The best solar fountain
Water features are attractive and relaxing additions to any garden, but fountains can be a hassle to install. Solar fountains, however, are incredibly simple to set up and are also environmentally friendly.
Finding the right fountain for your garden depends on your needs and style preferences. If you're considering buying a solar fountain, this guide will tell you all you need to know, plus you can see a handful of recommendations at the end. Our top choice is the rugged and simple Solatec Solar Fountain, which can be added to almost any container of water to turn it into a fountain.
Considerations when choosing solar fountains
Full fountain vs. pump
Full solar fountains consist of the full fountain structure plus the pump and solar panel, so you've got everything you need to get it started. These come in many different styles, from bowls and plinths to trickling waterfall fountains. Solar fountain pumps consist of just the pump, solar, panel, and sprinkler. These need to be placed into water to work. Most people use either a birdbath, a decorative pot (without drainage holes), or a small pond.
Solar fountains generally have a low wattage (somewhere between 1 and 15 watts), which means they don't need too much sun to run effectively. Those with a slightly higher wattage tend to be more powerful with larger, more impressive sprays, however.
Solar fountain pumps are usually made of plastic, but if you choose a full solar fountain, you've got many more material options.
Solid stone solar fountains look impressive and are highly durable, but they're quite expensive.
Ceramic solar fountains, such as those made from clay or terracotta, look attractive and tend to be fairly reasonably priced, but they're more fragile than other options.
Plastic resin solar fountains are usually made to look like stone but come at a far more affordable price -- they can't compete with real stone fountains, though.
Solar panels harness the sun's energy and convert it to electricity, but once the sun goes away, they stop working. What they can do, however, is store some of the excess power in a battery to use when the sunlight goes away. Any solar fountains with battery backup can do this.
The majority of solar fountains offer a range of spray types or patterns. Sometimes you can change these by adjusting the fountain, but often you need to switch one nozzle out for another.
You can find solar fountains that incorporate LED lights making them multifunctional. Often, these models contain a sensor so the lights come on after dark. But, of course, they need to have a battery backup so they can store power to use when the sun goes down.
Expect to pay between $10 and $30 for a pump-style fountain or between $50 and $300 for a full fountain.
Q. Do solar fountains require professional installation?
A. Unlike standard water fountains, solar fountains don't need to be wired into an electrical system or plumbed into a water line. As such, all you really need to do is position your solar fountain in a sunny spot, fill it with water, and turn it on.
Q. Will my solar fountain run all year round?
A. It doesn't need to be hot for a solar panel to absorb energy, just fairly bright and sunny. If you get plenty of bright fall and winter days where you live, your solar fountain should work all year (barring any periods of freezing temperatures). However, if the cooler months in your area tend to be dark and gray, don't expect too much from your fountain outside of spring, summer, and early fall.
Solar fountains we recommend
Best of the best: Solatec's Solar Fountain
Our take: Simply drop this fountain into a birdbath or other container of water to transform it into a solar fountain.
What we like: Includes four nozzle heads for different spray patterns. Water rises between 12 and 20 inches. Starts working within seconds of sun exposure.
What we dislike: Needs direct light to work. No battery backup.
Best bang for your buck: COSSCCI's Solar Fountain Pump
Our take: An affordable solar fountain pump with three different spray nozzles for a variety of effects.
What we like: Can either float on water or be stuck in place with suction cups. Extremely easy to use. Switching between nozzles is simple.
What we dislike: Some buyers find it too small.
Choice 3: Biling's Solar Bird Bath Fountain Pump
Our take: A powerful 2.5-watt fountain with an 800 mAh battery backup so it can keep running even when the sun is hidden.
What we like: Works even when the solar panels are partially covered. Offers six water spray styles. Idling and blocking protection helps stop damage to motor.
What we dislike: Some reports of faulty units.
Lauren Corona is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.