Impact Sprinkler Vs Oscillating Sprinkler – Which is Best?

Impact Sprinkler Vs Oscillating Sprinkler

Utilizing the best sprinkler for lawn can be very important. Not every model will work in every situation, so you need to consider what type of job each type is best equipped to handle. The average coverage is a good place to start when looking at different models, but it isn’t always the most important factor.

You also want to consider how easy the maintenance is and even how long it will last before needing repairs or being bought out by a new version of this popular product line.

Today, two popular sprinkler styles include impact sprinkler vs oscillating sprinkler. Both have several models and options to choose from. What might make your decision easier is thinking about what you want the sprinkler to do for you before heading to the store?

The type of grass you have plays a role in your choice as well as what areas of your yard it will be able to reach. For example, if you want to water a significant portion of your yard while keeping it cost-effective, then an oscillating sprinkler would best suit this scenario.

What is an Impact Sprinkler?

Impact sprinklers are the most commonly used irrigation sprinklers on the market and for good reason. They’re designed to rotate smoothly back and forth due to the force of water surging through them. Impact sprinklers pivot by means of a bearing mounted onto a threaded attachment, driven in a circular motion by the pressure of water flowing through.

best impact sprinkler
Impact sprinkler

Impact sprinklers are easy to use and great for consumers looking to save on their water bills. If a consumer wants more of an even spread, they can turn the diffuser pin to make it wider in order to even out the water pressure. If they would like it to be more narrow, they simply turn the pin back.

How Does an Impact Sprinkler Works?

An impact sprinkler is a sprinkler that uses kinetic energy to throw water a good distance. Often impact sprinklers will be mounted high on the roof to cover a wide area or in a tall tree. Solar impact sprinklers are popular and have an electric motor to spin a small propeller inside a plastic container to throw water.

What is the Water Efficiency of Impact Sprinkler?

Impact sprinklers are by far the most efficient types of sprinklers. They are designed to use the pressure of the water to open a valve and start the flow of water. They only need to dilute the water with air in the nozzle to make a fine mist. This means less water is wasted and more is put on the ground.

Many impact sprinklers are also designed to shut off automatically when the water pressure drops too low, saving even more water. It is not uncommon to get two to four times the coverage of a standard sprinkler using the same amount of water as an impact sprinkler.

Benefits of Using an Impact Sprinkler

  • Interchangeable spray patterns – adjust and shape your landscape in as many ways as you like. With impact sprinklers, it’s easier than ever to accurately water every inch of your lawn without any wasted water. Plus, you can get a more economical watering by adjusting your sprinkler according to the size of your space.
  • Shoot the stream of water in an arc motion. Being able to precisely control the width of the arc makes it much easier to get your water right around where you need it.
  • A pop-up sprinkler is a great way to water your plants, but it can be easy for the water to stop coming out if the sprinkler head is too close to the ground. That’s where an impact sprinkler comes in handy as it has a larger spray head with a longer distance so that you don’t have to worry about your plants dying if you water them from up on high.
  • Impact sprinklers are preferred over some other models of sprinklers because their smaller, more compact design does not allow for clogging due to hard water. If you have hard water, you need an impact sprinkler to avoid the frustrations experienced in trying to use other types of oscillating or rotating sprinklers. Impact sprinklers simply don’t get clogged up like rotating or oscillating sprinklers can be if one has hard water.
  • It’s easy to adjust this shower head. Adjust the diffuser or trip pin to change the spray, change the radius by adjusting the setting pins, and change the arc of your water stream with a simple flick of the flap on top.

Cons of Impact Sprinkler

Require more maintenance, noise levels can be distracting to those living nearby.

impact sprinkler vs oscillating sprinkler

What is an Oscillating Sprinkler?

An oscillating sprinkler is a type of lawn sprinkler that swivels back and forth while spraying water in a fan-like motion. These sprinklers usually have a central pivot with a sprinkler head extending to the left and right of the pivot point. These sprinklers are designed to rotate in a circular motion so that the fan of water reaches the entire lawn.

Impact Sprinkler vs Oscillating Sprinkler

How Does an Oscillating Sprinkler Work?

An oscillating sprinkler is a multi-stream sprinkler. It is easy to install, individually controlled, and efficient in watering your lawn. The sprinkler works by turning at a 90° angle and sending water in a circular pattern.

It rotates with the push of a lever and continues to do so until the user stops it. The water each sprinkler sends directly to the lawn is low in volume, but each sprinkler can send out water in a circular pattern, ensuring the lawn is evenly watered.

An oscillating sprinkler requires a pressure of between 30-80 pounds per square inch to work properly, though most oscillating sprinklers run on 80 psi. When the water is sprayed in a downward direction, the force can be measured in a circumference of 25 to 40 feet.

What is the Water Efficiency of an Oscillating Sprinkler?

Oscillating sprinklers are quite efficient in water usage. This is mainly because they move over the same area, leaving the wetted area to evaporate. This reduces the watering time, which in turn reduces the water usage. However, it is more appropriate to use a fixed sprinkler when you have an area, where you need to water the plants uniformly.

Benefits of an Oscillating sprinkler

  • An oscillating sprinkler feels like it covers a lot of ground, but it can cover anywhere from 76 square feet to nearly 2300 square feet in ideal conditions. Of course, you must consider the water pressure coming into the unit because that also impacts how much space will be covered by the sprinkler.
  • These systems provide an even spread of water which means the same amount of water is being treated as close to the sprinkler head as it is at the farthest distance from it. This ensures that your lawn gets irrigated in a timely fashion with none of its soil getting dried out.
  • When looking for a model that is easy to clean, look for one that offers disassembly and reassembly. This will help ensure the longevity of the product. If deposits build up in the pipe, make sure you clean it thoroughly before they get completely plugged. Hard water is known to cause this.
  • Although it is not the most effective sprinkler type, it has no major disadvantages, and its solid design makes it a reliable and long-lasting sprinkler. It’s also easy to install and maintain, which is why it is the most popular sprinkler type.
Impact Sprinkler Vs Oscillating Sprinkler

Impact Sprinkler Vs Oscillating Sprinkler. Which is Best?

An oscillating sprinkler is simple to get working right away because they do not require the same kind of dedication as a precision impact sprinkler, but that ease of use also means they often are not as optimized or as efficient in covering exactly what needs to be watered.

Many homeowners who just want a lawn that looks visually appealing and healthy are satisfied with adequate irrigation provided by a basic oscillating sprinkler, while those with gardens hoping to grow the healthiest plants may consider upgrading to a precision impact sprinkler.

Impact sprinklers and oscillating sprinklers are fundamentally different. We’ve created a list here to show you how they differ, so you can pick out which one best fits your needs.

  1. Impact sprinklers work like a mouse cursor moving across your screen. They spin and throw water from a fixed place as it sprays 360 degrees in a full circle, oscillating sprinkler heads spray water from the same area over and over again in a fan or rainbow pattern.
  2. Impact sprinklers splatter very loudly and oscillating sprinklers swish.
  3. An oscillating sprinkler cannot go around certain types of tall obstacles like trees, but the impact sprinkler can go under the obstacle because it’s strong enough to handle such events.
  4. Oscillating sprinklers are a little more expensive than impact sprinklers and may need to be fixed or replaced more often. Unlike impact sprinklers though, oscillating sprinklers generally work right away without any adjustment necessary.


The impact sprinkler and oscillating sprinkler both have their advantages, but for different reasons. The impact sprinkler will deliver water directly to the plant as it needs it, which is good for plants that need a consistent supply of water, like vegetables.

The oscillating sprinkler is more versatile and will spray water in a circular motion all over the yard, which makes it good for gardens. It also allows you to use less water, which is great for the environment.


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I am Ricky Martin, a seasoned landscape designer, a passionate gardener, and a barbecue enthusiast. With 12 years of experience in building and restoring, I welcome you to my website