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Choosing the Right Drip Emitter

There are Four things to consider...

1. Pressure-Compensating vs. Non-Pressure-Compensating Emitters

First determine whether or not you need pressure-compensating emitters. These drip irrigation emitters cost a little more but are the best choice forpicture of pressure compensating emittermany drip irrigation applications. If your landscape has elevation changes (hills, dips, etc.) go with pressure-compensating emitters. These drip irrigation emitters have a diaphragm inside designed for maintaining the same water flow through the drip emitter even if the elevation (and pressure) changes.

The PCE Series is our best quality pressure compensating emitter.


Pressure compensating emitter installed on 1/2

1/2 gph (gallon per hour) best for Clay Soils (hard)Presssure compensating emitter installed with micro stake
1 gph best for Loam Soils (normal)
2 gph best for Sandy Soils (loose)
Self-flushing
Inlet pressure can vary from 14.58 - 58 psi

The TC Series "Turbo Style" is our most economical pressure compensating emitter.

Pressure compensating emitter installed on 1/2

1/2 gph (gallon per hour) best for Clay Soils (hard)Presssure compensating emitter installed with micro stake
1 gph best for Loam Soils (normal)
2 gph best for Sandy Soils (loose)
Easy to take apart & clean
Inlet pressure can vary from 10 - 40 psi


picture of a non-pressure-compensating emitterIf you install non-pressure-compensating emitters in the example above, the drip 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 irrigation systems.

The TAE Series "Flag Emitter" is our most economical emitter.

Non-Pressure-Compensating emitter installed on 1/2

1 gph (gallon per hour) best for Clay Soils (hard)Non-Presssure-Compensating emitter installed with micro stake
2 gph best for Loam Soils (normal)
4 gph best for Sandy Soils (loose)
Easy to take apart & clean
Must operate between 15 - 20 psi for stated output


2. Drip vs. Spray

Not all drip emitters "drip". If you want to water a broader area, consider a stream or spectrum spray design. Drip micro irrigation sprayers are adjustable so you can dial-in the exact spray distance that you require. The output ranges from 0 - 24 gph.

Stream Spray EmitterA stream spray emitter distributes water like fingers in either a 360 or 180 pattern. The micro irrigation sprayers are adjustable with a radius up to 18 inches. Barb connections allow you to install 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.


Adjustable stream bubbler on drip mainline tubing

Full Circle Diameter from 6" - 3'Adjsutable stream spray (half circle) installed on drip mainline tubing
Half Circle Radius from 3" - 18"
Removable top for cleaning
Twist cap to adjust stream


The SR Series "Stream Spray Emitter" on 6 inch stake.


Adjustable stream bubbler on stake - full circle

Full Circle Diameter from 6" - 3'Adjustable stream bubbler on stake - half circle
Half Circle Radius from 3" - 18"
Removable top for cleaning
Twist cap to adjust stream

Spectrum Spray Emitter

Spectrum Spray Emitters deliver water in a fine spray with a 360 umbrella pattern. These micro irrigation emitters 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).

Spectrum Spray (full circle) installed on drip mainline tubing

Full Circle - barb Dia. to 5.5 feetSpectrum Spray on stake - half circle
Half Circle - stake Dia. to 5.5 feet
Removeable top for cleaning
Twist cap to adjust spray


Adjustable Micro Jet Sprayer

Micro Jet Sprayers & Micro Stake Assemblies are another choice for watering small flower beds and ground cover. All micro irrigation 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 irrigation spray products on one drip irrigation line, the total water output can add up fast. Be sure to plan for the maximum output of the micro Irrigation 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 installation chart at the end of this section for micro irrigation jet flow rates.


The Micro Stake Assemblies are available in 12" and 20 inch lengths.

Micro Stake Assembly with sprayer attached to drip tubing

12" Stake AssemblyThreading fitting into micro stake assembly
20" Stake Assembly
18" micro tubing attached
Barb connector included

Micro Stake Assembly


Rigid Riser Extensions can be used to increase the height of Micro Stake Assemblies. They are available in lengths of 8", 12", and 18".

Rigid Riser Extension for Micro Stake Assembly

8" Rigid Riser ExtensionThreading rigid riser into micro jet stake assembly
12" Rigid Riser Extension
18" Rigid Riser Extension
Riser threads into the top of stake

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.

1-Piece Micro Sprays areavailable in Full (360), Half (180), & Quarter (90) Circle patterns. We offer two color-coded outputsFull circle 1-piece micro spray on riser extension (red & blue). The blue orifice is smaller (0.040") and distributes less water than the red orifice (0.060").Half circle 1-piece micro spray on riser extension
Half circle (0.040Half circle (0.060
2 Piece Micro Spraysmade up of bases and caps. Base output varies and caps determine the spray pattern: Full, Half & Quarter (Links to all models below photo):
Half circle cap & green base on riser extension

Full circle cap & green base on riser extension

Full circle cap on riser extension - wateringHalf circle cap on riser extension - watering

MICRO SPRAY CAP & BASE PERFORMANCE
Black Base, .030" Opening (DD-MSB30)
ArcPressureRadiusDiameterFlow
psiftftgph
DD-MCF10-10.24.7
360 Degrees15-13.45.9
20-14.76.9
25-15.67.8
30-16.48.6
DD-MCH104.4-4.7
180 Degrees155.0-5.9
205.4-6.9
255.6-7.8
306.7-8.6
DD-MCQ104.4-4.7
90 Degrees155.7-5.9
206.6-6.9
257.2-7.8
307.7-8.6
Blue Base, .040" Opening (DD-MSB40)
ArcPressureRadiusDiameterFlow
psiftftgph
DD-MCF10-13.47.0
360 Degrees15-15.88.9
20-18.210.5
25-19.612.0
30-20.413.3
DD-MCH105.2-7.0
180 Degrees156.0-8.9
206.4-10.5
256.6-12.0
307.0-13.3
DD-MCQ104.7-7.0
90 Degrees156.1-8.9
207.6-10.5
258.2-12.0
308.6-13.3
Green Base, .050" Opening (DD-MSB50)
ArcPressureRadiusDiameterFlow
psiftftgph
DD-MCF10-17.411.5
360 Degrees15-21.114.5
20-22.517.2
25-23.319.5
30-23.821.5
DD-MCH105.7-11.5
180 Degrees156.6-14.5
207.2-17.2
257.8-19.5
308.4-21.5
DD-MCQ105.8-11.5
90 Degrees157.4-14.5
208.4-17.2
259.1-19.5
309.6-21.5
Red Base, .060" Opening (DD-MSB60)
ArcPressureRadiusDiameterFlow
psiftftgph
DD-MCF10-18.416.3
360 Degrees15-22.620.0
20-25.723.5
25-26.326.0
30-26.729.0
DD-MCH106.7-7.0
180 Degrees158.1-8.9
209.5-10.5
2510.1-12.0
3010.6-13.3
DD-MCQ106.4-7.0
90 Degrees158.1-8.9
209.4-10.5
259.8-12.0
3010.8-13.3

3. Retrofitting an Existing Sprinkler System

Home sprinkler systems can be converted to a drip irrigation system in a number of ways. Pressure compensating drip bubblers and emitters can be attached directlypicture of 6-outlet drip bubbler to 1/2" threaded risers. Simply unscrew the existing sprinkler or shrub head and replace it with the drip emitter or bubbler. Our 6-outlet drip bubblers allow you to run 1/4" drip tubing to up to six plants. The drip bubblers come with one outlet open. You can cut the tip off of closed outlets with a utility knife. Drip irrigation bubblers deliver a lot ofPicture of single-outlet emitter for sprinkler retrofitwater and are a good choice for deep-watering trees.

The single-outlet drip emitters are best designed for watering individual plants. Both drip emitters and bubblers can be installed at 90 angles by using a Marlex elbow, as shown in the photos.

4. Drip Emitter Tubing vs. In-Line Emitters

Drip Emitter Tubing aka: Soaker Hose Dripline, has drip irrigation emitters extruded into the tubing itself. It comes in rolls of 100 feet or more. Drip emitter tubing is used in row plantings,Close up of 1/2vegetable gardens, and anytime that a long, even-spaced run is required. Drip emitter tubing can be purchased with 1/2 gph or 1gph emitters at a variety of spacings and comes in 1/4" &Close up of 1/41/2" (700) drip tubing sizes. The drip emitters in the 1/2" tubing are pressure compensating. Pressure compensating drip emitters will maintain the same water flow regardless of fluctuations in pressure. The 1/4" drip 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 drip irrigation systems. Drip irrigation emitter tubing 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:

100 foot roll of 1/4

100' roll, 1/2 gph emitters, 6" spacing

100' roll, 1/2 gph emitters, 12" spacing

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 25 psi regulator.

1/4" Drip Emitter Tubing - Operating Specifications

Roll of 1/2

Pressure Flow Rate Per Emitter

10 psi 0.39 gph
15 psi 0.47 gph
20 psi 0.56 gph
25 psi 0.63 gph
30 psi 0.69 gph

1/2" Drip Emitter Tubing (.700" O.D x .600" I.D.) is available in the following configurations:

1/2 gph emitters, 12" spacing - 100' roll

1/2 gph emitters, 12" spacing - 400' roll

1/2 gph emitters, 18" spacing - 100' roll

1/2" gph emitters, 18" spacing - 400' roll

1 gph emitters, 18" spacing - 400' roll

1 gph emitters, 18" spacing - 400' roll

Install with 1/2" compression fittings. Since the emitters in 1/2" drip emitter tubing are pressure-compensating, the output of each emitter stays the same, even with changes in pressure. These drip irrigation emitters are self-flushing and clog resistant. Irrigation Direct recommends installing a 25 psi regulator and a filter with 120 - 150 mesh screen.

Emitter Tubing Guidelines
Tubing Size & Emitter SpacingPressure Compensating Emitters?Max psiMax Run per branchMax Run Total (1/4" is fed from 1/2" mainline)
1/4" Tubing - 6" spacing 1/2 gal/hrNo3019 ft200 ft
1/4" Tubing - 12" spacing 1/2 gal/hrNo3033 ft400 ft
1/2" Tubing - 12" spacing 1/2 gal/hrYes50*450 ft
1/2" Tubing - 18" spacing 1/2 gal/hrYes50*500 ft
1/2" Tubing - 18" spacing 1 gal/hrYes50*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

Non-Pressure-Compensating Emitters

  • 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

In-Line Emitters

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 irrigation tubing to the desired lengths and install it to the barbs on either side of the in-line drip emitter.

Compare All Our Drip Emitters

Still not sure which type of emitter to buy? This handy chart should help: Compare all drip emitters

SPRINKLER SYSTEM INFORMATION

Sprinkler irrigation systems are commonly used in lawn irrigation systems and other planted areas where a spray or mist is desirable. For plants that require uniform coverage of water (grass, ground cover, seeds) a sprinkler irrigation system is appropriate.

If you are installing lawn sprinkler irrigation systems, Irrigation Direct carries a variety of supplies and parts like an adjustable nozzles for Rain Bird sprinkler heads. Our shrub adapters are perfect for garden sprinklers and shrub zones.

Combine pop-ups and rotors with electronic sprinkler controllers (timers), and inline valves to automate your landscape sprinkler irrigation system. Browse our Sprinkler System Supplies and Parts to find sprinkler nozzles, bubblers, swing assemblies, cut-off risers, Marlex 90s, and more.

DRIP IRRIGATION SYSTEM INFORMATIONz

Drip irrigation is a watering method which delivers water to plants slowly and right where they need it at the roots. Where typical pop-up sprinklers spray water into the air and onto plants, drip irrigation systems combine flexible poly drip tubing and drip emitters or "drippers" to both conserve water and save money.

Drip irrigation systems are not affected by wind and will greatly reduce evaporation and runoff common with traditional irrigation systems. Drip irrigation is the perfect solution for raised vegetable garden beds, hanging baskets, and potted plants.

Learn how to plan, design, and install your own Drip Irrigation System with our FREE online Drip Irrigation Tutorials.

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