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Irrigation Filter Buying Guide

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:

  • Water Source

  • Emitting Device

  • Ease of Cleaning

  • Space at Water Source

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 that is 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 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. Below is a great video that goes more in depth about dirty water filtration.

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 cannister filter is our best selling / best value filter for clean water.

Emitting Device:

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 # correlates to finer filtration.

Irrigation Product Type
Minimum Filtration Needed
Rotors, Sprinkler Spray Nozzles80 Mesh
Drip Emitters, Sprayers, Spray Jets120 Mesh
Drip Tape155 Mesh

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 that when accessing the screen for cleaning you must disconnect the filter from the other head assembly.  If you wish to simplify the cleaning process, then again our cannister filters would be a great choice. The video below demonstrates installation and cleaning of the cannister 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.