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Post new topic   Reply to topic    Irish Gardeners Forum Home -> Water features in Ireland, including all aspects of water gardening.

Solar pumps and water features.


 
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vulkan
Rank attained: Rowan Tree
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Joined: 16 Nov 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 9:26 pm    Post subject: Solar pumps and water features. Reply with quote

Over the years I have had, and made water features, both using mains pumps and solar pumps. I thought it would be an idea to share some of the "solar myths" I have found, before you go and buy a solar feature in the spring.


Solar what is it?

A solar operated device is something that has a solar panel that makes electricity that in turn operates the device. (Pump in this case)

What next?

Light is turned directly into electricity by a solar cell, a solar cell makes on average 1.4 volts, to make a solar panel several solar cells are connected together, this in turn is called a solar panel. The bigger the solar panel the more electricity can be produced.

The main cost in a solar water feature is often the solar panel, an "expensive" feature will have a solar panel that is small, where as an "extortionate" feature will have a much larger solar panel.
The better solar features have removable solar panels, this is so you can angle them towards the sun, and also stop limescale build up from water splash of your feature (Lime scale build up blocks sunlight, which reduces the output of the solar panel)

Useless facts

Most solar pumps usually operate around 3 -6 volts, by comparison a mains pump runs on 240v which is 40 times more powerful.

A mains pump will not work on a solar panel

A solar pump can not pump water to a biological filter.

You can't get replacement pumps for most solar water features. (Try and get one before you buy your feature)

Up to a point, the brighter the sun is the faster your solar pump will run.

Solar pumps can not pump water very high, often only a dozen centimetres at most

Problems

As its solar, it relies on direct sunlight to work, which means they do not work on cloudy or overcast and rainy days.

Most solar features don't last much more than 2 years
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ponddigger
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 03, 2010 10:10 pm    Post subject: wind power Reply with quote

what about wind power
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vulkan
Rank attained: Rowan Tree
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 04, 2010 6:21 am    Post subject: Re: wind power Reply with quote

ponddigger wrote:
what about wind power


Post subject: Solar pumps and water features.

As with most forums, it helps if you read what is actually written, not what you think is written.
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Rockworld
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 10:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Some good coments there vulkan regarding solar pumps. I think the pumps you refer to are solar powered fountain pumps which are used to spray water in a tiered fashion from a nozzle. I agree these solar pumps have a very small power output and hence they are only used for very small water features.
There are however several options for people needing larger powered pumps. Firstly let me say that they are costlier than wiring a standard pump, but we have been in one situation where this was best option as mains powered electricity (220v, 50Hz) was too far from water feature location.
Basic system for a solar powered water feature is following:
1. Solar panel to create electricity
2. Battery system to store electricity created (yes you can have a solar powered water feature running all night if you want)
3. Inverter to convert battery power DC to AC for pump

So in summary the solar panel collects electricity, which we store in batteries until we need to use with pump.
Naturally the above system is used widely for lots of applications which don't include pumps. For instance I have all my garden lights running of a system as described above (and a filter pump, yes a filter pump) Laughing
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vulkan
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 17, 2010 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The post I made is for "Mr Average" who wishes to consider a solar water feature or solar fountain.

Yes if you are willing to spend enough money you can have a collection of solar panels which in turn charge batteries which in turn run an inverter to run a mains pump, but as I said, it is expensive, often it is cheaper to install mains, unless that is, you want a tiny fountain.

Also if you do opt to have solar panels bear in mind they do need bright sunshine to be of much use, which you will not get if its overcast, raining or snowing, and at night.

Still think solar panels are a good idea? (In some countries with lots of sun shine then yes, but in the UK. forget it.)
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Rockworld
Rank attained: Hawthorn Tree
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 18, 2010 6:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Vulkan
Yes solar power for water features is very expensive option if you need large water flows. Wiring a mains cable is far cheaper option usually.
You mention not much sun in UK, well here in Ireland much the same for the last three years. Here's hoping we have a great summer this year, I think we all deserve a bit of sunshine.
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