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  • Posted on: 22/5/2010 7:44
Solar Fountain #1
Solar Fountains (My opinion)

You decide you would like a fountain in your pond, you buy a solar fountain, you follow the instructions put it in your pond and it works for a few minutes then stops. Why? Please read on.


How Solar fountains work

Solar fountains get their electricity from a solar panel; being as they are solar they generate electricity by turning bright sunlight into electricity. If there is no bright sunshine the solar panel can not make enough electricity to make the pump run.


Types

There are two types of solar fountain the fixed and the non-fixed solar panel

The fixed type has the solar panel horizontally with the nozzle coming through its centre. Such as a floating island fountain or in the bowl of a water feature.
With the fixed solar panel it always points up, so must be better, but the sun is only directly overhead at midday. Also the water pumped will have algae and or minerals, which will leave a thin film on the panel, which will reduce its efficiency. Which means you need to clean it every day or two (By human nature most people will not clean it every day or two) Any passing cloud will also cause it to not work.


The non fixed the solar panel is totally separate and is mounted on a stake or bracket allowing the solar panel to be mounted away from the fountain.
With the non-fixed you can put the solar panel in a position that is not shaded to start with, however, since the sun moves and the solar panel is stationary no matter where you put it, it can not receive ?maximum sunshine? all day, so it will only work for a few hours at most, and any passing cloud will cause it to stop.


Day / night

Being as it?s a solar fountain, it will not be able to run at night (Some people forget this) Some solar fountains now come with ?back up batteries? but they are still charged using solar energy from the same solar panel that runs the fountain, so if there is not enough sunshine to run the fountain there is not enough to charge the batteries. Some have a switch to turn the pump off and just charge the batteries. But like solar lights (That have batteries) often, solar fountains will have a note that says ?runs on batteries for up to 3 hours?


Are they worth it?

As they rely on bright sunshine they can not work all year round or in the evening / night.
There are now remote control solar fountains with battery back up (So you can turn on the pump after having a day in ?the sunshine? to charge) these cost around ?100, where as a mains pump is around ?30. So to go ?green? can cost you more money, and you get less enjoyment.

Also, even when the sun is shinning really brightly, most solar fountains are not very tall as the picture below shows

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Not very tall is it?


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Here is the same fountain with multiple jets.


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Here is a mains fountain; the solar fountain is sitting next to it.


The solar fountain water jet in very bright sunshine is supposed to reach around 40cm it struggled to reach 15cm. The mains fountain, with multiple jets reached 60cm with no problem.
If you are considering a solar fountain, look at the box for the jet height, and compare fountains, but be aware of the words ?up to? as in jet height up to 40 cm, 10 cm is UP TO 40 cm

Both the mains and solar fountains shown cost ?30 each.



Not Mentioned: But worthy of note:

A mains pump can operate all day, and into the evening and through the night if you want it to.

The solar panels for solar fountains produce around 3-15 volts depending on model.

You can?t use a solar pump to run a biological filter.
(A biological filter must run 24 / 7, solar pumps don?t)
A solar pump?s output is often feeble
How will you run the UV that is required for the biological filter?

Most solar fountains only have a single jet, this is because the power required to have tall multiple jets is costly in terms of solar panel size

There is more to a pond, how it works how to look after it. Please look out for other articles for your guidance.