So you’ve put in that beautiful pond, or you’ve had it for years, but are now looking to enhance the enjoyment by elevating the experience with a floating pond fountain.
We know you have your choice of fountain manufactures to choose from. Whether you choose us or a fountain from a competitor, we want you to be informed so that you are getting the information you need to choose the right fountain for your needs. One that will give you years of trouble free enjoyment, and not frustration of a fountain that fails after just one or two seasons. Here are many factors to consider in making your choice:
Benefits of a floating fountain
Did you know that not only do fountains provide beautiful visual and audible stimuli to the environment, they also help the health of your pond? 90% of common problems are due to lack of oxygen and circulation of the normally stagnant water. A surface fountain helps to increase the oxygen levels of the water by increasing aerobic microbe activity, which aids in reducing organic sludge. It also helps break up the surface of the pond, helping to reduce nuisance algae blooms. The increased oxygen level also benefits the fish population within the pond or lake. While not as effective aeration as a bottom air units in disrupting the thermocline between the top warm water and the lower cool water, the benefits a surface fountain provides to the health of the pond is an extra bonus beyond the beauty that it adds.
For any fountain, the pump is the most critical component when it comes to whether you will get years of enjoyment from your fountain, or it barely lasts one season. Any pump will work at first. It may even last a few months. However, with the primary goal of being inexpensive, low-end sump pumps are only designed to run for a few minutes a day, and with clean water. They are not industrial designed for high flow rates, continuous duty, debris filled ponds, and for years of service. The radical difference in price you may find between fountains on the market typically comes down to this one component. Be critical of any floating pond fountains you may find that are under $1000. While we would love to be able to offer a fountain in that price range, we have not found any pump manufactured in that range that would enable that and still meet our uncompromising standard for ruggedness, dependability, and deserving of the Tin Shark Fountainworks name. A staple of these inexpensive fountains is to use a very basic hardware store variety submersible pump designed to run no more than 5 minutes a day, and only to be used in pure clean water. These inexpensive pumps are made of plastic, and plastic components, and weigh 10 lbs or less. By comparison, our 1HP industrial extreme duty pumps, made of all cast aluminum, weigh 40-50 lbs. and are designed for continuous duty in harsh conditions (however, not for brackish water). Our pumps have been tested for years to find the right balance between rugged industrial-duty, while still offering the best pricing for the unparalleled quality. We pride ourselves on the quality and dependability of our fountains at the competitive prices we offer.
You may try an inexpensive fountain once, but you won’t buy it a second time once it fails prematurely. However, regardless of where you are looking to purchase your fountain, make sure you consider the longevity and durability of the pump, and that it’s not an inexpensive pump originally designed only for light-duty and clean water.
120V or 240V? Look for properly sized power supply cables
The proper sized electric supply is crucial for your fountain. We offer our 1HP fountain in 120V and 240V configurations. Which is the right choice for you will be determined by the entire length of run from the main electrical panel all the way to the fountain, not just from the fountain control panel to the pump. Most ponds or lakes are not going to be right beside the house/barn/structure that contains the main electrical panel. Thus, there is often a significant length of cable run from the main electric panel to the edge of the water feature. Then another 100-300 feet of cable to the fountain itself. That entire length of electric run needs to be taken into consideration. Larger electric motors require a significant enough amount of current that the length of electric cable becomes important to the proper functioning of the pump. If the entire run isn’t sized properly, the measured voltage at the fountain could be significantly below the necessary voltage required by the motor. This causes an under voltage situation where the motor of the pump will run hot, significantly reducing the life of the pump and fountain.
Many fountains on the market, including higher priced fountains, will size their own electric cords that are calculated for the length of the cable from the fountain to the fountain control panel, and not take into consideration that there could be hundreds of feet of electrical line from the control panel back to the main electric panel. Thus, be cautious, many fountains on the market come with inadequate sized power cable for the voltage and amp required by the pump motor because consideration is not taken into the entire electric run from fountain to main electric panel.
Also be aware that many inexpensive fountains on the market do not include any type of control panel/timer for the fountain, which just becomes an added expense for the customer. All Tin Shark Fountainworks fountains come with an electric control panel and timer.
Consult the chart below to determine the minimum size electric run you will need to power your Tin Shark fountain:
GFCI (Ground Fault Current Interrupter)
GFCI protection is a fast-acting circuit protection designed to minimize potential harm from ground faults (the current taking a path other than returning back through the line to the electrical panel). Most electrical codes require GFCI protection for circuits for outdoor use. All of our fountain control panels come with built-in GFCI protection. However, note that if a GFCI circuit breaker is also installed in the main electric panel feeding the fountain, a situation may occur called “nuisance tripping”. GFCI works by measuring the outgoing and incoming current. Modern GFCI devices are set to trip with as little as a 5 milliamp drop in current (.005 Amps). With shorter runs (less than 100 feet), the GFCI circuit breaker typically functions as it should. However, at every connection, splice, device, etc. small current “leaks” can be introduced into the circuit (usually no more than .001 Amps). This is normal and expected, and does not affect the safety or functionality of the circuit. However, over longer runs necessary for installing the fountain some distance from the main electric panel, these small “leaks” can add up, surpassing the .005 Amp limit. This causes the GFCI to trip, even though there is no actual fault in the circuit. Another possibility is additional current being induced into the ground wire. If any of these situations happen, this is known as “nuisance tripping”. Because our panels have built in GFCI, if not required by your local electrical code, we do not recommend installing an additional GFCI circuit breaker in the main electric panel to avoid potential nuisance tripping. If however, you are required by code to install a GFCI circuit in the main panel, and you experience nuisance tripping, a local grounding stake may need to be installed by the fountain control panel to try to eliminate the induced current.
Some wildlife is known to be a nuisance to outdoor equipment. Most notable in ponds are muskrats and beavers. They’ve been known to chew on power cables. If muskrats or beavers are known to inhabit your pond, either they must be removed, or the power cord must be protected with conduit. This can be easily done by running the electrical cord through 1/2″ to 1″ flexible conduit (Carlon or Thomas and Betts Blue ENT) to protect it from being compromised by curious critters. This is economical and readily available at your local hardware store. However, do not go near or install a fountain in water known, or with the potential, to harbor dangerous wildlife such as alligators, crocodiles, etc.
Winter – Cold/Freezing weather
With any fountain, some consideration needs to be taken in northern climates. To reduce the risk of damage to any fountain, in northern climates where the pond will freeze in the winter, remove the fountain from the pond, clean the outer surface of the pump, and store in a climate-controlled storage area.
Our fountains have been tested in multiple cold/freezing winter conditions where the pond will only freeze no more than just a few inches thick, thus leaving the pump under this top layer of surface ice. This has been tested by turning off the fountain for the winter once temperatures drop below freezing and leaving the fountain in the pond in place. Come spring, once the temperatures are once again above freezing and all ice has retreated, our fountains have always started up flawlessly and continued to operate normally. However, due to unpredictable weather patterns, the unpredictable nature of ice, and not having thorough tests in climates where the water may freeze feet thick, our fountains are not warranted against freeze/ice damage. This is also why, for the longevity of any fountain, regardless of what other manufactures may claim, we recommend removing any manufacturers’ fountain during freezing/winter months in northern climates.