How to Choose the Right Horse Automatic Watering System
by Ritchie Waterers
Automatic livestock watering systems have been around since the 1920’s. Since then, the automatic
waterer has evolved tremendously, resulting in a vast variety of sizes and materials. Countless
companies have developed and designed waterers that ultimately, achieve the same function.
So how do you decide which one is right for you?
When considering an upgrade to an automatic waterer, or simply replacing an old one there are a couple
of things to look for. Durability, reliability, reputation of the company and their waterers, warranty,
simplicity in parts, energy efficiency, maintenance, and function. If you have an existing waterer, what is
the size of the area they are planning on placing the new waterer? Will the waterer they prefer fit into
that space with little or no modifications? What is the electric supply and will it work with what you are
replacing it with? Although they have an existing watering system, will your existing water pressure
accommodate the new watering system without a change in valves? Price also plays an intricate part in
decision process but can also be one of the largest mistakes. Yes watering systems are very similar in
appearance and function. However, the reliability and durability are not the same. As a matter of fact,
buyers will purchase a less expensive brand, only to have to replace the parts often or even replace the
unit altogether faster than they would have had they purchased a higher quality model the first time.
The valves are the heart of the automatic waterer.
Choose an automatic watering company that provides a valve that will pump out enough water so that
your animals can not drink the trough dry. Be sure that other valves that are rated for a variety of water
pressures are available as well. Ritchie Industries provides a time proven valve that works so well,
other watering companies are using them in their waterers. There are various sizes to accommodate
water pressures and pump out enough water that small sediment in the water will not stop the function of the valve.
Riser tubes for automatic waterers
Most automatic waterers these days that require a water line to be run below the frost line will require a
riser tube of some sort. By riser tube, I mean a tube to center the vertical portion of the water line in. So what is the reason for this and what can be used for this riser tube?
The overall intention for a riser tube is to prevent frost from carrying over to the waterline, thus resulting
in slushy water or a frozen line. The supply line touching the riser tube is the most common cause of the
supply line freezing. A common misconception is that if the riser tube is filled with insulation, wood or
other foreign material, this will prevent the freezing. Since frost can migrate, any fill in the riser tube will only increase the chances of the lines freezing.
So what should be used for a riser tube? Many things have been used, larger PVC pipes, concrete
tubes, just to name a few. However neither of these materials will provide the ultimate protection to the automatic waterer during the winter.
Iowa State University in Ames, Iowa conducted a study during the winter of 1992-1993. Their studies
indicated an insulated water supply line helped maintain temperatures above freezing. The same study
showed insulated water supply lines with an 8” inner diameter and an 12” outer diameter provided
optimum freeze protection and sufficient access for service. They found that this size would help retain
the heat of the water as it went through the water line. This helped to prevent freeze-ups even when
ambient temperatures were far below the freezing point. A second portion of this study also showed
that there is no ground heat going up the thermal tube to the automatic waterer and ground heat cannot provide enough heat to keep the waterer from freezing.
Ritchie Industries created their thermal tubes according to the ISU study. The Thermal tubes have an 8”
inner diameter and 12” outer diameter and are insulated with two inches of insulation providing an r
-value of 14. More information about Ritchie Thermal tubes can be found by following this link www
Ritchie Industries offers a variety of automatic waterers that are designed to withstand abuse. They
have proven their reliability since 1921 and continue to develop and improve their units. Units are
available in a variety of materials, all plastic, all steel or a combination of both. All units come have
standard or optional heat. And for areas that do not have electricity, constant flow or gas heat is
available on some units. Energy efficiency has been a constant consideration in the development of the automatic waterers.
Contact: Our Friendly Staff
P.O. Box 730
Conrad, Iowa 50621
Phone: (800) 747-0222
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