Q: Can I convert my electric outdoor fountain water pump to solar power?
I have an outdoor fountain that I'd like to put in a new location beyond the reach of the electric supply. Can I convert the pump to work on solar power instead?
—Barbara Garrison, St. Helena Island, S.C.
Roger Cook replies: It's technically possible, but you'll end up with a less efficient pump than one made for such a purpose. I'd recommend that you replace your old pump with one specifically designed to be powered by solar cells. Just make sure it has the same gallons-per-minute rate as the old one to ensure proper water flow.
Keep in mind that a solar-powered pump's output fluctuates with the sun's brightness. Flow will fall off if a cloud passes overhead or the sun sinks behind a tree, and there may not be any power at all on cloudy days. The only way to keep the fountain running without any fluctuations is to get a pump with a backup battery.