.

I have never had to run a diesel 12v fuel pump for longer than 30 minutes. If we do the maths at 20 gallons of diesel a minute for 30 minutes we would have pumped out 620 gallons of fuel.

Consider that most round fuel barrels hold 44 gallons or 205 liters, that is a lot of fuel you can pump out in a short time.

How to get 12v power in a remote location

12v high volume diesel fuel transfer pump filling up an air-compressor
High volume diesel fuel transfer pump used to fill up a trailer air compressor

Both of these fuel pumps use 12v DC as a power source. This can be provided by either a spare battery or a vehicle power supply.

A trickle solar panel charger can rectify this problem if you are using the battery every day and don’t have access to a mains supply battery charger.

I actually got a flat battery by parking a forklift near the fuel pump for a few days. As we were topping up a remote water pump with diesel twice a day for a week the battery was too weak to start up the forklift which then required a boost start from a high power 12v jumpstarter. So be aware of your battery power usage.

How to use a 12v high volume diesel fuel transfer pump

Always remember that Gasoline and Diesel are flammable liquids and need to be treated with care.

filling up an air-compressor with diesel using a 12v high flow portable fuel transfer pump

I like to use the car or forklift I am driving to provide the power to the fuel pump. If you use a separate portable 12v battery over time it will go flat. I even have one of these units at our river house for the summer. Having to fill up a boat or Jetski with over 60L of fuel makes it really easy with these automatic fuel pumps. No longer do I need to struggle with jerry cans. This way the boats can stay in the river for a few weeks.

Once the portable fuel pump is plumbed into the fuel storage tank we will need to connect it to a 12v battery. Due to the large power draw of 28 amps, we need to connect directly to the battery using the supplied alligator clamps.

Make sure that both the car and the vehicle you are filling up are turned off to make the area safe. Fuel vapors are highly flammable.

Double-check that red goes to positive and the black clamp goes to negative.

These pumps don’t like to run loaded up without pumping fuel and will sometimes blow the internal fuse. So make sure as soon as you turn on the portable pump to begin transferring fuel by pressing on the hand nozzle trigger.

As soon as your fuel and tank is full release the trigger and turn off the fuel pump at the switch. You can now replace the fuel cap and disconnect the cables to the battery.

Never connect or disconnect the 12v alligator clamps with the fuel pump unit in the on position as you can create a spark that could ignite fuel vapors.

Troubleshooting high-volume diesel fuel transfer pumps

troubleshooting fuel transfer pumps

There are air bubbles in your fuel.

This can be two reasons, either you have a leak in your pump casing or hose and it is sucking in air so check all the connections. The more common occurrence is the supply fuel drum is low of diesel or unleaded and is sucking up air.

The fuel transfer pump motor is running slow

Check that the 12v battery is fully charged and is in good work order. A flat battery will cause low rpm on the motor. I use Ctek multi-step charger to top up my 12v batteries at home and work. It won’t overcharge your batteries and can actually extend their life.

Low fuel flow can be a blockage in the internal fuel filter. Remove and clean the filter. Make sure the filter is dry before reinstalling.

The 12v portable fuel pump is not turning on.

  • Check the cable connections for the correct polarity to the battery.
  • Check the battery for 12v
  • Press the overload reset button if your fuel transfer pump has one.
  • Open up the end cap and check the fuse to make sure that it hasn’t blown.
  • Lastly, check the on-off switch that it is activating the internal contacts.

I have never heard of a transfer pump motor failing and we use our fuel pump every day. Usually, it’s a bad connection or a blown fuse which is a simple on-site fix.


At the end of the day, a 12v portable fuel transfer pump is only really useful if you are constantly filling up vehicles, boats, jet skis, front-end loaders, bobcats, and farming, or mining equipment with fuel. It sure beats the old manual hand wind pump but you will have to take into account access to 12v power and time to set up.

Just remember to clean the hand nozzle as over time dirt and spiders can make their way into the handpiece which will then be pushed into your vehicle fuel tank and possibly cause a blockage down the road.

Always take the utmost care while filling up boats as to not spill any fuel into our waterways. Remember to keep your 12v batteries topped up and you will have many years of trouble-free easy fuel refills.

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