Is a solar pond aerator good or bad?
Keeping in mind that good and bad are relative terms…the best answer to that question is…well…both, depending on your situation.
I have to be honest…I’m a big fan of renewable energy. Over time, the cleaner we make our energy production, the better we’ll all be for it.
I have considered solar panels on my home and looked for ways to incorporate them into more aspects of our life here in the Midwest.
And I’m obviously not alone.
Each year more and more questions come up about solar pond aerators.
But are they a good option to consider for powering a pond aeration system?
My direct and honest answer is…well maybe. It’s a wishy-washy reply, I know…but in my opinion, it’s accurate.
Overall, you have to consider the upfront cost of a solar system. What type of solar powered aerator will work best for your needs. And what other alternatives might exist that will work as well or better.
Here’s a few of my thoughts…and keep in mind we sell solar aerators..but that doesn’t mean I think they are the best fit for everyone.
Try To Use Traditional Power Sources If Possible
Let me cut to the chase. If you have a typical AC receptacle near your pond, I would use that. Period…
The thing is, for the best, most consistent aeration of a pond, you want to run 24/7…all day, every day, and through the night too. And while there are solar systems with battery back up packages included, some of these are ridiculously expensive at the time of this writing.
Maybe they’ll come down in time…but who knows when that will be?
While your typical plug in and run aerator might cost say, around $1,000, a similar solar package could run 5 or 6 times that much. Commercial solar packages are simply overpriced right now. I might add that this is referring to a smaller system…a 1/4 HP pump with a single diffuser. And this might be good for a pond up to an acre in size, if the pond is deep enough. If your pond is larger than 1 acre and you might require more diffusers, the solar aerators really start to add up, running well over $10K.
A more affordable solar option is called “direct drive”, which will only run during the daylight hours. Like a windmill aerator that will only function with the winds are blowing, these intermittent systems are certainly better than no aeration at all. And between the two, unless you live in a really wind prone area, I would tend to lean to the solar packages as at least they will work on a daily basis. Pricing between the two is pretty comparable.
So, for a really remote location, with no power anywhere close, then a direct drive solar aerator could turn out to be the best option of all. And, no doubt, if you have the funds, and want 24/7 operation, or close to it, the full on, battery back up supported aerators are available.
Another aspect of solar aeration is looking at the DIY route. If you have experience with the solar side. For instance we’ve provided aerators to ranchers who live in the remote west. Their entire operations run on solar, and so, adding a small aerator into the mix was easy to do.
Other Options If You Don’t Have Power By The Pond
The good news is, even if you don’t have power near the pond, you can often run burial airline hundreds of feet away and still use the electrical grid. So be sure to consider this remote type of a set up, or at least investigate it, before thinking solar is the only way to go.
Cost-wise, you might save on operational costs with solar, but a typical aeration system isn’t going to be terribly expensive to run…depending on the pump horsepower it may only be $15 to $30 per month. And as for me, if I have the choice…I’ll use a plug and run system, at least for the time being, until we see more affordable, full-time aerators.
Windmills are popular too, but for me, they are third on my lists of options. Relative affordability is in their favor, but a great deal will depend just how consistent your winds are where you live.
If you tend to get daily breezes and are in an open, high spot, then wind aeration will have its best chance at success. Day and night, in this situation, it may well trump the use of direct drive solar. But I question how common these conditions are for more people.
That’s why if someone is truly looking for an off-grid powered aerator, I still tend to lean a bit more to direct drive solar aeration as the way to go.
In the end, there is a saying, that any aeration is better than no aeration. And this is true. Anything you can do to fight stagnation in a pond, as well as add higher dissolved oxygen levels, will be very beneficial for the pond’s condition, but also any of it’s inhabitants.