Building A Solar Powered Pump Fountain

Building A Solar Powered Pump Fountain
by Tim McDonald

If you have ever wanted to make your garden more environmentally friendly, have you ever thought of buying a solar powered pump fountain? Going one step further, have you ever considered making your own?

What are the benefits of having a solar powered pump fountain?

The benefits are:

a: Fountains circulate the water, keeping the bird bath from going stagnant

b: The fountain is wireless and does not have to be plugged in

c: The pump runs on DC power, so no inverter is needed.

d: Only a few inexpensive solar panels are needed to produce around 6 volts

e: The fountain usually operates during the day when the birds are out in the sun, so batteries are not essential

f: It is possible to make the entire system your yourself, helping you save money

g: The birdbath can be placed anywhere in your garden, without the need for unsightly wires.

So, what do you need to make your own solar powered pump fountain?

The simplest option would be for you to add solar panels to an already working birdbath and fountain.

The alternative is to, and more DIY approach is to buy a birdbath that is ready for a fountain pump to be installed (it has the right holes, and a place for the pump to be installed), and then add the various pump and power components.

If you want to save money, and build your own system, then you will need:

The Birdbath:

Here you have a selection of cascading fountains, copper fountains, terracotta birdbaths, resin fountains, or the conventional ceramic birdbath. Just make sure a pump system can be installed on the birdbath.

The Water Spout:

Depending on whether you want the water to trickle or spout out the top, you can get the right attachment from most hardware stores or garden centers.

Small Fountain Pump:

Next is the pump. Usually a small birdbath only needs a small 6 volt DC fountain pump. But if you have a larger birdbath that pumps more water, and at a greater height, then a larger pump will be needed.

PVC pipe for irrigation:

Do It Yourself Project

This tubing generally should be narrow enough to keep the water pressure high, so that the water can be pumped properly. My advice would be to visit the nearby garden center and have a look at what piping is used.

Silicon Sealant:

This is one of those essentials that you should already have lying around the house. It will help seal all those joins and also protect electrics from water damage.

Solar Panels:

This is what makes this birdbath unique to your average water fountain. Depending on what size pump you buy, will need to get enough solar panels for the fountain to work properly. A a typical 6 volt pump, you will require solar panels with a capacity of at least 6 volts. But is better to be on the safe side and get a 12 volt solar panel instead, for times when it is cloudy and for late afternoons.

NB: For the solar panels, there are two options:

1 : Buy a small commercially available solar panel from any outlet, such as Wallmart.

2 : Make it yourself. With the right guide it is rather easy and much cheaper to make your own solar panel in a matter of hours. If this is something you would love to try do, then keep reading…

For the solar panel to operate effectively it needs to be fitted in a frame and angled in the direction of the sun. Placing it under a tree will not help.

How simple is it to build?

If you have all the tools and materials and any diy experience, you could have a working solar powered pump birdbath within in a matter of hours – that’s if all goes to plan…

If you want you could also add some type of power storage to the system. That way the batteries can store power, which can be used to operate the pump 24 hours a day. To have this option you will need:

1) Deep cycle battery:

Because the pump is only 6 volts, a 12 volt battery is more than enough. It should be a deep cycle battery (car battery) that can store the power for a longer time.

Solar charge controller:

This is not essential, but it prevents your battery from over-charging. So it can really extend the life of the battery. It will be wired up between the solar panels and the battery.

Other than it being really cheap to make, the big advantage of making your solar powered pump fountain is that once you have that skill it is there with you forever. You could even make it as an eco-friendly gift for your friend’s next birthday.

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