Considering Solar Water Features? Read this Guide!

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A water feature is aesthetically pleasing, but the electricity can often be too costly when added on top of utilities. So what can we do to prevent the constant payments?

Solar water features function as an alternative to using electricity. When there is sunlight, the solar panels absorb the rays of solar radiation to power the water features during the day. Be aware that your solar water feature may not function when there is no sunlight.

The problem that occurs with solar water features, is that they only function properly when the sun is shining. So how can we help them to retain their proper function at all times?

How do Solar Water Features Work?

Similar to how a cistern or a gravity fountain would work, a solar water feature functions as a closed loop of a rotational stream of water. However, unlike a gravity fountain or cistern, it continues to move the water by the power of the sun.

The water of this closed loop system, flows downward under the weight of gravity while converting its potential energy into a kinetic energy. When it flows back into the main reservoir of water, which remains unseen, the electrical power source becomes necessary in order to continue the features proper function.

This is when a solar-powered pump can continue to push the water onwards in place of the usual electrically powered pump. A small solar electric photovoltaic panel will cover the solar rays, or solar radiation, in what is referred to as DC electrical currents (electrons) to convert it into an energy source.

What Problems Can Occur?

  • A lack of solar energy to run off of is a recurring issue that can arise among solar powered water features. For example; consider that you want to have a garden party out at night and your water feature has ceased its function as night has fallen. The water will not continue to move forward until the sun, once again, begins to rise.
  • Keep in mind that the year round climate of your area can cause problems for your solar water feature as well. Consider whether or not the usual weather of your area will consistently block out solar radiation throughout the year. As the sun is blocked by clouds or varying storms, this can cause your solar water feature to cease its function.
  • If there are many physical obstacles in the surrounding area of the solar panels, then they will consistently block out the solar radiation. This will prevent the panel from picking up the necessary energy, which will cause your fountain to cease its function.
  • Consider whether the sunlight will hit the solar panel directly for a long period of time. In many other forested or mountainous areas, maintaining the function of a solar water feature will become more difficult.
  • Solar panels are not capable of storing very much energy. This is significant because as the solar panels are prevented from receiving solar radiation or energy, they will cease to function shortly after. The shift in function will be a more rapid change due to this fact.

Benefits of a Solar Water Feature

  • Unlike electrical water features, the solar powered water feature is much less complex in its set up. It does not require you to turn it on or off throughout the duration of the year.
  • As night falls, the solar powered water feature will automatically turn itself off, ceasing to function without any guidance or effort on your part. This not only saves you from a heavy electrical bill at the end of each month, but it also allows you to remain comfortably in your home. Meaning, that you won’t have to turn you water feature off at the end of every day.
  • As long as the solar panels are in an area that will receive a great amount of sunlight throughout the day, then the solar powered water feature will become a much more cost efficient design to your backyard garden.
  • This cost efficient design will continue to function properly on its own. Making it time efficient as well. Without needing to consistently attend to the care of your fountain, you will have more time to focus on other aspects of your beautiful backyard garden.

How do I keep my Feature Running at Night?

In certain areas where there is less sunlight, or for all areas when night begins to fall, there needs to be a way provided for the temporary function outside of the allotted daylight time.

Your solar-powered water feature should come with a proper solar kit to aid you with this issue. Within the solar kit is a rechargeable battery that can store electrical energy during the day, and power your water feature at night. It can even help to power your solar-powered water feature at times when sunlight is less available throughout the day.

Can my Climate Inhibit the Function of my Feature? What can I do?

The climate of your area can affect the function of your water feature in various ways. If the climate will more consistently block out sunlight, then it is more likely that having a solar water feature will be a greater challenge.

As previously explained, solar water features need a certain amount of sunlight in order to function properly. If the weather where you live is often overcast with clouds, rain, snow, or any other type of storm. Then it is necessary to consider if having a solar powered water feature is the best decision as far as how your water feature will be able to function.

However, if you still desire a time-efficient solar-powered water feature, regardless of the current climate issues, a solar kit with a battery attachment is going to be your best bet.

Maintaining Your Solar Panels for Their Optimal Use

It is a necessity to keep your solar panels free of debris in order for them to absorb the sun’s rays for power. However, if it rains regularly in your area, then it will not be as necessary for you to clean them as consistently.

If you do need to clean off your solar panels, then only use water. Any soap or chemical could cause damage to the panels themselves and may even leave streaks when it’s drying. When cleaning, spray the solar panels with a hose to dislodge dirt or any other kind of debris. Then let them air dry after you finish rinsing them off. The water should evaporate on its own under the sunlight.

Be aware, that heavier storms, such as hail storms, can cause cracks or damage to the solar panels. If this happens, then you must seek out the installation company in order to have it properly repaired.

Tip: Do NOT attempt to repair your solar panel without professional guidance or help.

Warning: Abrupt temperature changes can cause damage to your solar panels. Do NOT wash them in extreme weather conditions. It is better to wait until the weather normalizes to a less extreme temperature.

When there is snow fall, which layers over the tops of your solar panels, it must carefully be removed. It is best to consider a broom, a squeegee, or a leaf blower to brush the snow away from the panel without causing any possible damage to the panels themselves.

Tip: If the layer of snow is minor and the weather conditions are warming, then the safest option is to let the sun melt the snow away, completely on its own, without any interference.

(Source: 3 Ways to Maintain a Solar Panel – wikiHow)

Can Solar Panels Function Under Water?

Due to the dilution of the solar radiation as it enters through water’s surface, running an efficient solar panel underneath the surface of your pond is going to be nearly impossible.

Even if the solar panels were able to function underwater, the amount of solar radiation received would be severely limited. Having the panels underwater would be of no use to the water feature, which could not function properly without a greater energy source.

The water functions in much the same way as any other obstacle does when blocking out solar radiation. It prevents, or even inhibits completely, the solar radiation that enters through the atmosphere. This would make it entirely impossible for the panels to function.

If the panels are unable to function, as they would be under the surface of the water, then your solar powered water feature will not be able to function at all.

Tip: In this instance, the best option is to keep it above water where nothing obstructs or interferes with the entrance of the solar energy or radiation necessary for proper function.

Warning: Under water, sediment and other debris may also build up on top of each solar panel, further limiting the ability for the panels to absorb and convert solar radiation for power.

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We always wanted a fountain of some kind at our house, but professional installation was just too pricey. So, we decided to make our own little fountain and after learning how, we thought we should share our experiences to help people in our same situation.

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