Garden fountains are popular backyard fixtures that add a decorative touch, comfort and soothing sounds to a backyard landscape. Instead of having a static pond, solar power garden fountains can add moving water to the display that both you and the local birds can enjoy. This garden water feature is an easy and inexpensive way to create entertaining water effects including streams, sprays and waterfalls. They come ready-to-assemble in kits or can easily be assembled from readily available parts.
The simplest way to create a solar power fountain is with a one-piece pump with an integrated solar panel. These self-contained units do not require any wiring or plumbing. Some come with submersible pumps that will generate bubbles while others float on the surface of a pond to create a spray. These units are usually small, decorative ornaments that are only able to move a small amount of water over limited distances. They are practical for patio ornaments, trickle waterfalls or birdbath fountains.
Large, in-ground ponds and streams require a greater flow of water. Constructing a solar power system for these installations requires a submersible pump, inverter and solar panel. First determine the required flow rate and the total height you need to lift the water. As an example, one fountain pump may be engineered to deliver 24 gallons per minute (gpm) up to 1 meter in height or 12 gpm up to 2 meters in height. Select one that is appropriate for your layout.
Most of the larger submersible fountain pumps run off of 120 V AC. Select a unit that is powerful enough to move the intended amount of water and check its power rating (Watts). You will need a solar panel that delivers slightly more power than is required, since it needs to compensate for losses or inefficiencies within the system. Since solar panels produce direct current (DC), an inverter will be needed to convert the energy into alternating current (AC). With this system, the pump will be operational during daylight hours only.