Solar Fountains — Questions & Answers
Over the years, we have gotten many calls and emails regarding solar fountains. Many people are unfamiliar with how they work, which ones are better, etc… so we decided to compile a list of the most common questions asked to us about solar fountains. If you have a question that isn't on the list, please email us or call at 1-888-881-4668 and we'll be happy to help you!
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What are the different types of solar fountains and how do they work?
Solar Fountains: Standard solar fountains do not store solar power; they operate only when the panel is placed in direct sunlight. The panel is connected to the pump via a cord but they do not have a battery pack. Without direct sunlight, the fountain will no longer run until after the sun comes out again.
Solar Fountains with Battery Backup: Solar fountains with a battery backup have the ability to operate on solar power or battery power. In direct sunlight, the pump will be powered by solar energy and the battery pack will be recharged via that solar energy. When direct sunlight isn't an option, you have the option of running the solar fountain via battery power.
How long do batteries last?
The lifespan of a battery generally lasts between 12-18 months, but with repeated charge and discharge cycles, the battery capacity may reduce. You can try to boost charge the battery by leaving the panel in the sun for 2-3 sunny days to allow maximum charge. If the boost charge does not help the battery, then you will need to replace it. To replace it, open the battery cover on the back of the solar panel and replace the batteries with 4 standard AA size rechargeable batteries.
How long will my solar battery run before it needs to be recharged?
Solar fountain batteries typically run for about 4 hours on a full charge.
What are dry run protection pumps?
Typical pumps continue to run even when the fountain is low on water or dry, causing the pump to burn out. Dry run protection technology forces the pump to turn off when the water level gets too low. This protects the life of the pump.
How long will my solar pump last?
Solar pumps can last anywhere between 2-4 years. How long it will actually last is dependent on many factors. The key factor is how well the pump is taken care of. If the pump is regularly cleaned and used properly the pump can last up to 4 years. A panel that is exposed to more direct sunlight will have a shorter life span than one that is in a less sunny climate.
How far away can I put the solar panel?
All solar fountains come with a cord that connects the fountain pump to the solar panel. The length varies among manufacturers and fountain models, but you can expect a cord between 9.5 feet and 16 feet long. This length should be found in the specs tab on our product pages. Some models allow for a 16ft extension to the cord, which allows for an ample 32 feet between fountain and panel.
Where should I put my fountain?
You can place your fountain anywhere in your outdoor space you would like. Some ideas include: in the garden, as a part of your landscaping, on the front porch, patio or deck. Anywhere that will allow you to put the solar panel in direct sunlight. You can even place the fountain in the shade, as long as you can put the panel in direct sunlight. The length of the cord determines how far away you can place it.
Check out our Garden Fountain Tips for ideas and inspiration. Landscaping Network's Garden Fountain Placement page has some great tips for water fountain placement too. Or, if Feng Shui is your cup of tea, feel free to peruse our guide on Using Water Fountains in Feng Shui.
How long can my solar cascade fountain run on AC power indoors?
It is recommended that fountains only run indoors on AC power no longer than 8 hours per day. AC power is stronger than solar and prolonged usage will decrease the life of the pump which could cause potential burnout.
What is included with solar fountains?
All solar fountains come standard with a solar fountain pump, a solar panel and a cord to connect the solar panel to the solar pump. Some solar fountains also come with solar powered LED lights.
How do I switch my fountain from solar mode to battery mode?
Different models work differently but in most cases, there is a switch/button that changes from solar mode to battery. Some models even automatically switch over to battery mode when there is no direct sunlight available to power the fountain. Please look at your instructions or contact us for assistance.
How do I get my LED lights to work?
Solar fountains with batteries have a solar panel with a plugin for the LED light cord. Typically this cord is as long as the cord connecting the solar panel to the solar pump. All you have to do to connect the lights is to plug them into the solar panel and place the lights in the fountain (if they are not already in place). Please note that solar fountain lights will only illuminate when panel is in complete darkness and there is sufficient battery power.
How and where do I place my solar panel?
You should place your panel where it will get direct sunlight. All solar fountains come with a cord to connect the fountain pump to the solar panel, so you can place the panel away from the fountain in order for it to get the sun it needs to run. For example you could:
- Mount the panel on the roof
- Use the stake to put it in the ground
- Mount to deck or patio
If you want to really optimize your placement, Solar Power Rocks has a very detailed article about which direction solar panels should face.
How do I convert my solar fountain into an electric one?
You can convert solar powered fountains to electric fountains. To do this, you will need to measure the diameter of the tubing from the pump and the distance that the water needs to pump and give us a call. Once we have those measurements we can try to find an electric pump that will work for the fountain. Also, if your solar fountain has a pipe for the cord, this will need to be wide enough for a larger electrical cord to fit. Any solar powered lighting you have with your fountain can not be converted. Keep in mind that you will then have to run unsightly extension cords to the fountain.
How can I keep my fountain clean and free from algae and white scale?
There are a number of products on the market to help keep your fountain clean and free of algae and white scale. They are simple water additives that prohibit algae and white scale from building up in your fountain. If you're looking for time-tested fountain cleaners you can rely on, check out our curated selection of Water Fountain Cleaning & Care Products.
How do I care for my solar fountain in the winter?
- Drain and clean the fountain. By taking your fountain apart and cleaning the various parts of it with a gentle detergent, rinsing, and finally drying, your fountain will then be easier to assemble and get going in the spring.
- Clean the pump and bring the pump and panel indoors to store.
- Cover the fountain outdoors if there is no room to bring it inside a garage, basement or shed.
How do I clean my fountain pump?
- Remove the pump from the fountain by detaching the hose and solar panel cord.
- Next, remove the face of the pump (the pump cover) and you will be able to clean down around the parts with a cotton swab. You can use hot water and a mild detergent and then rinse really well.
- The last step is to simply put the pump back together, place it back in the fountain and reattach it to the hose and solar panel cord.
My pump is not running. How do I get it to run?
First, check wire connections to ensure they are all tight and secure. Second, make sure the solar panel is placed outdoors in direct sunlight. Next, the weather should be clear, free of clouds and haze. The temperature does not affect the way the pump runs; if it is really warm outside and it is cloudy, the fountain will not run. Direct sunlight is what makes the solar pump run. Please note that solar fountains will not work indoors even if placed close to a window because of the filtered light.
My pump is running very loudly, how do I fix it?
First make sure that your pump is fully submerged in water. If the pump is running dry then it will make a constant loud noise and eventually cause burnout. Next, make sure the hose/tubing is properly connected. If it is not properly connected that could prevent water from getting to the pump. If you notice any kinks in the hose that you cannot get straight, you can soak the hose in hot water to straighten it out. Finally, if you still hear a loud pump noise, take a sponge and attach it to the bottom of the pump with rubber bands. Sometimes the vibrations caused by the pump can create a loud noise.
How can I tell if I need a replacement pump or a replacement panel?
You might experience that your solar fountain is no longer working. This means that either your solar pump or your solar panel is not working. If your fountain has LED lights, wait until there is no sun on the solar panel and check to see if the LED lights are still coming on, if they are still working when the sun is not hitting the solar panel then that means you need a replacement pump. If the light does not come on when there is no sun on the panel, that means you need a replacement solar panel.
Can I get a bigger solar panel to charge the batteries faster?
We do not sell bigger panels that are compatible with the solar fountains. We also do not recommend using a bigger panel because each pump is rated for a certain power current and may burnout if exceeded. However, if the solar fountain is left off, the batteries will charge faster than if the fountain is on. This feature comes in handy if you know you want to use your fountain for a special occasion. Simply leave the panel turned off the day before and the batteries will be fully charged and ready to go. On the day of the occasion, turn on solar mode for fountain, then when battery is needed, it will be fully charged and ready to use.
Can I get a bigger pump for better water flow?
We do sell Solar Fountain Pumps & Panels for larger lifts in ponds and DIY fountains and those can be utilized for existing fountains. To do this measure the diameter of the tubing the fountain has and the height of the fountain and give us a call. Once we have those measurements we can see if we sell a new pump that will work for the fountain. However, the pumps and panels we send with our solar fountains work best for that specific fountain and the water flow should be just right for that fountain in particular. Note: faster and more powerful pumps may cause fountain to splash more than intended.
Where can I get spare parts (panels and pumps)?
We offer solar fountain pumps and panels on our site. Give us a call and we might be able to assist in replacing them. If your fountain is a Smart Solar fountain then you can call them at 1-813-343-5775.
What is the warranty and does it cover the pump and panel wearing out?
Sunnydaze Warranty — if your fountain is one of our Sunnydaze Decor products, we will first try to troubleshoot your fountain issues. If the damage is due to manufacturer defect and NOT negligence (like running over the solar panel cord with the lawn mower, or letting the pump freeze in cold weather), we will cover the pump and panel wearing out within the first year of purchase under our Sunnydaze Decor One-Year Warranty. When contacting us, please have your order number or proof of purchase handy and be ready to provide photographs and any other information needed to validate your claim. This may be necessary to distinguish between a partial or complete replacement of a defective product.
(Looking to register your Sunnydaze Decor Product Warranty? Just visit our Warranty Registration Page and fill out the simple, easy to use form!)
Smart Solar Warranty — Smart Solar will also cover the pump and panel wearing out within the first year of purchase as long as the issues are because of manufacturer defect and not negligence (as discussed above). Smart Solar will walk you through a troubleshooting process for which you will need to provide the following information: the name of the product or item number; the place of purchase; the date of purchase and the manufacturer’s numbers from the labels on your actual parts (model number, serial number, etc). If requested, you may need to provide a copy or your receipt or confirmation email via email, mail or fax. To contact Smart Solar, here is the customer service number: 1-813-343-5775.
What advantages do solar fountains offer over electric?
Solar fountains have many advantages over electric. Beyond being very environmentally friendly, they have little to no costs. Solar power is free, to be able to run something on the energy from the sun is truly beneficial. They also do not require special wiring or plumbing in the installation process. The convenience of solar fountains also comes into play when you think about the ability to install them literally anywhere as long as the panel can get direct sunlight. Don't worry about having to have an electrical outlet nearby.
For a more detailed overview, take a look at Eco Globe's Advantages of Installing a Solar Water Fountain article.
Are solar brushless motor pumps better than traditional solar motor pumps?
Brushless motor pumps are more stable and reliable than traditional pumps. The main difference between the two types is that brushless motor pumps create less friction when ran. Pumps that use brushes to move the water, however, do create friction as they work which can create wear over time and shorten the life of the pump. All pumps on SerenityHealth.com are brushless.
Why is a solar fountain or solar birdbath better than a traditional birdbath?
Solar birdbaths can be set up anywhere in your yard as long as the solar panels are placed in direct sunlight. Because of the water movement, solar birdbath fountains attract more birds and fewer mosquitoes. Mosquitoes like to lay their eggs on still water so it is important to ensure that the water in your birdbath does not remain dormant for an extended number of days.
What are the types of solar panels and how are they made?
The main difference between amorphous and crystalline solar panels is in their manufacturing process. All Sunnydaze decor panels are crystalline.
Amorphous — the glass on amorphous solar panels goes through a film deposit process that creates the voltage and current. Amorphous solar panels are characterized by their purplish-black coloring and they do not have any soldering or welding lines. The advantage of amorphous panels is that they can operate in lower light conditions and can charge a battery at a lower light level than crystalline panels. However, these panels are less efficient than crystalline panels as they are only 7%-10% efficient when it comes to light conversion while a crystalline panel of the same size is 12%-15% efficient.
Crystalline — crystalline panels can be manufactured in two different ways: polycrystalline and monocrystalline. Manufacturers make crystalline panels by growing crystals in chambers and slice them to create wafers. Next the wafers are cut and soldered together, this creates the necessary voltage and current that solar panels require. You can identify these by the shiny crystals as well as the soldering and welding lines. Crystalline panels are great for areas with limited space or smaller applications. While polycrystalline is the more cost-efficient of the two crystalline types and is more effective in brighter sunlight conditions, monocrystalline tends to be more efficient at converting sunlight to energy.
Looking for a thorough and detailed breakdown of solar panel types? Check out 7 Different Types of Solar Panels Explained.