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battery back-up for solar power garden water feature?

Shropshire, England Eng

I have a 4-bowl water feature, solar powered, but the problem is, every time a tiny wisp of cloud gets in front of the sun, it stops. it says it's got "solar battery", so I assumed it'd soak up sunlight and use the power later, but it seems to have only a use-now solar panel

I've been trying to find some way to back up the power with a bettery, but Google doesn't seem to understand the concept - keeps offering me "water features" or "how to change a watch battery" and other such relevant topics

The feature has a mains adaptor, but I'd need to get safe outside electricity installed, with non-trip cabling - would probably cost a lot, just for a single fountain. Of course, I could then add more, but safe wiring?

So I thought, can I get some kind of battery, reachargable indoors at the mains, to use instead? I've had a suggestion of something the size of a car battery, which would be impractical.

Can anyone suggest any way to back up a solar panel? even a solar battery would only work when the sun was shining, so something independent would be good

I want to have a go at making my own small water features, but given this powering prob ... I'd try anything, even Every-Ready!!



Solar garden lights charge up during the day and light up at night so its strange that your fountain stops when the sun goes in. Would it be worth asking the place you bought the fountain from if this is what's supposed to happen?

26 Mar, 2014


My daughter has one that does exactly the same thing Fran, the screen stands away from the feature and is actually quite a large one but like yours its a no-show without the sunshine, hope someone can come up with a solution for you.....

26 Mar, 2014


It's about ten years old, Stera - I bought it two houses ago, when I still lived on the 7th floor, for when I finally did get a garden

mind you, the block was aligned north-south and there wree a lot of trees to the east, so I only got about an hour's direct sunlight each day - if any! maybe that wasn't enough to start the battery charging? hadn't thought of that beofre. but wisp of cloud - fountain stopped.

Once I'm sure that the danger of frost has passed, I'll try it again - if it keeps going, thatn that's all I want. And I can buy solar power kits for my projects without having to worry about backup.

this has a single pnael, Lincs, with a wire connection; maybe it wasn't connected properly, though that was the first thing I thought of checking when it stopped.

it'd be nice to have one that works when one wants it to, but if that means installing outdoor leccy, think I'll have to learn to live without! or, lol, get a wind-up motor to power it

lol bought a couple of different types of solqr light, to see how well they'd work before I bought more. neither did. that's probably what i get for buying from a pound shop!

I need to get a porch light (I can't see the keyhole at night, and I can't look through the spyhole to see who's outside), and the handyman said solar is good, but which? so many types, got to buy and h ope it works!

26 Mar, 2014


Have you tried asking the Housing Association about a light for outside, preferably one that works on a timer so you don't have it coming on unneccessarily, I would have thought they'd be able to sort that for you as surely it would come under the safety aspect for you....

26 Mar, 2014


it's on my list of things to ask them, Lincs. The hall runs from front door to kicthen, and there's only one liught, near the front door, so the other end of the hall does get quite dark - and that's where the heating thermostat is! i have to put on the kitchen light to be able to see dimly.

And there's no leccy socket in the hall at all - other than one that's got a plug in and a sign saying "don't remove", so it's either to do with the smoke alarm or granny alarm. how one is supposed to vacuum the hall with the lead having to come from another room beats me. and I can't have my phone in the hall, where' I'd be able to hear it from every rroom, cos the answerphone bit needs a leccy socket.

I do want a timer on the porch light - i read not to get a motion sensor one, cos that can really annoy the neigbbours if it strobes all night! the street lighting is pretty poor - I wouldn't go out in this level of lighting in London!

and i want a timer on the heating - sometimes it's one am and i suddenly realise that the heating is still on! when I had a timer (two addresses ago), I'd set it to go off at 10, so by 11 it was chilly enough to remind me taht tit was probably time for bed.

I contacted Shropshire council today to ask abotu disabled adaptiations - not sure what's Council and what's HA, never had to bother before as my landlord was the council.

(annoyingly, the Council person asked me waht adaptations i wanted, and i could only say, I don't know, what have you got? how am I supposed to guess about euqipment when I don't know what's available? i'm used to living without any aids, there could be something that would be ideal for me, but unless i specifty it, they won't tell me. grrr!)

26 Mar, 2014


Following all this with interest as I would love to have a little fountain but obviously want one that functions properly & don't want to go to the expense of having cable put in. Also have a similar problem re light outside my front door. This is supposed to go on when people walk past but keeps failing to do so. Have had man out twice to fix, lasts a couple of months then packs up again. Would be better if I could just turn it on & off myself.

27 Mar, 2014


Two varieties of solar panels - the one you have which operates when the sun shines on it at a particular light level and the other - much more expensive - sort which is able to store energy.
I thought of getting one for my pond but if you look up "solar on demand" you will see that there are very few items as yet. I don't think I've seen any pumps that aren't already integrated into a figure/birdbath.

Ps in order to charge up the unit the water flow has to be switched off - so the solar panel is either powering the fountain or storing energy - not both at the same time.

27 Mar, 2014


hi Feverfew, welcome to the bear garden!!

I've seen solar pump kits on some sites, so one can make one's own feature, but don't know whta power one needs to lift X amount of water Y height at Z pressure - there mustb e a chart for this somewhere!

I only want a mini-mini water feature: scale feature in a reaised bed mini-landscaoe, so it'd only need to lift a little water inches at low pressure - want a gentle burbling flow, not niagara! And I have some ideas for other, small features, as well, which may not come off but which it'd be fun to try.

I have read that motion sensors can be annoying, cos they can be activated by wind-blown debris entering the detection area: leaves or paper (or tumbleweed,lol) and then the neighbours get a strobe lightshow - al night long in windy weather.

when the man comes to fix it, what is it he fixes? what problem does he put right? that might give a clue.

Thanks for that, Urbanite!! valuable info. When I tried Googleing this subject, I found a couple of sites that had "floating battery backup" for their pond fountain. I didn't understand that (to me a battery's always tucked away underneath, out of sight!)

now you've explained it, it's "obvous"! I haven't seen the instructoionf for mine for years, but I think it said that the solar panel had to be pout out, unocnnected, so it oculd charge up? but with the amount of light I got, it'd take a long time! it was "plug and play", so the only way to switch off was to take the panel lead from the socket

Though i did have the water feature at the local charity office i was a volunteer iwth, internal courtyard that got a lot more sun, and i think it was stop-start-stop then as well - only, at home, it never got round to starting again!

I will definitely check out "solar on demand", thanks again

ps - just have! apart from the first being "watch videos anywhere, any time" (no doubt due to the "on demand" bit) the rest are exactly on target!

27 Mar, 2014


Hi, if you have had it for 10 years, and not been used much, the charger could have deteriorated to the extent that it is only working as you have said, I would think about buying a new one, Derek.

27 Mar, 2014


Thanks, Derek. The feature has mostly been living in a binbag, and the cabled panel and other connections in a box which has yet to come to light as I'm still unpacking.

it'd probably be a lot better if I were to buy a complete set of pipes etc, just use the original feature.

I've been checking out the "solar on demand" that Urbanite kindly pointed me to, and have some questions, if anyone can understand what I mean?!

The battery has to be charged with the feature turned off, which implies that the battery is connected to the feature. so while the sun's shining, I can't run the feature via the "here and now" solar panel.

Could the battery not be a plug-in one, where it can charge "stand-alone", ie not connected to the feature, so that I could still run the feature with the "here and now" solar panel?

And if so, could I get some extra batteries, ie get four batteries for two water features, so that I can use each in turn to give more feature life?

There's a socket on this feature to allow the solar panel to be plugged in, which is why I ask - I assume that the panel would be unpluged and the battery plugged in instead.

or can I get a battery that charges up at the mains??! cos even a backup battery won't charge on a cloudy day

28 Mar, 2014


Hi, I'm sorry I can't help you on that, I don't know very much about solar panels and such, but I know that rechargeable batteries deteriorate to the extent that they discharge in a few hours, and become unusable, Derek.

28 Mar, 2014


thanks Derek

lol at least you know more than I do - which wouldn't be hard!!!

28 Mar, 2014

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