Easy Guide: How to Make a Fountain Without Power

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So, you’re looking to add a fountain to your backyard, but trying to hide the electrical components seems daunting. Figuring out the electrical wiring of a fountain can be rather difficult and tiresome. Is there a way to build one without electrical power?

A small fountain can be built without electricity when built as a gravity pressure fountain or a cistern. The gravity will force the water to move continuously through the fountain by forcing it forward with built in pressure rather than using a pump.

However, building a gravity fountain can be a tricky process as well. There are important steps that you must follow.

What is a Gravity Fountain?

Gravity fountains have existed since four thousand B.C. They have come to be known as Heron’s fountain, which follows this flowing pattern. These physics of gravity were used by the Romans in order to transport water throughout the entire city at that time. A gravity fountain follows this same principle.

A gravity fountain is a continuous stream of water that is moved by the pressure that builds up and pushes the water back up through a series of tubing from the lowest point.

How to Build a Plastic Bottle Gravity Fountain

  • You must first gather three sixteen ounce plastic bottles.
  • After you have gathered the bottled, you should cut one of the bottles in half. When it is inverted, it will become a basin for the fountain.
  • Drill two holes next to each other on the top of the bottle lid, using a 5/32 inch drill bit which a tad smaller than the tubing that will be used during this project. (Tip: To avoid slipping you can use a piece of scrap wood, or some other variant item, to secure the bottle lid when drilling)
  • Repeat the process with the lids of the other two remaining bottles. (Tip: use the first bottle lid as your guide.)
  • Repeat the process with the second bottle’s bottom end.
  • Verify your work (There should be one bottle with two holes in the lid, another with two holes in the lid and two at the bottom, and one half size bottle with two holes in its lid.)
  • Connect the tubing. You must have three separate tubes. One that is fifteen inches long, the second being eleven inches long, and the third being nine inches long.
  • Ensure that the lids on the bottles are secured
  • Feed the third tube (the nine inch tube) through the first bottle. (Warning: This can a more difficult step as you build your water fountain.)
  • Place the second bottle over the top of the first. You should be able to align the both lids so that the holes will perfectly match.
  • Thread the fifteen inch tube through the two connected bottles on the right side holes of the lids. the tube should be woven through the bottom of the inverted bottle. (you should be able to see some tubing sticking out of the bottom of the inverted bottle.)
  • The half bottle lid should be carefully placed over the top of the inverted plastic bottle. Again, the fifteen inch tube should stick out a little.
  • thread the eleven inch tubing up through the top of the three bottles now staked on top of each other.
  • Fill the middle bottle with the water
  • Pour water into the half bottle on top to start the fountain.

(Source: How to Build a Small Gravity Water Fountain (sfgate.com))

Tips for a Gravity Fountain

Be wary of any possible leaks as the bottles may slip. If this should occur, then modeling clay should be able to secure the lids back into place, as well as any other areas where the bottles meet up. Once built, the fountain should be able to continuously run for a few days. (Source: How to Build a Small Gravity Water Fountain (sfgate.com))

(Tip: For larger fountains, the same formula can be applied, but on a much grander scale.)

(Warning: When building a larger scale gravity fountain, ensure that you are using the correct proportions and measurements according to the desired size. If the calculations are off, then it could break, cause damage, or simply cease to function properly.)

What is a Cistern?

A cistern follows the same pattern of water flow as a gravity fountain would. It is easy to build and it also provides an amazing water filtration or collection system. A cistern should only need be no less than a foot high to generate .43 PSI, which is an amount sufficient enough to be able to feed into a small to medium sized garden fountain.

(Tip: When building a cistern, you have to filter the water through gravel, sand and charcoal. However, the charcoal is not an entirely necessary step.)

A Cistern is very similar to a modern day water tower. The only real difference is that a Cistern is fed from the top instead of being fed from the bottom. The greater the water pressure that exists within the cistern, the more water you will be able to receive from it.

In older times, a similar process manifested in a maze of tunnels and aqueducts that would weave water into ancient Roman fountains and public baths. However this would take up was too much space, water, and manpower to be able to operate. (Source: A fountain that does NOT run on electricity – Instructables)

(Tip: You should still be able to build a cistern with a gravitational pump in mind. It should not be necessary for you have to have a downhill sloping water source.)

What to do if My Gravity Fountain Breaks?

If the fountain is smaller, remember to apply the molding clay to reposition or reattach certain parts or areas to each other. However, if the water fountain is on a much larger scale, then the best option that you have, is to call a qualified repair man. The repair man should be able to fix the damage properly so that you don’t have to.

(Tip: A larger cistern or gravity fountain will require a lot more expertise and other specific tools to repair any damage.)

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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.

1 thought on “Easy Guide: How to Make a Fountain Without Power”

  1. I was really happy to find this article, because I’m a high school Physics student and I just made a Heron’s Fountain for my end of year project. My teachers has asked us to contact someone in a company or business that uses the Heron’s Fountain technique in applications. If there is anywhere else that I could find photos or information on these gravity fountains, I’d love to see them. Thank you for writing this piece!


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