Issues converting from spray head to drip on same zone?
I'm about to convert a section of a sprinkler zone (1 of 3 zones) from regular spray heads to micro sprays. The area to be converted is a slightly raised planter bed that is on the same zone as a section of the lawn and is fed from a lateral line (1/2") off of the main line (1"). There isn't any issues with exceeding the water supply.
After talking with a guy at the local irrigation shop, I was told that I could connect a spray head conversion body to the very end of the lateral in the raised bed and cap off the risers before it. The conversion spray body has a 20-30 psi regulator built in. On the top of the conversion spray body, there is a nipple that I connect 1/2" poly and I would just run that down the bed and connect my micro spray nozzles. The pressure in the system is 55 psi and all the spray bodies in the lawn are Rainbird PRM 30 (30psi regulated).
The reason I want to do this is the plants in the bed will get watered much better with much less wasted water (compared to spray bodies watering all the dirt in between the plants as well). Also, I only have three valves and to add more would be a major ordeal since a paver patio separates the valve manifold and the lawn area.
Does anyone have any opinions about how this will work and any pitfalls to look out for (loss of pressure, etc)?
Pressure is not going to be your issue for drip irrigation since it requires little. You can get compensating emitters to balance out for pressure differences. Those head conversion things with the pressure regulators work fine for converting to drip although it always seemed easier to me to just make a new connection than use an existing sprinkler riser and then have to plug up the extras? Pressurized dead plumbing connections just seem potential problems later to me.
Your problem is the incompatibility of flow rates between your lawn sprinklers and drip emitters. The lawn sprinklers draw in gallons per minute and your emitters are going to spit out, most commonly, 1-4 gallons per hour. They do make little baby rainbird drip emmitters that kick out up to 12 gallons per hour I guess. You are not going to want your lawn sprinklers on long enough for the emitters to do their thing so it probably will not work to have them on the same timer station?
Are you converting more to drip? You can put two valves in different locations on the same timer station. You could for example turn the drip system in the front yard and the one hooked to a different valve in the back on to water at the same time.
The only other thing to double check is that your current automatic irrigation valves will handle the low flow rate of a drip system. Some older ones will not.
Do not be discouraged. Make whatever adjustments you need to convert as much to drip as you can. It is, at the end of the day, inexpensive. Turf is really the only thing for which their are not yet drip emitters or systems. Drip irrigation is wonderful and your plants will love it. I first started specifying it 40 some years ago when Northern California first had its water rationed (so there was enough for Hollywood and Beverly Hills swimming pools to stay full). I never looked back and put systems in all over the country. Some are still working today with zilch maintenance but flushing the lines a couple times per year.
I currently live in a State rapidly running out of fresh water. Drought is a real concept for all of us going forward I fear. Drip irrigation just makes sense.
Sdsester, thanks for all the info. I completely agree that 4 GPH drips wouldn't work. The emitters I'm planning to use are spray jets on spikes that spray out up to 30 GPH. This equals .5 GPM, which is similar to some of the nozzles I have in the lawn (see link below for info on the spray jet I'm using). The plants in the planter are all low-water plants. I've been watering the lawn 3 times a week for 6 minutes and will bump that up a little once it summer kicks in.
Now that I've given some more info on my plan, what do you think about this setup? From what I can tell, it will work out great. BUT, I'm not a seasoned pro like you and I may be over looking something important.
I would look online at the offerings from a drip supplier before buying from a box store. Try The Drip Store for starters. Or, you mentioned you talked with a real irrigation supplier? What did they have or were willing to order for you?
Not sure you are gaining what you should from a drip system kicking out 30gph. That is not that different from a shrubbery head rated in gpm?
I just checked out The Drip Store's website and read about the different kinds of emitters and think that the adjustable drip emitters and mini bubblers would work best depending on each plant.
So if my math is right, if I use an emitter rated at 10 GPH, run it for 6 minutes, I'll get 1 gallon of flow. So I will just need to find out how much water is needed for each plant.
Math works for me and seems dead on.
The nice thing about drip is you can put plants with different watering needs on the same watering circuit by varying the emitters. Just don't exceed the total flow rate you have availed.
As you shop for emmitters the pressure compensating ones may not be worth paying for but if you go with bubblers and true drip emitters along the soil, the self-cleaning ones are worth a few cents more IMO.
And think about a simple and inexpensive flush valve for the end of the drip supply line that closes under pressure but flushes when the system is off. You do want at least a simple mesh filter you can clean/replace on the inlet side too of course.
I used to use a type of emitter in the adjustable 1-4gph range that was configurable for drip, mist, or a microtube extension for pots alot. You could also configure it plugged closed. It saved me having to carry multiple kinds of emitters. No big deal for your situation I guess. The very first emitter system I used was developed in the deserts of the Middle East where water meters get dialed in with an alotment. When you use it up, that is it. As mentioned those systems are 40 years old without need for so much as a single self-cleaning emitter replaced!
Good luck. Have fun.
Thank you for all your help!
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