What piece of garden equipment can save time and effort? Retractable Garden Hose Reels are the answer. One standard piece of outdoor hardware that by design is bulky, challenging to store, and difficult to wrangle: is a garden hose.
However, the convenience of having a supply of pressurized water on hand to wash a car or irrigate a garden or lawn usually outweighs the struggles of hose maintenance.
Many homeowners find a workable solution in a retractable garden hose reel system. A mechanical reel automatically or manually retracts the hose between uses, or the hose itself shrinks.
Whether a reel system or a self-expanding hose, the point is to store the hose as compactly as possible. Uncoiled hoses can be easily damaged by lawnmowers or become safety hazards to others.
Read our buying guide if you want a retractable or expandable water hose system. Our top pick is GARDENA’s Retractable Hose Reel, a solid retractable reel system that fits well on existing outside water sources near lawns, gardens, or driveways.
Choosing The Best Retractable Garden Hose Reels
The main selling point of a retractable water hose is that it does indeed retract when not in use. The two most common methods are a retractable reel and an expanding hose.
Retractable reels make good economic sense for gardeners who already own standard hoses. After releasing the desired hose length, the reel retracts it for coiled storage. Some retractable reels offer mechanical assistance to make this task even more accessible.
Expandable water hoses have become increasingly popular in recent years. An expandable hose uses a flexible web design that expands under water pressure and shrinks to its original size when the water supply is cut off.
The user does not have to operate a mechanical reel; allow the excess water to drain as the hose becomes more compact.
Method Of Hose Retraction
While an expandable hose is designed to retract independently, a retractable reel requires some assistance. Some retractable hose reels work manually, meaning the user must physically use a handle or lever to retract the hose.
This may not be a significant consideration with smaller hose lengths, but manually reeling in 100 feet of heavy-duty garden hose may be challenging for some.
Other retractable water hose reels use mechanical means to help reel in excess lines. This may be a coil spring that gains tension when the hose is released and uses that tension to pull the hose back onto the reel.
Often, a single button releases the spring mechanism, but sometimes the user must give the reel a slight tug to start the process.
Size And Length
One variable feature of household hoses is the amount of water they can deliver under pressure. The diameter of the hose primarily determines this — a larger diameter means a more significant flow of water but could also mean lower pressure.
Many hoses have a diameter of 5/8ths an inch, providing a reasonable flow rate without making the hose too heavy to handle. Other sizes include 1/2 inch and 3/4 inch.
The overall length of a retractable hose is often a matter of personal need. Garden hoses are generally sold in manageable 20 to 25-foot lengths, with watertight connectors for expansion.
They can also be purchased in 50-foot or 100-foot lengths, but weight and flow rate does become concerns. It is best to measure the total area of the space and purchase just enough retractable hose to meet your needs.
While a retractable hose reel can accommodate hoses made from any material, durability is an issue. The least expensive hoses contain vinyl or plastic, which cuts down on the weight but also means the hose is more likely to develop splits or leaks, especially on rough terrain.
Hoses made from rubber are less likely to become damaged by debris or weakened by sunlight, but they are more expensive and can be harder to handle without a retractable reel. A hybrid hose with rubber and vinyl components and solid metal fittings is a good compromise.
The least expensive retractable water hose is an entry-level expandable hose with metal fittings, costing between $20 and $40, depending on length and construction quality. A decent retractable water hose reel system can cost at least $60, with high-end models running in the $150 to $250 range.
Q. My new retractable water hose has a “burst rating” of 400 pounds. Is this a good thing?
A. A retractable hose’s burst rating determines how much water pressure it can withstand before developing a significant leak. This measurement unit is pounds per square inch (psi). We recommend models with at least a 350 psi burst rating.
Q. Is drinking from a retractable water hose safe for my children?
A. Drinking from any garden hose is discouraged by experts because chemicals from the hose material can leach into the water. However, many manufacturers provide information about the safety of a particular brand.
Retractable Water Hoses We Recommend
Best of the best: GARDENA’s Retractable Hose Reel
Our opinion: This is a good choice for homeowners with dedicated outdoor water outlets for gardening or car washing.
Pros: The hose is heavy-duty and very durable. Spring-assisted rolling and pulling action is more manageable than manual spooling. The mounting bracket can hold many accessories.
Cons: Hefty (30 pounds), difficult to transport. The spring retraction mechanism can fail sooner than expected.
Best value for your money: GrowGreen’s Improved Expandable Hose
Our opinion: While not mounted on a retractable reel, this affordable, expandable hose provides the same convenience as full-length retractable models.
Pros: Available in several different lengths. Brass fittings are durable. Hose self-contracts for more accessible storage. Very lightweight — less than six pounds.
Cons: Expandable hose shrinks between uses; not ideal for slow garden irrigation or lawn sprinklers.
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Third Option: Power Products USA’s Retractable Hose Reel
Our opinion: This retractable water hose reel pivots as it releases or reels in the hose, making it great for homes with a centralized outdoor water supply.
Pros: The retraction reel is mounted on a swivel. Spring retraction mechanism rated for five years of service. High-quality brass fittings. Retraction speed is steady and controlled.
Cons: Hose diameter is smaller than average (half an inch), so water pressure and volume can be affected.
Last update on 2024-02-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API