Solar Aeration, Solar Pumps & Solar Systems

Using solar power to aerate a pond and build a complete solar system.
Small Solar Pumps For Water Gardens & BackYard Ponds | 12 Volt DC Air Pumps

In my years of assisting pond owners with aeration systems I have constantly been asked if it is possible to use solar power to aerate a pond and my answer has always been: YES! Of course the technology exists to build a homemade aeration system from fairly cheap parts that works on solar power and the reason is because there are a number of suppliers who can provide solar systems not only for pond aeration but also to charge deep-cell batteries and even to power complete cabins by using full off-grid power systems.

While the idea of using renewable resources as the cheap power source is definitely sound the reality is that many companies offer solar systems that are costly and such systems are currently designed more for the do-it-yourself style of pond owner. Of course all of my clients ask me why this is the reality considering that solar powered systems have existed for decades and there are solar pumps that should be able to perform the job to feed compressed air into why is this type of configuration so darned expensive?

It is essential to understand that any solar aeration system will be more costly than a standard AC electric aerator. If you have electric power within 100 feet of the pond you might want to consider an electric system. Realize that all these solar systems, pumps and compressors won't have the same life expectancy as a similar electric system. Of course if you have no choice and are off the grid or just don't have power then go for a solar system! Contact us with any questions.

The answer is that it doesn't have to be an expensive undertaking if someone really wants to add a solar fountain or a solar pump with a simple nozzle to create a spraying fountain-jet display or even a simple air diffuser system that operates with solar cells and direct current pumps. The problem is mainly the supply of such parts. Canadian solar supply companies are few and far between and even my clients in the USA have told me that buying solar panels and wiring kits anywhere in North America is not easy, especially if we are looking beyond the actual product but into the knowledge of installing solar power and building homemade solar aerators and fountains.

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Solar Direct Drive 12 Volt DC Solar Aeration Systems

After years of customer deman The Pond Report has brought Solar Direct aeration into its product lineup! with the introduction of the OWS AERMASTER DD solar powered aeration systems for remote ponds and lakes where power is not available, too expensive, or if you are off grid. Where a windmill isn't viable the solar direct systems, requiring no batteries, are also an environmentally conscious solution.

These plug and play solar systems come complete with high efficiency solar panels, energy efficient compressor, high volume cooling fans, fully adjustable manifold housed in weatherprrof ventilated cabinet. Diffusers are micro-bubble technology, self-cleaning, non-clogging membrane diffusers emit millions of tiny bubbles that increase dissolved oxygen levels while eliminating stratification, improving water quality and clarity. The systems are available as solar direct systems with 12 volt direct current pumps or as a hybrid solar/ac system that will operate with solar power when possible but will automatically switch to AC power when there is not enough sunlight to operate the DC pump.

Battery Free operation. We have eliminated the expense of rechargeable batteries and charge controllers by offering a direct drive (DD) aeration system. This reduces your cost along with the maintenance issues associated with a lot of extra components. Each system includes 2 panels with aluminum mounting brackets and adjustable pole bracket with variable angle configuration, compressor(s), an OWS DD solar controller module, heavy duty steel cabinet with locks, mounting pole, solar power disconnect switch, cooling fans, pressure gauge and a pressure relief valve. Each DD solar aerator can be operated by itself and totally independent of other aeration systems or it can be combined with a windmill aeration system to give you a longer operating time each day. It can also be combined with an electric aerator or windmill and electric aerator combo.

More Information

Before we look at the intrinsic difficulties of finding a local supplier of solar powered systems in Canada or North America for that matter let us first look at what exactly is involved for someone wanting to build a simple low-cost solar powered aeration system.

If you are like many of my existing clients you have toyed with the idea of aerating your pond without using expensive grid power. There are certain provinces and states that offer low cost electricity but even the most frugal electrical aeration systems can cost upward of 94 cents per day to operate and in higher cost markets these same systems can run up to 3 dollars per day in operating costs. It is no wonder that the question of self-sustained energy systems arises more often than talk about the weather!

During my paid consultations I typically go over the same ground again and again so I will do it once again here so more of you can benefit from my knowledge. Of course I do not pretend to be an expert in solar power but for many people who come to me in search of information on Canadian pond supplies I have helped many save several hundred dollars just by being honest and explaining what works and what doesn't work.

While I have been asked about everything from solar cabin kits and power system to full on solar powered fountains I will attempt to discuss some of the myths and impossibilities of using solar cells as a form of energy; the facts are that while solar power is a viable green technology it is also limited in that the initial setup costs are high and currently the ability to drive high powered pumps and solar powered compressors is limited. I much prefer an electrical system on a thermostat control or a timer compared to a solar aerator but the reasons are merely based on a desire for efficiency! If a system that was driven by sun power, or even wind power, could compare to the sheer power and control of an electric system I would be none too happy to switch!

But still, I have never discouraged anyone who has their heart set on using solar panels for aerating their ponds from doing so, in fact their are ways to achieve this sort of cost-saving is cost saving in the long run but solar power is always more expensive as an initial investment so that is something everyone should understand who contemplates using this sort of system.

Because I deal primarily with aeration projects, let's look at a typical inexpensive, cheap, homemade solar aerator:

The basic solar system requires a solar panel which is often a 60 Watt Uni-Solar Panel or a series of one or more 50 Watt Kyocera Solar Panels running together. These panels are mounted together in what is called a solar array on a pole and usually face towards the sun by manual positioning or in the case of more sophisticated systems an automatic solar tracking system.

An air compressor is needed to create compressed air that is pumped to the air diffusers in the pond and there are a few varieties of pond pumps that will correctly do the job; usually in a solar direct system you will need a direct current DC compressor such as a Thomas pumps.

I have found that the Thomas line of solar pumps offer an adequate mix of PSI and CFM which, while not as strong as the electric versions, still can offer good aeration in fairly small ponds with depths not exceeding 10 feet. I have built systems using a rotary vane compressors feeding two or more diffuser discs using direct solar power but again these are packages that are recommended mainly as a last resort when there is no electrical supply within 500 feet of the pond.

Buying Solar Pumps & Aeration System Approximate Cost
Complete Parts List for a Solar Direct Aeration DIY Aeration System

64-watt solar panels at some solar stores can retail from $600 - $2000
We recommend the following for the best value in Cheap Solar Panels
15 Watts Solar Panel:$129, 30 Watt Solar Panel:$260, 75 Watt Solar Panel:$350
For larger scale pumping, off-grid systems and cabin power systems we use the larger 165 watt solar panels: 165 WATT Mitsubishi Solar Panels

220-amp hour 6-volt battery $130 -$360 depending on quality
Air compressor $300 - $2500 depending on durability and included components
Control regulator and LVD $250 - $800 depending on quality and durability
1/2 inch air line (weighted) $120 - $250 depending on length and flexibility and memory of material
Air diffuser $65-$500 depends on size and water volume moved

Of course, the mountings for panels, enclosures for batteries and compressor can be purchased from your local dealer. The system can be permanently located at the site or mounted on a trailer for easy relocation if livestock or cattle or involved. While pond aeration systems are usually maintained on site the winter watering systems are known for being moved from pond to pond.

A linear current booster is required to combine the solar direct power from the panels to the DC powered pump and this is usually a simple system that can be picked up at a local supplier of parts designed for alternative power sources.

Your typical aerator includes a bubble diffuser which can be a EPDM type disc diffuser of nine or twelve in diameter membrane diffuser or an airstone or any manner of diffuser tubing also known as diffuser line, de-icing hose or bubbler line. While many systems can include a length of airline, often 100 feet, there is the self sinking weighted tubing variety of airline that makes installation much easier. Standard airline will float and it is rare that one of my clients will decide to buy regular poly plastic tubing instead of the weighted tubing because it makes installation so much simpler. Still, if saving money is a priority you should use floating airline available for about 30 cents per foot at the local hardware store instead of self-sinking tubing that costs from $1.15 TO $2.25 per foot.

For those of you who want to go beyond the solar direct system there exists many retailers who specialize in solar pond systems that include deep cell battery operated systems that can provide continuous aeration over 8 to 12 hours per day due to their deep cycle battery systems. Fundamentally these solar pumps are the same but instead of operating only when sunlight hits the solar panels they have the ability to charge deep cell batteries during the sunny hours of the day and can operate the pump during times when there is no light which is often preferable as aeration systems an their best will function only during the evening hours when their is no chance for aquatic plants to contribute oxygen due to photosynthesis.
25 Watt & 80 Watt
DC Air Pumps
Price Includes USA Shipping
These direct current air pumps both come with 12" pigtails for connection to your battery or solar electrical system. Also includes 6" of outlet hose (3/8" ID) and a plastic manifold. More info
80 Watt DC Air Compressor
Price Includes USA Shipping
These 12V workhorses have proven to be the most reliable pumps we've used. These high-flow, high-pressure compressors come with 9" pigtail wiring for quick connection to your your battery or current controller. Each one includes 2 feet of 3/8" ID outlet hose and an air inlet filter. They are oilless with ball bearing construction and low amperage draw. More info

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Beyond the need for aeration I am also asked constantly about solar pumps for fountains. Most floating mountains or even fixed base submersible fountains require large horsepower pumps to drive thick columns of water through brass nozzles to create dramatic effects and to create a large display such as a crown and geyser display using a solar pump is not financially feasible. Of course there are pumps that can be simply placed into a pond or dugout and with the addition of a brass fountain nozzle can create dramatic displays of height but the limitations of amperage inherent in solar pumps means that only smaller water bodies like water gardens can even entertain the concept of a solar fountain.

Solar fountains just don't have the power to push water beyond more than a few feet above the water level unless they are large scale and typically expensive systems.

Even when I visit a eutrophic pond in need of major treatment I inevitably come upon the question of solar systems designed to power cottages or country homes. There are cottage and complete solar systems that retailers create that include homemade packaged photovoltaic power systems from 50 to over 2000 watts that are perfect for providing full power for small cottages and vacation homes. These store bought systems usually come complete with cutting edge solar modules, controllers, mounting hardware, batteries, wiring and installation guides. Basically all you need is a few basic tools and a few hours to build your solar installation. Most of these systems are expandable especially if you consult a local solar dealer for tips and ideas on building a do it yourself solar system! You can always add on more solar modules at a later time or improve your system with a windmill or a micro-hydro turbine if you have running water on your property.

If you are thinking of adding more solar modules in the future it may be wise to select a pole-mounting structure capable of holding additional solar panels and choosing a voltage controller capable of handling the additional power. There are standby-grid-tie systems that not only allow you to feed power back to the grid, but it will also offer you the security of back-up power in the event of a power failure. During sunny days the solar array mounted on your roof for example, will feed extra electrical power back to the utility grid. In many provinces and states you may be able to sell your excess electricity to them via the hydro electric lines. During a blackout or major ice storm or even a terrorist attack the systems deep cell battery bank will provide you with the electricity to run multiple loads including furnaces, refrigerators, lighting, computers, televisions and phones for homes cottages and small businesses.

Where can solar aeration be used?
Most Solar aeration systems are custom-built for ponds and lakes when AC power or an air line from a AC powered system is not practical. The Solar panels can be designed and sized easily to supply power to a water pump or a combination bubbler and water pump.

Designing a solar aeration system
Designing a solar powered system can be done quite easily. For example, a pond of 2,400,000 litres or 650 000 gallons can be properly aerated with a minimum of 0.5 - 1.0 CFM (cubic feet per minute) at a minimum but if we can provide up to 4 CFM we can create multiple aeration zones by using multiple diffusers. Again, the limitations of the DC compressor are the key variable. For proper solar system design, the compressor size and combined power requirements should be calculated for correct aeration. Once these mathematics are calculated, the precise number of solar panels, wattage and batteries can be determined and implemented.

I have designed a standard indication showing the approximate component costs for a solar powered aeration system.

The following formula is often used to determine the number of solar panels required.
Example: (based on Canadian summer use) An average Canadian summer day will provide about 6.0-6.5 hours of charging time equaling a 12-volt compressor rated load of 3.8 amps (45.6 W) per hour.

To determine the number of panels using the formula, the following is calculated. 12v x 3.8amps x 24hr x 1.1bf = 1,204 Watt/hrs Based on this initial calculation, three solar panels will be required. This assumes use of 64-watt panels, which produce (64 watts x 6 hrs) 384 Watt-hrs per day. Therefore, (1,204 ÷ 384) = 3.1, round to three panels.

When installing a solar powered aeration or watering system, one should determine the number of batteries needed or calculate how much deep charge battery power is required during cloudy periods or if the panels are disconnected. This calculation will depend largely on how often the system is inspected and I recommend a battery storage capacity of three to five days.

In this generic example, if four days of storage are required and a six-volt 220-amp hour battery is being used, then you should calculate the number of batteries needed using the following formula: Load: volts multiplied by amps (Watts) Duty cycle: running time percent Run time: length of time required To determine the number of batteries using the formula, the following is calculated: 45.6w x 1.0 x 96 hours = 4377.6 Watt/hrs The number of 220 A/hr batteries required is 3.32, rounded up to four. This is achieved because a 220 A/hr battery holds (220 A/ hr x 6v) 1320 Watt/hrs, which, when divided into reserve capacity equals 3.32 batteries to get four days of reserve capacity.

I recommend using six volt batteries because they provide the best storage life. For a 12-volt system, the batteries must be used in increments of two in series equaling 12 volts; and for a 24- volt system, increments of four in series that equal 24 volts are required. Cost of Solar Aeration Depending on the system components used, pond solar aeration can vary from as low as $1,900 (solar direct - with no battery storage) to $18,500 for 24-hour aeration using multiple diffusers or shallow linear aeration diffuser tubing.

Some interesting links on solar power and solar aeration:

1. Solar-Powered Dugout Aeration

"Solar Power (Photovoltaic, PV) Photovoltaic, known as PV, relates to the production of electric current at the junction of two substances exposed to light. Photovoltaic systems consist of solar arrays (solar panel) that convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity, which can be used directly or stored in batteries.

Most DC systems are 6, 12 or 24 volts, or by using an inverter can be converted to alternating current (AC). Solar panels consist of silicon cells, which have no moving parts, are durable and have a life expectancy of 25 years or more. Most solar arrays begin delivering power or charging batteries with as little as 10% of sunlight with each cell of the array converting approximately 14% of the available energy to DC power. "
Government issued information on solar powered aeration:

2. Solar Pond Aeration and pond aeration.

"Turnkey solar power pond aeration systems are a good alternative to a windmill pond aeration system. SC Solar has been providing solar pond aeration systems for years. Solar lake bed aeration is extremely important to the health of isolated ponds. Golf course pond and farm pond stagnation problems are eliminated with our solar pond aeration systems.

We also use the aeration system for the hog waste industry problems to increase the decomposition of swine and other livestock waste issues. Call to discuss your hog waste lagoon options. SC solar may have the answer that you have been looking for. ."
Solar supply store.

3. Solar Water Pumps, Solar Fountains & Solar Waterfalls
"Solar fountain pumps can be used to create solar powered waterfall, pond and well projects. Crucial to the appearance of a well-designed garden is the lighting system and water features selected to enhance it. Silicon Solar is the proud manufacturer of a variety of solar fountains and solar water pumps.

Below you will find wholesale, manufacture-direct prices on solar powered pumps & fountain kit sets. We also carry a large selection of cascading fountains and many other complete fountain kits. With our unique solar fountains, we provide a wide selection of water pumps and other items that can be used in creating waterfalls in many landscape projects."

4. Solar Pond Bubbler Works At Night
"The solar panel activates the pump automatically and provides nearly continuous aeration. Our Solar Bubbler Pump Kits come complete with 0.09 cfm submersible bubbler, anchoring attachments, 16 feet of air tubing and a 0.5 amp, 18 V solar panel. A standard 12 volt car battery (not included) is also required. Yep, it works at night! The battery is charged (continuous operation requires 4 hours/day of direct unfiltered sunshine, 40 watt/hrs) by the built-in solar panel while allowing the pump to run continuously for up to *2 weeks of cloudy days (rainy days provide more oxygen/mixing than many aerators) and indefinitely through the evenings on sunny days.

That's right our unit is designed to maximize the use of the built-in solar panel to charge your standard 12 volt car battery while operating the bubbler. Other units on the market do not operate at night or require you to buy several additional solar panels and elaborate battery stacks and control systems that cost thousands of dollars to do what we do with every single unit. They just don't get it, you need our aeration that operates 24/7, not theirs that only operates during the daylight hours."
Solar System Retail Outlet:

5. Solar Power Kits For Your Dream Cabin

"We definitely understand the need of many to have a small off-grid solar powered cabin away from the cities and tucked away where you can escape the worries of everyday living. You probably built it yourself or played a major part in it's construction and whether it's made of straw bale, brick, wood, or some other form of alternative construction, it would probably be just a little homier with a little sunshine generated electricity. Well, we can sure help there... What you see here is a just a few of the entry level solar cabin kits we offer. We are happy to offer free quotes on solar cabin and solar home power systems of any size. "

Government issued information:
""This pilot project is an exciting next step in solar energy becoming a mainstream technology in Canada," said ARISE President Ian MacLellan. "Last year in Japan, there were more than 25,000 solar homes built and more than 100,000 systems have been installed since 1994.

This project will show in the Canadian context that solar energy can also make a significant contribution to the environment, reduce consumers' expenses and increase home comfort." ."
Government issued information:

Popular Battery Operated Pumps and Solar Pond Aerator Compressors
Pur Water
Simple DC air pumps look like a decent copy of a Thomas type blower built in to the dugout solar aerator developed by Kelln Solar:
Specifications Capacity: Aerates a 2 million gallon dugout @15ft Output: 2.9CFM Power Source: Solar Direct Compressor: Pur-Water Diaphragm continuous-duty cycle - dual Bleeder Valve System Voltage: 12V Mounting: In dugout Warranty: System - 1 year, Panels - 20 years Suitable for medium vegetation Items included with each system Pur-Water Compressor 12" Diffuser c/w Check Valve 4-50 Watt Solar Panel Panel Stand 8A Linear Current Booster Enclosure - weatherproof Spare diaphragm kit 50ft weighted hose, 50ft ¾” poly-hose


The Thomas Pumps are used in many homemade pond aerators like the series of systems available from aeration companies who often put together their own brand of aeration systems using common parts. For example: Solar Aeration System includes: 2 - 120 W Suntech Solar panels 1 - double panel stand (does not include the post) 2 - connectors (all required connectors between panels, cables and booster) 1 - electric cable (10 meters, 30 feet long) 1 - vented wooden cabinet (treated wood with screened air vents) 1 - DC (direct current) air compressor from Thomas* 1 - linear current booster (15 AMP 12/24 Vdc) 1 - low pressure relief valve 1 - diffuser assembly (two 9" membrane discs on a self sinking base) or 50' of diffuser line, de-icing hose or bubbler line 1 - set of connectors and clamps for standard installation * Thomas 12V Compressor: Oilless diaphragm 12 Volts (one year warranty) 2.05 CFM open flow 1.70 CFM @ 5 psi 1.35 CFM @ 10 psi 0.90 CFM @ 15 psi

The Sunmotor company does a good job of designing and building systems. Features of their construction Operates on solar panels or batteries Simple, rugged components Long life, low maintenance Explosion-proof rating available Custom designs upon request Applications Ventilation Aeration Sparging Soil vapour extraction

Not sure who makes their 814 high volume compressor but they seem to work well in their all inclusive systems. ,The SB-1 Solear® Lake Bed Aeration System has been designed for smaller pond and lake applications up to 1 Surface Acre in Size. The SB-1 package system includes, 1-120 watt solar panel, 1-814 high volume compressor, wiring harness, 30 amp charge control center, adjustable manifold, 1 each-9 in duraplate™ non-clogging maintenance free diffuser, small fiberglass cabinet with sound reduction package, 1-210 amp hour deep cycle solar batteries, fittings package, 12/24 volt smart box convertor, no tubing included and 2.5 in SP mounting structure. Customer to furnish a single 2.5" sch 40 steel pipe 8-10 feet length for mounting solar panels. Optional automatic solar tracking system available. Upto 20 hours per day run time. Fully automatic system.

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Solar Aeration Systems with Batteries for Large Pond & Lakes
After years of customer requests The Pond Report has brought Solar Aeriation into its product lineup! Solar powered aeration systems are the ideal choice for remote ponds and lakes where power is not available, too expensive, or simply if you are in a windless area and have lots of sun; it is als..
Starting at: $7,900.00
TurboAir Solar Powered Aerators - 24 Volt Solar Direct Aeration Systems - No Batteries
These high-quality solar-direct systems are designed for ponds up to two acres in size. The DC air compressor can handle depths up to 35' and will provide quality aeration during daylight hours when the sun is shining. These systems have no batteries making them a good choice where aeration is es..
Starting at: $5,550.00
BriteStar® Solar Direct 24 Volt Aeration Systems - No Batteries
Solar direct aeration systems are less complicated than battery systems and therefore less expensive. The solar direct systems will only operate when there is light or sun hitting the panels so operation during winter is reduced but for a general purpose solar aeration system this complete packag..
Starting at: $5,350.00
NightAir™ Solar Aerator with Battery Backup
NightAir™ Battery Back Up Solar Aerators :  This system has a larger, higher output compressor with over 600 watts of solar power and 400 Ah total on the batteries.  More air, more solar power and more battery. Free Shipping Within The USA   Revolutionary New Battery..
Starting at: $11,395.00
DC Air Pumps
Low cost DC air pumps. Each air pump comes with 12" pigtails, 6" of 1/4" I.D. outlet hose and a plastic manifold for aquarium tubing. Designed without an air inlet filter. Not recommended for saltwater environment. Three-month warranty. Imported. 25 WATT DC 12V PR-DC81 Battery/DC Air Pump..
Starting at: $205.00
80 Watt DC - 12 Volt DC Air Compressor
These 12V workhorses have proven to be the most reliable pumps we've reviewed. These are ideal for mobile use, temporary battery-powered aeration in remote locations, emergency aeration during power failures or as the solar powered pump to ensure there are no fish losses. This is an excellen..
Price: $525.00
Repair Kit for PRDC201 12V DC Diaphragm Air Compressor
Repair kits and brushes for the PR-DC201 DC 12 Volt WHITE-H20™ Diaphragm Battery/DC Air Compressor Depending on the operating pressure you may need to refurbish or rebuild the diaphragm and or brushes of your DC air compressor every 2,000 to 3,000 hours. Easy to change, these repair kits and ..
Starting at: $105.00
Sweetwater® Replacement Rotary Vanes & Seals
Sweetwater carbon vanes and seal replacement kits for the AQ3, AQ5, AQ7 and AQ9 rotary vance compressors only. Repair and Rebuild Kits. Includes set of vanes and seals for Sweetwater rotary vane pumps. Do not fit other pump models! Sweetwater only!   ..
Starting at: $175.00
Replacement Cooling Fan
Aeration Cooling Fan 290CFM air flow rating. This fan will adapt to almost every aeration cabinet on the market today. Keeps compressor cool Increases motor life. Note that while these fans will fit almost all aeration cabinets these cooling fans were designed to fit in the cab..
Price: $155.00
Stratus® Linear Diaphragm Compressor Maintenance Kits
Replacement Diaphragms for the Stratus KLC® Linear Diaphragm Air Compressors Sacrificial diaphragms in these solidly built pumps can be changed allowing years of use from your pump. Please note, these diphragm repair kits are only for the KLC Model Stratus Air Pumps. Available Rep..
Starting at: $100.00
Sweetwater® Piston Air Compressor Repair Kits
Piston repair kits for the single rocking piston and dual rocking piston air compressors. To prolong the life of your piston compressor it is best to clean your ail filters every 3 months and to maintain the pistons and cylinders. The piston repair/refurbish kit includes piston valves and pi..
Starting at: $125.00

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