Pond Pump Comparison For Pond Owners In Baltimore: Submersible vs. External

The Best Pump Type For Your Pond

Ever scratched your head trying to understand the difference between external and submersible pond pumps? Or wondered which one is best for your backyard pond?

In this blog post, we’ll decode these pond tools and help you figure out which pump is the best fit for your pond, whether you’re installing a pond or trying to make it work better.

By the end of this read, you’ll know the differences and which is best for you!

What Are External Pond Pumps?

External pond pumps are located outside the water, making them easy to access for regular maintenance.

They are known for their energy efficiency and are often a preferred choice for larger ponds with capacities of 2,000 gallons or more.

Their ability to deal with head pressure more effectively makes them a popular option for water features like waterfalls and fountains.

What Are Submersible Pond Pumps?

Premier Ponds member putting a submerged pond pump in a koi pond in Maryland

Submersible pond pumps are designed to operate underwater, making them a discreet option that can easily be hidden within the pond’s landscape.

They are commonly used in skimmer boxes, and while they may not be as energy-efficient as external pumps, they still perform effectively in smaller ponds or ponds with simpler circulation needs.

Comparing External and Submersible Pumps

Gallons Per Hour

External and submersible pond pumps differ in their capacity to move water.

External pond pumps typically have a higher gallon-per-hour (GPH) capacity, making them better suited for larger ponds or water features.

Conversely, submersible pond pumps generally have a lower GPH capacity and are better suited for smaller ponds or water features.

Power And Energy Efficiency

Both external and submersible pumps have their own energy efficiency characteristics.

External pond pumps usually consume more power than their submersible counterparts. However, their additional power allows them to pump water at greater distances and heights, such as creating taller waterfalls or fountains.

Submersible pond pumps, on the other hand, usually consume less power but provide less overall lift and distance capabilities.

Submersible Pond Pumps

Submersible pond pumps are designed to be fully submerged in water, making them an ideal choice for various water features and small ponds. They are often regarded as a more convenient option compared to external pond pumps.


Easy Installation

Submersible pond pumps are generally considered easier to install since they require minimal plumbing and can simply be placed directly into the pond.

This “plug and play” approach offers a hassle-free setup.


These pumps are versatile and can not only circulate water within the pond but also power water features like fountains or waterfalls.

Quiet Operation

Due to being submerged in water, submersible pond pumps tend to operate quietly, reducing unwanted noise.


Energy Consumption

One major downside of submersible pond pumps is their higher energy consumption.

Although more energy-efficient models are available, submersible pumps generally use more energy compared to external pumps, especially for larger ponds, leading to increased running costs.

Maintenance Challenges

Submersible pond pumps can be more challenging to maintain compared to external pumps.

They require hands-on maintenance as they must be removed from the pond for cleaning or servicing, which can be a wet and potentially risky task if not performed carefully.

Premier Ponds’ Recommendation For When To Choose Submersible Or External Pumps

Let’s categorize water features into 3 categories:

  1. Ecosystem ponds
  2. Recirculating waterfalls/streams/fountains
  3. Recreation/Swim – intended for human submersion on a regular basis

The Best Water Features For Submersible Pumps

Submersible pumps are by far the best choice for ecosystem ponds and recirculating waterfalls/streams/fountains. In fact, submersible pumps are the best choice whenever feasibly possible due to fewer ongoing maintenance needs, lower replacement costs, and the simplicity of replacement.

Typically a submersible pump will be found in a skimmer, in a pump vault, or at the bottom of a pond. It is important to choose the proper pump based on the installation location in order to minimize pump failures and maintenance headaches.

The Best Water Features For External Pumps

For recreation and swim ponds, building codes and regulations say that a pump must be installed externally. This is just like a swimming pool, and for all the same reasons.

The issue arises with submersible pumps having all of their electrical components submerged underwater. So the regulations revolve around electrical safety and preventing unnecessary electrocution in the event that a failure occurred underwater while people are swimming.

– Andrew Lingan, Owner of Premier Ponds

External Pond Pumps

External pond pumps are designed to be positioned outside the pond and are generally used for purposes such as waterfalls, bottom drains, formal fountains, and overall pond circulation.

These non-submersible pond pumps have a few advantages over submersible pond pumps but also come with their own drawbacks.


Energy Efficiency

External pond pumps are often more energy efficient than their submersible counterparts, which means they can lead to savings on monthly energy bills.

This is particularly true for larger ponds that require more powerful pumps.


Because these pumps sit outside the pond, they can be more easily accessed and maintained compared to submersible pumps, which may require draining or reaching into the pond for maintenance tasks.

Leaf Trap

Many external pumps are equipped with a leaf trap, which prevents floating debris from entering the pump and causing damage or clogging.

This feature can contribute to the pump’s longevity and overall efficiency.



External pumps typically require manual priming, whereas submersible pumps usually do not.

Priming can be a challenge for some users who may be unfamiliar with the process or who find it difficult to prime the pump effectively.


As they are positioned outside the pond in a dry location, external pond pumps may be more visible and less discreet than submersible pumps.

This can be of concern for some pond owners, who may prefer to keep their equipment hidden from view.


Installing an external pond pump can be more complex and time-consuming than installing a submersible one. This is because it involves additional plumbing and may necessitate a deeper understanding of the installation process.

Installation And Maintenance

Submersible pond pump in need of cleaning

Installation For Submersible Pond Pumps

Submersible pond pumps are preferred for their ease of installation and maintenance.

They are suitable for smaller ponds, typically around 1,000 gallons or less in size.

To install a submersible pond pump, simply place it in the water and connect it to a power source. Make sure to position the pump near the bottom of the pond, where it can access the deepest water and collect debris efficiently.

It can also be hidden within a skimmer box for seamless integration with your pond design.

Maintenance For Submersible Pond Pumps

Maintenance for submersible pond pumps typically involves periodic cleaning of the pump to prevent clogging from debris and algae.

This can be done by removing the pump from the water, dismantling it to access the filtration elements, and cleaning the components thoroughly. Although you’ll need to get your hands wet, this process is relatively simple and straightforward.

Additionally, submersible pond pumps are known for their quiet operation, which is a significant advantage for many pond owners.

Installing External Pond Pumps

External pond pumps are best suited for larger ponds.

When installing an external pump, place it as close as possible to the water supply to ensure optimal performance.

Consider incorporating ball valves in the tubing on both sides of the pump, as this will make removing the pump for maintenance easier and prevent unnecessary drainage of pond water.

Maintaining External Pond Pumps

One significant advantage of external pond pumps is that they don’t require you to get your hands wet during maintenance.

However, you’ll need to ensure that the pump remains primed to avoid operational issues.

External pumps typically require more regular maintenance in the form of cleaning and filter replacement to maintain optimal performance.

Submersible vs. External Pumps For Water Features


Forked waterfall water feature

Waterfalls create a visually appealing aesthetic for ponds and require a specific type of pond pump that can handle the pressure.

When choosing a pond pump for waterfalls, consider the height of the waterfall and the desired water flow. The gallons per hour (GPH) a pump can deliver is crucial for creating an effective waterfall.

External pond pumps are a popular choice for large waterfalls as they can handle larger volumes of water and pressures more efficiently than submersible pumps.

They can effectively handle waterfalls in ponds up to thousands of gallons in size.

Submersible pond pumps, on the other hand, are generally more suitable for smaller waterfalls and ponds. They are easy to install and can be more discreet compared to external pond pumps.

Ponds With UV Filtration

For a water garden equipped with UV filtration systems, it’s essential to consider a pump that can deliver the required flow rates to ensure proper water filtering.

External pond pumps can be well-suited for UV filtration systems in larger ponds, as they can handle high water volumes and pressures more easily than submersible pumps.

However, external pumps do require extra plumbing and are less discreet compared to submersible pumps.

Submersible pumps can also support UV filtration systems, particularly in smaller ponds.

When selecting a submersible pump for a pond with UV filtration, consider the pump’s GPH capacity and ensure it is compatible with the filtration system requirements.

Installing a submersible pump is generally safer in terms of avoiding electric shocks, although proper maintenance is still crucial.

Choosing The Right Pump For Your Pond

Pond with waterfall and red maple tree

Submersible Pond Pumps

Submersible pond pumps are designed to be placed directly in the water.

These pumps are often more economical and quieter compared to their external counterparts. They range in size from 50 to 5,000 gallons per hour (GPH), which can accommodate various pond sizes and water features.

However, a downside is that accessing the pump for maintenance or removal requires getting into the pond.

External Pond Pumps

External pond pumps, on the other hand, are situated outside the pond and connected to the water through piping.

This placement provides easier maintenance access and eliminates the need to get into the pond.

They can handle larger ponds, as their capacity is typically greater than that of submersible pumps.

Choosing The Right Pond Pump

In order to choose the right pump, you’ll need to consider several factors, including your pond’s volume, the desired water flow rate, and the necessary wattage to achieve the required rate.

To calculate your pond’s volume in gallons, you can use the formula:

Length x Width x Average Depth x 7.5 = volume in gallons

When selecting your pump, also consider the following points:

Wattage: Energy efficiency should be a priority, as pumps operate continuously. Look for pumps with lower wattage to reduce energy consumption without sacrificing performance.

Piping: External pumps require proper piping to connect the pump to the pond. Ensure that your chosen pump is compatible with your pond’s piping system.

You’ll also want to look at pond pump costs so you can better budget for the pump your pond needs.

Elevate Your Pond Experience With Premier Ponds

Submersible and external pond pumps each offer distinct benefits. Submersible pumps are perfect for small ponds, offering quiet operation and easy installation. External pumps, meanwhile, provide superior energy efficiency and easier maintenance, making them ideal for larger ponds.

But how do you choose? Let Premier Ponds assist! Our expertise spans from pump selection to pond installation and maintenance, ensuring your pond thrives no matter its size or complexity.

Don’t wait to create the pond of your dreams. Contact us today— with Premier Ponds, you’re one step closer to your backyard paradise.


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