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Solar vs. Wind – What are the Differences?

  • September 5, 2013

We often get the question, “what is the difference between using a solar aerator and a wind powered aeration system?”

The main differences have to do with cost per CFM of output and whether you’re in an area that is better for one vs. the other.

Let’s talk about cost first.  There are a couple of solar aerator manufacturers in the U.S.   Keeton Industries, based in Colorado is probably the most well-known.   They sell a high quality solar aeration system that starts at $6,495 for a one diffuser system and $12,825 for a 3 diffuser system.  These systems include a high quality compressor designed to aerate ponds from 1/8 of an acre up to 5 acres in size.   A second company, “PEC” or Pennington Equipment Company, also manufactures a solar aerator, but their systems are much smaller and use a diaphragm pump that can only pump air in shallow ponds.   Their GV2-Star system produces 1.35 CFM of air with a cost of $2,819.  This system is adequate for ponds .25 to .50 acres in size.  Most of PEC’s other solar aerators are best in koi ponds or small ¼ acre ponds no deeper than about 6’ and use small compressors with .25 – 1.0 CFM of air.  All solar aerators use solar panels and batteries, controllers, etc. which require maintenance over time.

A wind powered aeration system will cost $1,300 – $2,000 or so depending on height, # of diffusers and amount of weighted airline.  A 20’ windmill aeration system with 100’ of tubing and one diffuser sells for $1,595.  These systems are designed to operate with minimal maintenance and for a long time.  The compressor is a high psi piston compressor capable of pushing out up to 5.0 CFM.  So, when you look at cost per CFM a windmill comes in around $320 per 1 CFM vs. a solar aerator at $2,100 – $3,500.

Regarding geography, if you’re located in a low wind area or an area completely surrounded by trees and/or buildings, then a solar aerator system might be your best choice, especially if you don’t have access to electricity.  Most locations do get wind for 4-6 hours a day on average and can use a windmill aerator.  Some days it may not blow at all and other days it may turn for 12 hours straight but on average, 4-6 hours is sufficient for circulation and aeration.

In summary, both windmill aerators and solar aerators can effectively aerate ponds and lakes.  If you’re going with solar, lean towards the higher quality, higher output systems manufactured by Keeton Industries.  They may cost more, but are well worth it when you consider the amount of air they produce.  If you’re going to use wind, Outdoor Water Solutions is considered the Industry leader and offers a full 5 year warranty on their compressors.

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