About Solar Pumps
Solar Pumps have gotten much better over the years and provide aeration and display without having to run electrical outlets to your pond or water feature. There are several things to keep in mind, however.
Solar Depends on the Sun
Unless your solar unit contains a battery pack, water will only flow when the sun is out. When clouds pass by, blocking the sun, the panel will not receive power and the pump will stop. Also to consider is that we have been spoiled by the ever-present outdoor solar lights, of which millions upon millions are sold every year. These units store energy during the day and burn bright at night, sort of. They are not really that bright. Most of these units produce a fraction of a watt! In darkness, that is enough to add some light accents to the landscaping. But a pump is another story. Even the smallest ones still take a number of watts to run. And the more watts, the larger the solar panels need to be.
Battery Packs Might Be Needed
We have also noticed that battery packs have been improved, but they still might not provide enough electricity to pump for long periods of time. If the pump is running, the solar panel must charge the pack and run the pump at the same time, and this requires a great deal of energy. You will need to check with the manufacturer to find if the battery pack will charge and run the pump at same time, and, if so, how much extra charge is going to the battery pack. Also, try to find out how long a pump can run on a full charge of the battery. We have found it to be difficult to get this information ourselves. But maybe you will have more luck.
Regular Pumps versus Solar Pumps
Fountain Mountain used to sell solar setups that would pump up to 350 gallons per hour in full sun, along with battery packs. But customers were often disappointed, thinking the units would be more reliably pumping water for long periods of time than they could. Running cable, even though it is a drag, and plugging in a regular plug-in fountain pump is still the only reliable way we know of to keep your fountain or water feature going steadily.
Things to Consider When Buying a Solar Pump
How much wire is included from the solar panel to the pump? Solar panels should be located in places and directions that get the most sunlight, and a long wire can help you to achieve optimal location of the panel. How many gallons of hour does the pump produce maximum? Also, you need to find out what the pump curve of the unit is. The pump curve refers to the volume of water being pumped at various lifts. A small pump will typically produce much more water flow if the distance between the pump outlet and the water feature is short. The higher the water must push, the fewer gallons of hour.
How Large is the Panel? Obviously, the larger the panel, the more “juice.”
How much tubing is included or do you need from the solar pump to your water feature? Typically, vinyl tubing is included with the pump, but is it enough? Vinyl tubing is inexpensive to buy at your local hardware store, but you will need to first know the size of the outlet connector that your pump has. If needed, you can often insert one size of tubing into another size tubing snugly (3/8” into ½” for example), depending on the thickness of the tubing walls. We have noticed this to be a helpful trick through the years.
An Inexpensive Solution
Currently, Fountain Mountain only sells two lines of solar, a solar duck spitter with solar panel, 3’ of tubing, a high-quality brushless pump, and 15’ feet of wire from the solar panel to pump. It also contains nozzles you can fit onto the top of pump if you get tired of the duck spitter. This unit contains a small pump only, about 30 gallons per hour, and is meant for small ponds.Maximum lift is approximately 20”.
An Expensive Solution
The other line we offer is for large ponds, half acre and above, and is manufactured by Kasco. These solar fountains and aerators are expensive and state of the art and may be used in conjunction with Kasco fountains (both decorative and aerating), surface aerators, or bottom aerators. They may be run totally on solar or in hybrid form (solar plus the power grid).Solar only systems use solar energy to maximize operation during daylight hours. In partial sunlight (morning and afternoon) This high-end system will run at reduced speed extending the daily run time. The Blender Controller Option utilizes solar power during the day and grid power at night to provide 24/7 performance. Again, these are high-end systems.
- Operate standard Kasco 50hz / 60hz, 1/2-2HP units (2HP units must be 3 phase)
- Soft start function to maximize runtime and extended available solar hours
- Status LEDs to indicate operating status and fault conditions
- Easily add additional solar panels to increase performance and extend daily run time from solar
- GFCI motor protection
- Unit: Standard Kasco warranty
- Controller: 1 year
- Solar panels: 10 years