Choosing the Right Emitterline
Choosing the right irrigation product for an application can be difficult, especially when our industry presents so many similar options. With supply tubing and emitter line, the challenge is no different and the confusion is usually justified. Common confusions arise when a contractor has to make the decision between streaming rotor nozzles and conventional spray nozzles, point source emitters or emitter line and smart controller or dumb controller. While some contractors may lean one way or the other with spray and rotor bodies, depending on local support, a more difficult decision will always be which emitter line to use. To dispel a few myths, we thought it would be beneficial to list a few variables that should help make the decision between emitter line and supply tubing types easier.
Like a lot of contractors out there, I’ve been installing drip irrigation for years and had no idea how wrong I had been doing it. Not only were my decisions to use inline emitters over point source emitters incorrect but general decisions to install inferior quality tubing on projects that required long term product success.
One of the major differences in the tubing is the quality of resin a manufacturer uses to make the tubing and emitter line. If you bought tires that only had a 5-year warranty, would you feel safe with your family riding above, not likely. Fortunately, there are companies out there that don’t compromise on quality resins and allow the product to do its job for more than 12 years guaranteed. A couple of questions to ask of your local distributor selling you the cheapest tubing possible:
- Were recycled resins used to make this tubing?
- Were foaming agents or fillers used to make this tubing?
- What is the manufacturer’s warranty?
Like most products manufactured these days there are benefits to using recycled materials. Fittings, filter bodies, sprinkler bodies – there are plenty of places to put scraps but tubing is not one of them. An emitter line like Total CV from JAIN is made with 95% pure virgin resin with only a small percentage of UV additive to protect the tubing when exposed to harsh UV light. Its time contractors started asking the same questions about tubing they ask about pop-ups and rotors.
Emitters are super important to the longevity and efficiency of a drip system. This may come as a surprise to most contractors but emitter line is more than a hole punched into tubing. Behind that hole is actually a fully functional emitter complete with a check valve, filtering labyrinth and sonically welded body that ensures water flows even with lines full of debris. An Amnon emitter like JAIN’s is offered in a few different flow and spacing options but it’s the magic of the Amnon’s design that does the dirty work. As water moves through the flow path, debris is trapped on the sides of a series of walls, this debris is collected throughout the cycle and flushed out the next time the system is run. A small silicone diaphragm, similar in design to a globe valve, works as a check valve to prevent excess water from exiting the line after the system is done running. If a project involves slopes then a check valve is a must!
First things first, a contractor has one major obligation; to provide their customer with the best product solution for their project. The majority of contractors agree with this mantra while many are still annoyed by a customer’s necessity to spend as little as possible with the expectation of a superior products performance. It is the contractor’s job to inform the customer why and when a particular product should be used. Everyone loves talking about reclaimed valves, smart controllers, flow sensors, rotors with built-in check valves but when was the last time a you heard a contractor convince a customer they should spend 5-10% more on better quality tubing and emitter line? Which, is if not more, equal to the expectation of quality from overhead emissions devices and valves.
Where can I buy higher quality tubing? Everywhere! All the major distributors across the United States have relationships with tubing manufacturers that sell higher quality tubing and emitter line. Understandably, it doesn’t always make fiscal sense to stock only the highest quality of any product. Unfortunately, most distributors fall into a rut of rebates, point giveaways, and ease of inventory. Be the contractor that pushes your distributor to bring in high-quality products for your project and stand out amongst your peers.
Different water agencies and municipalities require purple markings for reclaimed emission devices; this is no different from supply tubing and emitter line. While some agencies only require a purple stripe, others require the tubing itself to be purple. It’s always a good idea to check before a reclaimed installation to see what is required of reclaimed indication. Aesthetically, as tubing can become exposed, simple purple stripes tend to draw less attention than a completely purple tube.