Why are Flow Rates Important in Commercial Water Treatment


The “Flow Rate” is a vital specification often overlooked when considering new water treatment systems. Although there are a number of factors that will impact your purchase decision, if you fail to understand the importance of the flow rate it is likely to cost you in the long term.Why are Flow Rates Important in Commercial Water Treatment

What is a Flow Rate?

You may already be familiar with the capacity of water softeners or treatment systems. If you have ever bought a water heater or softener and found that you run out of heated or softened water, the unit probably lacked capacity. What you may not realize is that it takes a period of time for water to be softened. Water softener systems use an ion exchange to remove hardness and water filters or reverse osmosis units require time for contaminants to be sifted out. This time period is called the contact time. The flow rate is determined by the overall size of the system and the combination of components. This affects how quickly water can be processed through the system. The flow rate is usually measured and displayed as GPM or gallons per minute.

Guide to Flow Rates:

While residential water use can range from 4 GPM for a small home to 80 GPM for a large estate, commercial flow rates often exceed 100 GPM. To calculate your actual requirement, you will need to consider how many appliances or fixtures you may need to operate simultaneously. Each device will have its own requirement, so you will need to add up each of these figures to obtain a peak flow rate you require.

To calculate a service flow rate, you should consider continual use or the water usage needed for more than 10 minutes. These two flow rates are vital to choosing a new water system.

For example, if you want to install an iron filtration system to avoid rust stains on your driveway or landscaping, you will need to consider how many sprinklers there are in each zone and their flow rate. Typical sprinkler heads are 2.5 GPM, but you may need to contact the manufacturer for an exact figure. For example, if you have 8 sprinkler heads in each zone, operating at 2 GPM, you have a flow rate requirement of 16 GPM. This means that you will need 1-inch copper pipe, which has a maximum flow rate of 21 GPM. Since ¾ inch pipe has a capacity of 13.5 GPM, this would not be sufficient for your requirements. You will also need to add this into your peak flow rate calculations.

Once you understand the importance of flow rate requirements, you will be able to properly size your water softener and other commercial water treatment systems. This will allow you to avoid the frustration of purchasing a system that lacks the capacity to meet your requirements or over paying for an inefficient system that is far too big for your needs. This will help save you a great deal of money over the lifespan of your equipment, helping keep your bottom line firmly in the black.

When looking at a commercial water treatment system for a large or industrial application usually a plant engineer works closely with a water treatment professional to correctly size the equipment for the industry’s specific needs.

About The Author, Terry Reeh, EcoWater Systems of Nebraska:

With more than 25 years experience in the residential and commercial water treatment space, Terry is a WQA (Water Quality Association) certified water specialist, LEVEL 3, as well as a WQA certified sales representative.  EcoWater Systems of Nebraska is one of the biggest water treatment and water delivery businesses in the state and Terry currently sits on EcoWater Systems (a Berkshire Hathaway Company) national Peers committee, as a water treatment expert advising other water professionals with less experience on best trade and technology practices.

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