Choosing The Right Size Outdoor Fountain Pump – Buyer’s Guide

Water features are a great addition to your outdoor space. But for the water fountains to function properly, they should be paired with the right type and size of outdoor water fountain pump. So here is a complete buyer’s guide for selecting the right size of outdoor fountain pump for your water fountain. 

Remember that there is much more to buying the right type of outdoor water fountain pump. One of the most important facets when choosing the right fountain pump is selecting the right size that will suit your fountain. Their flow rates and pressure requirements will determine the size of the pump. You should know certain terms when determining the right size of fountain pumps. The first one is GPH, which is a measure of the number of gallons of water the pump will circulate per hour. This can be measured by determining the diameter of the fountain spout and multiplying it by 100. So if your fountain has a 2-inch diameter spout, it will require a pump with 200 GPH capabilities.

The max head or maximum lift is another factor that determines the pump size required for an outdoor water fountain. It is the height of the fountain from the pump to the fountain spout or head of the fountain. It gives the measurement of the pump’s need to push water to reach the spout or head.

After determining this measurement, you should choose a pump at least 1.5 times the head height. For example, if a fountain has a head height of 30 inches, you should select a pump with a maximum lift of at least 50 inches or more. This will ensure the water has a strong flow in and out of the fountain. If you wish to have a slower trickle-type water flow for your fountain, you can buy a pump with a shorter head height. If you think the pump may be too strong, you can get a flow reducer to slow down the flow or look for a pump with a flow control that can be put on a lower setting. But flow reducers work with PVC pipe rather than vinyl tubing. If you are using vinyl tubing, one option to reduce flow is to insert a T into the vinyl tubing line and divert some water into the fountain bowl. Another way is to crimp the tubing using hose clamps.

The Pump “Curve”

Most pump specs will include a flow curve to show you how much water the pump is producing at different heights. Take a look at his table:


The FT-160 pump in table above has a maximum head of 60 inches. At 12” it is only pumping 110 gallons per hour. At 48” it is pumping a mere 40 gallons per hour.

Electrical Usage

Most pump models do not require much electricity to operate. In the example above, the FT-160 is using a mere 12 watts. As a comparison the FT-450, a powerful 500 GPH pump, only requires 45 watts. Our 650, which is actually a 780 gallon per hour pump, requires 70 watts of electricity. You can see how much electricity each of our pumps use in the product description of each.

Size Of The Pump Tubing

Another factor that plays a vital role when buying the right outdoor fountain pump is the size of the water pump tubing. The discharge size is the size of the outlet on the pump where the fountain hose or PVC pipe is attached. To select the right pump tubing size, double-check the outlet size to determine whether it will fit the fountain’s tube. If the pump comes with tubing, check if it will fit the fountain’s spout. Remember that many outdoor fountain pumps will also include adapters, thus making them more universal with fountain hoses and easier to ensure a proper fit. We include adapter sizes for each pump in our model specifications. Also, remember, the skinnier the tubing the less water will flow through it on account of friction. So even a 1200 gallon per hour pump will not be pumping much volume if a mere ½” tubing size is used.

To Sum Up

The perfect-size water pump can bring life to your outdoor water fountain. It will also increase the lifespan. You can get the perfect size fountain pump by taking a few measurements to calculate the GPH, maximum lift, and discharge size needed for your fountain.

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