popups or rotors

Discussion in 'Irrigation / Sprinkler Forum' started by dougle, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. dougle

    dougle New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Pro's and cons of popups vs rotor heads. I understand that I can't mix the 2 on the same zone. $20 for a rotor vs $2 for a popup seems like 10 popups would cover more area than the rotor. Maintenace? connections? ease of install? thanks
  2. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,334
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    I use both. A single rotor cover more area that a pop up and can be kept on the edges whereas pop ups for a large area would have to be placed out in the lawn as well. A pop up is great for small areas where a rotor would be too much, but if your water isn't really clean, the screen in the pop up will clog and have to be cleaned frequently. The reason you can't mix rotors and pop ups is they put out different volumes of water in a given period of time. Actually, I have mixed on zone and it works OK, you just can't exceed total volume per minute.
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    10 pop ups also require 5 to 10 times the GPM of one rotor, so this is part of your basic design equation.

    If you have your system designed by Toro, Rainbird, Orbit, etc. ( free ) you will usually find that they tend to use rotors or even impacts on larger areas where possible, and fixed stream pop ups on smaller areas. Long and somewhat narrower areas are hard to fit with rotors.

    You cannot mix on one zone because they have much different precipitation rates ( the inches per hour of water landing on a given square foot of lawn), so the rotor zones will need longer time settings.
  4. SteveW

    SteveW DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,052
    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    What you are calling popup heads are what I call spray heads (since both spray heads and rotor heads pop up).

    Two advantages of rotors:

    1. Quicker installation since you use fewer heads which means less digging, connecting, etc.

    2. For soils which absorb water slowly (i.e., clay), the slower precipitation rate of rotors may lessen runoff.
  5. dougle

    dougle New Member

    Messages:
    21
    Thanks everyone, as i anticipated
  6. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Steve W is correct about the terminology. The trade term is "fixed spray heads" meaning they do not move, and spray a fixed pattern ( 1/2, full, etc). versus rotors, impacts, multi-streams, etc. ALL of the above types are available in pop-up versions and as riser-top versions.
  7. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    I've used many brands: Toro, Hunter, Rainbird, etc. and Rainbirds are by far my favorite brand. For large spaces you have to use rotators: Rainbird makes maxi-paws, mini-paws, and gear driven rotators. Gear driven rotators are kind of a pain to adjust and they don't cover as well as the maxis and minis. For tight spaces and for flowers and shrubs you should use the sprayers, sometimes called "misters". You can choose the correct nozzle to spray an arc of 1/4, 1/2 etc.. Thus, you avoid spraying water in places you don't want to get wet.

    Ideally, the misters and rotators should be on separate zones, but I've seen them work okay all mixed together. The goal should be 100% coverage. If the coverage is not 100% and there is a drought, you'll see brown streaks. You can adjust the sprinklers accordingly.

    If the water pressure is low, the Maxi-Paws have a tricky adjustment that lets you customize it for low pressure. This is only necessary if the heads aren't turning due to low pressure. If the heads still aren't turning after adjusting this spring, you have too many heads on that particular zone.

    As far as maintenance goes, for rotators, you have to pull out grass and weeds each spring or they won't turn. Sometimes, you have to change the spray or the turning arc, but that's simple. The misters have a little screen that plugs up and sometimes the nozzle gets plugged. A little awl or screwdriver will unplug the nozzle. Make sure that none of these sprinklers are above ground level when they are in the lowered position or you will break the heads with lawn mowers, snowblowers, etc. That's the major maintenance, and you can avoid it. If a maxi or mini-paw head does need replacing, there is a special wrench that lets you spin out the old head and screw in the new one without having to do any digging.

    The maxis and minis, can be plumbed up using a 1/2" connection on the side of the sprinkler housing or a 3/4" connection from below. It all depends on how deep you want to trench in the poly tubing.
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2006
  8. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    The flow rates of rotors and fixed spray heads are quite different. If you mix rotors with sprays on one zone, you risk oversoaking the areas covered by the sprays or not covering enough the areas served by the rotors.

    If it were me, I'd use rotors for the lawn and set up drip irr for beds/flowers/plants/small patches of grass that can't get rotor coverage.
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2006
  9. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051

    The flow rates are different, agreed. But water pressure differs also, especially between city water and well water. Instead of relying on all sorts of mathematical formulas for determining how many heads and what types of heads should be used on a given zone, the goal should be 100% coverage. A little overlap in coverage is fine. I worked in apartment complexes that had hundreds of zones and thousands of sprinklers, and we were always adding a few here or capping off a few there to try to get the best coverage. If you had a golf course, it would be easy to come up with a good mathematical formula, because you have wide open spaces. But for a home with both large and small areas to cover, you have to get creative and be flexible.
  10. prashster

    prashster New Member

    Messages:
    941
    Yeah, the math thing didn't work for me either; I've had to 'tweak' my system a lot since the 'pro' originally installed it.

    He installed one of my zones with 2 spray heads and about 5 rotors. The spray heads were overwatering that section so much, that 2 plants died that were in the vicinity. The area serviced by the rotors was underserviced, and I had good drought damage in August.

    Regardless of your water pressure, if it were me, I'd try to put the same type of head in a single zone unless there's nothing sensitive to overwatering nearby.
  11. Verdeboy

    Verdeboy In the Trades

    Messages:
    2,051
    I'm sure you must know that the spray heads have an adjusting screw on the nozzle, so you can decrease the water flow. This also decreases the length of the spray as well. Of course, if you need the full distance it won't work. Many times, with spray heads you don't really need the full distance though.
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