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Impact Sprinkler Vs Rotor Comparison

When you set up an above-ground lawn irrigation system, choosing a sprinkler head that fits your needs and keeps your lawn well irrigated is very important. While an impact sprinkler can water large areas, a rotor sprinkler covers a smaller area. Both have advantages and disadvantages that you should be considered before purchase.

Impact Sprinkler Vs Rotor

The main motive behind installing the best impact sprinkler for low pressure is ensuring that your lawn is irrigated properly with minimal water wastage. 

But before that, you must decide which kind of sprinkler head would suit your needs. You can visit any irrigation manufacturer’s website and look for various kinds of sprinklers. 

However, today I will be talking about the two most common sprinkler heads that are mostly used in households: impact sprinklers and rotary sprinklers. I will discuss how they work and highlight their advantages and disadvantages, so keep reading!

What Is An Impact Sprinkler Head?

What Is An Impact Sprinkler Head

Impact sprinklers have a simple functionality. The force and momentum of the sprinkler is generated by the flow of the water comes out of the spray head. That’s why it’s important to know how many gallons per minutes the impact sprinkler uses before installation.

The water flow will move an arm of the sprinkler, eventually altering the water pattern. And the force of the arm make the sprinkler head rotate to ensure distribution of water.

However, the arc rotation might be narrow or wide according to the variations in the model. The smallest arc size available is 22.5 degrees. As such, you can easily buy a model that suits your desired radius of coverage.

Most of the spray sprinklers have a radius extending from twenty to over hundred feet. And this range depends on two factors: the pressure of the water and water restriction.

Pop-up sprinkler heads use more water to ensure complete coverage and they reach greater distances compared to other types of sprinklers. This can be advantageous or disadvantageous depending on the geography of the lawn. Some ground types demand a lot of water on a regular basis, whereas slopes or places with a lot of mud will struggle with such a strong stream.

A basic fundamental behind the working of this sprinkler head is that you can install this anywhere in the field, and it will irrigate the desired area without any hassle. 

Moreover, the pattern of water coming out of the sprinkler head is precise and steady. But sometimes due to the high water speed, the sprinkler may appear wobbly and unstable. Lastly,  impact sprinklers can be loud at times and require frequent maintenance.

How Does It Work?

Before you install an impact sprinkler, here’s an important question - how does an impact sprinkler work?

Impact rotors are built in such a manner that they can cover huge areas quickly and conveniently. The in-built hammer will act like a spring because of the force exerted by the stream of water, causing desired volume of water to shoot through the nozzle.

It is returned to the flow casing by the spring mechanism, generating an impact that gently rotates the head of the sprinkler. The water jet then causes the hammer to move once again, resuming the cycle.

Since the water pressure is not restricted in any way, an impact sprinkler can easily cover large distances. Impact rotors are quite popular due to their wide area coverage. So, if you have a large lawn, you can easily water the entire lawn without much hassle. 

This will allow you to water a larger area within a very short time. The configurations of these pop-up spray heads can be easily adjusted to manage the direction and distance for convenience.

Advantages Of Impact Sprinkler

1. Works With Well Water/Hard Water

Due to the low number of components and the basic head design, an impact sprinkler head will ensure consistent flow of water even with hard water. You need not worry about its longevity in terms of performance.

2. Area Coverage

It has a high water flow and can cover huge areas that extend up to 45 meters in spray radius. This will allow you to effectively saturate your property during summer months.

3. Affordability

You can choose from a wide range of models. But owing to its simple design, even low-cost variants can suffice for most applications.

4. Usability

These sprinklers are designed to be user-friendly, making it suitable for first-time users. Plus, they can be readily adjusted adapt to your irrigating requirements.

5. Care

Since these sprinklers flaunt a basic design, they require less maintenance and endure a long time.

Disadvantages Of Impact Sprinkler

1. Noise

Due to their functioning mechanism, impact rotors can be noisy. The impact sprinklers make a very peculiar sound. Due to the working mechanism where the hammer hits the region at the back of the plate , the sound of the impact sprinkler might sometimes annoy you.

2. Water Pressure

Impact sprinkler might not work properly under lower water pressure. These sprinklers require a optimum water pressure to perform properly and generate an arc-like spray pattern, water homogeneity, and cover a wider area.

3. Arm Rotation

Impact sprinklers may use more water than a rotary sprinkler head to ensure a consistent operating pressure for a continuous stream of water. This is because their arms require a strong water flow to rotate properly.

What Is A Rotor Sprinkler?

Close-up of automatic irrigation sprinkler watering the lawn at sunset. Irrigation system. What Is A Rotor Sprinkler.

Since rotor sprinkler spray heads operate using internal gears, they are also called gear drive sprinklers. These kinds of sprinklers have an enclosed-body design and are more expensive than impact sprinklers. 

All the gears are built-in and are hidden from our sight, so it becomes very difficult to tell how it exactly works. Gear drive sprinklers propel the sprinkler across its arc pattern using an internal system (a gear) rather than an arm. 

Due to this design, the sprinklers work smoothly without shaking or wobbling. Additionally, gear drive sprinklers are sturdy and reliable due to their intelligent design. 

It isn’t easy to find gear drive sprinklers or any variant you want. After all, the gear driven rotors are pretty new compared to the impact rotors that have been in the market for quite a long time. If the variety and demand for rotor sprinklers increase in the coming times, then their availability  will also increase accordingly. 

How Does It Work?

Although rotor irrigation devices are simple to set up, it's crucial to understand how they function. They're a straightforward system to comprehend, which makes troubleshooting a breeze. Water enters the sprinkler from the main water source in a rotor irrigation system. The water is filtered and then sent via a turbine. 

The stream of water enables the rotor to spin and the gears of the sprinkler to revolve. As such, water flows through the sprinkler and into your garden. 

Another important component of rotating sprinklers is the radius reduction screw. The screw is what holds the nozzle in place.

Many individuals may turn this screw in the mistaken belief that it will assist each sprinkler share the same spray patterns. The screw instead may be used to either extend the area the sprinkler can cover or lower the diameter the nozzle can spray. This screw should only be used to adjust the sprinkler radius.

Advantages Of Rotor Sprinkler

1. Less Noise 

Since it is powered by an inner mechanism, this sprinkler produces no "impact" noise. You can expect most rotors to have a quiet operation.

2. Larger Area Coverage 

These sprinklers can cover large areas ranging from 20 to 84 meters in radius, which is even larger than the coverage area of impact sprinklers.

3. Less Water 

They throw water precisely wherever you need it in the volume you specify, wasting the least amount of water.

4. Highly Effective

Usually gear drive sprinklers are more efficient than other kinds of sprinklers. However, based on your demands and intended use, choosing the proper sprinkler type is critical.

5. Uniformity 

Since the spray heads rotate at a constant pace, it may offer precisely level water distribution throughout a particular area. Even at high pressure, it will provide a more uniform output.

6. Low Water Pressure

Rotor sprinklers work best with low water pressure. To water your lawn, multiple nozzles protrude from the ground and the sprinkler heads revolve at low water pressures ranging from 30 to 50 PSI.

7. Rotation Speed

Same speed of rotation is maintained in both the backward and forward orientations.

Disadvantages Of Rotor Sprinkler

1. Effectiveness

Due to the smaller water droplets, the water might drift in case of high winds.

2. Might Tilt

If the gear driven rotors are set in pop-up style, then they will eventually sink or tilt. Moreover, they will spray excess water on the turf areas nearer to the sprinkler. Water might not reach to the distant sections, creating dry patches.

Which One Should I Choose?

Though impact sprinklers can evenly cover the lawn, nowadays, rotor sprinklers have become quite trendy due to their sturdiness and consistency. Companies producing irrigation devices are coming up with more and more varieties of rotor sprinklers that will suit you and your lawn. 

Due to its larger radius and capacity to a larger area, the same-size gear-driven rotor may outperform an impact sprinkler. Gear driven rotors are a better option if you want to add an extensive irrigation system for your lawn. 

They provide much better control over the flow of the water, and the expensive ones can easily surpass the performance of any classic impact sprinkler. A rotor sprinkler design is incredibly effective and saves water while maintaining a rich green lawn all summer. 

If homeowners don’t want an immaculate lawn or a full irrigation system solely for good grass, they can use a decent hosepipe and impact sprinkler all year. 

Using a sprinkler that is constructed on a raised platform makes it easy to transfer it to the different parts of the garden, allowing you to divide it into zones and ensure there are no dead areas. Impact sprinklers will spray water quickly in a full or half circle pattern, allowing you to water your entire yard rather rapidly. 

Even if you have to physically transfer the hose pipe and sprinkler to the other zones once or twice, the water stream consistency will still be the same.

Lawn water sprinkler spaying over green grass. Irrigation system. Impact Sprinkler Vs Rotor Final Words.

Impact Sprinkler Vs Rotor Final Words

Both sprinkler systems will do the work. However, you must choose between automatic irrigation and manual irrigation systems. Nowadays, the cost of the gear driven rotors and different nozzles has decreased dramatically, and various components for a sprinkler system are widely available online.

Therefore, changing your watering strategy to add a true watering system with a regulator and rotor nozzles might be the best long-term strategy for your home.