As the president of a company that sells thousands of fountain pumps, and who also receives a lot of OEM inquiries, I’ve been around the block on solar pumps. They seem like such a great idea. No wiring needed! No electric bill! I tried to sell solar pumps to major fountain manufacturers but never got a sample to one of them that could pass muster. For the longest time I gave up. Don’t get me wrong. I tested sample after sample. I’ve wanted them to work for five years now. But I’ve seen problems. Bad packaging. Shaky solar panels. Pumps that seemed doomed to fail within months. So I kept with the 110-volt market that is already doing well. But finally we have found solar units that are dependable. They look nice. They have 2-year warranties.
A drawback we must admit is fluctuations in sunlight. Solar pumps are powered by solar panels (many of them quite good quality, by the way) that require direct sunlight in order to work. That means that they go on and off all day long, depending on whether a cloud is passing, where the sun is in reference to the panel, and so forth. Some do have batteries in them, for sure, but the big ones are expensive, so right now we only offer the battery option for the small pump.
But some of you will no doubt enjoy the way water slows down and speeds up depending on the sun. it is natural, after all, and it is a nice effect to coincide with the weather. The pumps are fairly expensive, requiring us to sell them at a much lower markup than is normal in the industry, but you won’t have to pay an electrician to wire and there will be no utility bill.
So whether or not to go solar is a personal decision. But one thing is for certain, quality has certainly gone up. I’d recommend buying a unit with a solid warranty, at least one year, preferably longer. Take a close look at the head (how high up the pump will pump the water) as well as the volume it will pump. And if you need to use a pump that won’t fluctuate with sunlight, get one with a battery.