June's Project: Solar Powered Garden Fountain
From the DIY Network
power provides an economical way to power interior and exterior basics,
as well as add-on features -- like a garden pond with a bubbling
fountain. Bill Poulin as his family enjoy their extensive landscaping
and koi pond, but want to add additional garden ponds on a knoll in the
backyard. Although Poulin is a solar engineer, he calls in solar design
expert Jeff Gilbert for assistance.
Poulin has an idea of where
he wants to place the new ponds, but is relying on Gilbert's
recommendation for the placement of the solar panel. Gilbert uses a
solar pathfinder to find the best location. The solar pathfinder works
by showing the reflecting of trees, buildings or other obstructions in
the dome lid. The reflection is traced onto the graph to indicated what
time the spot being tested will remain shaded.
a location for the solar panel, Gilbert advises Poulin on the selection
of a solar panel kit. Gilbert suggests that Poulin oversize his
solar panel -- that is, choose a panel that produces twice as much
output as needed by the aerating bilge pumps that will be placed in the
ponds. Poulin has selected two 20-watt bilge pumps (for a total of 40
watts). Because the two pumps will only run at intervals, Gilbert
suggests going with a 60-watt solar panel instead of an 80-watt.
With the location of the ponds and solar panel selected -- as well as the type of solar panel -- it's time to get started.
2 Plastic pond liners (150-gallon and 50-gallon sizes)
2 Bilge pumps (13.6 volt 1.5 amp)
2 Submersible filter boxes
Ornamental fountain head
10 ft. 1" thick clear tubing
50 ft. 12-gauge electric cable
Wire nuts, connectors, various nuts, screws, bolts and washers
Plywood (to support panel on the mounting post)
Inexpensive mounting post (if solar panel must be elevated)
Landscape materials (rocks, plants, etc.)
and cut the support extension at an angle (in this case, a 40-degree
angle is cut) in order to properly support and position the solar
- Dig hole for the post and position and set the post securely in the ground.
- Use a level to make sure the post is plumb.
- Measure, mark and cut the plywood support.
- Pre-drill holes that will be used to anchor the plywood.
- Bolt the plywood directly to the post.
- Mount standard flat brackets (figure A) to the underside of the solar panel using no. 8 nuts, bolts and washers.
stranded 12-gauge landscaping wire to solar panel junction box. Strip
the cable, add a water tight connector, then feed cable through the
junction box opening.
- Secure the red wire to the positive terminal; secure the black wire to the negative terminal (figure B). Add the protective cover to the terminal box.
- Mount the solar panel to the plywood support (figure C) on the post and hold in place with screws.
- Tack the landscaping cable extending from the solar panel to the side of the mounting post.
- Touch the wires of the cable extending from the solar panel to the pump wires to test. The pump should start running!