Everyone loves getting something for free, and using a solar water fountain pump to harness the free energy provided by the sun is no exception. However, there are numerous questions that surround solar energy, which sometimes scare people off. Read on to learn more about this free and abundant energy source, including some of the popular questions people ask.
Like we mentioned above, solar energy is free! Nothing feels better than using the sun to power a device that normally would require a payment to your local power company. Of course, there are a few limitations you must work around when using a solar powered water fountain pump. We'll get to those limitations below.
Solar panels are made up of numerous photovoltaic cells. The term photovoltaic can be broken into two root words: 'photo' meaning light and 'voltaic' which means electricity. Quite literally, a photovoltaic cell directly converts light into electricity. How exactly this process occurs requires a basic understanding of chemistry and is somewhat outside the scope of this website (techies can go to this article at howstuffworks.com for more info)! However, the basic idea is that light from the sun is absorbed into the solar panels, and through a chemical reaction, free flowing electrons (electricity) are produced.
So what happens if you want to use solar energy to power an electrical device like a solar water fountain pump? As you may have guessed, as long as you have sunlight, then you will have energy to power your solar fountain pump. As the sun is obstructed by clouds, trees, mountains or other objects, a solar cell will naturally produce less electricity; the actual amount depending on how much the sun is obstructed. For example, if your clear skies are obstructed by some light cloud cover, it is still possible, depending on the situation, to achieve greater than 50% of the solar device's direct-solar output. As cloud cover increases, the output will naturally decrease until the power output stops completely when either the sun has set, or the clouds have become so thick that no usable light is passing through. Even on clear days, the energy output will vary depending on the strength of the sun at various times throughout the day.
Certain electrical devices seem to lend themselves well to solar energy, and other devices not so much. For example, if using a solar water fountain pump to provide water flow for aesthetic purposes only, then the continuous operation of the pump is not mission critical to the ecosystem of the pond. In this case, the limitations of solar power are not as important. When the pump shuts off at night due to a lack of electricity output, there are no damaging effects on the pond. However, if using a solar powered pump to drive the main filtration system, the continuous operation of the pump is vital to the pond's ecology, especially if there are koi living in the pond. In this case, it would be important to either not use a solar powered device, or to choose a solar device that incorporated a battery system that could store enough energy during the day to power the device during the night, or during periods of low sunlight.
Solar powered devices can be an excellent addition to any pond or fountain as long as the purchaser knows the limitations of such devices. Although you might end up spending a little more money up front, the cost savings will add up down the road as you make use of the free energy made available by the sun. To learn more about pumps, please see our page on pond pumps. Thanks for reading!