Head and Pump Curve
The head of a pump is an important term to know. Head means the vertical lift from the surface of the water to its outlet. If the surface of your water is five feet below the water feature’s outlet, then the pump’s head is five feet.
In most pump manufacturer’s specs, you will find maximum HEAD, along with a PUMP CURVE. This is the lift from the TOP of water, NOT the bottom of the reservoir, to the outlet of the water feature. For example, the Fountain Tech 650 shown below has a maximum head of 140”. At zero feet it pumps 780 gallons per hour, at 20” of head it is pumping 680, at 60” it is pumping 580. This “curve” shows how many gallons per hour the pump is pumping at different water lifts.
Uses 3/4″ and 1″ inside diameter tubing.
Make sure the pump you buy will fit dimensionally into your fountain’s basin. Many fountains have cutout areas in which a pump is placed.
Some pumps list liters per hour instead of GPH. A gallon is 3.8 liters. A Fountain Tech 300 gallon per hour pump is lifting over 1100 liters per hour.
It is best to use the widest diameter tubing you can. For instance, the Fountain Tech 300 pumps about 240 gallons per hour at three feet when using ¾” TUBING, but only 75 gallons per hour at three feet if you use ¼” tubing. Most pumps come with different adapters to fit different sizes of tubing.
When building a waterfall, the general rule of thumb is to have 100 gallons per hour for every inch of width of the fall. So if your waterfall is 5 inches wide and 3 feet tall, you need to be pumping 500 gallons per hour at 3 feet of head, as a general rule.
Using Solar Pumps
Oftentimes, it is difficult to bring electricity to a fountain or pond, and then you need to purchase a solar pump. These units are more expensive than regular fountain pumps, but they are convenient and easy to set up. Basically, there is a solar panel, wire that goes from the solar panel to the pump, and tubing or a fountain head for water exiting the pump. A major drawback is cloudy skies. These units are even available as small floating fountains. Battery packs can be added, though sometimes they are limited