Why you need to know how much water your current piping can flow before you purchase or build a misting or drip irrigation system

One thing I occasionally run into is my customers having problems with their water supply being able to deliver enough water to their misting or drip irrigation system. This article will show why it is important to determine your water flow prior to buying or building a misting system or installing a drip system to water your potted plants.

Misting systems and drip irrigation systems are designed to supply water to cuttings or potted plants. Expecting the system to work correctly without doing a little homework is just not good practice.

I have written a previous article on calculating how many misting nozzles can be used depending on what the available flow of water. This applies to drip systems, misting systems, lawn irrigation systems, every system that requires a given amount of water to be delivered to work correctly.

Here is a handy calculator that will also help you figure this out. Input your water flow and the flow of a single misting nozzle and he calculator will show you how many nozzles can be used per zone. Want to know how much water your misting system will use per day? Add how many nozzles you have, how many seconds of mist, interval between mists, and how many hours per day your misting system operates. You will be shown how many gallons of water your system uses.

The article and calculator are important tools to help you ensure your system does not require more water than your water piping can provide. Why? Here is an analogy:

Your house is on fire and you have a garden hose available and a fire hose available. Both hoses are connected to water supplies that are designed for them; the garden hose to an outside house spigot, the fire hose to a fire hydrant or fire truck. You first try the garden hose to extinguish the fire which is raging pretty good. What is likely to happen? The fire will spread because the garden hose can only flow a small amount of water; not nearly enough to put the fire out.

You pick up the fire hose and let loose. What happens now? The amount of water that can flow through the fire hose is significantly more than the garden hose and overwhelms the fire, putting it out.

Why is this? Because the water piping that delivers the water to the garden hose is quite small, 1/2 inch or 3/4 inch most likely. 3/4 PVC water piping can flow around 8-10 gallons per minute, 1/2 inch pipe is even less. The fire requires great amounts of water to extinguish it and 8-10 gallons per minute is nowhere near enough to do the job. The fire hose flows significantly more water which is more than adequate to do the job.

Your misting, drip or irrigation systems need a given amount of water supplied to them to work correctly. Each nozzle, drip emitter, or sprinkler flows a given amount of water and if the water delivery piping is undersized or there are too many nozzles, emitters, or sprinklers in the line, the demand will be more than the piping can deliver. Too little water flowing through the piping and the systems will starve for water, usually resulting in the plants or cuttings not receiving enough moisture to survive.

Take a few minutes and check out the article and calculator before starting your misting system or drip irrigation project. It may save you time, money, and more importantly, frustration.

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