Superior Solenoid Valve Review, Model 950 & 950DW

The Superior model 950 series are solid brass electric solenoid valves, designed for turning on/off water, and primarily used for operation control of sprinkler or drip irrigation zones.  These are extremely high quality valves and are especially useful for high pressure situations due to their 200 PSI pressure rating (that is very high!)

 

Superior 950 Series Valve
Superior 950 Series Brass Valve

The valve also is available with a “DW” option that allows operation in dirty water situations.  (Dirty water is a relative term, if there is visibly dirt in the water a separate filter should be used to remove it.  Most dirty water valves are designed to handle a level of dirt greater than found in a typical drinking water supply, but not at the level that might be found in water pumped from a ditch or pond.  Organics in the water, like algae, are particularly hard on solenoid valves and should be filtered out using a filter designed for removing organics.  See the filtration tutorial.)

Superior 950-DW Series Brass Valve for Dirty Water
Superior 950-DW Series Brass Valve for Dirty Water

Features:

  • 3/4″, 1″, 1 1/4″, 1 1/2″, and 2″ sizes
  • Flow rates 5-140 GPM depending on valve size (see charts on Superior website.*)
  • Rated for 20 – 200 PSI
  • Solid Brass
  • Solenoid can be removed from the valve without cutting the wires.  (Makes maintenance easier.)
  • Slow closing.
  • Flow control.
  • Various solenoid voltages and wattages available, as well as latching solenoids.
  • Optional with British Standard Pipe Threads on inlet/outlet.
  • Separate rubber valve seat washer and diaphragm.

* All solenoid valves must be the proper size for the flow through the valve.  Always base the valve size on the expected flow.  Do not select valves based on the pipe size!  It is very common for the valve to need to be a different  size than the pipe.

950DW Dirty Water Model Adds:

  • Internal self-flushing filter to protect the tiny solenoid passages (ports) from clogging.

 


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Review:

Some products are just going to be exactly what you expect.  The Superior Valve is one of those,  years of use has shown a reliable, rock solid product, and the valve on the test stand performed as expected.

Test Summary: The Superior 950 & 950DW performed excellent in all tests and performance far exceeded the manufacturer’s specifications.

Test Results:  A 1″ size sample 950 valve was operated on the test stand at 30 PSI incoming pressure and 1GPM flow with the flow control fully open.  A 950-DW valve was also tested at the same flow and pressure.  That is a pressure and flow combination that will cause most valves to fail to close.  The Superior valves both shut off at that extremely low flow, which is way below the rated minimum flow of 5 GPM listed by the manufacturer.   At that extreme low flow they took about twice as long as normal to close, which is to be expected.  When the pressure and flow were increased to more typical levels the valve closed at a speed typical of other valves.  In other words the valve’s performance far exceeded the manufacturer’s claims.


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The only downside of this valve is that the manual on/off operation is activated by partially unscrewing an external bleed screw.  In the 100 PSI test the manual bleed screw jammed due to the high pressure on it and could not  be turned with fingers only.  However it easily turned when a screwdriver was used.  While the manual bleed screw works well, it does spit out water when it is opened (which is normal, it is how the manual on/off on all valves worked back in the early days of automatic irrigation systems.)   In most cases the spitting water is not at all a problem, it just falls harmlessly onto the ground.  However in some situations this water spitting may be annoying or a nuisance, for example a valve installed in a building or some other place where the water can’t just spit harmlessly onto the ground.   Note that the water only spits when the valve is manually operated, when used the normal way in automatic mode it does not spit water.  (If you want a very similar Superior valve that doesn’t spit water see the model 1000.)

This valve has a separate rubber seat washer that is not part of the valve diaphragm.  With most valves the diaphragm and seat are a single rubber piece, thus if the seat becomes worn you must replace the entire diaphragm and they are not inexpensive.  The concentrated flow of water over the seat washer in valves creates a lot of wear on the seat washer and they typically fail long before the diaphragm does.  This valve’s separate seat/diaphragm design means if the seat washer becomes pitted you can simply replace just the rubber washer without the need to also replace the diaphragm.  In fact the seat washer is reversible, so unless it is really pitted  badly you can just flip it over and reuse it without replacing it at all!

One last note on Superior valves… they have really great fully illustrated repair and  troubleshooting guides on the Superior Valve Website.  That is the kind of after the sale care that is why so many professional groundskeepers are loyal customers.

Superior 950 Series Valve on the Test Stand
Superior 950 Series Valve on the Test Stand

About Superior Controls

Superior Controls is one of the original automated irrigation companies, and one of the first manufacturers of electronic solenoid valves for irrigation use.  They have been producing high quality brass solenoid valves for many, many years.  They also manufacture Irrigation Controllers for operating the valves.  Superior Controls merged with Buckner Company (another of the pioneer sprinkler manufacturing companies that specializes in brass products) in 2000 and both were acquired by Storm Manufacturing Group in 2006.

 


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