Rainbird R-VAN Rotary Nozzle Selection

So, you need to select a new R-VAN Rotary Nozzle?

Maybe the coverage isn’t right and you are hoping to fix a brown spot; perhaps the ground shifted and the nozzle met the business end of a lawn mower; or maybe you’re looking to retrofit a spray zone to enjoy the many advantages of rotators vs spray nozzles.

Whatever the reason, don’t worry!  Smartirrigation.com is here to walk you through and simplify the details in selecting the proper R-VAN rotary nozzle for your Rain Bird irrigation system to get your system running at 100%!

In this article, we’ll be focusing on how to select the correct Rain Bird R-VAN rotary nozzle for replacement onto an existing spray body or riser.

Once you have selected the correct rotary nozzle, you will need to install and adjust this rotary nozzle, which we cover in depth in the video to the left.

Congrats on going Rotary!

First, I would like to congratulate you on choosing a Rotary nozzle over a standard spray nozzle! In most cases, they are a superior choice over regular spray nozzles.

·    Lower Precipitation Rate means the ground is watered more slowly so it can be absorbed into the soil instead of running off and being wasted.

·    Larger Water Drops in multiple water streams means more accurate watering that will not get blow around as much as sprays.

·    Streams of Different Lengths means better water distribution and uniformity and fewer dry spots.

·    Lower Flow Requirements means you can have more rotators running on a single zone than sprays.  This can save money on a new install, or fix a low-pressure issue on existing systems.

Plus, we thing they are the coolest looking sprinklers!

Which Nozzle to Select?

OK, so you’ve determined that you need to replace a rotary nozzle for your sprinkler.  Now you need to figure out which rotary nozzle to actually put on.  

There are a few manufactures who produce rotary nozzles with some pro’s and con’s on both sides (we will hopefully look into these in a future article or video).  

However, since these different brands of nozzles have different precipitation rates, it is best not to mix brands of rotary nozzles (unless you are specifically seeking advanced differential watering rates across a single zone).

In this article we’ll be showing you how to select the correct Rain Bird R-VAN rotary nozzle.  

Rain Bird also made a previous model of rotary nozzles (the RN series), but since those are no longer offered we will be focusing on the current R-VAN models.

If you are needing to replace a Hunter MP Rotator, you can check out our other article HERE (coming soon).

Rain Bird currently offers 9 different R-VAN rotary nozzles, so which is the best nozzle for the particular area?  Thankfully, the right Rain Bird rotary nozzle for each situation can be found by answering a few questions.

And even better yet, each of the 9 different nozzles are color-coded, which makes picking out the right nozzle a breeze once you have decided which version you need!  We’ll be pointing out these colors throughout the article, so keep an eye out!

1) Coverage Area

The first step in selecting your rotary nozzle is to figure out what area of your landscape you need that nozzle to water.  This area is called the nozzle’s coverage.  

When you are figuring out your coverage area, remember that proper irrigation design is based on head-to-head coverage.  This is when one sprinkler is watering right up to the base of the next closest sprinkler (as shown in the diagram). 

In contrast, “pattern-to-pattern” coverage is when the watering patterns of nozzles meet might overlap a bit but they don’t reach right back to the base of another head.  Since sprinklers do not water evenly across the entire length of their spray (they water more right by the head), Pattern-to-Pattern coverage results in uneven coverage (as shown in the diagram).

This means that you need to use Head-to-Head coverage for even watering uniformity and to avoid soggy or dry spots in your landscape.

Once you figure out the coverage area for the nozzle, you can move onto the next question!

2) Shape


Most sprinklers water in a circular pattern, either a full circle or some portion (“arc”) of a circle, such as a quarter circle.  These are the most common type and most areas can be watered using this shape of spray pattern.

The Blue, Gold, and Maroon colored R-VAN nozzles all cover in a circular arc pattern (with each color reaching a different length, which we’ll discuss in the next section)


Sometimes you need to water thin strips of the landscape that would be impractical for regular circular sprinklers.  For these areas, you can use “strip pattern” nozzles, which are designed to water narrow areas that are 5 feet wide and 15 feet long in either (or both) directions.

The Light Grey, Dark Grey, and Black colored R-VAN nozzles all cover in this thin strip pattern, with the color determining which side of the spray is getting watered.

3) Radius & Arc

Once you know how the furthest point you want your circular-pattern sprinkler to spray (remember head-to-head coverage), measure out the distance back to the spray body and then select the R-VAN nozzle radius that includes this distance in its range.

The Rain Bird R-VAN circular pattern nozzles come in 3 different distances ranges:

·    Blue: 8 to 14 feet @ 45 psi
Gold: 13 to 18 feet @ 45 psi
Maroon: 17 to 24 feet @ 45 psi

Each distance range also comes in both an adjustable arc and a full-circle version.  The adjustable arc version has a black base and colored top, while the full-circle version has both its top and base color-coded.

If you would like help with adjusting the distance range or the arc on these R-VAN rotary nozzles, check out our video!

Careful with Water Usage!
The further a sprinkler sprays, the more water it uses! Each sprinkler zone can only supply a limited amount of water, so putting in too large a spray nozzle can wreck an entire zone by using more water than the zone can supply. You can tell if a zone is using too much water if the sprinkler nozzles aren’t reaching their full rated distances.

You can check the water usage of different R-VAN nozzle distances and arcs at Rain Bird’s performance charts to make sure you aren’t exceeding your supply limits.

Greater detail on zone water supply and the water usage of specific heads can be found in our Design article [coming soon].

Important Notes

Water Pressure: R-VAN rotary nozzles are designed to run at 45 psi dynamic pressure*Rain Bird recommends using a 45 PSI pressure-regulating spray body. Also, some municipalities mandate the use of pressure-regulating heads..  A decrease down to 30 psi will decrease the maximum radius of nozzles by 1-4 feet, depending on the nozzle.  Check Rain Bird’s performance charts for more details.

Minimum Arc Size: Although the R-VAN adjustable nozzles can have their arc reduced all the way down to 0° (essentially turning off the nozzle), Rain Bird only guarantees the uniformity of water distribution to a minimum arc of 45°.

Time to Install the Rotary Nozzle!

After making it through those questions, you have now selected the proper Rain Bird R-VAN rotary nozzle for your sprinkler system!

You can now go out and purchase this nozzle at your local irrigation or landscape store, or even order it online!  Once it arrives, you can finally install your rotary nozzle – just make sure you flush out the irrigation lines and spray body first!  If you would like some tips on installing sprinkler spray nozzles, we cover that as well in our article [coming soon], or watch our video below:

And remember, if you still have questions, your local certified irrigation technician is only a call away!

Happy Watering!

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