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  #1  
Old 08-07-2006, 10:36 PM
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PurpHaze PurpHaze is offline
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Getting Started in Irrigation - Forum Members Advice

OK gang. Sean has agreed to make this thread a "sticky" that will always be at the top of this forum. It may take him a day to get it done so please be patient. Then we can submit our links, books info, etc. and other advice for newbies looking to get their feet wet in irrigation. New posters asking for the same advice can then just be directed up to this thread in the event they don't take advantage of this thread in the first place.

Thanks Sean!
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  #2  
Old 08-07-2006, 10:54 PM
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Dirty Water Dirty Water is offline
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Great!

A good starting place is Jesse Strykers Irrigation Tutorials page:

http://www.irrigationtutorials.com

While Jesse has a good general idea, some of the things he says are his personal preferences, and need to be taken with a grain of salt.

Its a still a great starting place for a beginner.
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  #3  
Old 08-07-2006, 11:01 PM
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GreenMonster GreenMonster is offline
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Hey guys, this is cool. We're just starting out with irrigation. I've done an install at my house, which is up to 5 rotor zones, 3 drip zones and 2 spray zones. We've also done two other installs that we actually got paid for. I've been browsing the irrigation forum lately, and I'll keep an eye on this thread, and check out those tutorials, Dirty.

Thanks.
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  #4  
Old 09-30-2007, 08:50 AM
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turfnh2oman turfnh2oman is offline
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Granted there are alot of well informed posts here, obviously from professionals in the business.

As previously stated many customers refer to a "Toro" system or Hunter or whatever. I explain to them in person and state in the contract that we use materials from several different manufacturers to give the you best possible system installed. If they're still adamant about a certain manufacturer I'll heed to their requests.

Below is my preferred manufacturer's materials, and more importantly, WHY ! Items are listed in order of preference. Granted there may be some hair-raising things below to some contractors but just remember, respect my opinion as others respect yours:

Heads

Rotary - Toro Super 800 [5"&12"x3/4"] and Mini 8's [4"x1/2"], Hunter PGJ [12"x1/2"] alternatives to these are Hunter PGM, RB 3000-5000 series. Stay away from Nelson, Hardie, Irritrol, Weathermatic, Orbit, Buckner. First thing wrong here is the gears and adjustments don't last or they're just plain "cheap crap".

Fixed Spray - generally all fixed spray perform the same. What you want here is versatility and well made material.
I prefer the Toro 570 series [all sizes] with VAN nozzles. Hunter PS / SRS series and RainBird 1800's are good too. All three have adjustable nozzles and have either a check valve installed or available. These brands are also a thicker [or better] grade plastic casing and riser and are sealed well at tops.

Valves - Toro EZ-Flow series with flow control and solvent weld fittings. Solvent weld until you get to 1 1/2" and higher, then threaded. Don't forget to seal with pipe dope.

Valve Boxes - Whatever your preference here is fine as long as you DON'T use the Economy or cheaper models available. Get heavy duty. They're worth the extra buck and a half. One look at both will show you why. One you can park a truck on top of, the other you can't. Need I say more here ?

Fittings - Generally most distributors carry Lasco fittings or something comparable. As stated previously, stay AWAY from the Home Depot stuff.

Pipe - Cresline is usually the brand name most prevalent out there. Whatever the name make sure they manufacture "virgin" vinyl and not recycled for all of your PVC products. Poly pipe, Cresline again is the manufacturer of choice.

Wire - A standard multi strand irrigation wire usually 18 gauge is sufficient for most residential and commercial jobs. Larger jobs would buck the wire up to single [solid] strand 16-14 gauge.

Controller - My controller of choice is the Hardie Rain-Dial or Total Control. Toro has also matched these two controllers with there name on them and "beefed up" the resistors and capacitors in them and thus charge a bit more for them. These controllers handle electrical problems better than others [hence, dirty electric, surges, lightning strikes, etc.] I prefer these first also because they are VERY simple to operate for a homeowner. Granted all controllers work the same but some are more difficult than others to program and use, especially for homeowners. The Hunter Pro-C, SRC and ICC models are good too. I prefer to stay away from Rain-Bird contollers.

Rain Gauge - Rain-Clik is pretty much the standard. Granted each manufacturer makes the equivalent and says "their's is better because ...".
Personally unless the customer says at the beginning that they're out of town alot, I don't push them. They're tinkertoys and a maintenance headache. Granted you may be able to charge for a service call but I've usually got bigger fish to fry. I don't recommend them. The old rule of thumb is watch the weather report and go turn controller off if it starts raining. Turn back on when done or accordingly.

As stated previously, these are my recommendations and of course are subject to opinion. But all the other stuff I wouldn't give you a red cent for a caseful of whatever.

Remember, tell your customer that whatever they plan to buy [system] that once it's installed, IT'S INSTALLED AND DONE ! IN THE GROUND and it'll cost more to repair. Repairs on a crappy install are forever and never ending. Granted I love following around the "crappy" contractors. They can keep right on installing. All it does is increase my service calls, fatten my wallet, increase my reputation and customer base.

The GOLDEN RULE OF IRRIGATION IS THIS:

A system installed or repaired is 95% good design and craftmanship and 5% good materials. That's it.
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  #5  
Old 08-07-2006, 11:04 PM
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PurpHaze PurpHaze is offline
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1. Local colleges for design classes.

2. Some local colleges have landscaping classes that include "hands-on" irrigation installation.

3. "Turf Irrigation Manual"

4. A lot of guys usually start out by working for an irrigation company and then branching out on their own as they gain more experience.

5. Manufacturers' schools.

6. Distributor seminars.

7. The Internet.

8. This forum. (better have thick skin)
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  #6  
Old 08-07-2006, 11:03 PM
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Dirty Water Dirty Water is offline
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What brand should I use?

A lot of companies sell their systems as "Toro Systems", or "Hunter Systems". While this works for them I've found that by combining different brands you can make a superior system. Not everything Hunter makes is perfect, the same goes for any brand.

My general recommendations for brand is something like this. Remember this is not set in stone, but just my personal preference for a typical residential install:
  • Timer: Rainbird ESP-M or Hunter PRO-C

    Both are excellent timers. They have similar features and reliability, I have found the ESP is easier to teach people to use, so I install that, but again, both are good timers.

  • Lawn Rotors: Hunter PGP or I-20

    The hunter PGP has been the industry standard for 25+ years. Its a reliable gear driven rotor that works well in almost any situation. The I-20 add's a stainless riser shaft, more nozzle options, and a shutoff valve in the head.

  • Spray/Mist Heads: Rainbird 1800 series

    This one is a no brainer to me, Rainbird has cornered the market with their superior wiper seal. They are the best spray heads on the market.

  • Valves: Rainbird DVF-100, Hunter SRC. Irritrol 2400

    All three valves listed here are good valves, I personally have had best luck with the DVF-100, but you won't go wrong with any of them. I've found that the Irritrol 2400 does not like sandy water, so perhaps consider the DVF-100 with its screened solenoid as extra protection.

    I also advocate using valves with flow control. I think the extra flexibility added by this feature offsets the extra buck it costs.

Do not use parts from Home Depot or Lowes, even if they are made by commercial companies. Most companies (K-rain and Rainbird etc) have two lines, and their cheap line goes to the home hardware stores. These are garbage. The same goes for anything that Orbit makes.


Remember, if you want to be a professional, use professional parts.

Well, thats all for the time being, perhaps I'll write something on which pipe to use, but that will probably start a 20 page debate thread

Last edited by Dirty Water; 08-07-2006 at 11:11 PM.
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  #7  
Old 05-14-2014, 09:40 AM
zeebart zeebart is offline
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"Do not use parts from Home Depot or Lowes, even if they are made by commercial companies. Most companies (K-rain and Rainbird etc) have two lines, and their cheap line goes to the home hardware stores. These are garbage. The same goes for anything that Orbit makes."

personally i`ve never had any problems with RainBird stuff no matter where it came from...but you are right on the money about Orbit...my customers ask me about them and i tell them no way, i only recommend RainBird stuff.
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  #8  
Old 08-07-2006, 11:25 PM
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Dirty Water Dirty Water is offline
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Rule 1: Two '45s use less space than Two '90s.

Rule 2: Two 90's are easier to repair than two 45's.

Rule 3: Hayes and Jon are going to get drunk some day talking about this.
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  #9  
Old 08-08-2006, 09:04 AM
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DanaMac DanaMac is offline
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Learn hands-on from someone else before you just jump into it. You can't just read a book or website and expect to know everything about installing/repairing/servicing sprinkler systems.

No two contractors install the same way. So design and install will be different on almost every job you try to service.

Do not assume that the house next door to one you just installed has the same GPM and pressure.

If you are in a cold climate, be prepared for the rush in the spring and fall. Along with the rush comes low patience levels, tempers flair, and the inability to sleep!!!

Know YOUR local codes for backflow prevention. Each state/county/city is different.
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  #10  
Old 08-08-2006, 05:23 PM
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Critical Care Critical Care is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanaMac
Learn hands-on from someone else before you just jump into it. You can't just read a book or website and expect to know everything about installing/repairing/servicing sprinkler systems.
Amen to that, but if you can't learn hands-on from someone else, then learn whatever you can from the books. If you're in a state that requires you to take an exam and to be licensed before doing business, then hit the books... and I mean big time. Then, when you are worried about getting hands on experience, do as Mark with Green Monster did. Install your own system, or help a friend with his. Learn from your mistakes, then crawl before you walk.

By the way, never stop learning. The more I learn, the more I learn that there is still a lot that I don't know.
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