Learn more on how you can find the perfect size pump for your water fountain

As the season rolls along and outdoor decorations piling up in storage, you might be thinking about getting your favorite outdoor water fountain dusted off and inspected.

If you still love the water feature, but have found that the pump is no longer working, replacing the pump is an easy solution! You simply need to find out which type of pump you need as well as the size to bring your outdoor water fountain back to life.

Types of Fountain Pumps

The first thing to consider when replacing the pump in your fountain is whether you want an electric pump, or a solar pump.

Electric fountain pump for indoor and outdoor water fountains

Electric Pumps

Electric pumps with a 3-prong or 3-pin plug can be used in indoor or outdoor fountains. Pumps with a 2-prong or 2-pin plug are intended for use in indoor fountains. 

Some electric pumps come with an on/off rocker switch and some are operated by simply plugging and unplugging the pump.

Tiered solar fountain running with the power of its solar pump

Solar Pumps

Solar pump/panel kits with battery packs: These kits often include a fountain pump that goes in the fountain and a cord connects the pump and plugs into the solar panel.

The solar panel has a battery pack attached or built into it. Place the panel in direct sunlight to charge the battery pack.

This type of pump will operate the fountain via solar energy during the day.

Then, if you want to run your fountain at night, the battery mode will operate the fountain when the sun goes down.

Solar pump/panel kits without battery packs: These kits include the pump, necessary cords, and solar panel.

To use, you place the pump in your fountain basin, connect the cord to the solar panel, and place the solar panel in direct sunlight.

The panel will not store solar energy so the fountain will only operate when the panel is in direct sun.

What Size Pump Do I Need for My Fountain

There’s more to selecting a fountain pump than just choosing the type of pump you’ll need. Water fountain pumps are sized by their flow rate and pressure requirements.

This diagram shows what GPH and lift you need when choosing a water pump for your fountain

What’s GPH and How Many Do I Need For My Fountain?

GPH measures the number of gallons of water per hour a pump will circulate.

According to hunker, you can measure this by taking the diameter of the fountain spout and multiplying that by 100. For example, a smaller outdoor fountain with a 1-inch diameter spout will need a pump that has at least 100 GPH capabilities.

Determine the Maximum Lift or “Max Head” For Your Fountain

The maximum lift or “max head rating” is the height of the fountain from the pump to the fountain head or spout. This indicates the measurement at which the pump will need to push the water to reach the spout or head. Once you have the measurement, choose a pump that is at least 1.5 times the head height. 

So, if a fountain has a head height of 40 inches, you will want to choose a pump that has a maximum lift of at least 60 inches or more to ensure strong water flow in and out of the fountain. If you are afraid that the pump may be too strong, you can also get a flow reducer to slow the flow down or purchase a pump with flow control to put on a lower setting.

Alternately, if you know you want a slower trickle-type flow for your fountain, you could purchase a pump for a shorter head height (like a 50-inch head height for a 40-inch head height).

Ensure that the Water Pump Tubing is the Correct Size

The size of the outlet on the pump, where the fountain hose attaches to, is called the “discharge size”.

You’ll want to double check the size of the outlet will fit with the fountain’s tube, or if the pump comes with tubing, that the tubing will fit with the fountain’s spout.

Please note, sometimes pumps will include adapters that will make them more universal with fountain hoses and those make it easier to ensure a proper fit.

Bring Life to Your Fountain with the Perfect Size Water Pump

Outdoor water fountain with running water from a functioning water pump

The perfect size water pump will help increase the lifespan of your favorite indoor or outdoor water fountain.

By simply taking a few measurements to calculate the needed GPH, maximum lift and discharge size, you’ll be well on your way to enjoying your water feature.

FountainsOutdoor living

About the Author

Alicia Bowe
Alicia Bowe
Alicia Bowe is a product specialist with a flair for interior design and outdoor decorating. By day, she actively researches, measures, and writes about all things Sunnydaze. By night, after her two kids are in bed, she spends time relaxing in the hammock swing on the patio with her water fountain running for a calming ambiance.



Hi! Purchased an old cast iron fountain at a garage sale with multiple places for the water to come out. Eight fish mouths to be exact – four large on bottom level, then four smaller at the middle level. Then there is a little ‘cupid’ figure at the top with water place there as well. The whole fountain is over 6’ tall. I need all new tubing as well as a pump. And I’m clueless. :-) Any ideas? Thank you

kirat construction

we want water pump for waterfall of height at 15 feet . It must circulate the water from base to 15 ft height.


Honestly, I think for a good explanation, you should make a detailed project using real dada.
High of the Fountain (in feet) = ……
Power of that pump (in GPH) = …..
Then, a graphic that shows how the power of the flow with that pump decreases with the high. (Vertical distance between the pump and the spout)


I have a beautiful fountain that the water trickles down flowers with the top one being 24” high, can you suggest a good solar pump that I can use? The corner in my bathroom where I have the fountain has no outlet, but there is a window right there for it can catch the sun. I tried using one from another fountain that I used outside this summer, it worked but it wasn’t powerful enough for the water to shoot high enough.


Thank you for sharing this informative article on Water Pumps


I have a lion head wall outdoor fountain, the person who installed it did a really bad job,and now it’s not working. The pump does not fit to the tube and doesn’t not stay stable to the bottom. Please, how can I fix this?
Thank you.


Our Rock fountain pump finally gave up the ghost after 15 or so years. Of course the pump was made with old model numbers, part number etc. So we had no way of finding what size of new pump we needed. I came across your articles and everything just cleared up and made sense. I now have the new pump and everything is just great.
Good work and thank you

Terry Way

Do I need an adapter with a pump for an outdoor fountain ?


This is SO HELPFUL! Why it never occurred to me to look this up before I don’t know. I’ve always “winged” and not always successfully. But not this time! Thanks for this helpful information!

Patty Meyer

My pump went out on my fountain. Spout diameter is 1 inch. The fountain is 40 inches tall. The water does go from top to bottom. The old pump is 3” x 3” x 4”.
I would really appreciate your help.
Thank You.


The pump in my small fountain just crashed. There are no specs shown on the pump so I was wondering what size to buy. Your article will be very helpful when making this decision. Thanks for the good work here.


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