Drip Irrigation Water Emission Devices: Types And Their Use In Home Irrigation Systems

Posted on: 6 June 2016


Drip irrigation systems, sometimes called micro-irrigation systems, are increasingly popular as homeowners become more conscious about the use of water for watering their landscaping. Besides low water use, drip irrigation systems provide homeowners with a high degree of flexibility in tailoring their system to their landscaping needs. Much of this flexibility is due to the availability of a variety of means of transferring water from the supply line to the local environment. Below are several types of water emission devices and information about how each might be used in your drip irrigation system:

Drip hose

The simplest of all drip irrigation systems, drip hose, which is also known as soaker hose, is made from a porous material that permits water to leak through tiny openings in the outer lining of the hose. Drip hose is inexpensive and is flexible enough to be used in almost any location, and it also offers an added benefit of providing water along its entire length. In addition, drip hose can be readily cut short and plugged or attached to additional lengths of hose, if the need exists.

While drip hose is a good alternative for simple landscaping and for areas that need water along a continuous run, it can easily clog if buried due to the inability of the pores to resist water intrusion. In addition, it is difficult to control the amount of water output using drip hose, and water flow is often inconsistent as the hose lengthens.

Drip emitter

Drip emitters serve much the same purpose as drip hose, except drip emitters are deliberately placed by homeowners along the length of the hose in strategic locations or in predetermined installation spots by the manufacturer. When preinstalled drip emitters are used, the homeowner doesn't need to worry about installation, as the emitters are permanently sealed in place. Of course, this can be problematic if the spacing isn't aligned with the landscaping needs and plants are either receiving too much or not enough water flow. In addition, preinstalled emitters are often non adjustable and provide only the amount of water that is determined at the factory, regardless of plant needs.

If owner-installed drip emitters are used, the homeowner has the opportunity to place emitter heads as close together or far apart as needed, and may also adjust emitter angles to direct water flow strategically. As another plus, these drip emitters are available in adjustable models and a gallons-per-hour drip rate can be set as needed depending on plant and soil types. However, before using drip emitters that need to be installed, homeowners should consider that they will need to cut holes in the supply line to fit these drip emitters and be prepared to plug old holes or those that were incorrectly placed.


Another popular type of water emission device used in drip irrigation systems is the micro-sprinkler. These devices provide a small spray of water that can be directed within a certain radius. Unlike full-sized sprinkler heads, the amount of water passing through the device is much less, though this limits the effective distance at which they can be used. Micro-sprinklers are an excellent choice for use if water flow cannot be directed via a normal drip emitter, such as at a slightly higher elevation than the drip line, and if the environmental need demands more water than dripping provides. Micro-sprinklers require homeowners to spend additional time setting them up, and it is also important to remember that micro-sprinklers are not able to be hidden as readily as the smaller in-line drip emitters.

Mist emitter

For areas where a high humidity environment is desirable, mist emitters are a wise choice for homeowners. These specially designed heads produce an extremely fine spray of water that quickly evaporates and increases the amount of local water vapor. Greenhouses benefit from mist emitter, as they permit the ambient air to be much moister than would otherwise be possible. In addition, mist emitters can even be used as an outdoor cooling system for partially enclosed spaces such as porches and patios.

For more information on this topic, contact a company like H2O Lawn Sprinklers.