Do you really need a filter?
Yes. Every irrigation system needs to have a filter. No matter how clean your water is, a filter is cheap insurance to guard against debris entering your irrigation system. Even small particles in the water can cause drip emitters to become clogged. Unfortunately, most times we don’t notice a clogged dripper until we see a plant wilting and at that point it may be too late. We strongly recommend adding a filter to your system. You will find that all of our drip irrigation kits include a filter.
How do I choose the right filter?
There a few factors to consider when choosing a filter for your irrigation system. Which are:
Ease of Cleaning
Space at Water Source
This is the most important factor to get right when choosing a filter. We break water sources into 2 categories: Dirty Water & Clean Water.
Dirty Water is any water that is not coming from a clean source such as municipal water or well. Examples would be: pond water, rain barrels, irrigation canals. Given that this water may be full of debris and particulates, it is extremely important to filter this water before running through your irrigation system. By the very nature of dirty water, the increased particulates in the water leads to more build up on the screen of your filter and thus more frequent cleaning. Note: If your water source is dirty and you have valves on your irrigation system. You will want to install a large filter prior to your manifold and valves. Any particulates in the water will cause your valves to fail.
Filtration is all about surface area. To get more time between cleanings i.e., more filtration, you need more surface area. If you have a smaller filter tasked with filtering dirty water it is going to need cleaning more often than a larger filter with more surface area. Depending on the amount of particles in the water a small filter may need cleaning every couple of days because the screen of the filter is full of debris. Whereas, a larger filter with more surface area may only need cleaning every couple of weeks. When choosing a filter for dirty water, you will want to choose a filter that best matches your filtration needs as well as your desired cleaning cycles. Here is a great video that explains dirty water filtration more in-depth.
Clean Water is any water that is coming from a municipal water source or well. Even though this water is clean, it can still contain small particulates. In this situation there is no need for a large expensive filter, the filter is there as insurance and not to act as the primary source of filtration. Any of the filters in our drip irrigation kits work great for clean water. Even with clean water you should not set and forget your filter. Do keep in mind that you should check your filter screen monthly just to make sure it is not clogged. Cleaning the filter screen monthly only takes a few minutes and ensures a long lasting trouble free irrigation system. Our canister filter is our best selling / best value filter for clean water.
Different irrigation products have different filtering requirements. Sprinkler systems, gear drive rotors and spray heads need a minimum filtration of 80 mesh. Drip irrigation emitters, sprayers and drip line have smaller orifices so the filtration needs to be at least 120 mesh. Drip tape requires a minimum of 155 mesh. If you have both sprinklers and drip irrigation on the same system, we recommend filtering to the smallest orifice. Meaning that a system with a mixture of sprinklers and drip irrigation will need filtration of 120 mesh. A drip irrigation system with emitters and drip tape will need at least a 155 mesh filter screen.
Note: A larger mesh number correlates to finer filtration.
|Irrigation Product Type||Minimum Filtration Needed|
|Rotors, Sprinkler Spray Nozzles|
|Drip Emitters, Sprayers, Spray Jets|
Ease of Cleaning:
Most of our filters are designed so that the filter screen can be removed without having to disassemble that head assembly in order access the screen. One exception is the inline hose filter. The inline filter works great in clean water situations and is very economical. However, one drawback to using it is when accessing the screen for cleaning you must disconnect the filter from the head assembly. If you wish to simplify the cleaning process, then again, our canister filters would be a great choice. The video below demonstrates installation and cleaning of the canister filter.
Clearance at Faucet:
For residential users that are connecting to outdoor faucets, it is important to find out how much clearance you have between the faucet and the ground. The faucet will be the starting point of the drip system, which may include: a timer (optional), backflow preventer, filter, pressure regulator & tubing adapter.
Once all assembled, these parts normally require about 15 inches of clearance. If you have less than that, one option might be to use our tee filter. It greatly reduces the amount of clearance needed. See the video below.
Next, is determining the best type of filter element to use when options of screen or disc are available.
Disc vs. Screen Filters
There are two main types of filter elements, screens and discs. The screen vs. disc filter decision will depend on the material you are removing from your system.
Screen Filter Element: Disc Filter Element: Discs Up Close:
Disc filters perform more efficiently than screen filters when it comes to algae, moss and other organic materials. Because of their design, disc filters are better equipped to filter out fine particles such as bacteria, sand, chemical sludge, and slime. A disc filter is full of round-stacked discs that allow water to pass through but are excellent at catching organic materials.
Disc filters can be removed and sprayed down to clean the discs. These elements may require disassembly in order to clean the element thoroughly. Disc filters may seem harder to clean, however, it would be easier to clean a disc filter from moss and other debris than a screen filter. The organic materials tend to crush on the screen and are hard to remove.
Screen filters are great because they are user-friendly and economical. These filters work well in removing solids, silt or sediment, leaves, sticks, and snails from water. They are also easily cleaned, as they do not require disassembly to clean the element.
Although these filters are efficient at removing various types of debris, if the filter element (disc or screen) is filling up quickly it could be necessary to add an additional filter. In some cases, multiple filters may need to be used in a system with extremely dirty or debris filled water.
Filter Type Features
Easy to clean
Silt and Sediment
Organic Materials (bacteria, chemical sludge, and slime)
Solids (leaves, sticks, and snails)
Mesh vs. Micron
Mesh is normally used to define how tightly woven the screen is. Mesh specifically refers to the size holes in the screen, how many holes are in one square inch. Microns however, refer to the size particles allowed to pass through the screen. Although related, Microns and Mesh are two different forms of measuring filtration levels.
Here is a comparison chart between mesh, microns and inches: