Do Solar Powered Water Features Work?

As with any device or unit that depends on solar energy, there is always doubt about its efficiency. If you’re considering adding a solar-powered water feature to your garden, you’ll want to know if solar powered water features work.

Solar-powered water features work just as well as non-solar water features if there is adequate sunlight. Features like solar fountains and waterfalls are a great way to add the element of nature to your landscape. Solar water features have some benefits to traditional water features. They save energy and money. And they require less maintenance in the long run.

In this article, you’ll learn how a solar-powered water feature works. We’ll also look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of solar-powered water features. Then you’ll learn how long they last and how you can best maintain them to make them last longer.

How Do Solar-Powered Water Features Work?

A solar-powered water feature depends on solar energy to work. It uses a solar panel made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells that absorb light-emitted photons produced by the sun and convert the energy into usable electricity.

The solar panel is made of silicon in two layers. The panel’s first layer is full of electrons that jump to the second layer. The consistent jumping action of the electrons creates the energy that powers the water feature.

In most designs, the pump of the water feature is usually connected directly to the solar panel. The water feature setup includes a cord that connects the solar panel to the pump. The cord varies in length depending on the manufacturer, but it is usually between 9.5 to 16 feet long. 

The electricity or voltage generated by the solar panel is directed to the battery through the charge controller. Then the electricity is provided to the pump from the battery.

The pump features a spinning impeller that rotates and draws water in at high speed. The impeller’s high speed forces water out of the pump by a phenomenon known as centrifugal force. The water is finally directed through tubes and pipes to create a jet or spray of water, depending on the type of water feature.

Can You Use Solar-Powered Water Features Indoors?

The design of your solar-powered water feature is one of the factors that determine its placement. Some water features have their solar panels built directly with them, so you have to place them where they can receive the most sunlight to get them performing at their best. This type of solar-powered feature is not suitable for indoor use.

An example of this design is a solar-powered birdbath with its solar panel built together with the fountain. As a result, it must be placed where it can receive as much direct sunlight as possible. 

Other designs allow you to place the solar panel away from the water feature. In this case, the solar panel is not built together with the water feature housing. This design allows you to place the water feature in the best possible place, such as between existing planting, pathways, or trees.

In most cases, you’ll need an AC adaptor to use a solar-powered water feature indoors. Some water features come with AC adaptors that allow you to use them both indoors and outdoors. Others like the Solar-Powered 2-Tier Cascading Fountain, give you the option to pay an extra fee for the adaptor.

How Long Will The Water Feature Pump Last?

Solar pumps have varying lifespans, depending on the type of motor that drives it. It also depends on how it is maintained. Generally, a solar-powered water feature pump can last up to 2 to 4 years. 

A well-maintained solar pump, regularly cleaned and properly used, can reach a maximum life of 4 years. Its lifespan will reduce if it is exposed to direct sunlight.

How Long Do The Batteries Last?

The lifespan of a water feature battery varies depending on how it is used and maintained. Typically, the battery of a well-maintained water feature will last between 18 to 36 months. 

However, the capacity of the battery will reduce with repeated charging, discharging, and recharging cycles. 

Turning off the pump and leaving the panel in the sun for 2 to 3 days may help the battery attain its maximum charge. When the battery is on a full charge, a water feature will generally run for about four hours before needing a recharge. 

How to Choose a Solar-Powered Water Feature

There are several factors to consider when choosing a solar-powered water feature. The properties of the water feature you choose will often depend on your personal preference and taste.

  • The appearance of the water feature: This factor is probably the most important when choosing a water feature. The ideal water feature should be aesthetically pleasing and complement your existing garden and landscaping.
  • Sound of the water feature: Each water feature has its unique sound depending on the manufacturer. Your water feature should have a relaxing and soothing sound.
  • Flow rate of the pump: The pump’s flow rate is an important factor when shopping for a solar-powered water feature. The flow rate is expressed in gallons per minute or an hour. It is usually defined as the amount of water the pump can supply per minute or hour. So, the higher the rating of the pump, the more powerful the flow of the stream. For a small birdbath or fountain, a flow rate of 45 to 60 should be enough. For bigger ponds and fountains, a high gallon per hour rating of at least 100gpm is required.
  • Location of the solar panel: The cord that connects the solar panel to the cord should be long enough to suit your available space. Some water features also come with kits that make installation easier.
  • Battery runtime: You have to decide whether you want a water feature that only works during the day or one that can work both day and night. One of the drawbacks of solar energy is that it cannot be harnessed at night. As a result, some water features come with solar batteries that keep them running at night. 

Types Of Solar Water Features

There are many types of solar water features. But they all share one thing in common. The solar component is used to power a pump. Here’s a list of different types of solar water features:Solar water fountains. These are

Solar Pool Pumps

These are used to circulate water through a pool. If water stagnates in a pool, it becomes susceptible to bacteria growth. That is why pools use pumps to keep the water moving. Pool pumps can also be used to bring heated water to the pool.

Solar can be used to power the pumps and power the heating element for pools. Do solar pool heaters work? The short answer is yes. But it depends on a couple of variables, like how much sunlight do you get in a day. We put together a detailed review of the best solar pool pumps for those who want to cut back on their monthly energy bill. You can save up to $150 every month by switching to a solar pool pump.

Solar Pond Aerators

Ponds with fish living in it need to be aerated. This adds oxygen to the water so the fish can breathe. It also helps prevent water stagnation that leads to bacteria growth. Solar pond aerators are a great way to keep off-grid ponds fresh. Just don’t forget to maintain the solar panels.

Solar Pond Pumps

Ponds don’t only need a fresh oxygen supply. They also need proper water circulation. That is where a high powered submersible solar pond pump helps. Depending on the size of the pond, you may need a couple pumps in different locations. It will help keep the algae growth down. Here’s a great guide on solar pond pumps that will help you pick the right one for your situation.

Solar Bird Bath

Bird baths need fresh water to keep the algae out, as well. A small solar pump can sit in the bird bath and circulate water. Often, it will double as a small fountain for the birds to play in.

Solar Fountain

Adding a fountain to a small body of water is a great way to improve the ambiance. Many times, the water is not near an electrical outlet. This is a great opportunity to use a solar fountain. There’s an added benefit of not having to pay for the electricity.

Pros And Cons Of Solar-Powered Water Features

Solar-powered water features have several benefits compared to traditional electricity-powered water features. However, they also have a few downsides. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of solar-powered water features.


  • Eco-friendly: These water features run on solar energy and do not emit any gas or fumes. There is also no risk of electric shock or explosion.
  • No additional costs: Since they run on a renewable energy source, there is no additional energy cost and no mains power supply.
  • Easy to maintain: Solar-powered water features only require routine cleaning and maintenance to keep them in good working condition.
  • Easy to assemble: They require little or no technical expertise to assemble. You don’t need the help of a plumber or electrician to set things up.


  • Limited functionality: Solar-powered water features depend on the sun to work, meaning they won’t run on cloudy days and at night.
  • Low solar panel wattage: Some solar panels may not have enough power to drive the pump, which means that water flow may be weaker than electric-powered water features.
  • Low battery life: In cases of inadequate sunlight, the battery of a water feature generally doesn’t last up to 6 hours.

Maintenance Of Solar-Powered Water Features

Getting a solar-powered water feature can help transform your landscape into a beautiful space. However, maintaining it is important to keep it in good working condition.

  • Pump filter maintenance: A solar-powered water feature can stop working if its filter gets clogged. Regular cleaning of the filter is necessary to remove sand, dirt, pondweed, algae, sediments, and debris that can block it.
  • Solar panel maintenance: The solar panel does not require much maintenance. You can easily clean and remove dust or pollen on it using a clean microfiber cloth. During the dry season or if you live in an arid climate, you can wash off the dust with a garden hose.
  • Water feature maintenance: If you live in a climate with freezing water temperatures, you may cover your fountain with a blanket. A floating de-icer can also help when the water temperature is below freezing. You may also shut your water feature down, clean and oil the pump, and store it in a warm, frost-free location. 
  • Routine inspection: Check up on your fountain to ensure there are no loose wires or damaged parts. Remove overgrown vegetation around the panels as shrubs and plants can block it from direct sunlight. 


As discussed in the article, solar-powered water features work and have many advantages. Not only are they energy-efficient and eco-friendly, but they also add the calming touch of nature to a garden or landscape. 

When choosing a solar-powered water feature for your space, consider its appearance and the sound it makes. Also, check the pump’s flow rate, the battery’s capacity (if it uses one), and the pump-to-solar panel cord’s length.



I'm trying to make the world a bit greener every day, whether that's through my day job or helping others make green choices for their homes.

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