Understanding Pressure Regulating Sprinklers: Your Guide to Next-Level Outdoor Water Savings

Toro pressure regulating sprinklers spraying on green bushes

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When it comes time to upgrade your sprinkler timer you may have noticed there are a lot of options. Determining which timer is right for you can seem daunting. Here are a few things to consider when shopping to help you narrow down the decision process.

If you’re in need of a new sprinkler system or replacement sprinkler, you’ve likely noticed that pressure regulating sprinklers are a requirement in many states. But even if they aren’t required where you live, it’s still a good option to consider them due to their water-saving benefits.

What are Pressure Regulating Sprinklers?

Simply put, pressure regulating sprinklers control the water pressure flowing from the sprinkler so it’s consistent across the entire system. For many sprinklers, the recommended operating water pressure ranges between 30-40 pounds PSI. A pressure regulator ensures that water pressure consistently stays within this recommended PSI range, regardless of the water pressure before it reaches the sprinkler. Sprinklers operating at optimal pressure last longer, save water and contribute to healthier lawns due to consistent water application.

What Happens if I Don’t Have a Pressure Regulating Sprinkler?

A standard sprinkler might not operate ideally, and you could have sprinklers applying inconsistent amounts of water throughout the system. You might also notice “fogging” or “misting,” which occurs when fine water droplets remain suspended in the air or get carried away by the wind. These water droplets are usually lost to evaporation or fall on hardscapes and other structures instead of the yard.

What Causes Variations in Sprinkler Water Pressure?

In many cases the amount of pressure from the water supply to the sprinkler varies. Everything from the sprinkler’s location in your yard, to other appliances in use at the same time the system is running, can impact water pressure.

How Do I Know if I Need Pressure Regulating Sprinklers?

When the system is running and the pressure is too high, you’ll often see what is referred to as “fogging” or “misting” This is caused by fine water droplets that are so small they remain suspended in the air or are carried away by the wind. These water droplets are ultimately wasted because they quickly evaporate or, if carried by wind, fall on hardscapes and other structures.

Are Pressure Regulating Sprinklers More Expensive Than Regular Sprinklers?

You’ll notice a moderate increase in the cost of a pressure regulating sprinkler compared to a standard one. This is due to the added parts in the sprinkler itself. However, the additional cost can be offset by the water savings you’ll enjoy throughout the life of the sprinkler.

Do Pressure Regulating Sprinklers Save Water?

Pressure regulating sprinklers significantly reduce misting and fogging. This means that water is not wasted due to evaporation or being blown away, which can result in considerable water savings.

Where Can I Find Pressure Regulating Sprinklers?

If your state requires pressure regulation, visit your local hardware or home improvement store. In other areas, we recommend visiting your local irrigation supply distributor.

Do Pressure Regulating Sprinklers Require Professional Installation?

Pressure-regulating heads typically have the regulating feature built into the body of the sprinkler so they install just like standard sprinklers. If you are replacing an old sprinkler or upgrading your existing system, the install should be quick and easy. If you’re installing a new system you might want to consult an irrigation contractor or local professional.

For more information on outdoor water savings check out our WaterSmart site.