Sprinkler System Cost and Consumer Guide

Installing a sprinkler system gets rid of the hassle of having to water your lawn. The costs of running a sprinkler system end up saving money when considering the amount of water saved by using these systems. Using a sprinkler system can allow you to regulate the amount of water your lawn and plants receive. Sprinkler systems typically run off timers to water a lawn or garden at a specific time.

When deciding to install a sprinkler system in your yard, you may want to know the costs of a sprinkler system.

A sprinkler system costs between $2,000 and $5,600 on average. Each zone of your property can cost between $600 and $1,300 on average. These costs include the installation fees and hardware. The monthly cost of running a sprinkler system ranges from $30 to $80 per month. 

This consumer guide will provide a cost breakdown of sprinkler systems. Many people consider sprinkler systems to be a luxury, but in the end, these systems can end up saving homeowners a significant amount of money. By controlling the output of water, sprinkler systems can prevent unnecessary waste of resources and lower water bills. There are many factors to consider when budgeting for the installation of a sprinkler system, but this guide will help you understand what goes into the cost of a sprinkler system.

Read on to learn more about the cost of a sprinkler system and what this cost includes.

Average Cost of a Sprinkler System


The average cost of a sprinkler system ranges from $2,000 and $5,600, according HomeGuide. The overall cost of a sprinkler system depends on the size of the yard and how advanced the system’s technology is. Lawn irrigation is typically installed in zones, and some irrigation installers will charge clients per zone. When charging by the zone, prices can range from $600 to $1,300 per zone.

Installing a new sprinkler system can be done by a professional sprinkler contractor or with a home improvement contractor. Before you decide to have someone install a sprinkler system for you, you should think about the entire cost of the project, from design to completion and installation. The cost will vary depending on the size of your lawn and what type of pipe material you choose for your landscape. For example: In general, sprinklers are installed almost everywhere in buildings and other structures. The average cost of installing regular residential sprinklers is around $30 per square foot (roughly $1,000 per 100 square feet). Water pipes are the most expensive material for sprinklers. The cost of installing a sprinkler system in a home with an 800-square-foot lawn is $54,000.

Expensive commercial properties can spend much more on their systems and use special materials such as titanium or glass instead of regular plastic or PVC piping. Some structures, like high-rise buildings, may also want to use copper pipes to reduce corrosion. The average cost for installing a sprinkler system in a high-rise building is about $60 per square foot (roughly $1,200 per 100 square feet).

The cost of installing a sprinkler system in a hospital or nursing home will definitely be higher as these facilities use large quantities of water. The average cost for a sprinkler system in a medical facility is about $90 per square foot (roughly $1,800 per 100 square feet).

Smaller areas, such as apartment buildings, hotels, and condos, will cost less than larger ones because they only need to have one to four sprinklers. An apartment complex may have smaller lawns, so the question of one or two sprinklers becomes relevant. However, the average cost for installing a sprinkler system in an apartment building is around $16 per square foot (roughly $300 per 100 square feet).

How to Select a Sprinkler System


Buying a sprinkler system is not as easy as it might appear. There are many factors you need to take into consideration before purchasing the perfect system for your property. Here is a breakdown of some important elements to consider when selecting a sprinkler system:

Water Pressure


One of the most important factors you need to consider before purchasing a sprinkler system is the water pressure. The first question you need to ask yourself is: "What is the lowest water pressure my property can tolerate?" Next, you can ask yourself, "What are the average water pressure levels in my area?" The next thing is to test your property's water pressure by using a garden hose and see what happens. If there are no leaks or damage on any of your property's component, then you are good to go.

Terminology


Before we begin with the factors you need to consider, it's important that we understand some key terms associated with sprinkler systems: system, controller, valve, and irrigation tile. System consists of the controller and the valves. Controller is used to operate sprinklers in different areas of your yard or garden. Irrigation tiles are practically made up of PVC pipe which provides drainage for water from your sprinkler's system. The irrigation tile is usually made up of two main components: trap and flow regulator.

Fire Hazard


One of the main concerns of sprinkler system is its fire hazard. It's important that you don't connect your irrigation sprinkler system to a potential fire’s water supply lines. This can cause a major explosion in your home or property. It's important that you use only mild steel pipes for your sprinkler system and never copper—as it can cause electrical leakage and failure.

Wireless vs Wired


Various kinds of sprinkler systems are available in the market today, and each one has its own pros and cons based on different factors, such as: budget, reliability, ease of installation and flexibility in terms of design. For instance, wireless sprinkler system is less expensive than wired, and it’s also easier to install. However, the downside of wireless sprinkler systems is that they can be unreliable in bad weather conditions, especially during heavy rain.

This tends to result into failure of the system. A wired sprinkler system works better in a variety of weather conditions and usually requires minimal maintenance by the owners. However, it's extremely expensive compared to wireless versions.

Full Coverage


The next thing you need to consider when buying a sprinkler system is how much coverage will you need. Full coverage means that you are not watering far from your units, and this needs more pipe or tubing on your property/garden. It's important to consider the minimum coverage you require. This will help you in terms of budget and also your water supply.

Budget


It's very important that you consider your budget first before buying a sprinkler system. A sprinkler system can be very expensive and it's important that you consider all the factors discussed above before deciding how much money to invest on it. Irrigation systems come in many different price ranges, each one better than the other in terms of quality, flexibility, and maintenance costs, etc., but each are fitted with different features (e.g., wireless/wired controllers, sprinkler heads etc., depending upon your needs).

Maintaining the System


The next factor you need to consider is how much maintenance will you require for your sprinkler system? In most cases, you will only need maintenance during the startup period. Once the pipes are installed, it's important that you keep them clean and free from any debris or leaves that can cause clogging. The system should not be left outside in rain and should be protected from the harsh environment in order to avoid damage. As a rule of thumb, if your pipes are running beneath pavement or garden grass, it may not be necessary to run a hosepipe around it every week.

Hose Work


While installation of your sprinkler system is important, it's also equally important that you consider the hose work. This is because the hose work will determine how long your sprinklers will last. (Related: 6 Lawn and Garden Equipment For New Homeowners) As a rule of thumb, if you don't intend to use your sprinkler system for a long time, leave the inlet with a valve open and attached to a short spray hose. This will ensure that no debris or water-soluble material can pass through the unit.

Coverage Area


Another important factor to consider while purchasing a sprinkler system is the coverage area. It's important to take your property's square footage and multiply it by your sprinkler heads. This will give you an estimation of how much water spot coverage you will need. Also, you should consider the size of sprinkler heads that you want for your irrigation system.

Pressure Reducing Valve


It's important that you consider this factor when purchasing a sprinkler system because most sprinklers are either open or closed for some reason due to their use in different areas on your property/garden, the region they're installed in (hot and dry areas, cold and wet areas, etc.); or due to different types of soils in your area that can affect the amount of water in your system.

Water Pressure


When attempting to install a sprinkler system, you need to consider the pressure required for the design and performance of your existing piping system. The right pressure will ensure that water is delivered at a steady flow rate in a good pattern, thus ensuring maximum coverage and efficiency of use.

Water Supply Tank Size


It's important that you consider this factor while buying sprinkler system because it will determine how much water pressure is available for your irrigation to work properly on your property/garden. It's important to consider your water supply tank size because it will determine how much water pressure you have in your sprinklers. If you allow the pressure to fall below 40 psi, then your sprinklers will not work properly.

Spacing Between Heads


It's important that you consider this factor while buying a sprinkler system because it will determine how much water coverage area and coverage pattern you need on your property/garden in addition to how effective the system can be in watering your plants. The spacing between heads refers to the distance between sprinkler heads: normally spaced out evenly across the lawn/property.

The distance between sprinkler heads is typically measured in feet and can be clearly purchased based on the length of the sprinkler heads.

Sprinkler Heads Pricing


The cost of some sprinkler systems can vary depending on how many heads/connectors you need and whether or not you need a kit that comes with a pressure reducing valve. The cost of sprinklers, connectors, and the valve differ from system to system, so be sure to shop around before purchasing your sprinkler system. In addition to the cost of the sprinklers themselves, keep in mind that you will also have to pay for installation at $100 – $150 per hour for a non-brokerage job; $200 – $300 per hour when buying from an irrigation company.

Number of Units Required


It's important that you consider this factor when buying a sprinkler system because it will determine how many units you purchase to complete your sprinkler system installation. The number of units required depends largely on the size of the property that needs to be watered, as well as the size of the property. In most cases, the more units you have installed, the better your watering system works, including the more money you will invest in it.

Different Types of Sprinklers/Nozzles


When considering a sprinkler system, it's important that you consider different types of sprinklers/nozzles that are available on the market for your irrigation system. Some of the different types of sprinklers include the straight spray head, circle spray heads, and jet-spray heads.

Sprinkler System Installation


When considering a sprinkler system, it's essential that you consider how to install the sprinkler heads and connectors properly. The right way to install these parts will depend on your particular home and garden layout—and also your skill level with installing garden equipment.

Sprinkler Heads Installation Cost


The cost of installing sprinklers and connectors on your home/garden can vary depending on how complex the installation is; it could cost you anything from $600 – $1000 per hour when buying from a non-brokerage business, or $700 - $1200 per hour if you buy from a brokerage business. Also, this price is valid for an installation job that requires no more than five heads installed in the process of installing the complete system.

Sprinklers System Warranty


It's important that you consider this factor when buying sprinkler system because the warranty of your purchase will determine how long your sprinkler system will last for you as one of the most important parts of your irrigation system. All products have a warranty, no matter what it is. Most sprinklers are guaranteed by their manufacturers to be free from defects in material and workmanship for ten years, while most connectors are guaranteed by their manufacturers to be free from defects in material and workmanship for five years after purchase.

Sprinklers Return Policy


You also need to consider the return policy of your sprinkler system when buying it because it will determine how long you will have to return the product if you are not satisfied with your purchase. The period of time a business provides for you to return a product or service will vary, so be sure to consider this factor when buying sprinkler system. Also, make sure that you check their policies before buying your sprinkler system.

Sprinklers Installation Time


This is another important factor when buying a sprinkler system because it will determine how long it takes for the installation crew to complete the job of installing all sprinklers and connectors in your property/garden. The installation time will depend on the size of your property/garden, as well as the complexity of your system and how many sprinklers you need to complete your job.

Installation Process for Sprinkler Heads


This is perhaps one of the most important decision factors when buying an irrigation system because it will determine how long it takes for the installation process to complete. Depending on how complex a sprinkler system is, some can take nearly 10 hours to install while others can be completed in less than three hours.

Additional Sprinkler System Costs


Costs vary depending on the size of the project and the type of soil in the yard. Also, factors such as how the system will be used and the type of fertilizer that will be used are also taken into account.

The type of lawn services that are required will also affect the final tally. Other factors such as the quality of the components and the type of valves and sprinkler heads that are installed will also affect the final product.

Landscaping Design


Some features of these include the planting of a small tree for a few hundred dollars, or a mature tree for around $3,000. A sprinkler system is often a part of a larger project for a landscaping company. Most landscaping companies charge around $1,363 to $5,640 for the design and installation of new features. The cost of a sprinkler system depends on the complexity of the project and the design of the landscape. Certain plants and shrubs require high-rise sprinkler heads to install correctly. This example shows how varying the design of a landscape can result in varying the types of sprinkler heads that are required.

Type of Soil


Most companies charge more for trenching through the soil instead of installing an in-ground sprinkler system. Also, it takes longer to install a system in rocky soil. It could also require special measures to prevent freezing in certain areas. This issue could add around 10% to the cost of installation.

Sprinkler System Parts


High-quality parts are more durable and can last longer than inferior ones. This means that your sprinkler system will be more durable and less prone to damage. In-ground systems often have components that control the flow of water and the height of the sprinkler heads. These costs vary depending on the type and quality of valve and sprinkler head that you buy. They are estimated to cost $10 to $325 each.

Watering Zones


A watering zone refers to an area of the lawn that's usually not enough pressure to water the whole lawn at one time. The installer will then check the water pressure and decide how many zones are required. The more zones that are needed, the higher the cost.

Zones

Starting Cost

Maximum Cost

1 Zones

$500

$1,000

2 Zones

$1,000

$2,000

4 Zones

$2,000

$4,000

6 Zones

$3,000

$6,000

7 Zones

$3,500

$7,000

Lawn Repair


Depending on the equipment used to install the new system, it can cost anywhere from $1 to $2 per square foot to have the grass repaired. A simple reseeding can cost about $3 to $10 per pound. Those who want to have their lawns professionally overseeded can expect to pay about $411 to $1,554.

Enhancements and Improvements


Many homeowners choose to have their home services done at the same time, which may result in savings in both time and money. Some sprinkler system installers can help determine how much water is being used by a lawn by monitoring its rain sensors. A rainwater collection system can help conserve water in areas where summer watering bans are in place. It can also help keep the grass healthy by preventing it from getting too dry. A rainwater collection system costs about $2,500, and it can be connected to an irrigation system.

Depending on the type of equipment used to install the new system, some lawn repairs may be necessary. Generally, for large areas, the cost for sod laying is around $1 to $2 per square foot.

A simple reseeding may be done to improve the look of your lawn. It can cost around $3 to $10 per pound to seed a lawn. Having it professionally overseeded can run you between $411 and $1,154. You can get a basic reseeding for about $3 to $10 per pound. Overseeding costs vary depending on the type of grass and yard size.

Types of Sprinkler System


Depending on the type of system that's needed, the sprinkler system cost will vary depending on the type of material used. For instance, a 1-acre yard with an in-ground system will cost around $10,280. A drip system or an above-ground system will cost around $1,800 to $2,000. An automated system will add another $10 to $325.

Let us talk about the different types of sprinkler systems:

  • In-Ground: This type of system is usually installed under the surface of the lawn and consists of pipes and tubing that are buried in shallow trenches. In-ground systems are usually installed for areas that have a lot of water and are located in the ground. This type of system is more visible than standard ones.
  • Above-Ground: An above-ground system is a type of sprinkler system that's usually installed on top of a yard. It's a simple and cost-effective way to get a great yard. It can be professionally installed for a 1-acre property. In most cases, it can cost around $1,200 to $2,000.
  • Drip Irrigation: With drip irrigation, you can get the most out of your garden space by directing water away from the grass and into the flower beds and gardens. The cost to install a drip irrigation system is around $1,200 to $2,500. It uses a high-pressure drip system to deliver water to the roots.
  • Automatic System: The cost of adding an automatic controller to a sprinkler system depends on the type and quality of controller installed. It is typically $10 to $325 to add the controller to the system. A lot of smart controllers are equipped with built-in Wi-Fi and can be monitored and programmed remotely.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Here are ten of the most frequently asked questions regarding sprinkler systems:

Can I point my sprinkler water away from my neighbor's property?

No, it is illegal to do so. If you have an irrigation system that the water stream streams out of a single hole, you may be able to point your irrigation system away from your neighbor's property. However, if you have a sprinkler that sends a spray pattern or irrigates on multiple points in a line, then no matter what you try to do with the control settings on your irrigation equipment, you will not be able to direct the water only away from your neighbor's yard.

What are the different types of sprinklers? 

The two most common types of sprinklers are automatic and manual (local). Automatic systems use sensors such as smoke detectors or heat detectors to activate the alarm at an early stage in order to save lives and properties where possible. Manual systems are usually activated by someone pressing their fire alarm panel or by someone else who notices the fire first.

What are the requirements for fire sprinkler systems to be compliant with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) code? 

For a building to be compliant with NFPA codes, there are three different types of sprinklers: network (area), compartmentalized (area), and standpipe. In a building that is over 11 storeys tall, they will need to have at least one of each type of sprinkler in place. The NFPA code requires that all automatic fires in a certain area must be contained within that area and not extend into another part of the building. By having sprinklers on each floor of high-rise buildings, it gives fire personnel and others time to react before there are any fatalities or serious injuries.

What are the advantages of having a sprinkler system? 

The advantages of having a fully functional sprinkler system includes quicker and easier fire extinguishment, prevention, containment, and control. Fires can be limited to the area where they started or minimize any other damage areas. It is also beneficial to have a sprinkler system in place if there is an electrical incident that produces heat. Many fires that occur can be contained with proper wiring practices as well as insulated pipes that don't generate heat when voltage flows through them.

What is the difference between an automatic and manual fire sprinkler system?

Automatic systems can be set to detect fire smoke or heat sensors, based on input from a building's wiring. This then activates a water supply to extinguish the fire. Manual systems are usually self-activating—that is, the building's fire alarm system sounds when smoke or heat is detected.

What are the long-term effects of being exposed to a sprinkler system as opposed to not having one present?

The long-term effects of being exposed to a sprinkler system include feeling safe and secure. It also has positive impacts on people's health by lowering their levels of stress and increasing their feelings of well-being and security.

What is the NFPA requirement for drinking water quality in fire sprinkler systems? 

The NFPA requirement for drinking water quality in fire sprinkler systems is 300 mL, which stands for a minimum of 300 milliliters. The maximum number of contaminants that can be present is specified as 1000 mg/L (1 gram per liter). This means it would take 1000 milliliter of water to have 1 gram of contaminants dissolved into it. The contaminants that are specifically forbidden include: oil or fat, organics (including synthetic), cyanide, halogenated compounds, organometallics, and oxidizing compounds—which includes nitrites and nitrates.

What is an effective and least expensive method for preliminary sprinkler system installations?  

There are several levels of service that a sprinkler system provider may offer, including: Standard Service, Intermediate Service, Full-Service and Extra-Full-Service. The difference between the four levels is the amount of time and the resources they put into the installation. With Standard Service, it is usually just one person doing all of the work. In Intermediate Service, there may be multiple people involved in the installation process—one person to install each valve and set the alarm. In Full-Service, there will be at least two or more people with them during all phases of installation; from installing valves to setting alarm cells & timing systems. In Extra-Full-Service, you will work directly with a project manager who will be preparing and answering all of your questions from the beginning to the end of the installation process. This is the best option if you require just one person to do all of your sprinkler system installation.

Can I get a free evaluation for my sprinkler system? 

Yes, you can obtain a free evaluation service from your local sprinkler provider company if you provide them with your contact information (name, address, phone number). This will allow them to assess your sprinkler system and offer a free quote.

What is the difference between a fire alarm system and a sprinkler system? 

A fire alarm system is designed to detect smoke and heat so that it signals an individual to notify whoever they wish (such as the Fire Department). In contrast to that, sprinkler systems are used for both detection and extinguishment of fires. A fire alarm system's signaling happens automatically, whereas sprinkler systems have manual control that allows an individual to turn off or manipulate its operation.

Final Thoughts


Regardless of the type of system that you install, there are some basic maintenance steps that will need to be performed to keep it in good working order. Hard water fixtures should be cleaned to remove deposits that can affect the flow of water. Also, make sure that the sprinkler heads are in good working order. With proper maintenance, the cost of a lawn irrigation system will balance out with the amount of water you save.

Kenneth Wilson
September 30, 2021
Cost Guides, Yard & Garden

Kenneth Wilson

Retired contractor. Currently residing in Southwest Florida. Now in semi-retirement, I write and manage this blog focused on helping home owners make savvy decisions when it comes to finding contractors and getting their projects done.