Building an Arduino-controlled solar fountain

A tastefully designed fountain adds a certain decorative (and often functional) touch to a garden. But as Maker Jason Poel Smith found, it isn’t always easy to run a power cord outdoors, prompting him to opt for a solar-powered fountain controlled by an Atmel-based Arduino board.

A standard solar panel and battery provides power for the fountain and control circuit, while a small power inverter helps run the pump.

“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,” Smith explained in a detailed blog post published on MakeZine.

“Meanwhile, 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. [In terms of] the power inverter, it just needs to be strong enough to power the pump, [with] a small 80 watt inverter more than sufficient [for] most fountains.”

And last, but certainly not least, the control circuit in this project uses a relay to turn the fountain on and off, which can be achieved with a commercial shield or a DIY relay driver.

Interested in learning more? You can find a full list of instructions here on MakeZine.

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