Tips for Selecting the Right Fittings For Your Project
Irrigation Fitting - Buying Guide
If you purchased your tubing or drip tape from Drip Depot, then you should simply order fittings that match the size listed in the description of the tape or the tubing. For example, if you ordered 1/4" poly tubing, then any of our 1/4" fittings are guaranteed to fit. This holds true for all tubing, tape and fittings sold by Drip Depot.
What if you purchased your tubing elsewhere? It can be difficult to find compatible fittings, since there are no industry standards regarding drip irrigation tubing sizes. For example, manufacturers may list their tubing size as ½” but it is really the inside diameter (ID) and outside diameter (OD) that will help you in sourcing the correctly sized fittings. We have an in-depth article about adding to existing drip irrigation systems and sourcing proper fittings which can be found here: Tips for adding to an existing drip irrigation system
How to Choose a Fitting Type
For ¼” micro-tubing, the choice is easy because there is only one type available and that is barbed. For other sizes of tubing, there may be up to 4 choices of fitting styles. Those four styles are known as Barbed, Compression, Perma-Loc and Drip-Lock. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages, which will be explained below.
Barbed fittings are economical and are easy to use. They are available for use with ¼”, ½”, ¾” and a few for 1" tubing sizes. Simply push the fitting into an open end of tubing. Make sure to push the tubing as far over the fitting as possible. That's it! In most low pressure drip irrigation systems the sharp barbs hold the fitting in place. However, for anyone that has ever tried to push a barbed fitting into cold tubing, they know it can be a struggle. If you are going to use barbed fittings, we highly recommend that you put some warm water in a cup (do not use boiling water - it could damage the tubing and burn you) and dunk the end of the tubing in it for approximately 10 seconds before attempting to push in a barbed fitting. The warm water temporarily softens the tubing and makes fitting insertion much easier. Alternatively, if you are working with ¼” fittings and want a really slick way of inserting them check out our ¼” fitting insertion tool. So what are the negatives to using barbed fittings? As we’ve mentioned, they can be difficult to push into tubing. Another drawback is that they are not generally reusable. This means that once you insert them, they are very difficult to remove and be placed elsewhere. Anyone that may need to reconfigure their drip system from year to year would not want to use barbed fittings. See our selection of Barbed Fittings.
To secure tubing on a barbed insert fitting, Clamps are recommended. Our Hose Clamp Buying Guide can assist in getting the correct sized clamp.
Compression fittings are very popular with contractors or other people doing large-scale projects due to the low cost of the fittings. However, compression fittings are the most difficult fittings to fit over tubing. Installing a compression fitting can be frustrating and it may take many attempts to attach the tubing to the fitting. We have two solutions to make compression fitting insertion easier: 1) heat the end of the tubing with warm water or 2) mix some soap with warm water and cover the end of the tubing. In addition to being hard to install, compression fittings are not reusable. Once inserted into tubing, these fittings can not be removed. Another thing to note is compression fittings are sized specifically for a single outside diameter measurement of tubing, they do not fit a size range as some of the barbed fittings and our Perma-Loc fittings do. So, if your tubing has an outside diameter of .700" OD (outside diameter) then you will need a .700" compression fitting.
Note: Compression fittings are available only for ½” tubing. See our selection here.
Perma-Loc fittings are the Cadillac of drip irrigation fittings. They are easy to use, extremely durable and reusable. Due to the extreme durability and reusability of Perma-Loc fittings we highly recommend them for all projects. In fact, these are the fittings that we include in each Drip Depot kit. The fitting has a locking nut that rotates over top of the tubing, locking the tubing into place once the tubing has been pushed over the tapered barb. The same nut can be rotated backwards off the tubing allowing the tubing to be pulled off the barb and the fitting to be reused wherever needed. This is big advantage over barbed and compression fittings. The only negative to using a perma-loc fitting is the price. They are more expensive than the other fitting types but ease of use and reusability make the price difference worth it.
Perma-Loc tubing fittings are available for use with drip irrigation poly tubing in the following sizes: ½”, ¾” and 1". We also have Drip Tape Perma-Loc fittings that work with ⅝” and ⅞” drip tape. All of our Perma-Loc fittings are manufactured in the USA.
Hydro-Rain’s Drip-Lock Fittings are our newest fitting type for poly tubing. These are very similar to their popular Blu-Lock fittings. Like Blu-Lock fittings, they are a “bite” type fitting. That is, you push the tubing into the end of the fitting where a ring of teeth “bite” down on the tubing to secure it in place. Instead of an external release collar, Drip-Lock fittings conveniently come equipped with the release collar in place. All of this serves to make Drip-Lock fittings one of the easiest to use fittings on the market.
At the moment, Drip-Lock fittings are only available for ½” tubing sizes, though there are a couple options that also feature ¼” connections for your micro tubing. Though only available for ½” tubing, Drip-Lock is able to handle quite a wide range of ½” sizes, from .630" - .710" Outside Diameter tubing. This makes them able to handle the vast majority of ½" LDPE on the market today.