5/16" or 1/4"?

I’m figuring out a WFP system, with the intention of starting my window cleaning business in the spring. I plan to have a 100 gal tank of purified water in my truck. I’ve seen some people recommend 1/4" hose and others 5/16". I’m planning on doing mostly residential, but may also venture into four-storey commercial windows. Are there advantages to using one size or the other? Specific recommendations on brand/type? Or just get lots of the cheapest available?

Hello and congrats on getting your new business going.

If you are looking to put a large amount of hose on a reel to go between your tank and the water-fed pole(pole hose) I would suggest you go with 3/8" ID hose for the reel. Then when it comes to the pole hose you can use either 1/4" ID or 5/16" OD hose. The 1/4" ID hose will be heavier than the 5/16" OD and weight should be considered when running the hose up the pole.

Good luck to you.

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Thanks for the reply, Shawn, but I’m a little confused because you’re comparing ID and OD.

Thanks Shawn. If I wanted to push the water up 5 stories, which pole hose and what PSI leaving the machine would you recommend to push the water up that high?

ID: inside diameter- usually used to measure hoses and pipes
OD: outside diameter- usually used for measuring tubing, like wfp pole tube. 5/16" OD pole hose has a 3/16" ID. 1/4" ID air hose usually has a 3/8" OD.

I use 300’ of 1/4" (ID) polyurethane air hose from factoryhosedirect.com. It’s a continuous length, and only cost about $110 with shipping. I run it with a 1.8gpm 60psi shurflo, and was able to eliminate cycling by turning the pressure switch up a bit. Great flow rate, and no problem pumping it up 3+ stories. I’m confident it would go strong even at 5 stories.

I would recommend using the 5/16" pole hose for running up the pole if you’re going more than 2.5 stories or so, to save on weight. Running the hose inside the pole might be helpful at higher stories, as well.

IMHO, using 3/8" hose is a waste of space and energy. You’ll get very tired of dragging it around. And you can fit 300’ of 1/4" hose on a reel meant for 100’ of 3/8".

Thanks for the clear explanation, Alex. I’ll go with the sizes you recommend, to save space, weight, money, and effort. It seems redundant to me to run 3/8" ID reel hose if it’s being reduced all the way down to a 3/16" ID on the pole hose, but I suppose the heavier duty 3/8" hose would be less likely to get damaged.

I see in the description of the Rhino Tube that it “has almost no memory and always lays flat when trailing”. Those sound like favourable characteristics, but are they unique to Rhino Tube or is all tubing pretty much the same?

Tubing differs quite a bit based on the composition. I hear Rhino tube is pretty nice to work with. Technically, 3/8" would result in less friction loss than the 1/4". But with the low flow rates needed for WFP’s, I think the trade off is more than worth it, and it hasn’t hindered the performance of my system. A lot of other guys see it the same way. There are a couple guys I know of that only run 5/16" tubing to their pole, over hundreds of feet. I’m a little leary of going that route, but they say it works fine. Ymmv.

everything about this is totally perfect, right and brilliant. especially the factorydirecthose.com 1/4" hose. ironic, i JUST YESTERDAY outfitted one of our reels with 200 feet of that exact hose.
Air Pro 1/4 x 200’ Air Hose With 1/4 MPT

this hose is super burly and high quality. and yeah, just make the last 50’ of your hose run the 5/16" OD for the pole length. you can heat this hose with a blow dryer, and then stretch it around a 1/4" brass barb hose connector, to join it with the 1/4" ID hose.


another advantage of using 1/4" poly air hose as your main hose is it’s available almost anywhere for cheap. you can pick it up at any home depot or lowes all the time. and you can get connectors, shut-off valves and any kind of fitting for it anywhere. the 5/16" and it’s associated fittings can be a little harder to find.

any higher quality polyurethane braided air hose (like the one i linked to above) will have similar characteristics. that hose stays flexible when cold, rarely tangles and is easy to sort out when it does, and is extremely durable.

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