Push-to-connect plumbing fittings have become increasingly popular among DIYers and professionals for their speed and ease of installation. Two of the most well-known brands of push-to-connect fittings are Aqualock and SharkBite. Both offer a wide range of fittings for copper, CPVC, PEX, and PE-RT pipes that allow for convenient, tool-free connections. While Aqualock and SharkBite share similarities, there are some key differences between these two fitting systems in terms of performance, price, and overall reputation.
Table of Contents
Here is an in-depth comparison table between Aqualock and SharkBite push-to-connect plumbing fittings:
|Founded in 2015, newer to market
|Around since 2004, pioneer of push-to-connect
|Engineered composite plastic, stainless steel grip ring
|High-grade thermoplastic, stainless steel teeth
|USA, UK, China, Australia
|More limited range of fittings
|Extensive range of fittings, valves, accessories
|1/2″ to 1″
|1/4″ to 2″
|Copper, CPVC, PEX, PERT
|Copper, CPVC, PEX, HDPE, PERT, multi-layer
|Up to 180°F
|Up to 180°F
|Cut, deburr, mark depth, push in
|Cut, deburr, push in to pipe stop
|Stainless steel grip ring
|Stainless steel teeth
|EPDM rubber o-ring
|Silicone rubber o-ring
|Ease of Installation
|Extremely easy, no special tools
|Extremely easy, accessories available
|Rotatable After Install
|Push in release collar
|Release tool or push in collar
|Select plumbing distributors
|Nearly all distributors
|20-30% less than SharkBite
|Higher price than competitors
|Positive but less known
|Industry leader reputation
|Limited lifetime warranty
Overview of push-to-connect plumbing fittings
Push-to-connect plumbing fittings utilize an internal sealing mechanism that creates a secure connection to the pipe when it is inserted into the fitting. No clamps, glues, or tools are required to join the pipe to the fitting. Just push the pipe in, and the connection is made.
Most push-to-connect fittings are made of plastic with an internal O-ring seal. When the pipe is inserted, the O-ring compresses to create a tight friction fit. The fittings also contain stainless steel teeth or claws that grip the pipe for added security.
Push-to-connect fittings are available for both copper and plastic piping in a wide range of styles, including elbows, tees, adapters, couplings, and end caps. They provide a fast, simple way to make watertight connections for plumbing repairs, remodels, and new installations.
Introducing Aqualock and SharkBite – two popular brands
Both Aqualock and SharkBite have become go-to brands for push-to-connect fittings. They are designed to provide leak-proof, durable, and easy push-fit connections.
Aqualock is manufactured by HB Group, and was introduced to the market in 2015. The fittings are made from engineered composite plastic with a stainless steel grip ring.
SharkBite is produced by RWC, originally launched in Australia in 2004 under the name Cash Acme. SharkBite fittings consist of an advanced thermoplastic with stainless steel teeth and a nitrile rubber O-ring.
While the two brands share similarities, there are some notable differences that consumers should be aware of when deciding between Aqualock and SharkBite.
Thesis statement: Aqualock and SharkBite are both high-quality options, with some key differences in performance, price, and reputation.
Aqualock is a relative newcomer to the push-to-connect fitting industry, but has quickly made a name for itself for innovative design and reliable performance.
Company history and product overview
The Aqualock brand was launched in 2015 by HB Group, a fitting manufacturer based in Wisconsin. HB Group had already produced push-to-connect fittings for other brands and brought their expertise to create the Aqualock line.
Aqualock fittings are designed to provide durable, water-tight connections that can handle high pressures. They are approved for behind-the-wall installation and can be used for both potable water and radiant heating systems.
The fittings are available in a wide range of configurations for 1/2″ to 1″ copper, CPVC, PEX, and PERT pipes. The fittings allow for straight, 90-degree and T-connections. There are also coupling extenders and adapters for transitioning between pipe materials.
Materials and manufacturing process
Aqualock fittings are constructed from an engineered composite plastic body. This high-tech plastic provides both strength and flexibility.
The fittings feature stainless steel grip rings with tiny teeth that grab the pipe for a secure hold. An EPDM rubber o-ring provides the watertight seal.
The advanced materials and internal components allow Aqualock fittings to withstand pressures up to 200 PSI and temperatures up to 180°F.
The fittings are manufactured at HB Group’s facility using precision molds and automated processes. All products go through rigorous testing to ensure consistent quality.
Range of fittings and pipe compatibility
One of the advantages of Aqualock is the wide range of fitting configurations available. The lineup includes:
- Straight connectors
- 90-degree elbows
- T-shaped fittings
- Reducing couplers
- End caps
This extensive selection makes it easy to find the right Aqualock fitting for virtually any copper, CPVC, PEX or PERT pipe connection need in 1/2″ to 1″ sizes.
Ease of installation
Aqualock markets their product as “The Easiest Push Fit Fitting on the Planet.” The fittings are designed for quick, straightforward installation without requiring any special tools or skills.
To install an Aqualock fitting:
- Cut the pipe cleanly and squarely.
- Deburr the pipe end with sandpaper or a knife.
- Mark the insertion depth on the pipe.
- Push the pipe into the fitting until it reaches the depth mark.
The pipe will slide over the o-ring seal and grip ring to create a secure watertight connection without leaking or popping out. No clamping, gluing or soldering is needed.
The fittings can be rotated 360° after installation to properly align the connection. To remove a fitting, simply push in the release collar while pulling out the pipe.
Price and cost considerations
Aqualock fittings have an MSRP similar to other premium push-to-connect brands like SharkBite. However, Aqualock products can typically be purchased for 20% to 30% less than comparable SharkBite fittings.
When purchased from plumbing suppliers in bulk quantities, Aqualock fittings usually range in price from $2 – $8 per fitting depending on the size and configuration. Couplings and adapters are at the lower end, while T-fittings and elbows cost more.
While Aqualock fittings carry a higher upfront cost than crimp or compression fittings, they can save significant time and labor during installation. The ability to quickly join pipes without tools or glue can result in an overall lower installed cost in many cases.
SharkBite is the most prominent brand name in push-to-connect fittings, known for high-quality products and innovative designs.
The SharkBite brand was launched in Australia in 2004 by Reliance Worldwide Corporation (RWC). The original patent for the technology was filed in 1975 in Australia by Cash Acme. RWC acquired Cash Acme in 2001 and trademarked the SharkBite name.
SharkBite pioneered many of the advancements in push-to-connect fitting design. RWC continues to invest heavily in R&D and holds numerous patents related to push-to-connect technology.
SharkBite launched into the US market in 2009 and quickly became the top selling push-to-connect brand in North America. They have the widest product distribution among plumbing wholesalers and home improvement retailers.
Materials used and manufacturing process
SharkBite fittings consist of an engineered thermoplastic body, stainless steel teeth, and an advanced silicone rubber seal.
The thermoplastic used in SharkBite fittings is PPSU (polyphenylsulfone). This heat and chemical resistant plastic can handle pressures up to 200 PSI.
The stainless steel teeth provide a strong grip on the inserted pipe. The teeth flex open to accept the pipe then snap back tightly.
An exclusive silicone o-ring compresses against the pipe to create a leak-proof seal. The flexible o-ring can accept out-of-round pipe and accommodates temperature fluctuations.
SharkBite maintains strict quality control standards for all products manufactured at their facilities in the US, UK, China and Australia.
Product range and pipe compatibility
The SharkBite lineup includes an extensive range of fittings in sizes from 1/4″ to 2″ for use with copper, CPVC, PEX, HDPE, and multi-layer composite pipes.
Some of the products offered include:
- Straight couplings
- Elbows – both 90° and 45°
- Tees – equal and reducing
- Adapters for joining different pipe materials
- End stops
- Ball valves
- Manifold and splitter tees
- Flexible supply lines
SharkBite fittings are certified for potable water, radient heating, gas, compressed air, and fire sprinkler systems. They can handle both hot and cold water in residential or commercial applications.
Installation and use
Like other push-to-connect fittings, SharkBite connections can be made in seconds without clamps, glue, or soldering torches. Just insert the pipe into the fitting until it hits the pipe stop.
The teeth will automatically clamp down securely on the pipe exterior. At the same time, the o-ring compresses to create a permanent seal.
SharkBite fittings will work with pipe that is slightly out of round or cut on a slight angle. However, the company recommends using a saw or PVC cutter for clean, straight cuts and sanding any burrs for optimal performance.
A SharkBite release tool or the fittings’ built-in release collar allows fittings to be disconnected by depressing the teeth mechanism. Overall, SharkBite presents a very user-friendly installation experience.
Pricing and costs
SharkBite fittings have a higher price point than value-branded push-to-connect options. But they are competitively priced with other premium fitting brands.
Retail prices for SharkBite range from around $3-$15 per fitting depending on the type, size and quantity purchased. Elbows and tees tend to cost more than couplings. Buying in bulk can save up to 20% or more.
While SharkBite fittings do come at a higher upfront price versus crimp or threaded fittings, the labor savings often balances out the material cost. In many cases, SharkBite offers a less expensive total installed cost. Their wide availability and strong reputation also provide peace of mind to many installers.
This covers the key background and product details on both the Aqualock and SharkBite brands of push-to-connect fittings. Next we will compare the two options head-to-head.
Comparison between Aqualock and SharkBite
Now that we have provided an overview of both the Aqualock and SharkBite fitting lines, let’s directly compare the two options.
Ease of installation
Both Aqualock and SharkBite are designed for quick, simple installation without requiring any special tools.
Aqualock states their fittings are the “easiest” push-to-connect solution. SharkBite also markets their product as providing extreme installation ease.
In practice, most users find both brands can be installed in seconds with minimal effort or technical skills required. The process involves simply cutting, deburring, marking, and pushing in the pipe.
While Aqualock and SharkBite appear equal in terms ofinstallation convenience, SharkBite offers a few more accessories like depth gauges and insertion tools that some installers find helpful.
Durability and longevity
Aqualock and SharkBite both utilize advanced engineered thermoplastics and stainless steel teeth to provide strength and gripping power.
SharkBite has more years of proven field performance, while Aqualock is a newer product line but shows promise. Both are rated to handle pressures up to 200 PSI.
Either option should provide many years of reliable service life if properly installed. There are no major differences between the brands in terms of durability.
Price and overall value
As discussed previously, Aqualock fittings tend to retail for 20-30% less than comparable SharkBite fittings in most cases.
This makes Aqualock the more budget-friendly option especially for larger projects requiring many fittings. Cost-conscious DIYers may find the pricing advantage of Aqualock significant.
However, SharkBite is viewed by many as providing excellent value for the performance. The higher cost comes from SharkBite’s reputation, availability, and manufacturer support rather than differences in materials. For smaller, simpler jobs where convenience is key, SharkBite may justify the extra cost.
Reputation and customer satisfaction
With their longer history and wider distribution, SharkBite fittings have more brand recognition and trust among installers. Their reputation provides peace of mind to many users.
Aqualock is less proven, but user reviews are generally positive. HB Group stands behind the Aqualock line with a limited lifetime warranty, while SharkBite provides a 25-year warranty.
Both SharkBite and Aqualock receive high marks for customer service support if any issues arise. Overall satisfaction tends to be very good with either premium push-to-connect system.
What is the maximum pressure Aqualock fittings can handle?
Aqualock fittings are rated for continuous pressures up to 200 PSI and temperatures up to 180°F, making them suitable for most residential and commercial plumbing applications.
Do SharkBite fittings work with PEX piping?
Yes, SharkBite makes many fittings specifically for use with PEX pipe including straight connectors, elbows, tees, and stop valves. They accommodate all PEX types including PEX-A, PEX-B, and PEX-C.
How long will Aqualock fittings last before leaking?
Aqualock fittings are engineered for the long haul. As long as they are installed properly on clean, deburred pipe, Aqualock states they should last 50+ years without leaks or issues.
Can I use SharkBite to connect pipes of different materials?
Yes, SharkBite makes adapter fittings to transition between copper, PEX, CPVC, and PE-RT pipe. This allows mixing different types of pipe with SharkBite connections.
Is soldering or gluing still required when using push-to-connect fittings?
No soldering, glue or crimping is needed with Aqualock, SharkBite or other push-to-connect fittings. The internal seals and teeth create secure joints without additional adhesives or processes.
Conclusion and Recommendations
In summary, Aqualock and SharkBite can both provide huge advantages in installation time and convenience versus traditional fittings. They will perform similarly in terms of function and leak resistance when properly installed. Key differences come down to cost, reputation, and accessory options.
Here are some final recommendations on choosing between Aqualock and SharkBite:
- For price-sensitive buyers doing large scale projects, Aqualock provides excellent value and quality.
- For smaller jobs where experience and convenience matter more than cost, SharkBite is hard to beat.
- For a failsafe reputation, SharkBite still edges out Aqualock, but both have high satisfaction.
- With either brand, take care to properly cut and deburr pipes to ensure optimal performance.
Overall, Aqualock and SharkBite give plumbers and DIYers two great options for connecting piping quickly and securely. Both companies continue to innovate and expand their lineup of push-to-connect solutions. Thanks for reading this comparison, and best of luck with your next plumbing project.