In this guide we’ll look at the best solar water features.
I’ve compared design, build quality, size and cost
to give you my top recommendations.
In this guide we’ll look at the best solar water features.
Everything I Recommend
More Detailed Solar Water Feature Reviews
Ornamental Umbrella Fountain Solar Water Feature Review
If you’ve got quite a traditional garden, or you just like the look of stone ornaments, this water feature has got the look of a classic fountain/bird bath but everything’s just a bit more practical.
It’s made from resin which requires no maintenance, and weighs a very manageable 9.62 kg. As you can imagine, it’s therefore a lot easier to move around than a real stone fountain would be, and it’s cordless as well.
As mentioned, a sweet ornamental tableau makes up the centrepiece, and this is what makes the style quite ‘cute and traditional’ when compared with more modern, minimalistic designs. Water comes out the top of the umbrella, trickling down the ‘spokes’ and cascading past the models of a little boy and girl.
It might not be to everyone’s tastes, but it’s a very sweet item for anyone who enjoys this type of feature.
The solar panels are incorporated into the unit meaning there are no trailing wires to hide and everything is self-contained. Given that it needs to ideally be placed in direct sunlight, the light-weight, portable nature of this fountain means it’s even possible to move as the sun changes position.
Whilst some solar-powered items charge a battery store when it’s sunny, that’s not the case with this particular fountain. Therefore, it won’t run at night time, and there will also be cloudy days where it doesn’t have much strength.
In terms of assembly, it’s incredibly easy to put together and can be ready to go in less than ten minutes. The resulting gentle sound of running water is relaxing, and the whole fountain is easy to maintain; it will just require topping up with water every now and then and perhaps the odd wipe clean.
- Lightweight enough to move into different positions to chase the sunlight
- The resin construction looks convincingly like real stone
- Easy to assemble in just ten minutes
- Produces a tranquil and calming sound
- There's no battery store so it won't run if there isn't enough sunlight
- May topple in strong winds because it's so light and is best moved to a sheltered area in the winter months
Traditional Barrel Solar Water Feature Review
Fountains can add a lot of ambience to the garden, and even more so if they can run at night like this Traditional Barrel Solar Water Feature. The battery store charges up during the day, and can power both the fountain and four LED lights when there isn’t enough sun.
This results in a pretty versatile water feature as it can be a centrepiece in the garden during both the evening and the day. The water cascades from the top tap into a small ‘barrel’ and from that container into a larger one.
Although it’s all made from heavy-duty plastic, the finished design is sufficiently rustic to look stylish in the garden instead of cheap. It stands at 61 cm tall in total and can be placed in any area of the garden, regardless of electricity access, due to its solar panel.
It does need to be placed in quite a sunlit area, as this will also help with charging the battery as well as powering the solar panels. When there isn’t enough sun, providing the battery has benefited from sunlight during the day, the fountain can continue running for around four hours.
As mentioned, there are also LED lights that sit in the bottom bowl of the of the water feature. These can be turned on at the push of a button, illuminating the fountain at night time.
Whilst this particular model may seem quite expensive for what it is, given that it’s made of plastic, it creates an attractive focal point in the garden, is low maintenance, and can run when there’s no sun.
- Has a battery included that can store solar power and allow the fountain to run at night time or in cloudy conditions
- The battery can power the fountain for around four hours
- LED lights create a focal point of the fountain in the dark
- Will work on some overcast days as it doesn't only require direct sunlight
- Relatively expensive for what you get, even though it all works well
- The instructions are lacking in detail which makes assembly take longer than necessary
Pitcher Cascade Solar Water Feature Review
This Pitcher Cascade Solar Water Feature is made of durable resin that gives the appearance of dark terracotta – it’s perfect for creating a Mediterranean feel in the garden.
Given that it’s solar powered, there are no wires to worry about and it doesn’t need to be connected to anything. The water continuously cycles around the feature, only needing topping up when it evaporates.
There’s also a battery that stores solar power, meaning the fountain can even be used on cloudy days or in the evening. When fully charged, it can store enough power to continue running for around six hours without sunlight.
Though made of resin, as mentioned, the design is not ‘plasticky’, and the cascading terracotta pot composition wouldn’t look out of place on the terrace of a Spanish villa. If your garden has a Mediterranean theme, it’s an excellent choice, but it’s also one of the best solar water features for any style of garden.
The overall construction is lightweight, weighing 6 kg without water, and it can be moved around as required which is useful for winter storage. Like all things solar-powered, it works best in direct sunlight, but it will also continue to trickle (without using battery power) on some overcast days.
There’s only one small thing to criticise, and it’s a minor aesthetic observation at that, but the solar panel is square in a circular bowl so it’s not well concealed; it’s easy to spot in the top of the pitcher.
- Doesn't look plasticky despite being made of resin - resembles terracotta pots
- Light weight at 6 kg so easy to move around
- Battery can hold up to six hours of charge when charged in direct sunlight
- Comes in two parts so is easy to assemble
- Although reasonably balanced, this water feature may tip over in strong winds due to its weight
- The solar panel is quite visible as it is a square panel in a round bowl
Dancing Couple Birdbath Solar Water Feature Review
I imagine few of us are willing to commit to buying genuine bronze furniture for our garden, given that it’s both heavy and expensive. However, it’s still possible to get bronze-look items, like this Dancing Couple Birdbath Solar Water Feature, which provide the charm of bronze, without the fuss.
It’s light weight, made from weather-resistant resin, has a built-in reservoir, and doesn’t require any mains power.
In fact, setting it up takes as little as 10 minutes (including getting it out the box), and it can be easily moved around (which can’t be said for real bronze fountains!).
In many ways, its design is similar to the Ornamental Umbrella Fountain also featured on this page, but with one fundamental difference: the depicted scene. This one portrays a couple performing a ballroom dance under a pavilion, and the water cascades from the top of the shelter over the sides.
It fills the bowl and is cycled back through the fountain, only requiring topping up occasionally when some of the water evaporates.
The one downside to this fountain is the lack of battery; it can’t store power and therefore won’t run at night time or on cloudy days, so it’s best suited to gardens that receive quite a lot of light.
Its design is both contemporary yet traditional at the same time which makes it one of the best solar water features for either style of garden, and it’s also extremely low maintenance.
- Remains stable in windy conditions
- Very simple to assemble in just a few minutes
- The finish looks like bronze but in reality is a lot more light weight and practical
- No maintenance required to care for the resin construction
- There's no battery so it won't store power and can't run in the evening or on cloudy days
- Best placed in a sheltered area as wind can cause the water to blow out of the fountain
Water Mill Solar Water Feature Review
This Water Mill Solar Water Feature allows you to bring a miniature ‘working’ watermill into your garden. The mill’s wheel turns as the water runs over it, and it also illuminates at night time.
Measuring 51 x 50 x 51 cm, it’s not quite as small as you might initially expect, meaning that the decorative details aren’t lost and it’s large enough to create a pleasant sound as the water runs off the wheel.
Unlike many solar-powered features, its solar panel is separate as opposed to built in. The cable is 3 m long so the solar panel can be placed in the vicinity of the fountain, but is easy to position in order to optimise how much sunlight it receives.
Whilst it may not be the best solar water feature for sitting on its own on the patio, due to this design, it will be ideal for nestling amongst gravel beds or rockeries. It’s necessary to place this water mill somewhere like a flowerbed, with soft ground to drive the stake of the solar panel into, as opposed to a hard surface.
There is also a second solar panel, on the roof of the house, that charges a small light. At night the light will come on if desired, and there is a small switch on the panel which allows this feature to be controlled. This light is positioned inside the house, meaning the little windows illuminate from within with a warm glow.
This is both aesthetically pleasing and practical, acting as a small light source in the garden.
Whilst this water feature may look like it’s made from stone or clay, it’s actually been moulded out of resin. As a result it doesn’t require any maintenance, and will withstand bad weather without getting damaged.
Overall, if you’re after something decorative and low maintenance, this works well on both accounts, offering something different compared to your standard garden fountain. Due to its design though, it’s not going to attract wildlife in the same way that a bird-bath style fountain will, so it depends what you’re looking for from a water feature.
- Gentle, relaxing sound produced by the turning mill wheel
- Light to illuminate the windows can be turned on or off as desired
- Compact design perfect for smaller outdoor spaces
- Relatively low maintenance - simply top up with water when needed
- Solar panel connects with a 3 m cable which can be easily repositioned depending on where the sun is
- Mill only turns in relatively bright sunlight
- There is no battery so it won't charge in order to run at night or on cloudier days
Blumfeldt Sphere Fountain Solar Water Feature Review
Whilst this might not be the case with all fountains, solar powered models like this modernistic Blumfeldt Sphere Fountain Solar Water Feature can be placed both indoors and out.
The idea of an indoor fountain may seem absurd, until you realise how easy it is to move something like this around (it only weighs 8.8 kg). It can be placed outdoors in summer, and brought in to continue running in the conservatory during winter (if you want!).
All of the components are self-contained, so the water is kept in a reservoir within the base of the unit, and continuously cycled through the fountain, there are no outside cables, and the water doesn’t splash violently out of the pool.
The water bubbles from the top of the sphere, trailing down into a flat pool at the top of the pedestal. Standing at 72 cm tall, it’s the sort of water feature which could just as equally be a bold centrepiece or an understated addition to the garden
Given that the solar panel is separate to the main unit, it can be moved around and positioned to receive optimum sunlight, and there is a battery as well which can charge through the solar panel.
As a result, this fountain will run at night as well, and there is a light that illuminates the water; it generally comes on when the solar panel stops receiving enough light in the evening, or when the battery mode is turned on.
The only problem with the light is that it seems to require relatively bright sunlight to charge effectively, therefore it may not work all that well if there was not that much sun during the day. It may also be best to manually turn it on, so that the charge isn’t used up by nightfall on darker evenings.
- Stunning contemporary design suits modern gardens
- Battery holds approximately 6 hours charge when solar panel exposed to full sunlight
- Simple to set up
- Has an on/off switch so the battery power can be saved for use when wanted
- Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use
- LEDs need a full day of sunlight for them to work effectively
- The lights may need to be manually turned on, as they can run out of charge before nightfall by coming on when the sun gets low in the sky
Cobbled Birdbath Solar Water Feature Review
This Cobbled Birdbath Solar Water Feature is a great choice for bird lovers (or just anyone who enjoys charming water features!). With the decorative birds on top, and cobbled-stone-effect construction, there’s a real ‘Snow White’ feel about it, and the design is well laid out for attracting real birds to come by too.
Water bubbles out of the top basin, cascading down the lipped sides into the large lower basin where birds can sit to drink or bathe. It has a 36 cm diameter, offering plenty of space for blackbirds and sparrows to clean their feathers.
The overall weight without water is 4.54 kg, so despite the stone effect, it’s actually made from lightweight resin. This makes winter storage much easier than it would be with a real stone fountain, and also means it can be moved around as well if desired.
It also required very little maintenance, and is both UV and frost resistant, so won’t easily show signs of wear despite the varying UK climate.
The solar panel is on a separate stake, which can be placed on the ground near the fountain in order to capitalise on sunlight. This works well to provide optimum space for the birds to bathe as well, as no room is used up by solar panels within the water feature.
It’s therefore one of the best solar water features for encouraging birds to visit, and is very mobile and self-contained, making it a practical yet attractive choice. Assembly is relatively straight forward, and the model birds don’t come automatically attached, so you could choose to leave them off, if you preferred to give real birds more space.
Just one helpful thing to note, as the instructions are a little vague: the pump is positioned in the column between the big and small bowl, from there it connects via a tube to the top bowl.
- Separate solar panel is connected to 3m long cable so can be moved to catch the sun
- Very low maintenance and won't fade in sunlight
- Appealing to birds and allows them enough space to drink and bathe
- Attractive cobbled effect looks like real stone
- No battery so only works when the sun is out
- Does not work very effectively on cloudy days
Things to Know Before Buying a Solar Water Feature
Having a water feature in the garden is something that can really boost the relaxing ambience of your outdoor space, bringing a bit of zen with the soothing flow of running water.
They can also create a bath for birds, and give them a place to drink from.
Traditionally, water features have always been a bit of an expense and hassle to set up, pushing up energy bills and requiring outdoor wiring. However, solar-powered water features are much simpler to install, and have no running costs. They can be set up in minutes with no expert knowledge, and placed anywhere in the garden with adequate light.
They really are the way forward when it comes to garden fountains, but there are a couple of things to bear in mind before buying one. To make sure you get the best solar water feature for your money, I’ve put together the following useful information:
There are four main benefits of buying a solar water feature compared to a mains-powered model.
- Running cost = £0. This has got to be one of the biggest draws of a solar-powered water feature. They don’t compromise on design, so you don’t lose out on anything a mains-powered feature would have, but they don’t cost you anything to run. You’ll know exactly where you stand; you just need to make the initial purchase, and that’s the only money you’ll spend!
- Placement freedom. You can put a solar water feature anywhere you want in the garden; you won’t need to worry ‘is it possible to connect to the mains from here’ as you would with a traditional feature. The solar panel will need to be somewhere bright or in direct sunlight, but you’ll still have plenty of scope on where to put it.
- Hassle-free set up. A solar water feature can be up and running within ten minutes of getting it out the box. You can get one on the day of a party, and have it flowing atmospherically on the patio by 6pm. Unlike mains-powered water features, which require a lot of forward planning: digging up turf to lay cables; calling in an electrician to sort out the wiring, solar-powered fountains can be assembled by anyone in mere minutes.
- Easy storage. Most water features will need to be stored away in winter, regardless of whether they’re mains or solar powered. This is because freezing temperatures can cause irreputable damage to their pumps, especially if there is any water left in the pipes. Storage a solar-powered water feature is as easy as picking it up, emptying it, and putting it away. There are no cables or pipes to disconnect.
Of course, along with these four factors, there are many other benefits to choosing a solar water feature. They’re eco-friendly because they use renewable energy, easy to re-position as much as you like, and will never be aesthetically hampered by visible wires.
There are solar-powered water features available in almost any material (within reason!), so you’re more likely to be limited by your budget than by construction options.
As with traditional main-powered fountains, you can find designs made of stone, bronze, pewter, copper, clay… the list goes on!
Stone is extremely long lasting, even when exposed to the elements (you only need to look at something like Stonehenge to see how true this is!). One of the mains reasons that people are often put off from having real stone features in the garden is due to their impractical weight.
Clay is slightly less hardy; it will likely show signs of wear over time and should be brought in during winter to protect it against frost.
For this reason, a lot of water features are often made from resin, a strong and hardwearing plastic material.
You may be put off by the sound of ‘plastic’, but resin can be moulded to mimic the forms of wood, stone, and clay, in a very believable way. As a result, resin is also a very long-lasting material that will make for an excellent, low-maintenance water feature. Plus, it will be a lot kinder on your wallet than more traditional constructions!
Resin tends to be UV resistant, so it won’t fade in sunlight, and extremely weatherproof – able to be left outside in snow and frost without suffering adverse effects (however, as mentioned, it’s best to store water features away in winter, even if they are made from resin, to protect the pump mechanism).
When it comes to investigating the longevity of the fountain-system itself, the best thing you can do is check customer reviews. Cheaper items do not necessarily mean ‘bad construction’, just as more expensive items don’t necessarily mean ‘quality product’. To get a good feel for how long-lasting and sturdy the pump system is, the most useful research is to read about what other customers have experienced.
Finally, to help your solar water feature last longer once you’ve bought it, it’s good practise to do a small amount of occasional maintenance, which leads us on to the next section…
Solar water features don’t require much maintenance, particularly if they’re made from resin. However, there are a few things that are worth bearing in mind to make sure you really get the most for your money, and keep your fountain going for many years.
Taking Care of Solar Panels
Solar panels are low maintenance by design, which is great news, but they may need a bit of help to keep them working at their optimum potential.
You should make sure that solar panels are kept clean. Any debris will obstruct the solar panel and stop it from being able to catch the sun’s rays. This will stop your water feature from working well, and also could lead to permanent damage of the solar panel over time.
Any time you pass by, remove any dead leaves or other large pieces of debris which may have landed on the solar panels of your water feature.
Occasionally, every couple of months or so, you should give the solar panels a proper clean.
You want to avoid using any powerful soaps to clean solar panels, and also avoid abrasive sponges and brushes, as this can cause damage. Instead, use a soft rag and a biodegradable soap to gently clean any grime from the panels.
Depending on how often you clean them, you may just be able to rinse the panels with water instead of using soap.
Storing Your Solar Water Feature in Winter
As mentioned, a great benefit of a solar water feature is that it is extremely easy to move around and store, particularly if it is made from resin or another lightweight material.
It’s best to store any water features away in winter. If it’s left outside, when the temperatures drop below freezing, any water that remains in the pipes will freeze and expand. This could cause damage to the workings of the fountain.
Before storing your water feature, empty it of water and dry it off with a cloth as best you can. Try to allow the pipes to drain as well, if possible. You want to make sure that it’s as dry as it can be, because temperatures can still drop below freezing even in garages and outhouses.
Top tip for bird lovers: If you like to use your water feature as a birdbath, and don’t want to rob the birds of their drinking hole in winter, consider replacing the fountain with a birdbath bowl over the winter months. You can replenish it as necessary and stop it from freezing. This way, you can store away your water feature, protecting its mechanism, but continue to offer the birds in your garden a water source.
Some solar water features have built-in solar-powered batteries which will store solar energy and allow the feature to be used when there’s no sun.
This is really useful to look out for, allowing you to get the most out of your water feature even on cloudy days. Plus, with the help of a built-in battery, you’ll even be able to use your solar water feature at night time.
Many water features with built-in batteries also feature LED lights. If you choose one of these designs, you will be able to use the fountain as an illuminated water feature in the evenings.
If there’s no battery, your water feature won’t be able to store any power, even if it’s switched off on sunny days.
Solar Water Feature FAQs
Most resin water features are weather and frost resistant and will be fine outside for most of the year. They can be quite light weight, so in very high winds they could be blown over. It’s therefore good to make sure they are in a slightly sheltered spot. Where possible, store your water fountain away when temperatures start to drop below freezing. If water is left in the pipes of the water feature, and it freezes, this can cause damage to the fountain mechanism. Even if you think everything is dry, there could still be water left inside.
It’s not unusual for the recycled water in a solar water feature to go a little green after a while. You can buy products to add to the water to stop this happening. They will work to prevent the growth of algae, green water and staining and are easy to use. Generally, you just need to add a small amount of the water treatment to the water in your fountain every 2 weeks during the summer months.
Many water treatments are non-toxic and are safe for dogs, birds etc. to drink, but you should make sure of this before putting any products in the water.
If you are run an 8 W mains-powered water feature for 10 hours a day, it would cost you just over £0.014 to run the fountain per day (based on an electricity company charging you a rate of 14p per kWh).
If you ran it every day for a month, for 10 hours a day, this would cost £0.42 per month.
A solar-powered water feature costs nothing to run.