The Advantages Are:
a: Fountains circulate the water, keeping the bird bath from going stagnant
b: The pump does not have to plugged into your power supply
c: No inverter is needed since the pump operates on direct current.
d: The pump uses minute power (only 6volts) so very few solar panels are needed
e: No batteries are required, since the pump only really needs to operate during the day when the sun is out and the birds are in the garden.
f: You could learn to make your own solar panels, reducing the cost even further.
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 easiest way is to simply buy a birdbath with a pump and fountain already fitted. Then all you need to do is wire up some small solar panels.
The more inexpensive, but do-it-yourself method would be to buy a birdbath that is capable of housing a fountain. Then all you need to do is buy the pump, tubing, wiring, solar panels and batteries (optional).
If you want to save money, and build your own system, then you will need:
Here you have a choice 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 Fountain Attachment:
This attachment can be source from your nearby hardware store or garden center. It is an optional extra that helps make the water spout out of the top, instead of a small trickle.
The Water Pump:
The next part is buying the small dc pump. A typical 6 volt pump should be adequate, but you may need to go bigger, if the birdbath or water feature is larger than normal.
PVC pipe for irrigation:
When buying the irrigation for the fountain, it is best not to get piping that is too wide, otherwise the right water pressure will not be maintained and the pump will not work properly. So before you buy the wrong tubing, get advice from your local garden center and see what they use in similarly sized birdbaths
Silicon sealant helps fill any cracks where water could escape, such as where the tubing enters the top of the birdbath. It can also be used to insulate any bare wires.
The Solar Panels:
This is what sets this off-grid system apart from conventionally powered birdbath fountains. The pump will help determine how many solar panels you need. For a 6 volt DC pump, you will need at least a 6 volt solar panel, but rater double up on the solar panels for times when the sun is weak.
NB: You have 2 alternatives for the solar panels:
1 : Buy a small commercial portable solar power kit from a department store such as Target.
2 : The cheaper, DIY route and make the panel yourself. Luckily this is actually rather simple for anyone to learn to do. So if you want to learn to make your own, then carry on reading to the end…
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 easy is it to put it all together?
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…
A nice added extra is to hook up some batteries to the system. That way you can store any excess power, and the pump could run all day and night. If you do want the fountain to operate for 24 hours, then you will need the following:
1) Deep cycle battery:
You will need deep cycle battery that is capable of storing a charge for a long time. A 12 volt one should be more than enough to power a 6 volt pump.
This is not that important, but to protect the battery from over-charging and to maximize it lifespan, you should a charge controller that sits between the solar panels and the battery.
The nice thing about about building a solar powered pump birdbath yourself is that it is not only cheaper, but once you know how, you can make as many as you want. It could also make a great gift for an energy conscious friend or family member.