all about water fountains

Water fountain or water features are the ultimate in relaxation and luxury in an outdoor area. The size, design and elaborateness will vary according to garden size, budget and taste yet the reported benefits (aside from the aesthetic) remain the same; Feeling soothed, rejuvenated and overall more relaxed are just some of the advantages reported by owners of water fountains Neighborhood noises can be drowned out, transporting you to a peaceful retreat away from city life. For this reason, the idea of installing a water feature is very alluring for many people.

Preliminary Plans

Any outdoor space can benefit from an outdoor water feature. Some are so small that they can be placed in the corner of a small courtyard or within a patio area. However to ensure a fountain isn’t out of place or appearing too large or small for the space, a scale drawing should be made before embarking upon a purchase. You can take this a stage further by mocking up the size of the fountain and placing it in the space (using cardboard or another similar sized object etc).

Price Range

Although the price range of fountains varies significantly, there are fountain designs to suit every budget. Designs can go from large, stately fountains to small and discreet trickles, simple “bubblers” or more elaborate streams and waterfalls.

Design Factors

When thinking about which design would suit your space and style best, try to keep in mind that the fountain will be the focal point of the space in which it is located. Think about the feel and style of current furniture and décor in the area and try to incorporate the design so it suits. Styles vary from the very traditional (think ornamental figurines such as angels, cupid etc) made from classic materials such as stone, marble or concrete. To the very modern – abstract shapes and modern materials such as copper, bamboo, acrylic resin, stainless steel, cast aluminium, fiber stone etc. Keep in mind your area’s climate and research whether your area would suit a particular material.

Other factors to consider are; desired level of water flow (and noise) and whether you wish to attract birds and butterflies to your space. Also, do you wish the water feature to be permanent or a seasonal addition to the garden? These will all factor in your decision on which water fountain to choose as many fountains are not suitable to be left out during winter in freezing conditions as ice may damage the unit. Ensure this is something you check before proceeding. If you have plants around the fountain space, enquire whether their foliage can withstand the additional water spray (if any)?

Lighting

Lighting, sound and color accents are very important factors to consider as they vary greatly between features. Lights can be very attractive however powering them needs to be decided early on and may impact the type of fountain you chose (electrical/ solar etc). The difference between hardwired fountains, solar fountains and battery powered fountains is that generally an electrician is required for a hardwired fountain. Solar powered or battery operated fountains are relatively simple to install yourself. You should consider whether you wish them to be switched on manually or automatically.

When considering a style and design, you may wish to find inspiration from various sources; your favourite vacation spot can be a great idea to consider – if you adore tropical locations perhaps shells and or fish could be a core theme? Or a skiing theme could be incorporated by glittery,silvery designs or snowflake shapes. If you enjoy hiking or outdoor activities, rocks could feature within your fountain design.

Another nice idea is to use your fountain as a form of a memorial for a loved one. You might like to think about your loved ones favourite colors, their passions,
favorite themes and décor styles.

Filtering

Obviously a filtering system is required to return the water back to the cycle. Your level of expertise and DIY skills is an obvious consideration as well as time available. Do you want to plug-and-go or do you wish to build from scratch as a hobby? You may wish for a plumber to install pipes to supply a steady flow of water or a recirculating pump, which you fill with water periodically. But obviously this can be costly.

How to Communicate with your Fountain

Another very modern dilemma is how you wish to connect to your water fountain. Connectivity can now be achieved through your smart phone, tablet or computer. This means you are able to “communicate” with your water feature wherever you are Perhaps you forgot to switch it off before the family vacation or maybe you are alerted to a problem or technical issue and to avoid a costly potential repair bill, you are able to switch off before the problem progressed. This is definitely something to consider when installing a permanent or elaborate piece, as technology will only increase from herein and upgrading later will most certainly be more costly than at the early stages. Remote access can be achieved via cloud based remote access devices, Ethernet or wifi connections.

Maintenance

Once you have your water feature installed, there will be maintenance factors and therefore you should learn about them before deciding which option to opt for. Water evaporation will occur no doubt, so ensuring you are able to easily top up levels is highly important. (Make sure your hose can reach or you will be carrying buckets often).

You will need some sort of weekly algae treatment to keep water crystal clear and prevent build up of algae and mineral deposits and stains so consider whether you will have a pet drinking from the water source before you add a non-organic treatment.

In colder regions, fountains should be drained of all water for winter – the pump should be stored indoors and if the fountain itself is made from stone or ceramics, it should also be sheltered to avoid cracks and damage from severe temperature fluctuations.

water_fountainPumps

How much water flow you achieve will depend on the size or power of the pump you choose. Choose one with a “dimmer” switch which enables the flow of water to vary. If you wish to decrease water sound, adding rocks to the base of your feature will decrease the “splashing” noise as well as the volume of water – lower water level increases noise volume and vice versa.

Your pump is extremely important to your water fountain and if any problem is suspected, it should be switched off immediately and cleaned. Flushing pump and hose lines, removing leaves and debris from intake valve, replacing filters and ensuring it is fully submerged into water all are mandatory steps.

Electrical vs Solar

One of the problems with water features is that electrical fountains can be expensive and difficult to install, sometimes requiring an electrician. Opting for a solar fountain can be a good alternative to electrical. Solar removes the costs of running an electric pump and also the electrical requirements and potential dangers of electricity. A solar water feature is considered the best choice in most cases.
Some advantages to using solar over electrical:
• No mains supply is required
• No stress on electricity bill
• Many solar water features recycle water
• Solar fountains allow a water fountain to be placed anywhere without cords
• Eco friendly
• Some solar water pumps may be eligible for tax credits in some states.
• Little maintenance

Solar fountains work via a small solar electric photovoltaic panel. This is the crucial element which converts the sun radiation photons into DC electrical current (electrons).The panel must be exposed to the sun to work. The solar panel can either be incorporated into a water feature or have a separate remote panel connected by wire and fastened to a wall or fence.
A rechargeable battery is sometimes included in most models which stores electrical energy during daylight hours so it is able to continue its use at night time.

There are three main types of solar fountains available:

Direct power solar fountains

These pumps run directly off the power generated from an attached or remote solar panel.  These types of solar fountains are usually designed to float on the water and are temporary installations. They will only function when the sun is out as no energy is stored.

Submersible solar fountains

These types of solar fountains are designed to be submersed below water. They draw in their energy from a solar panel elsewhere as obviously it cannot be held below the water. They usually produce a water spray that is both aesthetically pleasing and also aerates the pond.

Battery backup solar fountains

These solar fountains have a rechargeable battery which charges via a solar panel during daylight to supply light and water flow to the fountain at night.  They are often the most expensive to buy however as they do not cost to run, they are a great way to enjoy the fountain at night.

Advantages of Solar Fountains

Although they are typically more expensive up front, solar fountains soon pay for themselves as they are generally easy to install and a professional is usually not required. After installation, the day to day savings are ongoing. They are generally quick and easy to install and usually last until the panel, batteries or pump wear out.

Some fountains are ready-made for purchase and installation. Others are DIY projects that involve installing a solar panel. An ideal scenario would be to combine a little of both – utilizing the ease of an “off-the-peg” product whilst still enabling you to add a unique customized design feature.

Solar Birdbath Fountains

One type of solar fountain which doubles as attracting beautiful birds into an outdoor space is a solar birdbath fountain which generates a continuous flow of water. Often the solar panel sits in the water basin and the pump is stored underneath the panel. Solar birdbaths require no wiring however placement in optimum sunlight is imperative.

water_fountainInstallation
When installing a solar fountain, it is obviously important to ensure the solar panel is facing the sun. Usually there is a some kind of “mounting stake” supplied with ready-made products and which should be placed in a spot which receives optimum daylight.  Models with battery backups will need to have the pump, solar panel and LED light cables plugged into the battery pack.
All water pumps are rated according to vertical lift and water flow rates. Vertical lift refers to the height the fountain will reach and be able to transport the water. Water flow refers to the volume of water the pump can push out in the time period of an hour.
Its imperative to know the desired vertical lift and flow demands of your desig. Also to include any distance which the water will need to flow horizontally before reaching the pump. Obviously the demand will make the pump work hard and therefore the flow of water when it reaches it.
Solar lighting will enhance a fountain, pond, pool and general garden landscape. Lighting such as “lighted foggers” are very effective in solar fountains..

Disadvantages

It is important to note that water is lost due to evaporation and this loss will need to be replenished. Therefore it is important that easy access to the solar fountain is maintained.

Other disadvantages to solar fountains is the fact that many will not work in cloudy or overcast days. They also can’t run during night hours unless there is a back up battery. Some models also offer a far weaker water flow than with an electric pump and this may be important to some. The panel can also look unsightly and require some thought as to where to locate it in your outdoor area.

A solar powered fountain will certainly be the best option overall, if the effect required is simply a light bubbling or trickling of water.  Those who are lucky enough to reside in a sunny climate and plan to enjoy their fountain during the day mostly, then solar power is certainly the preferred option to take advantage of the multitude of pros for these types of water features.