Eight Reasons You’re Not Happy With Your Solar Pond Pump

Your Dream Of Having An Environmentally Friendly Pump May Not Work For These Reasons

Doug Green
Nov 5 · 4 min read
Image courtesy at Pixabay

I know that some of you dream of a solar pond pump so that you can reduce your electrical costs and be more environmentally friendly.

There is no question that having a pump run on the sun is safer — you’re talking 12 volts instead of 120 volts.

There’s also no question that it is more environmentally friendly in that you don’t need a giant nuclear plant to run a pump in your backyard.

There are a few things this intrepid reporter must let you think about before you install a solar pond pump and expect it to run a pond.

Things You Have To Measure

All pumps (solar or not) are measured for how high they will pump water above the reservoir or water level. This height is referred to as “head”.

Most solar pumps have low heads- ranging from a few inches for the very small ones to only 6 feet for the largest I’ve found.

But Take This Measurement Into Consideration

You might think that six feet is great but remember your skimmer filter will be two to three feet *below* pond water level and your pond waterfalls is two to three feet *above* water level and you have easily met the six-foot head this solar pond pump delivers.

How Much Water Does That Pump Deliver Per Minute?

Not only that but if you check out the information on pump sizing and how much water you’ll really require, you’ll find that a large solar pond pump may only deliver 2 gallons of water a minute- 120 gallons/hour.

This small output is only a fraction of what you’ll require to make a pond waterfall look good; this rate is really only a trickle over your waterfalls.

Not only that, we’re not only concerned with the manufacturer’s rating of “head”, we’re mostly concerned about the Total Dynamic Head — a measure that includes the length of pipe from the pump to the waterfalls.

The friction from this measurement can significantly reduce the height of water the solar pond pump can *really* deliver.

The Unfortunate Summary

In short, unless you want a trickle over your waterfalls or have a very small pond, a solar pond pump is not going to do the job for you with currently available pumps.

What A Solar Pump Will Do Is…

  • What they will do quite nicely is run a bird bath (seriously — they’re perfect for this)
  • What they will do is create a floating fountain in the middle of a pond. But remember this only works when the sun shines. And even then the fountain is only going to be a foot or two high.
  • What they will do is circulate water in a fish pond (but your regular pump should be sized properly to handle this load).

Also Consider

  • Solar pond pumps only work during sunny days.
  • And the output is directly related to the energy being produced by the solar panel. If the day is dull, so is your pond pump.
  • If you are relying on this pump to keep fish alive, you may want to rethink installing one.

But If You’re Determined..

Or you could install a battery pack to run the pump and keep it going at night and during dull days. You could use a solar panel to recharge the battery.

But How Much Does This Cost?

Check out the costs of this kind of installation very carefully. I think you’re going to be quite unpleasantly surprised when you discover how expensive the battery system is going to be along with the sizing of the panel to keep it charged.

The small panels found in mass merchants only charge in the milli-amp range and will not keep a battery charged that is being discharged regularly. Again, have a solar panel expert do the math and figure out what you require on this project.

As always, I stand to be corrected by pump manufacturers or new developments in the business. Contact me if you have other information I should know about.

In the meantime, if you have a good use for a solar pond pump, here are some pricing and reviews


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Doug Green

Written by

Former nurseryman, now writer and curious about what’s over the next hill and how to get there in either my Triumph Spitfire or sailboat.

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