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Electric vs. Solar Fountain Pumps – Which Is Right For You?

Electric vs Solar - which pump to choose?

Dreaming of a beautiful outdoor water feature or backyard fountain, but not quite sure whether to choose an electric fountain pump or a solar one? Here I’ll give you some of the pros and cons for electric vs. solar pumps so you can determine which one is right for your project!

Here are the things to consider when deciding whether to purchase an electric or solar fountain pump.

There are a few key areas that I think are important in determining whether to go with an electric fountain pump or a solar fountain pump:

  • Location of the fountain
  • Price of electric vs. solar fountain pumps
  • Wire considerations for electric vs. solar pumps
  • Amount of control you want over your water feature
  • Aesthetics to consider for electric vs. solar fountains
  • Power of electric vs. solar fountains
Key AreaElectric Pump WinsSolar Pump Wins
Fountain locationX
Pump priceX
Least wire hassleX
Most controlX
Best AestheticsX
Most PowerfulXX
Note: This is just for fun and it’s my personal opinion which type of pump is better in each category. It’s just to give you an idea of the differences of electric vs. solar pumps for water features.

Keep reading if you want to see all of the pros and cons I considered for each key area.

Location of the fountain

If your pump is near an electrical outlet, there’s really no issue regarding using electric vs. solar. But, if you plan to put your pump somewhere far away from an electrical outlet, this can be a major consideration. In order to get an electrical pump cord to an electrical outlet, you may need to hire an electrician to install underground conduit. This can get expensive really quickly. In this situation, I’d definitely recommend looking into a solar fountain pump.

If you’re leaning towards solar, you should also consider the amount of light near your water feature, as the solar pump comes with a solar panel that will need to have exposure to the sun in order to work. So, you’ll need to site your fountain in a sunny location, or purchase a solar pump with a long enough cord that you can place the solar panel in the sun. A battery backup is also a great option to have, as that can take the solar energy from your panel and store it into the battery so your pump will run continuously instead of turning on and off when the sun goes behind the clouds.

Most location options: Solar Pump
Although both electric and solar pumps have wires, solar pumps can definitely be placed in a wider range of locations because they don’t need an outlet to function.

Price of electric vs. solar fountain pumps

If you want to determine the cost to run an electric fountain pump, head over to this water feature electricity calculator to get a pretty good idea of how much it will cost. Then you’ll be able to determine if the extra upfront cost of a solar pump will balance out the electricity costs associated with the fountain pump.

Best Price: Electric Pump
Even when considering the electric usage over time, are a lot less expensive than solar. The price advantage may learn to solar pumps, though, if you need to hire an electrician to install underground wiring for your fountain.

Wire considerations for electric vs. solar pumps

I think the biggest thing to realize when determining which type of pump has the least amount of wire hassle is that BOTH electric and solar pumps have wires. Just because a pump is solar does not make it wireless. Solar pumps will have a wire running from the pump that connects to the solar panel. So, while you don’t need an outlet near by to run a solar pump, you’ll still have to figure out how to disguise the wire and ensure the wire is long enough for you to position the solar panel in a full-sun location.

However, electric pumps are known for issues with wiring. If you don’t have an outlet nearby you are kind of screwed. Or, you’ll need to hire an electrician to run underground conduit in order to get your water feature in the location that you want. Then… what do you do if something goes wrong with the wiring? You may have to dig it all up. What if, years later, you accidentally hit the underground wiring with a shovel when trying to plant something or dig a hole? There are a lot of things that can go wrong with outdoor electrical and I think that it can be a lot more dangerous dealing with these wires. Especially because the voltage of electric pumps is much higher than the voltage of solar pumps.

So, despite the fact that solar pumps aren’t completely wireless (like I used to think), I still believe that wire considerations are less of an issue when it comes to solar pumps.

Least Amount of Wire Hassles: Solar Pump
Although both electric and solar pumps have wires, solar pumps are more versatile in where they can be placed. And, with less voltage they are safer, too.

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Amount of control you want over your water feature

Most Control: Electric Pump
An electric pump will allow you to set on a timer so you can control when the pump turns on and off. This is difficult if not impossible to control with most solar pumps.

Aesthetics to consider for electric vs. solar fountains

Aesthetics Winner: Electric Pump: Electric pumps have wire but the wire is pretty easy to disguise. Unfortunately solar pumps always have a large solar panel and this can be quite an eyesore.

Most Power of electric vs. solar fountains

Most Powerful: Tie!
Solar fountain pumps have come a long way. If you are building a small to medium sized water feature, there should be an equivalent solar pump to match the power of an electric pump.

Electric vs. Solar – Pump Recommendations

If you’re interested in seeing these very similar-spec’d pumps in a side by side test, check out the video below. I’ll also provide links to purchase the pumps in the video. I don’t believe the electric pump is available online, so I chose something with really similar specs.

Watch this video to learn which pump performs better in my side by side test.

Solar Fountain Pump Recommendation

Electric Fountain Pump Recommendation

Wrapping Up

Overall, choosing an electric vs. solar fountain pump really depends on your particular situation and what your needs are. I’d say that for 90% of people, solar with a battery backup is a great option and very versatile. If you’d like to know what SIZE pump to choose, head over to my article to demystify all of the fountain pump specs so you can make the right choice.

Finally, if you’re ready to build your water feature, head over to this easy DIY water feature tutorial that you can complete in one day.

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