There are many factors to consider when choosing a yard hydrant. Selecting a hydrant with the features you need is the most important. However, cost and availability also play a crucial role. In different areas certain hydrants will have a larger portion of the market share. For example, Merrill and Woodford hydrants are made in Iowa, so they are more commonly found in the Midwest. In this article we will go over which hydrants features to keep an eye out for. In addition to what valves and water pressure are ideal for different situations.
As far as features are concerned, most hydrants are quite similar. The differences are going to come down to added features. Added features are features that differentiate hydrant brands from each other.
For Woodford hydrants, an example of an added feature is that they have “Flow Finders” that you can set. This helps if you are watering your garden and you find the sweet spot on your hydrant, where you get just enough water but it’s not gushing out of the garden hose, you can set the Flow Finder so your hydrant will open to the same spot every time. Most hydrants do not have this extra little feature, but if it’s a feature you would enjoy, the Woodford Y34 is the hydrant for you!
Missing Hydrant Features
Some hydrants have “missing features”, that you should avoid at all costs when choosing a yard hydrant. Missing features are features that should be included on every hydrant, but cheap nameless brands avoid them to keep costs low. An example of a missing feature would be a yard hydrant not having a thread for a garden hose. This feature is essential if you are going to do anything other than fill a bucket or let water dump on the ground from your hydrant. Most applications will require a hose of some sort to attach to the hydrant. If you think you are getting a great deal on a hydrant at a big box store, make sure it isn’t missing any features that should be standard issue.
Some hydrants have different style valves at the bottom that shut the water off when the hydrant is not in use, but they do it in different ways. The two most common style of valves are plunger and O-ring. With a plunger style shut off, you have a rod going from the hydrant head down into the valve assembly with the plunger on the end. This style is the most common, and it’s a very effective method that works very well in the coldest of temperatures.
Other hydrants will have an O-ring style valve assembly at the bottom of the hydrant. An example of a hydrant that uses O-rings is a Monitor Magnum hydrant. These use a “wet pipe” that is lifted up inside of the galvanized riser pipe that you can see coming out of the ground. Hydrants that use this style often have the capacity for the best flow, however we have seen this style have some issues with freezing if it’s a hydrant you are going to use daily throughout the winter. If you use your hydrant mostly in the garden or to wash your car, this style would be great. If you are getting a hydrant to provide water to livestock every day, we would stick to the plunger style valve, as it’s a bit more consistent operating in cold weather.
When we talk about the flow of the hydrant, it’s ultimately about gallons per minute (gpm). This is the amount of water that comes out the spigot end of the hydrant. It’s not a simple number for each hydrant, it’s based on the amount of water that your well puts out, the PSI that your system is operating at, and line loss from friction in the water lines heading out to the hydrant.
When the hydrant is farther way from the well and pressure tank, the less water and pressure you will have. Less water and less pressure equate to low flow. If your well pump only puts out 10 gallons of water per minute, your hydrant will be able to dispense all the water that the pump is pushing out. If you have a very large well pump, a hydrant may limit the amount of water that can come through it. There is a small channel through the head of the hydrant where water flows through. This is the most restrictive point in the hydrant that will bottleneck the flow.
Simmons Manufacturing has a great chart on their website showing how many GPM you can expect through a ¾’’ hydrant at various PSI. Most rural wells have pressure switches that will operate between 40 and 60 PSI. Hydrant Flow Rates – Simmons Manufacturing Company (simmonsmfg.com)
If you currently have a hydrant, you can do a simple flow calculation by using a 5-gallon bucket. Set a timer and fill up the 5-gallon bucket and then stop the timer once the bucket is full. Next divide your 5 gallons by the number of seconds it took to fill the bucket; and then multiply by 60 seconds. For example, if you fill your bucket in 30 seconds, your hydrant is putting out 10 gallons per minute. If your bucket fills up in 15 seconds, you’ve got 20 GPM coming through your hydrant.
Made in the USA
Once you figure out which features work best for you, we recommend purchasing products that are made in the USA. Some of our favorite hydrant brands that are manufactured domestically are Woodford, Merrill, Monitor, Campbell and Simmons. The quality of products that are produced domestically is more consistent than their cheaper imported counterparts.
Another great reason to buy a hydrant that’s Made in the USA is that you can easily find replacement parts. Cheaper imported brands often have no distribution for repair parts. Meaning it’s more likely that you will need to dig it up if it has any sort of problem. If you can identify the part that is failing, some parts of domestic hydrants are able to be replaced from the surface. That is not always the case, but you don’t want to dig it out because the handle broke off and you can’t find a replacement for it.
A great resource for help choosing a yard hydrant is a local water well drilling company. They can recommend a reliable brand of hydrant. In addition, they will know if parts are available, and may even keep some on hand. A local company will also know what bury depth is common for your area. If you aren’t sure how to install your hydrant, you can check out our blog post going through installation basics here.
Upgrade Your Hydrant
If you are thinking about installing a hydrant, or are simply repairing or replacing your old hydrant, check out our “All About the HAK” page to find out more about how to upgrade your hydrant!
If you enjoyed this blog about choosing a yard hydrant, we will be posting a blog every other Friday so check back in two weeks to find out more about how to size a waterline.