Arduino Controlled Solar Fountain

Picture of Arduino Controlled Solar Fountain

A fountain can make a nice decorative fixture for your garden. But it isn't always easy to run a power cord out to where you want it. So I decided to run it on solar power. The system is controlled by an Arduino. This allows you to save energy by programming when the fountain will be turned on.
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Step 1: Powering the Fountain

Picture of Powering the Fountain
A standard solar panel and battery provide the power for the fountain and the control circuit. Since most fountain pumps run on 120VAC, you will also need a small power inverter to run the pump.

Solar Panel:
The size of the solar panel determines how many hours a day the fountain can be on. If you want the fountain to be on all the time, then you will need a larger panel. If you only want it to run for a few hours each day, then you can get by with a much smaller panel.

The battery needs to be a 12V rechargeable battery (preferably one that is designed for solar power applications). It should have a high enough capacity to be able to run the pump for a few hours on a single charge. 

Power Inverter:
The power inverter just needs to be strong enough to power the pump. A small 80 watt inverter should be more than sufficient to power most fountains.
jdarwish3 months ago

can this project used Arduino UNO? interested on doing this...

DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)  jdarwish3 months ago
Yes. Any Arduino model will work.
NightLord11 months ago
Nice project, I am planning something simmilar in the future :)

There are some thoughts for improving your project:

-You could use low cost DC powered pump, to avoid DC-AC conversion losses. They may not seem important, but cheap inverters are not very efficient, and losses may be over 20% at low power usage (e.g. 10W pump for 80W inverter)

- Just like low voltage shutdown, you need at least high voltage shutdown for solar panel, to prevent battery from being overcharged. Since you're already using arduino, it would be realatively easy to add another relay, cutting power supply at around 14V and turning on again at, let's say 12,6V

- I would also suggest you to use higher voltage when you consider battery fully discharged, 11,5V for example, to give longer battery life time. But that's just my thought, I have never killed a battery yet :)

Don't take this critic too hard, I just want to share some of my knowledge, that I gained with my 160W 160Ah solar power arduino controlled system ;)
Idrispo NightLord4 months ago

hey, i would like to see you project.... i to want to have a solar power arduino control system.

arnab3216 months ago

you could make the arduino sleep, insead of delay() to save power. Theres a library for that afaik

sspence11 months ago
Why an IRF and not an IRL? IIRC, the IRF likes to see about 10v turn on voltage (works less reliably on less, depending on load), where the IRL (5v) is better matched to an Arduino.
DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)  sspence11 months ago
I used these parts mostly because it is what I had on hand.
longvu7611 months ago
Very interesting project.

I have a fountain, a battery, and a DC converter like yours in the picture. I'm only missing the solar panel so I'm wondering what size and watt of your solar panel that you use?

Also, what do you use the the black housing box?
DIY Hacks and How Tos (author)  longvu7611 months ago
You can use any 12V solar panel. The only difference is how often you want the fountain to turn on. If you want the fountain to be be on all day then you need the panel that produces at least as many watts as the pump requires. Alternatively, you can have a much smaller panel that spends several hours charging the battery for every hour that the pump is on.This is one of the advantages of using the arduino to control when the pump turns on. For example, a 0.1W panel could run a 1.0W pump for an hour each day.
foobear11 months ago
wow, such clean and clear instructions with beautiful photos and everything labelled. a great instructable and a cool project!
sifuentesk11 months ago
Looking forward to trying this out. Fantastic!