Having a garden is one of the simplest and most rewarding pleasures anyone can have. The flowers, the birds, the bees, a simple and beautiful ecosystem right outside your house. But there's no excuse for not being sustainable.
Gardens, if mismanaged, can consume a lot of resources like water or energy so it's always a good idea to be friendly to your environment (and your pocket). For people who want a garden fountain, a solar water fountain is the way to go.
From my experience, there's no reason to forego this simple and efficient solution -- I'd never go back to a wired pump. Here are some of the best solar water pumps I think would be worth considering and what to look out for.
Table of contents
Why get a solar water pump?
A garden fountain needs to constantly recirculate water -- you really don't want stale water. In order to do this, you need a pump that typically works with electricity. A solar water pump works by transforming energy from the Sun's rays to electricity that powers up the pump. Instead of using electricity from your utility, it uses solar panels to harvest solar energy.
This doesn't mean it has to be sunny all the time. Most products store energy in batteries so they can also work. Solar water pumps are also excellent in areas where you don't have electricity or don't want to pull cables all through your garden. It's neat, tidy, and self-sufficient, and you can customize the design to work. I tried several off-the-shelf solutions with an existing pump and it worked just fine, no special skills were required.
It's not that new of a technology either. A study from back in 1976 described the technology, with Dr. D. P. Rao from the Department of Chemical Engineering in Kanpur, India, writing that "the running cost is nil." Of course, technology has made leaps and bounds since then, and new research into novel materials and systems is constantly emerging.
What to look for when buying a solar water pump?
If you're looking to buy a solar water pump, there are a few things you should consider before making a decision. I have a small garden so wasn't too concerned about large power, but you should always pay attention and make sure it's the right system for your situation. Here are some general tips that can help you choose the right one:
- Consider your water usage. Before you buy a solar water pump, it helps to think about how much water you need to pump. Some pumps are bigger and can pump more water but of course, this means you need more energy and more/bigger solar panels.
- Check the solar panel capacity. The solar panel is the heart of the solar water pump system. After you estimate how much water you put into the fountain, you can make sure the solar panel has enough capacity to power the pump. You want to ensure that the panel can produce enough electricity to pump water even on cloudy days.
- Batteries. Whether you live in a sunnier or cloudier area, solar panels will work better some days and worse other days. If you don't want your pump to randomly stop in the middle of the day, it needs to have some batteries that cover the downtime. Luckily, most solar water pumps do have batteries, but you should still check how long they can cover.
- Look for a durable pump: Since solar water pumps are often used outside, they should be durable and reliable. Look for pumps made from high-quality materials that can withstand harsh weather conditions. Think about the durability of solar panels as well.
- Check the warranty and after-sales service. As with any product, you want to make sure you're covered if something happens.
- Think aesthetics. Solar water pumps are most commonly integrated with garden fountains. Do you have the garden fountain already? Then you probably only need the pump itself and want to get one that's small and unobtrusive. Do you want the fountain already? It's probably simpler (and cheaper) to get a composite system then.
Product comparison table
Comparing the best solar water pumps
✔ everything included
Item Dimensions LxWxH
15 x 13 x 22 inches
✔ solar panels quality
❌ vertical nozzle hard to fit in some fountains
Item Dimensions LxWxH
13 x 9.1 x 2 inches
✔ reliable quality and customer service
❌ may not be well suited for larger fountains
Maximum Flow Rate
160 Liters Per Hour
✔ has a battery
❌ material quality could be better
❌ battery is relatively small
Item Dimensions LxWxH
0.79 x 0.79 x 0.1 inches
Maximum Flow Rate
300 Liters Per Hour
✔ reliable quality and customer service
Submersible, Submersible Water Pump,Solar Water
Maximum Flow Rate
15 Gallons Per Minute
Sunnydaze Rock Falls Outdoor Solar Water Fountain with Battery Backup and LED Lights
You can't really go wrong with the Sunnydaze system. Design-wise, I like it best. The Zen look it gives makes it fit brilliantly into any decor and featuring durable polyresin construction should last a pretty long time. Water flows from top to bottom where it is recirculated with a submersible solar pump. It's easy to connect and can be turned off and on with a single button. The fountain also features LED illumination that can be simply connected.
This isn't only a solar water pump -- it's essentially a garden solar fountain, because the fountain is already included. So if you don't already have a fountain and are looking to get the entire system in one go, this is what you're looking for.
The system is designed to mimic natural rocks and blend in with its surroundings. The same seller offers several alternatives for all tastes that work with every type of scenery and should satisfy even the fussiest of gardeners. The battery life is 8 hours (which means it should work for 8 hours without solar light if fully charged) and the entire system comes with a 1-year warranty. The system includes a fountain, solar panel, and submersible water pump.
When I tried it, it showed little signs of stopping even when it was cloudy for the entire day. It worked well in the rain and the bad weather and I think it is without a doubt the prettiest solution I could find on the market.
AISITIN 20W Solar Water Pump Kit
- Vertical nozzle hard to fit in some fountains
- No battery
The AISITIN solar water pump comes with an upgraded 12V 20W high-power solar panel that's foldable and has a larger panel area which means it can take in more energy and pump more water higher. What's more, I found it's built to last, with high-quality materials that are both durable and reliable.
The only issue in my experience is that it has no battery, which means it's gonna stop when there's not enough sun. I found this to be a significant problem, but otherwise, it worked just fine.
For this solar pump (and for the others on the list), surfaces can be wiped with clean water and a bit of mild soap/vinegar and a soft, non-abrasive cloth. You should never use metal or abrasive cleaning tools that can scratch the surface. Make sure all the soap residue has been wiped away, especially on the solar panel.
If you're looking for a sturdy option, the Solariver Solar Water Pump Kit - 360+GPH is probably the best option. Guaranteed to operate for 20,000 hours, this makes for a robust system that fits with every pond, fountain, or other feature you'd want to use it on. Plenty of users are using it for 2-3 years continuously with no issues, and all components are still going strong.
The only problem I have with this system is the lack of a battery. The solar panel is excellent and should gather more than enough energy in most places, but when the evening hits and the light dims down, the pump can just stop, which can be a bit of an inconvenience.
Billing Solar Water Fountain Pump
If you're not sure what you want to get and just a cheap solar water pump for your garden, this is probably the most straightforward system you can get. I found it to be simple, unfussy, easy to get started with, and won't set you back that much. Remarkably, the system also comes with a battery which means it won't stop without sunlight (although the battery capacity will only keep it going for about a couple of hours).
The system also comes with a few nozzles that give it some degree of customization. Granted, this is not the best system you can find on the market, but it gets the job done from my experience. It's also my recommendation for getting a system when you're not sure what you want and would rather just try out something simple before you make a bigger decision.
To be honest, if you weren't sure what you wanted to get, I'd recommend this one. It's simply good and affordable, and if you don't like it, at least you'll know what you don't like and can focus on that for your next buy. For me, it was the aesthetics that fell a bit short, and I feel like getting something with better quality materials is more cost-effective.
If you want a solar pond pump or something to put on a small body of water, this is our recommendation. It's small enough to even fit in a fountain and you don't need to use it as a floating solar pump, but it's definitely one of its best features.
It's also very cheap, which is an obvious advantage that I liked a lot, but as you can expect, also comes with a few shortcomings. For starters, it's a small system that can pump 5 liters (1.1 gallons) per minute. So if you have a small fountain, it's good; if you want something more medium or larger size, it likely won't get the job done. As with the previous recommendation, the material quality is not shoddy, but not amazing either. There is a reason why other solar pumps are more expensive.
Speaking of more expensive options, this is the priciest one on this list, and for a very good reason: it pumps a lot of water. As the name implies, the Solariver Solar Water Pump 900GPH runs through 900 gallons per hour, or 15 Gallons Per Minute -- way more than you need for small fountains or ponds, but definitely useful if you have a more sizable structure.
As the smaller version, it also doesn't come with a battery, but it has the same excellent build quality and warranty. The pump is submersible and can work for years without any major issues. I like that the entire system is robust and sturdy. The extra cost is not wasted, it's a worthy investment. However, as mentioned, this wasn't necessary for our garden, so make sure you can actually use all its features before buying it.
What the experts say?
According to MIT research, solar water pumps are becoming increasingly in agriculture as they provide a reliable and cost-efficient solution to irrigation, both in underdeveloped areas and in highly technologized areas.
Other research from New Mexico State University and the University of Nebraska Lincoln note that these pumps can also be used in livestock. However, the same systems can be deployed in personal gardens to create an oasis with very few resources. There are even do-it-yourself solutions for the more technically inclined and designing this type of project would definitely be a neat application for the electronics hobbyist.
But for most people who simply want an easy-to-use, easy-to-deploy solution, the systems I've shared here are probably the way to go. Solar water pumps don't drain energy from the grid, they don't use energy that produces emissions, and they may actually have some environmental benefits.
For instance, moving water (as opposed to still water) is less attractive to mosquitoes and algae, and can therefore reduce the costs and resources used to clean up your garden. They also make the garden more appealing to pollinators and birds, which helps support a healthy ecosystem.
They also save you some money by harnessing solar energy and save you the trouble of having to set up complicated cable management outdoors.
Solar water pumps FAQ?
The main draw of a solar water pump is reducing costs and being environmentally friendly. A solar pump uses freely available solar energy to move water around, which means it doesn't emit any pollution.
This also translates into lower costs -- you don't have to pay anything extra for the electricity. Another added benefit is that you don't need the extra cables -- you don't need to hook the pump to a main, you just connect it to the cable and you're good to go.
Solar water pumps are typically low maintenance, they don't require much maintenance and are compatible with off-the-grid or remote gardens as well.
It all depends on what you want to do with it. How tall do you want the fountain to be? What water volume do you want to recirculate? How much are you willing to pay?
If you want something more than a small water fountain, we recommend looking carefully for a panel that's sufficiently large and powerful for the volume you want to use.
Another important consideration is whether you want the system to have external batteries. If you want the fountain to work at night or during prolonged periods of low solar light, you need batteries. If you feel that's unnecessary, you shouldn't pay extra for something you don't need.
This is a common misconception -- solar panels also work when the sky is cloudy or not so sunny. This being said, the amount of energy a solar panel generates depends on several factors, including the amount of sunlight it receives and the angle and orientation of the panel.
If you want to be absolutely sure, you can consult a solar panel expert in your area, or if you want a simpler solution, you can check publicly available solar irradiance maps.
If you want to be extra safe, you can also opt for a larger solar panel and a battery system that can cover prolonged periods of lower solar energy (and periods of solar downtime such as nighttime).
This obviously depends on a lot of factors including build quality and your local conditions. In general, however, most products offer a warranty of 10,000-20,000 working hours.
For reference, a year has 8760 hours, but you won't really expect your pump to work throughout the night as well, so the warranty should realistically cover 2-4 years.
This doesn't mean it will go bad the first hour after the warranty runs out (Murphy's law isn't always right). In practice, you can expect the pump to run for a few years. But don't skim on basic maintenance -- changing a filter or cleaning the solar panel once a year can make a good difference.
The answer is generally 'yes' but this depends once more on your requirements and garden. Most pumps fit with existing fountains or ponds, but you need to ensure that the pump is the right size and capacity for your needs.
You will also need to position the solar panel in a location that receives ample sunlight throughout the day, as the efficiency of the pump will depend on the amount of sunlight it receives. If your fountain or pond already has a pump, you can simply replace the existing electric pump with a solar-powered pump. Alternatively, you can install the solar pump as a standalone system, using a separate solar panel to power the pump.
Regardless of how you choose to integrate the solar water pump with your fountain or pond, it's important to follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation and maintenance to ensure optimal performance and longevity of the system. With proper installation and care, a solar water pump can provide reliable and sustainable water flow to your fountain or pond for years to come.
The cost of a solar water pump will depend on your specific needs and budget. It can help to research different options, compare prices and features, and choose a pump that provides the necessary capacity and efficiency for your application.
The cost can vary depending on the capacity, brand, and features, and can range from around $40 to well over $1000. But if you don't know exactly what you want, I wouldn't really recommend splurging over a thousand.
This being said, I wouldn't really advise buying the cheapest option either. With electronics, you often get what you paid for, and it's important to consider the long-term cost savings and benefits of using a solar-powered system. While the initial investment may be higher than a traditional electric pump, the use of solar energy can save you money on electricity bills in the long run, and also reduce your carbon footprint. Investing in a high-quality pump with durable components may cost more upfront, but can ultimately save you money in maintenance and replacement costs over time.
The bottom line when it comes to solar water pumps?
To summarize, solar water pumps are an excellent and eco-friendly solution for gardeners looking to efficiently circulate water in their garden and save money on electricity bills. By harnessing the power of the sun, these pumps can provide a reliable and sustainable source of water recirculation, reducing your carbon footprint as well as your expenses.
When choosing a solar water pump for your garden, it's always useful to check the market of different options, making sure that you can select the right pump that meets your needs and is durable and reliable.
While it may cost a bit more than a conventional pump, you save money in the long run and you don't need long cables going into your garden.
So, if you're a gardener looking to save money on energy bills and reduce your environmental impact, consider investing in a solar water pump for your garden today. Start enjoying the benefits of sustainable and efficient gardening, while contributing to a healthier and more sustainable future for us all.