Oval Hose is made from the same material poly tubing is, premium polyethylene resins. Oval hose typically has a larger diameter and thicker wall than standard poly tubing and can be used as a mainline, sub-main, or drip manifold in irrigation systems. Oval hose has a lower initial cost than other sub-main lines such as Layflat and FlexNet, and delivers the same durability and reliability that people have come to expect from poly tubing. It has been pointed out that an oval shape is not ideal for water transport, however when pressurized Oval Hose becomes more of a round shape (approximately 98%) and enjoys low friction loss.
Lower Initial Investment
Oval hose has a lower initial cost when compared to Layflat or FlexNet. While prices are in a constant state of flux, the costs relative to one another remain approximately the same and are likely to given material and shipping costs. When a low initial cost is needed, oval hose is the clear winner. While there is PVC available for a similar cost per foot, this is only before shipping and transportation costs are added. At Drip Depot, even the shortest roll of oval hose, Layflat or FlexNet would receive free ground shipping to anywhere in the continental United States. Due to logistics, PVC is unlikely to receive free shipping unless the shipping costs were baked into the material costs. In this case, the cost of PVC well exceeds $1.00 per foot.
Labor and Material Costs
Labor costs for oval hose tends to be lower than Layflat or PVC, though higher than FlexNet. Oval hose uses the same standard takeoff adapters that are often used with smaller diameter poly tubing; you simply punch a hole with the appropriate punch and insert the barbed fitting. There are no special teardrop fittings as seen with Layflat, and no insertion tools are required. The ease of installing the takeoff fittings keeps labor costs lower than Layflat and PVC, and though a punch is needed, the costs of ¼” and 7.0mm punches are significantly lower than Layflat cutting tools and PVC primer and cement. This helps keep material costs lower; as every grower is aware, one cutter and installation tool is rarely enough for efficient installation of Layflat. Purchasing multiple punches will not dent the budget as much as multiple Layflat cutters and installation tools.
Storage and Transportation Costs
The oval shape unique to oval hose allows it to be transported easily. Unlike Layflat it is not completely compressible, so it will take up more room when stored, however it does become almost flat and is significantly easier to store and transport than an equal length of PVC pipe. Oval hose’s weight is lighter than Layflat, weighing approximately .14 lbs per foot compared to Layflat’s .20 lbs per foot. This can save on freight costs, particularly when long lengths are necessary. Note, this weight is only for the 21 PSI models of oval hose; the 42 PSI models weigh more than an equivalent length of Layflat on average.
Oval hose is a flexible tubing, however as noted above it is not flexible enough to go completely flat when not pressurized as Layflat and FlexNet do. This means coiling it back up for storage at the end of the season can be more of an undertaking than other hose types. For this reason many growers leave their oval hose out for the duration of winter. Like poly tubing, it is resistant to freeze damage when drained of water, particularly when compared to PVC. In a permanent grow setting this can reduce labor hours considerably.
The infographic below illustrates the weight of oval hose compared to competing products.
Oval hose can be used as mainline, sub-main, or a drip manifold. For mainline applications, oval hose manufacturers produce rolls with thicker walls. These rolls of oval hose can handle up to 42 PSI, giving them the durability to serve as mainline tubing. Care should still be taken to ensure the tubing is not under more than 42 PSI as this can significantly lower its life expectancy. Oval hose is not rated for constant pressure and will need to be relieved of pressure when the system is not in use.
Oval hose rolls with the thinner walls can handle up to 21 PSI. These rolls make for great sub-mains or drip manifolds, as pressure is generally reduced in the system prior to this. The thinner walls make it easier to pierce the tubing wall with a punch and install the takeoff to tape adapters. The low friction loss of polyethylene makes oval hose a good choice when long lengths are needed.
Takeoff Adapters and Fittings
Oval hose uses the same takeoff adapters that smaller sizes of poly tubing do. This makes fitting availability a high probability and also means the fittings will be more economical than other pipes. While costs will change over time, the relative costs, like those of the pipe and tubing themselves, are very likely to remain the same relative to one another. These lower costs will add up to significant savings in systems with a large quantity of rows.
The barbed takeoff adapters are simply pushed into the hole made by the appropriate sized punch, no expensive cutting tools are needed. The size of the punch will depend on the size of the barb on the takeoff adapter. The 3.6mm barbed takeoff adapters require a ¼” punch, the 7.0mm barbed takeoff adapters require a 400 barb punch. These takeoff adapters create secure connections that experience few leaks.
Oval hose uses the same style of PVC insert fittings that Layflat does. These fittings are economical and durable. Since they are used with several different hose and tubing types, they are generally readily available. Oval hose is less prone to axial elongation, so fittings that are specifically for stretched Layflat will not be necessary for oval hose.
No discussion of mainline and sub-main tubing would be complete without a word on durability. Irrigation tubing and pipe tend to be very durable regardless of the type (Oval, Layflat, PVC, etc) given the duty they must perform. Like other types (excepting PVC), Oval Hose can be driven over with farm equipment so long as it is not pressurized and care is taken to avoid fittings and takeoff adapters. It is not recommended to do so unless absolutely necessary, of course, as the risk of damage is considerably higher when driven over.
Perhaps nothing supports the claim of durability more than the warranty many oval hose manufacturers cover their oval hose with. Toro, for example, warranties their 42 PSI oval hose for 7 years and their 21 PSI oval hose for 2 years. This kind of warranty is a testament to the manufacturer’s confidence in the products’ durability. Oval hose can be buried, in fact it is often recommended to do so to prevent exposure to direct sunlight and prevent damage caused by rodents.
Repairing damaged section of oval hose is an easy task.
If the damage is considerable, you will simply cut the damaged section of hose out and join the remaining undamaged runs together with a coupling. If the damage is smaller, such as pinhole leaks or removed takeoff adapters, simply plug the hole with a goof plug. The ¼” Goof Plug fills holes made by the ¼” punch for the 3.6mm takeoff adapters, the .440” Barbed Goof Plug fills holes made by the 400 barb punch for the 7.0mm takeoff adapters.
Oval hose offers an economical price point and reliable performance. Oval hose gets great value for its investment. It has the durability to function as a mainline, sub-main or drip manifold for years in tough conditions. Oval hose makes a great alternative to PVC, and in some cases a good alternative to Layflat or FlexNet style manifolds.
|Oval Hose and Layflat Fittings
|Drip Tape Barbed Takeoff Adapters
|Punches and Cutters
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