Best External Pond Pump

Best External Pond Pump (1)

Anthony Barnes

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Many pond owners will be familiar with submersible pond pumps, but many still don’t know about the alternative – external pond pumps.

Not only are these an interesting alternative to the traditional pump, but they’re also easier to maintain, higher in power, and cheaper to run overall! 

Today we are looking at the best external pumps for ponds, as well as more information that you will need to know before purchasing your own external pump. 

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Sequence 5800SEQ21 External Pond Pump

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Helix External Pump - 8200 GPH

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Sequence 7800PRM24 Self-Priming External Pump

What Is An External Pond Pump? 

An external pump for the pond is one that sits on the outside of the pond rather than within it.

This pump remains dry, while the more traditional submersible pump remains under the water. 

These pumps take up less space in the water, allowing you to keep more fish and aquatic plants within it.

Submersible pumps have also been known to catch on plants and ruin them due to their close proximity to the pond, whereas external pumps come without this issue. 

There are many benefits for using the newer external pumps while for your pond, which is what we are looking for today. 

Why Should You Choose An External Pond Pump?

Submersible pond pumps have been used for decades by many pond owners on account of how quick and simple they are to use.

All you need to do is introduce them to your pond, wait for them to get acclimated to the water, and the setup is finished! 

However, there are many advantages to using an external pond pump which might sway your decision from using the traditional pond pump to a newer alternative.

External pond pumps are excellent for large ponds or ponds with lots of fish within them. 

Below we have listed some of the most important benefits of choosing an external pump for your pond. 

Save Money On Energy Usage 

The biggest benefit of using an external pond pump is that they are more energy efficient than submersible pumps, and therefore will save you money in the long run.

While the monetary savings won’t be amazing for smaller ponds, you will definitely see the difference for larger ponds. 

The reason why you won’t see much difference in smaller ponds is because neither of the pumps will need much energy to circulate the water.

This means that it won’t be too expensive to run a submersible pump in a small pond. 

However, larger ponds require more energy to circulate all of the water and this is where you will see the majority of the savings.

Ponds over 8,000 gallons of water are the ideal size to use external pumps with to get the best savings. 

If your pond is over 8,000 gallons, many people actually suggest that you only use an external pump rather than a submersible one, as you’ll be saving much more money using the former option.

If you’re interested in saving money for your large pond, then the external pump is the one for you. 

Ease Of Maintenance And Management 

Another benefit of using an external pond pump is that they are often much easier to maintain and manage than submersible pumps.

This makes sense, as the pump sits above ground rather than in the water. You won’t need to fish the pump out of the water to work on it.

Instead, it will already be ready and waiting for you to start your maintenance.

Another reason why external pumps are easier to maintain is that they are much less susceptible to being clogged from debris and fish matter from within the pond.

You also don’t have to worry about algae growing on them and making them more difficult to deal with. 

This makes them easier to clean as a result.

If you are looking for a pump that does not have to be cleaned as regularly, and is as easy to manage as possible, an external pond pump would be the best course of action. 

Great Flow Rate

The third benefit that we’re going to talk about today is the higher flow rates that come from external pond pumps.

External pond pumps do not have an upper limit when it comes to their flow rate, making it the obvious choice for larger ponds. 

The reason for this is that submersible pond pumps are well known for being only suitable for ponds under 10,000 gallons.

This is because the higher pressure of the water makes the pump have to work harder to continue flowing the water efficiently.

The higher the volume of water, the higher the pressure and therefore the higher the energy price you need to pay. 

An external pond pump, however, does not have to worry about this as it is not physically in the water.

Instead, it works from above ground level and therefore is able to withstand a higher flow rate. 

In fact, you can even get some external pond pumps that are rated in horsepower (HP) rather than Gallons Per Hour (GPH) like submersible pumps are!

This means that these external pumps can circulate thousands of gallons of water in just one hour. 

As you can see, there are many benefits for choosing an external pond pump over a submersible pump.

While we have mentioned that the former is recommended for large ponds, you can still use them for smaller ponds as well.

While you won’t be saving money on efficiency, you will still benefit from easier maintenance and a better flow rate. 

Buyers Guide: Things To Consider Before Buying Your External Pond Pump

Now that we have explained the benefits of opting for an external pond pump, there are a few things that you need to consider before purchasing the first one that you see on the market. 

We always recommend a regular centrifugal motor within your pond pump, as these work for most ponds in most situations.

However, there are still other things that you should consider before buying your pump. 

Keeping these considerations in mind will ensure that you have the best chance of choosing an external pond pump that will work for your personal pond and lifestyle.

Running Costs And Efficiency

We have already mentioned this in our article, but the main selling point for an external pond pump is the saved money on your energy bills.

If you have been running a pond for a while now, you will be aware that they are not cheap on a monthly basis. 

The external pond pump is more energy efficient and therefore can save you more money in the long run than a submersible pump. 

With this being said, every external pump is different and therefore some have been designed with energy efficiency in mind, while others have not.

This means that some pumps on the market are more energy efficient than others. If you want to save money, you’re going to need to look for an energy efficient pump. 

Some pumps even have built-in technology that can further optimize the energy usage of the pump, saving you even more money! 

Make sure that you use the wattage rating of your external pond pump to check the running costs for each month before purchasing. We have outlined how to do this a little later in the article. 

Varied Speeds For Flow Rate

Some manufacturers add the ability to control the flow rate on external pond pumps.

This allows you more opportunity to control the water circulation as well as the head height. Bear in mind that some external pumps will come with more complex controls than others. 

For example, one may only come with the ability to set the speed for high and low.

On the other hand, another could come with very complex controls that allow you to set everything from the flow rate to the energy consumption. 

Being able to control your flow rate is excellent for protecting water displays and maximizing energy savings.

For example, you could turn the flow rate down in the winter as there is less waste to filter due to the fish eating less. This will save you energy and therefore money over the colder months. 

However, it is worth noting that you don’t necessarily need a variable flow rate for your external pond pump.

While it is an interesting feature to have, it will also cost more upfront. If you are on a budget, remember that there are external pond pumps without varied flow rates which will cost less in the short term.

Flooded Suction vs. Self Priming Pond Pumps 

There are two main types of external pond pumps – flooded suction centrifugal pumps and self priming centrifugal pumps.

The former tends to come with a lower price point than the latter, and they also need their motor to be surrounded by water before enough pressure can be created to start the pump up.

As the flooded suction pumps need water to work, they’ll need to be installed below the pond line.

This can be done by digging a hole for the pump to reside in, allowing water to be pumped into the external pond pump so that it can begin working.

Alternatively, you could opt for the self priming external pond pump. This type of pump uses both water and air to create a suction within the pond.

The advantage for this type of pump is that it will not become air-bound if too much air enters the chamber, like a non self priming pump would. 

The self priming pond pump will mix both water and air together to add pumping properties to the water. This can then remove the air from the water before starting the pumping process. 

Bear in mind that a self priming pump will still require water to work, so it will still need access to some of the pond water to start pumping.

However, you do not always need to dig a hole in the ground to allow your self priming pump to work. It can also work at a closer distance. 

However, self priming external pond pumps are more expensive than flooded suction pumps.

You might decide that this extra cost is worth the ease of use for the pump, but if you’re on a budget, a flooded suction pump will work just fine – as long as you don’t mind some extra DIY. 

Low or High Maximum Head Height? 

There are two typical varieties of external pond pumps – ones that come with a strong water flow rate and a high head height, and ones with a strong water flow and low head height.

The choice is up to you and what you’re planning on using your pump alongside. 

For example, external pond pumps with low head heights circulate the water well, but they can get in the way of water features.

Bear in mind that the larger the water feature, the more this type of pump is going to alter it. You should be able to use a pump with a low head height with smaller water features without it becoming an issue. 

On the other hand, pumps with high head heights will still give your pond a great flow rate while also having enough water lift to work alongside your large water features. 

The best way to determine whether you want a low maximum head height or a high one is to decide what your goals are.

If you have no plans of adding a large water feature, such as a fountain or waterfall, then you could opt for a low head height as you only need it to circulate water. 

However, if you have a large water feature, or are unsure as to whether you’re going to introduce one at a later date, then we would recommend opting for a pump with a high head height to avoid it interfering with the water display. 

Pump Voltage 

External pond pumps tend to come in two voltage ratings – 115V and 230V. As you might expect, the 115V pump is the lower powered model of the two, while the 230V is higher powered. 

A general rule of thumb is that the larger your pond is, the larger voltage you’re going to need.

This is to do with cost effectiveness. However, if you have a tank between 2,000 and 6,000 gallons, you can use either voltage without sacrificing cost effectiveness. 

Instead, you should look for the voltage support that you have available to your pond.

If your pond has only a voltage support of 115V and you get a pump rated 230V, then you’re going to have to pay to get your electrical system upgraded.

This would be a waste of money if you didn’t want to do this anyway. 

Running both a 115V or a 230V external pond pump doesn’t impact the cost of your energy bill much, provided that you’re running the latter on a lower Gallon Per Hour (GPH).

So, if you have the 230V line near your pond already, we would recommend this option for any size of pond. 

How To Prime An External Pond Pump

Some external pond pumps come unprimed, meaning that you will need to do it to avoid damaging the pump.

Other external pumps are self-priming and therefore will save you time, but they tend to be more expensive. 

If you have opted for a non self priming external pond pump, a wet installation is the best method to go with. This means that you install the pond pump below the water line.

Flooded suction pond pumps often require to be installed into a hole in the ground. This allows the water needed to get them to work easy access to the chamber within the pump. 

As well as installing your pump into the ground, you can also opt for a priming pot, which is a device that can be added to your pump to keep it pumping to the best of its ability for longer.

A priming pot is easier to use than a check valve, so if you want to optimize your external pond pump, we recommend using a priming pot. 

Another reason why we enjoy the priming pot is that it comes with a basket to capture leaves and other forms of debris before they can enter the pump.

This means that the cleanup is easier and also prevents your pump from getting clogged and needing additional maintenance. This will also (hopefully!) prevent your pump from getting damaged. 

Self priming pond pumps will come with their own chamber in which the priming will commence, which is why you don’t need to worry about purchasing a separate priming pot. 

The ideal setup for your external pond pump, for optimal usage, would be your pump within a hole to keep it below the water line, with a priming pot attached to one end and a check valve on the other.

This would provide your pump with the best priming possible to avoid clogs and damage. 

Top Three External Pond Pumps

Now is the moment you’ve all been waiting for – our top three picks of external pond pumps (see also ‘Best Solar Powered Pond Pump‘) .

Our list includes both self priming and flooded suction pumps, so you should be able to find the best pump for your needs on this list. 

Each of these external pumps would work on large ponds, or ponds heavily stocked with fish.

We’ve gone into a lot of detail within the reviews so that you have enough information to make an informed decision on which is going to be best for your pond. 

1. Sequence 5800SEQ21 External Pond Pump

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Specifications 

  • Type: External Centrifugal Pump
  • Voltage: 115V
  • Priming?: Flooded suction, no priming
  • Dimensions: Varied
  • Max. Head Height: Between 17 and 22 feet
  • Max Flow Rate: 4,000 – 10,000 GPH
  • Power Usage: Between 200 and 500 watts
  • Lead Length: 15 feet
  • Outlet: Can fit 2 inch tubing
  • Warranty: 3 years

Our first pick from Sequence has been designed to keep your pond in the best quality while running on as little energy as possible to keep costs down.

This pump achieves these goals well, keeping water turnover high and bills low. 

With reasonable head heights, you can use this pump with any water features you already have.

It can also be used with your filters without running into any problems. 

This is, unfortunately, not a self priming pump, but it isn’t too difficult to do yourself.

All you need to do is add a priming pot and install it under the water level. Overall, this is an excellent external pond pump with low running costs and high reliability. 

Monthly Running Costs

We need to assume a running cost per kilowatt per hour (kWh) of your area to determine the running cost.

The national average is currently set at $0.10 per kWh, so we will use this to determine the average running cost of these external pond pumps. 

For the 4200 model of this pump, running costs would be $11.52 per month. Running the 8220 pump would cost more considering its higher power usage, averaging out at around $32.40 every month. 

We have based this on using the pump every day of a 30-day month for 24 hours. 

Pros 

  • Impressively low upfront cost. 
  • Quiet design means you won’t hear the pump working.
  • Energy efficient designed to keep costs low. 
  • Decent head height and flow rate.

Cons 

  • There isn’t an option for dual voltage. 

2. Helix External Pump – 8200 GPH

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Specifications 

  • Type: External Centrifugal Pump
  • Voltage: 115V or 230V (dual voltage)
  • Priming?: Flooded suction, no priming
  • Dimensions: 17 x 10 x 8 inches
  • Max. Head Height: Between 20 and 23 feet
  • Max Flow Rate: 3600 – 8200 GPH
  • Power Usage: Between 227 watts and 450 watts
  • Lead Length: 8 feet
  • Outlet: Can fit 2 inch tubing
  • Warranty: 3 years

This pump has been made with Koi fish in mind, who need the most circulation possible at all times. It’s a great pump for large or heavily stocked ponds for this reason.

Choose between two sizes – 3600 or 8200 GPH – to ensure you’re getting exactly what you need. 

Again, this pump comes with both strong flow rates and great head heights. It is super versatile for any kind of pond in need of aeration. 

While this pump is not self priming, it is simple to do so on your own. We recommend opting for a priming pot to help you do this, as well as fitting it below the pond level.

You can also use this external pump for either 115V or 230V outlets, so you don’t have to upgrade them. 

Monthly Running Costs

Again, assuming that the energy rate is $0.10 kWh like the national average suggests, the smaller 3500 pump would cost around $16.30 every month.

The larger 8200 pump would have a higher running cost of $32.40 a month. We have calculated these costs assuming that you’re using the pump for 30 days, 24 hours. 

Pros 

  • Perfect for Koi pond owners. 
  • Comes with an impressive warranty. 
  • Highly efficient and money saving. 
  • Great reliability and durability. 

Cons 

  • High price point. 

3. Sequence 7800PRM24 Self-Priming External Pump

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Specifications 

  • Type: External Centrifugal Pump
  • Voltage: 115V
  • Priming?: Self priming
  • Dimensions: 28 x 19 x 15 inches
  • Max. Head Height: 19 feet, 24 feet
  • Max Flow Rate: 6800 – 7800 GPH
  • Power Usage: 300 watts, 792 watts
  • Lead Length: 8 feet
  • Outlet: Can fit 2 inch tubing
  • Warranty: 3 years

This pump from Sequence is extremely reliable, and it is self priming to save you valuable time and effort. Considering that this pump is a self priming pump, it comes with a reasonable price point, too! 

The pump is rather quiet for an external pump, and there is an internal fan which can prevent it from overheating. This will save you money in maintaining the pump in the long run. 

Thanks to the great heat heights, you can use this pump with any water features and filtration systems.

It’s energy efficient, easy to maintain and manage, and versatile for small and large ponds. This is an excellent external pond pump if you’re looking for  a self priming option!

Monthly Running Costs

Using the national average energy price of $0.10 kWh and the assumption that you are using this pump for 24 hours a day, 30 days a month, the 6800 option would cost you $26.50 a month to run.

The large 7800 model would cost around $36 to run. These running costs are slightly higher than the other pumps we have looked at on our list. 

Pros 

  • Self priming pump saves you time and effort.
  • Hardly heard while running. 
  • Impressive upfront costs for what it is.
  • Decent head height.

Cons 

  • Higher running cost than other options on our list. 

Summary

We hope that you learned something interesting about external pond pumps and how to choose the best one for you!

There are plenty of benefits that come with external pond pumps – especially if you have a large pond. So, what are you waiting for?

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By Anthony Barnes

Anthony Barnes is the founder of Water Heater Hub and a second-generation plumber by profession. Before developing Water Heater Hub, Anthony Barnes was a full-time plumber, and he has undertaken a wide variety of projects over the decades. As a second-generation plumber, it was easy for Anthony to get used to the technicalities of all from a tender age