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Choosing the Right Drip Emitter
Four things to consider...
1. Pressure-Compensating vs. Non-Pressure-Compensating Emitters
First determine whether or not you need pressure-compensating emitters. They cost a little more but are the best choice for many applications. If your landscape has elevation changes (hills, dips, etc.) go with pressure-compensating emitters. They have a diaphragm inside which maintains the same water flow through the emitter even if the elevation (and pressure) changes.
The PCE Series is our best quality pressure compensating emitter.
The TC Series "Turbo Style" is our most economical pressure compensating emitter.
If you install non-pressure-compensating emitters in the example above, the emitters on the higher elevations will distribute less water than those at the bottom of the slope. Non-pressure compensating emitters are a great choice for flat landscapes and with gravity-fed drip systems.
The TAE Series "Flag Emitter" is our most economical emitter.
2. Drip vs. Spray
Not all drip emitters "drip". If you want to water a broader area, consider a stream or spectrum spray. They are adjustable so you can dial-in the exact spray distance that you require. The output ranges from 0 - 24 gph.
A stream spray emitter distributes water like fingers in either a 360° or 180° pattern. They are adjustable with a radius up to 18 inches. Barb connections allow you to attach them directly to mainline drip tubing. Also available on a 6 inch stake (threaded base too, see "Micro Jets" section below).
The SR Series "Stream Spray Emitter" is adjustable with barbed connector.
The SR Series "Stream Spray Emitter" on 6 inch stake.
Spectrum Spray Emitters deliver water in a fine spray with a 360° umbrella pattern. They are good for ground cover, seed plantings, and annual flower beds where you don't want the soil to be dry between plants. Barb connections allow you to attach them directly to mainline drip tubing. Also available on a 6 inch stake (threaded base too, see "Micro Jets" section below).
The SM Series "Spectrum Spray Emitter" is adjustable and comes with barbed connector & 6 inch stake (threaded base too, see "Micro Jets" section below).
Micro Jet Sprayers & Micro Stake Assemblies are another choice for watering small flower beds and ground cover. All micro spray products feature 10-32 threads which allow them to be easily screwed into micro stake assemblies and rigid risers (shown below). If you have a lot of micro spray products on one drip line, the total water output can add up fast. Be sure to plan for the maximum output of the products you are using so that you don't run short on flow if you need to open them up all the way. See the chart at the end of this section for micro jet flow rates.
The Micro Stake Assemblies are available in 12" and 20 inch lengths.
Rigid Riser Extensions can be used to increase the height of Micro Stake Assemblies. They are available in lengths of 8", 12", and 18".
Micro Sprayers come in many configurations. The flow rates for micro sprays can add up fast. See the chart at the end of this section for micro jet flow rates.
|MICRO SPRAY CAP & BASE PERFORMANCE
|Black Base, .030" Opening (DD-MSB30)
|psi||ft ||ft ||gph
|Blue Base, .040" Opening (DD-MSB40)
|psi||ft ||ft ||gph
|Green Base, .050" Opening (DD-MSB50)
|psi||ft ||ft ||gph
|Red Base, .060" Opening (DD-MSB60)
|psi||ft ||ft ||gph
3. Retrofitting an Existing Sprinkler System
Sprinklers can be converted to drip in a number of ways. Pressure compensating bubblers and emitters can be attached directly to 1/2" threaded risers. Simply unscrew the existing sprinkler or shrub head and replace it with the emitter or bubbler. Our 6-outlet drip bubblers allow you to run 1/4" drip tubing to up to six plants. The bubblers come with one outlet open. You can cut the tip off of closed outlets with a utility knife. They deliver a lot of water and are a good choice for deep-watering trees.
4. Drip Emitter Tubing vs. In-Line Emitters
Drip Emitter Tubing has drip emitters extruded into the tubing itself. It comes in rolls of 100 feet or more. It is used in row plantings, vegetable gardens, and anytime that a long, even-spaced run is required. It can be purchased with 1/2 gph or 1gph emitters at a variety of spacings and comes in 1/4" & 1/2" (700) tubing sizes. The emitters in the 1/2" tubing are pressure compensating. They will maintain the same water flow regardless of fluctuations in pressure. The 1/4" emitters are non-pressure compensating. The water flow will vary with fluctuations in pressure. This makes it a good choice for low pressure and gravity fed systems. It is easily wrapped around trees, shrubs, borders, & flower beds. Install in rows for small vegetable gardens, raised planter boxes, and window boxes.
Use scissors to cut 1/4" tubing and clippers to cut 1/2" tubing.
1/4" Drip Emitter Tubing (Soaker Line) is available in the following configurations:
Install with 1/4" barbed fittings. Since the emitters in 1/4" drip emitter tubing are non-pressure-compensatings, the output of each emitter with vary with changes in pressure. We recommend installing a 20 psi regulator.
1/4" Drip Emitter Tubing - Operating Specifications
Pressure Flow Rate Per Emitter
1/2" Drip Emitter Tubing (.700" O.D x .600" I.D.) is available in the following configurations:
Install with 1/2" compression fittings. Since the emitters in 1/2" drip emitter tubing are non-pressure-compensatings, the output of each emitter saty the same, even with changes in pressure. They are self-flushing and clog resistant. We recommend installing a 20 psi regulator or 30 psi regulator, and a filter with 120 - 150 mesh screen.
|Emitter Tubing Guidelines|
|Tubing Size & Emitter Spacing||Pressure Compensating Emitters?||Max psi||Max Run per branch|| Max Run Total (1/4" is fed from 1/2" mainline)
|1/4" Tubing - 6" spacing 1/2 gal/hr
||No||30|| 19 ft
|1/4" Tubing - 12" spacing 1/2 gal/hr||No||30|| 33 ft
|1/2" Tubing - 12" spacing 1/2 gal/hr||Yes||50*||450 ft|
|1/2" Tubing - 18" spacing 1/2 gal/hr||Yes||50*||500 ft|
|1/2" Tubing - 18" spacing 1 gal/hr||Yes||50*||350 ft|
|* We recommend operating at 20 - 30 psi
Pressure Compensating Emitters
- Deliver the stated gph (gallons per hour) even if pressures range is 10-50 psi
- Works well with elevation changes
- Self-flushing to reduce clogging
- Output will vary with changes in pressure & elevation
- Works best with flat landscapes
- Excellent for gravity-fed drip systems
1/2" Compression Fittings
- Recommended pressure: 10-30 psi
- Max pressure: 60 psi
If you don't have a long run or you have uneven plant spacings, you can make your own custom drip emitter tubing with in-line emitters. Simply cut 1/4" micro tubing to the desired lengths and attach it to the barbs on either side of the in-line emitter.
Compare All Our Drip Emitters
Still not sure which type of emitter to buy? This handy chart should help: Compare all drip emitters.
Last modified: September 21, 2011