Sprinkler heads are one of the most important parts of a system. Using the wrong head in the wrong place can cause all kinds of problems with an otherwise perfect system. There are four major classifications of sprinkler head rotors – pop up, impact, gear driven and large turf.
Pop-up spray and rotor heads are the most common and are used everywhere from residential lawns and planting beds to corporate malls. They range in height from 2 inches to 20 inches. Fixed spray heads simply pop up from the ground and spray a continuous amount of water into a given area. Rotor heads pop up in the same manner as the fixed head except that they deliver a pattern of spray from a rotating head in the center of the pop up.
The most common size head is the 4-inch head. These are used in turf areas because they tend to rise just above the normal 3 inch grasses in the area. In planting beds, 6-inch to 12-inch heads are used to accommodate for the height of groundcovers and flowering plants.
Impact rotors are the old style rotor head that makes a ticking sound. A hammer system on a swinging arm contacts a stream of water producing a pattern of uninterrupted flow followed by a short spray. They are usually used in larger areas of turf and can be set to deliver irrigation in a 360 degree arc.
Newer, more efficient, gear driven heads are slowly replacing impact rotors for larger applications. Because of their compact and enclosed design, these heads are used on golf courses and large residential areas. They are used in areas with clay soil or slopes because the slower rate of delivery results in better water absorption.
Large turf rotors are used only on huge corporate grounds and large golf course areas. These rotors run at a much higher pressure and can deliver up to 80 gallons of water per minute. These large rotors are typically made of brass and expensive to replace so as they go bad they are typically being replaced by plastic gear driven rotors.