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Has anyone ever used Rain Bird (or similar) drip irrigation tubing with quick connect fittings (tees, elbows, valves, etc.), such as Sharkbite or John Guest fittings? If so, what was your experience (bad, good, otherwise)?

Those fittings are obviously much more expensive compared to the barbed fittings that Rain Bird makes, but we reconfigure some portions of our garden a lot. I've done the numbers, and if those quick fittings work technically, then some of them may be economical (and just much easier to use) for use in some of our areas. But I'd like to know if anyone has experience with them, and whether they would actually work.

BTW, I'm fully aware of the potential UV concerns. We'd take care of those through how we deploy them.

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    Are these the fittings where you push the tube on and then screw them down? If so, I find them more reliable than the barbed fittings (which tend to push off over time), and so use them despite the 3-4x cost. (not sure the drip tube manufacturer) manufacturer off hand)
    – winwaed
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 18:18
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    @winwaed No, I think you're talking about standard compression fittings. Although that's not a bad idea, thanks! What I am talking about are newer proprietary fittings that you literally just stick a tube into, and they have a gasket and a biting/locking mechanism that holds things in place. They're most often used in water filter systems, or supply lines to refrigerator ice machines and such. But they come in 1/4 and 1/2 inch sizes, so it seemed like they could possibly work with the 1/4 and 1/2 in tubing sizes for drip systems. But not sure if the OD specs match up closely enough.
    – Emily Beth
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 18:31
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    I'm sorry I don't know the names, at Lowes they're a different set of shelves from the explicitly irrigation parts, but not far away. I use the T-pieces and right angle bends. Everything attaches to a converted irrigation 'port' (ie. location of a former head) with a stack of parts including a pressure reducer. I'll check later to see if I have any in bags or if I can find something inline...
    – winwaed
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 18:44
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    Might not be exactly the same part, but this type of thing: lowes.com/pd/…
    – winwaed
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 18:47
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    Llook at the Rain Bird Easy Fit line for 1/2 tubing. While they aren't technically reusable I have managed to reuse them sometimes. They are really stable if you take the time to fully shove the pipe into the socket, otherwise they tend to jump off when you first turn the system on. Many years ago, I did use a system that had an exterior retaining ring that you could slip on/off. It worked, but they broke more frequently that I would have liked. I've also worked with the plumbing insert fittings in 3/4 poly pipe. Worked great after I started oetiker clamps, and easy/cheap to resure.
    – Ben
    Commented Aug 12, 2019 at 19:28

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Ok, I did a field test myself. 1/2 inch Rain Bird tubing worked just fine with 1/2 inch fittings from Sharkbite and John Guest. No actual data on the 1/4 in tubing yet, but I’ll post a comment below when we have tested that.

Here’s a pic of one of the applications we used the Rain Bird tubing with a Sharkbite garden hose faucet:

Picture of Sharkbite garden hose faucet connected to Rainbird 1/2 inch tubing

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  • Hi Emily, maybe it's time to complete this answer with your experience. Commented Jul 4, 2023 at 4:59
  • Thanks for prompt! We've been using these SharkBite and John Guest fittings a lot, and they work pretty good. In one or two instances they leaked/dripped after some re-use, but most of the fittings we got don't drop at all (particularly if we make sure we start with tubing that isn't damaged and is cut clean). In addition to brass, we also got several packs of plastic John Guest 1/4 in. fittings from Amazon. They weren't cheap, but we use them to assemble ad hoc watering when we're on vacation, which has proven cheaper than hiring someone to water or having all of our plants die.
    – Emily Beth
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 15:17
  • I would not re-use the fittings this much for an indoor application. But if our fittings weep a bit during the short time the irrigation system is on (all outside), it's not a big deal for us. In particular we got a bunch of the 1/4 inch plastic John Guest valves, and we frequently use those as reconfigurable unions to various places where we need temporary watering during parts of the season (or just when we're on vacation). We had had friends agree to water our stuff before, only to return to dead plants. So for us the cost was worth it.
    – Emily Beth
    Commented Oct 18, 2023 at 15:20

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