Read These Six Tips Before Purchasing A Solar Bird Bath

by Nicola Temple on December 17, 2011

A solar bird bath might be just the right gift for that gardener or bird lover that already has everything else.

After all, who doesn’t love to watch birds splashing about in their back yard?

A solar water pump creates some water movement that not only adds to the water feature, it’s also likely to attract more birds and insects – all by using energy from the sun!

The moving water also prevents the bird bath from becoming stagnant and makes it a less desirable nursery for mosquito larvae.

However, before you buy, here are some tips to guide you in your purchase:

Don’t be fooled by the name: Don’t be confused by models out there that are called solar bird baths, but in fact the solar panel drives a light associated with the bath, not any sort of fountain. Obviously this style has its own redeeming features, but you just want to be sure you’re getting what you want.

Choose the right style for you and your garden: There seems to be two main styles: one where the photovoltaic cells are submersed in the water of the bath, directly above the pump and the other where they are free standing, connected to the bird bath by a short wire. Each style seems to have its advantages and disadvantages.

The submersed PV cell style is more discreet and quick to assemble. However, because it lies horizontally, under the water, it requires very direct sunlight to work. Even the presence of a bird in the fountain will block the PV cells and cause the fountain to weaken or switch off entirely.

Bird baths where the solar cells are separate and attached by a wire are less discreet, yet they seem to be more sensitive to light, providing a more reliable fountain. The solar cell can be placed to take the best advantage of the sun, while the bird bath could theoretically be placed in partial shade to help reduce evaporation of the water.

solar bird bath

You can turn an existing bird bath into a solar bird bath by adding a solar water pump that you just drop into the water. CC image courtesy of NatJLN on Flickr.

No fountain on cloudy days: None of the solar bird baths I have come across have been able to store power generated by the sun, so if it’s cloudy, the pump will switch off.

Don’t run dry: It’s important to realize that the pump will run if the bird bath empties, so if you’re in a hot dry climate where water evaporates quickly, it’s a good idea to remove the pump before leaving on holidays.

Some maintenance required: A bird bath with a fountain will require more maintenance than just a normal bird bath. The pump may need minor servicing from time to time.

You get what you pay for: It seems as though in the world of solar bird baths, you get what you pay for. A cheaper solar bird bath, with the PV cells submersed will run you around $100 dollars depending on the style you choose.  Faux finishes tend to be cheaper, but many reviewers on places like Amazon complain that these finishes peel off in a very short time and clog the water pump. Ceramic is more expensive, heavier and more breakable, but won’t have this problem.

A solar bird bath with separate PV cells will cost closer to $150-$200 dollars, but as I stated before, the cells seem to be more sensitive to the light and therefore you end up with a more reliable fountain in the end.

Of course, there are cheaper versions also.  Non pedestal style solar bird baths can still be a nice feature in any garden for less than $100.

You can also just buy a solar water pump, which can be placed in an existing bird bath or a water sealed pot. However, be sure the bird bath is a sufficient depth to allow the pump to be submersed.

A solar bird bath can be a lovely garden feature that provides hours of entertainment of watching birds frolicking. There’s also something very relaxing about having the sound of running water in your garden. All this, with no energy expense as it is free courtesy of the sun. Hopefully these tips will help guide you in your purchase as it can be disappointing if you shell out a lot of money for something that doesn’t meet your expectations.

In the meantime, have a look at this video of a robin having a serious soak in this solar bird bath and get a taste of just how much entertainment this garden feature can provide.


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