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

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 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.

Solar Pond Pump Head

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.

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.

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.

What’s a Total Dynamic Head?

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.

Excellent Uses for Solar Pond Pumps

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 they will do quite nicely is run a bird bath (seriously – they’re perfect for this)

Floating Fountain

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).

Consider These Points

  • Solar pond pumps only work during sunny days.
  • And the output is directly related to the energy being produced by the solar panel. f 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.

Backup Battery Pack Needed

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.


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.

Note you can get more articles about backyard ponds right here

Inexpensive Mass Merchant Solar Panels

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’s some pricing and reviews

One thought on “Eight Reasons You’re Not Happy With Your Solar Pond Pump”

  1. I was considering the purchase of a solar pump. Thanks to your information, I know that I will have to rethink this project. Very helpful!

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