Feelle's Solar Powered Floating Water Fountain is a small, yet impressive, water fountain intended for a birdbath, pond, or pool and garden decoration. The diameter of the solar panel's disc measures about 6.3 inches; and while the thickness of the disc itself is about a ½ inch, the overall height of this little fountain is approximately 4 inches (from the bottom of the pump to the top of the fountain).
Other specifications, according to the included product specification sheet, include:
- Solar panel: 7V/1.4W
- Brushless (AKA BLDC) pump inlet: DC 4.5V-10V.
- Maximum quantity of flow: 150L/h.
- Maximum water height: 30-45cm (11.8-17.7 inches).
- Startup delay: < 3 seconds
- Restart: When sunlight is removed, the unit will restart within 3 seconds once sunlight is restored.
Before beginning the teardown process, I felt inclined to test (play with) this little fountain. After placing the fountain in a large bowl filled with water, once the sun found the solar panel the fountain began to work seemingly perfectly. Unsurprisingly, the angle of the sun's light onto the solar panel is directly proportional to the water's height. So obviously the fountain would work best on a cloudless day when the sun is directly overhead.
Figure 1. Feelle's solar powered water fountain. Image courtesy of Amazon.
No More Testing/Playing Around...Let the Teardown Begin
In reality, there's not too much to this design, at least that I could get my hands on. To ensure long-term reliability and to meet any associated safety standards, all the electronics (sans the solar panel array) are encased in a very hard potting compound/epoxy. This includes the pump and any associated electronics, and also the power conversion electronics (see image below).
Figure 2. All the electronics are encased in a potting compound.
I attempted to scrape away the potting material, but it was like scraping away concrete...not gonna happen! Given the total and complete encasement of the electronics, it doesn't surprise me, at all, that the IP rating of this device is IP68 (see image below).
Figure 3. The electronics being encased in a potting compound allows the device to be rated to IP68 (waterproof).
The electrical connection between the electronics and the solar panel is by pins/wires. Figure 4 below shows these connections connected to the solar panel, while figure 5 shows how these electrical connections are routed to the electronics. Take note that the electronics box was sealed to the bottom of the solar panel disc using some type of soft silicone—no potting compound was used here—so it was easy to cut through.
Figure 4. The area in the red box is where the solar panel array electrically connects to the electronics.
Figure 5. The electrical connections between the solar panel and the electronics box.
The only internal component that I could physically touch was the water pump's impeller. This inexpensive-looking impeller, along with its attached permanent magnet, is indeed the component that forces the water up and out of the fountain. As can be seen in the image below, this impeller simply slides inside the cyclical opening. There are no wires or any other electrical components attached to it.
Figure 6. The pump's impeller slides into the BLDC pump housing.
Although there's not too much to "tear down" with this solar-powered water fountain, it is interesting to see how the device is constructed using a BLDC motor along with potting compound to meet the IP68 rating, thus, making the device 100% waterproof. For a little showpiece and/or entertainment in a birdbath pond or a swimming pool, one can hardly go wrong with this fountain and its low price of about $14.
It's interesting to come across an uncrackable device that demonstrates what's required to make electronics waterproof. If anyone's had any luck cracking open potting compound like this, let us know in the comments.