Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila
Solar bird bath fountains harness the power of the sun to create an inviting, bubbly watering hole for birds. These fixtures are a convenient alternative to electric fountain bird baths, since the solar panels don’t require a cumbersome power cord. The best solar bird baths have an attractive design, a reliable solar power system, and are made from durable and easy-to-clean materials. We tested each fountain on this list for sturdiness, along with appearance, water spray, and solar/pump functions.
Read on to see our hands-on testing results and our list of the best solar bird bath fountains to attract feathered friends and pretty up your property.
- BEST OVERALL: Smart Solar Acadia Solar Birdbath
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Aisitin 3.5W Solar Fountain Pump
- BEST GLASS: Smart Solar Sunflower Solar Birdbath
- BEST WITH LIGHTS: Alukiki 4W Solar Birdbath Fountain With LED Lights
- BEST TABLETOP: Highland Dunes Simrah Ceramic Solar Water Fountain
- ALSO CONSIDER: Williston Forge Osio Ginkgo Solar Birdbath Fountain
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila
How We Tested the Best Solar Bird Bath Fountains
The best solar bird bath fountains are good-looking as well as eco-friendly and economical to run. We considered a few criteria when testing the top solar bird baths, including the design, materials, and solar-power features.
Solar bird bath fountains are appealing for their convenience and easy installation. To ensure the solar fountain works as promised, we considered shopper reviews to find options with reliable solar-power functions. We also chose a few options with battery backup and one with an AC adapter for those who want to operate the fountain on cloudier days.
Solar-powered fountains aren’t just for the pleasure of our feathered friends; they’re also a garden decor piece. With this in mind, we prioritized solar bird baths with attractive designs. To suit different tastes, we chose a range of styles, including plenty of charming traditional bird baths, a colorful glass bird bath, and a more modern option, and then put them through a 3-week test. To keep a solar bird fountain performing and looking its best for years, we stuck with testing options made from durable and easy-to-clean materials.
Our Top Picks
A beautiful solar bird bath invites avian species into the garden to drink and bathe while serving as a pretty, soothing outdoor fixture. The solar bird bath fountains in this roundup are attractive, durable, and easy to keep clean, making them a lovely addition to any garden. These models vary in design and pump power, but rest assured that each one performed admirably in our hands-on tests.
An ornate fountain bird bath is a lovely garden focal point, attracting pretty birds while bringing an air of tranquility and calm. The Acadia bird bath from Smart Solar is made from glass fiber-reinforced concrete, an upgrade over plastic and polyresin. We found it quite charming.
Setting up the bird bath was simple—we positioned the base column in an open spot in a flower bed. Next, we set the basin on top—it comes with a twist-to-lock connection that holds the two pieces firmly together. All that was left to do was to fill the basin with water and put the pump and attached solar panel in place at the bottom.
Once the sun hit the solar panel, the fountain started to bubble—at a modest height—about 3 inches above the square solar panel. Interestingly, the solar pump was trying to run before we placed it in the fountain—we could feel it vibrating in our hands as we carried it outside, and the sun shone on the panel, so we turned it upside down (away from the sun) to keep from harming the pump by running it dry.
Although it weighs 26 pounds, which will help keep it stable, this bird bath is not nearly as heavy as a solid concrete fountain. When our large dog decided to get a drink out of the bowl, the fountain wobbled precariously but didn’t tip over. It didn’t attract as many birds as we would have liked. In the 3 weeks we tested and monitored the solar bird baths, we only found a dozen or so birds enjoying the water, but we expect bird traffic to pick up when summer temps rise and our feathered friends start looking for a place to cool off.
One aspect to note is that the solar panel lacks battery storage, meaning that the bubbling ceases if the sun disappears behind a cloud. Additionally, the water pressure from the pump seemed relatively mild; we would have liked a stronger water spray. But overall, we found the bird bath to be delightful and endearing. Its muted green color is attractive and will complement most landscapes and gardens.
Read our full review: Smart Solar Acadia Solar Birdbath
- Material: Glass-fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC)
- Size: 24.5 inches high by 17.8 inches wide 17.8 inches deep
- Weight: 26 pounds
- Delightful cattail motifs and frog figurines add charm and personality
- Substantial weight (26 pounds) keeps fountain in place in most conditions
- Solar-powered operation is environmentally friendly and allows you to locate the fountain anywhere
- Bubbling height is modest and with no battery storage, bubbling stops if the sun passes behind a cloud
Get the Smart Solar Acadia solar bird bath fountain at Walmart or Smart Living Home & Garden.
Turn any water bowl or existing bird bath into a fountain bird bath with the Aisitin solar fountain pump, a budget-friendly, easy-to-use floating solar fountain that delivers impressive performance.
While the Aisitin solar fountain might not be the most visually appealing option, its functionality surpassed that of other models we tested, particularly those with attractive bird bath stands. During our tests, we found that the pump on this model was notably more robust, creating a powerful water spray. The manufacturer claims the water spray can reach up to 2.6 feet high, but the highest it reached in our tests was about 1.5 feet. We still felt that was pretty good.
To set up the Aisitin pump, we used four plastic straws (included), inserting them into each side of the floating unit to center it over a water-filled terra-cotta bowl. Using the straws isn’t required; the unit will float on top of the water, but when we let it float freely, it worked its way to the side and quickly emptied the water from the terra-cotta bowl as it shot it over the side. If the water gets too low in the bowl—it needs about 1-inch minimum depth—the pump can run dry and make a loud screeching noise.
The pump turns on automatically when exposed to sunlight, but like the other models we tested, it doesn’t shut off when the water level runs low, so it must be monitored and the bowl frequently refilled with water to keep from running the pump dry, which could damage the pump motor. The Aisitin comes with multiple fountainheads that allowed us to switch from a fine spray to a gentle shower to a solid bubbling stream.
Although this solar fountain pump does not have a pretty stand, you can be creative and construct a unique water feature—or just let it float in a fish pond. It’s powerful, and it performed very well in our tests, all at a very attractive price point.
- Material: Plastic
- Size: 7.1 inches in diameter
- Weight: 12 ounces
- Floating design is very easy to install in most homes’ current bird baths
- Automatic on/off design saves water; turns on when it senses sunlight
- Includes 6 nozzle types to suit bird or human preferences
- Lacks a backup battery; may not last as long as some similar options
Get the Aisitin solar fountain pump at Amazon.
The Smart Solar Sunflower bird bath is an exquisite option that effortlessly combines crystal-clear glass with the soothing sound of bubbling water. Its aesthetic appeal is undeniable, providing an enchanting addition to a garden or sitting area. However, similar to our Best Overall pick, this model’s pump performance was only average. While it delivers a diminutive but pretty arcing shower that reaches about 2 inches high and 5 inches wide, the water abruptly stops as soon as a cloud passes in front of the sun.
One aspect worth noting is the stand of the Sunflower bird bath, constructed with attractive powder-coated steel legs designed to withstand the elements without rusting. However, we found that the legs required careful adjustment to ensure proper support for the glass bowl. Weighing only 11 pounds, it is lightweight and convenient to move around the garden, but compared to some of the other models tested, this bird bath exhibited a less balanced structure, and it was necessary to place it where it wouldn’t be bumped or disturbed easily.
The bright glass basin on this solar bird fountain, adorned with a charming sunflower motif, adds vibrancy to any outdoor setting, and in the 3 weeks we conducted our tests, it seemed to be a favorite spot for the birds in our yard. Setting up and taking down the bird bath for storage is a breeze as it consists of just three pieces—legs, basin, and solar unit. It’s worth mentioning that the manufacturer recommends keeping the bird bath indoors during frosty weather conditions to protect its integrity.
- Material: Glass and steel
- Size: 24.3 inches high by 20 inches wide by 20 inches deep
- Weight: 11 pounds
- Appealing combination of crystal-clear glass, a cheery sunflower motif, and bubbling water
- Easy-to-clean glass can be sprayed with a hose and wiped to remove dirt and debris
- Hidden water reservoir helps maintain water levels for continuous circulation and pump protection
- Moderate pump performance; stops functioning when a cloud obstructs direct sunlight
Get the Smart Solar Sunflower solar bird bath fountain at Wayfair or Target.
The Alukiki solar bird bath fountain offers a compelling combination of water power and an intriguing light feature. In our tests, this model surpassed the water power of the pumps that came with the visually pleasing bird bath stands. Additionally, it introduced an interesting twist by incorporating colored LED lights that illuminated the fountain when the sun went down.
The most significant feature of the Alukiki bird bath fountain is its ability to keep running even when the panels are not in direct sunlight. This suggests that the fountain can store energy and continue operating without direct sun. After a sunny day, the LED lights came on just after dusk and stayed lit for about 2 hours. The fountain also ran during that time, which created a pretty colored water shower. The Alukiki comes with several fountain tips that alter the pattern of the water shower. One tip made a fine water spray that reached just over 1.5 feet high.
Like the other free-floating model we tested, this model includes plastic straws, which proved helpful for centering the unit in the test bowl. We also tested its floating functionality by allowing it to float freely. However, we noticed that when left to float freely, it tended to travel to the side of the bowl, where the water from the fountain spilled out. We recommend using the included straws or placing the fountain in a larger body of water, such as a fish pond or swimming pool, to prevent this issue.
We didn’t get a lot of birds visiting this fountain, but that may have been partly due to testing it in a small metal bowl on the concrete. Placing it in an elevated bowl or bird bath would likely attract more birds.
- Material: Plastic, glass
- Size: 1.2 inches high by 6.3 inches wide by 6.3 inches deep
- Weight: 15.8 ounces
- Stores energy in order to continue operation after the sun goes down
- Features colored LED lights that come on at dusk and provide captivating illumination
- Stronger pump with water spray that reached 1.5 feet in hands-on testing
- When floating, the fountain travels to the side of the bowl, causing water spillage
- LED lights are pretty but do not serve to attract birds to the bird bath
Get the Alukiki bird bath fountain at Amazon.
The Highland Dunes Simrah fountain is undeniably adorable. Crafted from genuine ceramic and beautifully glazed in a captivating cobalt blue, this fountain carries a noticeable weight (5.3 pounds) that gives it a feeling of quality. It arrived impeccably packed and in perfect condition.
Unlike other fountains that shoot water into the air, the Simrah fountain operates by circulating water through a pump from the bowl, passing it through a very cute ceramic koi’s mouth and back into the bowl, creating a gentle trickling noise we found very relaxing. The solar panel is a separate component that connects to the pump via a cable. Setting up the fountain was a breeze, requiring only the connection of the pump and its placement in the bowl, along with connecting the cord to the solar panel.
With a 10-foot cord, we were able to discreetly tuck away the solar panel, keeping it out of sight. This allowed us to appreciate the enchanting view of the water gracefully flowing from koi’s mouth.
Regrettably, the Simrah fountain does not possess energy storage capabilities. As a result, it immediately shuts off when a cloud obscures the sun. However, its visual attractiveness is suitable for any outdoor sitting area or garden. During the 3-week test period, we observed a few birds visiting the bowl, although not as many as we had hoped.
- Material: Glazed ceramic
- Size: 6.7 inches high by 14.5 inches wide by 13.4 inches deep
- Weight: 5.3 pounds
- Genuine glazed ceramic and weighted bowl gives the fountain a quality feel
- Simple setup involves connecting the pump to the solar panel via a cord
- Long 10-foot cable; allows user to hide the solar panel for better visual appeal
- Like many models tested, this solar fountain does not store energy and shuts off when cloudy
- Should be taken in during freezing weather to prevent cracking
Get the Highland Dunes bird bath fountain at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Wayfair.
The Williston Forge Osio Ginkgo bird bath fountain offers a water power performance similar to the other models that feature elegant stands. Its water pattern reaches a height of approximately 3 inches with a diameter of 6 inches, requiring direct sunlight for operation. With a weight of 33 pounds, this fountain provides enhanced stability without sacrificing its maneuverability within a garden setting.
The fountain boasts an attractive minimalist design, featuring ginkgo leaves adorning the sides of the pedestal. This artistic element adds a touch of sophistication without detracting from the overall aesthetic. Constructed from fiber-reinforced concrete, the fountain exhibits a sleek appearance resembling traditional concrete.
We strategically placed the Williston Forge Osio Ginkgo fountain in a rock garden beneath a vibrant honeysuckle plant during our testing. This positioning created an inviting and natural setting for avian visitors. We were delighted to observe both songbirds and hummingbirds frequenting the fountain, taking advantage of the refreshing water source. The fountain’s elegant design and placement amidst nature enhanced the overall appeal and functionality of this solar bird bath.
- Material: Glass fiber-reinforced concrete
- Size: 29.3 inches high by 21.3 inches wide by 21.3 inches deep
- Weight: 33 pounds
- Minimalist design and attractive ginkgo leaf accents complement any garden setting
- Durable material crafted from fiber-reinforced concrete offers added sturdiness
- Attractive weathered stone finish won’t clash with other features in the landscape
- Doesn’t store energy, so it shuts off in cloudy conditions or at dusk
Get the Williston Forge solar bird bath fountain at Wayfair.
Eco-Worthy 12W Solar Fountain Water Pump Kit
Unfortunately, our experience with the Eco-Worthy 12W Solar Fountain Water Pump Kit was short and disappointing. We were delighted to witness an initial tall water spurt after setting up the pump and solar panel according to the manufacturer’s instructions. However, right after that, the pump stopped working altogether.
Despite following the troubleshooting guide provided by the manufacturer, our attempts to revive the pump proved unsuccessful. We reached out to the seller for assistance but did not receive a response.
While our specific encounter with this product was disheartening, it is important to note that other buyers have expressed satisfaction with the Eco-Worthy solar fountain kit. We believe in offering fair assessments and opportunities for retesting should the company offer a replacement unit.
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Solar Bird Bath Fountain
Fountain bird baths can appeal to both birds and human beings. Avian species are attracted to fresh flowing water, and most folks appreciate the tranquil sounds and pleasing design element. Electric models need access to a safe outdoor outlet, while solar bird bath fountains rely on exposure to sunlight (or possibly a backup battery for cloudy days) to power their water flow and/or heating features. In many other ways, solar bird baths are similar to their electric counterparts, but there are some extra features to keep in mind when choosing one.
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila
Most solar bird bath fountains are pedestal models rather than hanging or wall-mounted units. A pedestal bird bath consists of an elevated basin atop a short, sturdy column. This is a popular style of bird bath fountain, and solar versions come in a wide range of materials and design nuances.
- Solar bird bath fountains typically have one of three pump types: fixed, floating, or separated.
- Fixed fountain pumps are lodged in place in the water basin of the bird bath.
- Floating fountain pumps are essentially separate water units that contain the solar panel and pump as a single device that floats on top of the water. These pumps make it easy to convert a water basin into a fountain bird bath.
- Separated solar pump fountains feature a solar panel separate from the fountain itself. This offers the flexibility to locate the panel wherever you choose, as long as it’s nearby the fountain.
In a solar bird bath fountain, pumps keep the water moving, attracting birds and preventing stagnation. The pump determines the type of water flow and water pressure, and in some situations, pump size is a key factor.
Bird baths with included fixed pumps come with the pump already installed, so shoppers can’t choose or adjust the pump size. However, those who hope to convert an existing non-fountain bird bath into a fountain can do so rather easily by adding a solar-powered pump. To ensure that a floating pump or the pump kit fits the existing bird bath, check both the pump size and the appropriate water depth level for operation. Make sure that the pump not only fits the basin but allows ample room around it for birds to drink and bathe.
All solar bird bath fountains require a solar panel to operate. Since these bird bath fountains draw power from the sun and not a power cord, they are environmentally friendly, economical, and very convenient—and they can be placed almost anywhere in a garden.
Solar bird baths can have a built-in solar panel or a separate solar panel that connects to the fountain with a wire. Built-in solar panels are integrated into the unit (often in the basin, which is hidden from view under the water). This tends to be the most attractive appearance, but the design requires the bird bath to be placed in a spot that receives ample sun.
Separate solar panels may look somewhat obtrusive, but they allow for more flexible placement. For example, the bird bath can be placed in a shady area under a tree that birds like, while the solar panel can rest in a sunnier spot nearby.
Some solar bird baths switch on automatically when enough sun hits the panels, while others have a manual on/off switch. Units with a battery backup can work into the evening or on cloudy days.
Fountain Depth and Design
The fountain depth for birds is a shallow 1 to 2 inches, which provides enough water for feathered friends to bathe comfortably. A bird bath with shallower edges and a deeper center will make it comfortable for birds of different sizes to enjoy.
Bird baths are also decorative garden elements that come in a huge range of styles. Shoppers can choose from fountain, bubbler, dripper, or mister water features. A wide variety of materials, finishes, colors, and patterns are available. Also consider the fountain shape, multitiered designs, and any decorative carvings and sculptures that may enhance your outdoor space.
Solar bird baths can be made from a range of different materials. The best options are UV- and frost-resistant to withstand outdoor conditions year-round. Common materials include plastic, resin, fiberglass, concrete, ceramic, metal, glass, and stone.
Plastics and polyresins are affordable, lightweight, durable, and easy to clean. They can also fake the look of other materials, like iron or stone, without the extra cost or weight.
While concrete, stone, and metal bird baths look great and feel substantial, lighter weight options are easier to move and clean. No wonder GFRC has become a popular choice. This specialized type of concrete is strong, attractive, and lighter than traditional concrete.
Glass and ceramic bird baths are also beautiful options that can come in a range of colors and patterns. These materials are delicate, however, and tend to be the least durable.
There’s one drawback to many solar-powered products: Less sun means less power. Many solar bird bath fountains only run when receiving direct sunlight, while others have a backup battery. For sunny locales, a backup battery may not be a necessity, but for cloudy climates, they’re a huge perk.
A backup battery can hold some charge to power the bird bath into the evening or on cloudier days. They usually provide about 6 hours of runtime when the sun isn’t shining. The backup battery can also power other fixtures, like heaters to prevent freezing or LED lighting to make the bird bath glow pleasantly into the evening.
Many solar bird bath fountains won’t run around the clock—they’ll usually run out of power sometime through the day. For those who want a bird bath to run constantly, consider a solar bird bath with a backup electric power source.
Solar bird baths can include a few additional features to make them more attractive and convenient to use. Some include different nozzle heads so you can choose between a bubbler, a shower, and a spray fixture. LED lighting can impart a lovely glow to make the bird bath look attractive into the evening.
An auto on/off function will keep the bird bath running through the day and conserve energy when birds are asleep. Automatic switches are a good choice for those who don’t want to remember to check the bird bath every day. Unfortunately, none of the ones we tested came with this feature.
Tips for Using Solar Bird Bath Fountains
Setting up and maintaining a solar bird bath is quite simple. To attract more birds, place the bird bath in a semi-shaded area with enough sunlight to power the unit, but not so much that the water evaporates too quickly. Some branches and plants nearby will be appealing to birds, but don’t place them too close to areas where predators can hide. Avoid placing the bird bath near windows or directly under plants or a bird feeder. Windows are a collision hazard, and plants or feeders will drop debris into the bird bath.
Once the bird bath is set up, maintenance mainly comes down to regular refilling and cleaning. Avoid letting the bird bath run dry, as this can damage the pump. Frequent cleaning is crucial, both for the health of birds and the appearance and operation of the bird bath. Ideally, the bird bath should be cleaned two or three times a week (although once a week may be enough for some), or whenever you notice the water is becoming dirty or discolored. A dirty bird bath isn’t just unpleasant for birds; it can also spread disease and encourage pests. Make sure the solar panel is also clean for optimal operation.
During cold winters, it’s best to bring the bird bath inside or use a bird bath heater or bird-safe anti-freezing products to prevent the water from becoming ice.
- In most gardens, a semi-shaded spot close to bushes or trees is the best area to place a bird bath.
- Avoid placing bird baths directly under or beside trees and bushes, near windows, or too close to areas where predators can hide.
- Refill the bird bath frequently and avoid letting it run dry.
- Clean the bird bath one to three times a week.
- Take steps to prevent damage or frost in the winter.
Solar bird baths are easy to use and relatively simple to maintain with a regular cleaning schedule. If you’re still on the fence about buying or using a solar bird bath fountain, read on for answers to some frequently asked questions about choosing and maintaining a solar-powered unit.
Q. Do birds like solar fountains?
Yes, birds prefer moving water over standing water, so a solar fountain is the more attractive choice. For us humans, they’re an appealing alternative to electric bird baths.
Q. Do solar fountains really work?
Yes, many solar fountains use solar panels to harness the power of the sun and run their water flow. While they might not run all day like electric-powered bird bath fountains, they do really work!
Q. Should water fountains run all the time?
Yes, it’s best for a bird bath water fountain to run as often as possible. Running water prevents stagnancy, lowering the chance of pests and bacteria, algae, and mildew buildup.
Q. How deep can a solar pump work?
It depends on the solar pump. Solar pumps for bird baths are designed to work in water depths of up to 4 inches, which is a suitable depth for most bird baths.
Q. How long do solar fountains last?
Solar pumps last about 2 to 4 years on average, while bird baths can last for years longer depending on the materials and level of care. For better longevity, look for a solar bird bath with an easily replaceable solar pump or the option to replace the batteries.
Q. How do I keep a bird bath clean?
Birds visit bird baths to both drink and bathe, so a clean basin is essential for keeping birds hydrated and healthy. Frequently remove any debris like leaves or feathers. Empty the bird bath and clean it thoroughly a couple of times a week with plenty of fresh water and a mixture of nine parts water to one part white distilled vinegar.
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Meet the Tester
Glenda Taylor is a product tester and writer specializing in the construction, remodeling, and real estate industries. She and her husband own a general contracting company, and Taylor is experienced in both residential and commercial building applications. She tests a wide range of power tools as well as other home improvement, household, and lawn-and-garden products.
Additional research provided by Jasmine Harding.