As water continues to increase in price and become more scarce, water from your sprinkler landing on the side walk instead of the landscape or water running off the landscape onto the sidewalk is not tolerable. Water from sprinklers is often lost long before the water hits the ground. Pop-up sprinkler heads have never been a very efficient way to water. There are a variety of ways water is wasted with spray head irrigation – wind, evaporation, run off, misting and overspray all play a role.
During the last 25 years there have been literally millions of spray heads installed across the nation. Replacing all the spray heads for a different type of irrigation is an expensive and daunting task. Fortunately with technological advances in nozzles, the efficiency of a pop-up sprinkler can be improved. High efficiency nozzles help combat wasted water with spray heads several ways and typically improve the efficiency of your system by 10% – 20%.
High Efficiency Nozzles Throw Heavier Droplets
High efficiency nozzles deliver heavier streams and bigger droplets. The extra weight helps prevent those droplets from being carried away by wind. According to most manufacturers, the high efficiency nozzles allow a much more significant amount (some as much as 35% in certain conditions) of water to land on the desired area.
Less Run Off from High Efficiency Nozzles
High efficiency nozzles apply water to your landscape at a much slower pace than traditional spray nozzles. This allows the water more time to soak into the soil and less or none to runoff. . Because the water is being applied at a slower rate and they are designed to operate at lower presser, they can be an excellent solution if you experience low water pressure.
It is counter intuitive to use these nozzles. Because the amount of water applied is at a slower rate in most cases you will have to increase the amount of time you water. You will have to recalculate your run times or if you are using a smart controller, add the parameter for the high efficiency nozzles (and let the smart controller do the calculations for you) so the run times reflect the amount of water being applied.
Rebates Available for High Efficiency Nozzles
Many water agencies across the United States are offering rebates for installing high efficiency nozzles. I’ve seen rebates as high as $8.00 per nozzle which can more than cover the price and of the nozzles depending on which nozzle you choose. Here is a great summary of irrigation rebates by state from Rain Bird.
Watch Your Water Window
Many water agencies are limiting the hours of the day landscape watering can take place. In addition, many properties are limited on times they can water due to the way their property are used. For example you really don’t want the irrigation running at a hotel during the time of the day your guests are moving around the property.
One additional item you need to evaluate when moving to high efficiency nozzles is determining if you have the time available to water at a slower rate. This will take a little time to calculate before making the switch.
Remember There is a Cost for Installation
Installing high efficiency nozzles requires some time. To make the switch in an existing system you will have to turn your system on and mark all the sprinkler heads. Then, turn your system off, unthread the old nozzles and thread the new nozzle. (Remember a new filter) Turn the system on again and make the necessary alignment adjustments. Turn the system off and move to the next irrigation zone. The adjustment portion is very important and the most time consuming portion of the nozzle replacement.
Overall I have been very impressed with the performance of high efficiency nozzles. I have taken advantage of rebates on several occasions which reduce the return on the investment. I have also had success with better water coverage working with an existing low pressure system. You will find the cost of the nozzles and installation will be worth the expense because to the water savings will cover the cost over the next few years.