How Do Water Fountains Work Without Electricity?

Water fountains have always been a part of human civilization. If you go through the history of middle age, you will also come across thousands of water fountains. Before the indoor plumbing system, fountains were the primary source of pure drinking water. But how do water fountains work without electricity? How did they even pump the water without electricity?

In ancient times, fountain designers relied on gravity and pressure for operating fountains. The water flow from an elevated reservoir can create enough pressure for a spurt. Many engineers even used river currents to run wheel-operated pistons and fill reservoirs.

Do you want to know more about electricity free fountains? Let’s dive in!

How do Water Fountains work Without Electricity? Explained

After the 19th century, indoor plumbing systems developed and fountains became ornamental. Later, mechanical pumps took the job of recycling & forcing the water high into the air.

In ancient times, fountains used to receive water from springs or aqueducts. At that time, most fountains were for drinking purposes.

Let’s check the facts behind non-electric water fountains now!

Gravity Channeling

Ancient designers relied on gravity to build up pressure in a closed system. This pressure is proportional to the distance between the elevation and the fountain. Even a few feet high elevation would be enough to get a satisfactory spurt.

Ancient Rome carried water through aqueducts from the mountains to elevated cisterns. This high-pressure flow can produce adequate force to spurt water into the air. In 98 AD, Rome featured nine aqueducts, 39 fountains, and 591 public basins.

River Current

Ancient engineers thought of using river currents to operate ‘Wheels run pistons. For  example- The ‘Fountain complex of King Louis XIV.’

This complex utilized the Seine river’s current to activate 14 wheels.  Their average diameter was 38 feet. Once activated, it can operate on 200 water pumps to pump the water into the closed reservoirs.

What Is Heron’s Fountain?

Heron’s fountain is a hydraulic machine that uses air and steam pressure to spurt water. Alexandrian physicist and mathematician Heron invented it in the 1st Century AD.

herons fountain diagram
Source: Wikipedia


This model comprises a basin, a water supply, an air supply compartment, and three pipes.

1st pipe connects the basin’s bottom to the air container’s topIt moves the water from the basin to the air supply tank.
The rise of the water level in the water container will depend on the flow from the basin to the air supply tank.   This descending water flow builds pressure in the bottom air supply tank.
The 2nd pipe connects the top of the air compartment with the water compartment’s top.  This pressure passes through the second pipe and propels it into the 3rd pipe.
It is proportional to the distance between the basin & the air tank.
The 3rd pipe connects the water supply compartment’s bottom with the basin.Water propels and spurts through the 3rd pipe.
This water replaces the water in the basin, which descends through the 1st pipe.

Do you want to know more about Heron’s Fountain? Click here.


Can a fountain function without electricity?

Yes, of course. Public fountains were the primary source of drinking water in ancient civilizations. But, there must be a high-pressure water flow from elevated water resources. Once adequate pressure builds up in the closed system, water will propel out of the fountains.

Is Heron’s fountain real?

Potential energy (water, air, gravity, or compression) can produce power. So, theoretically & practically Heron’s Fountain is real.

How did Versailles fountains work?

Versailles fountains use river currents to activate 33-diameter hydraulic wheels. Then these wheels will turn on the water pumps to create pressure in the closed reservoirs. This pressure produces a satisfactory spurt in the Versailles water fountains.

Final Words

You must have noticed many ornamental fountains around you. But, I bet you couldn’t imagine a fountain without electric/mechanical pumps before. Now, if you focus on the basic principles of physics, it’s logical.

The flow of water from high reservoirs creates pressure on closed cisterns. Thus, utilizing this hydraulic pressure water fountains work without electricity.

About The Author

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Written by Shimul
Hi, I'm Shimul, the founder of Trendy Outdoor. I'm excited about sharing the latest outdoor living trends with you. My goal is to provide you with up-to-date information that will help make your outdoor space stylish and enjoyable. Read About Me More । Follow on Facebook

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