Product Comparison – Zurn Z880 vs. NDS Mini Channel

The Z880 Perma Trench is one of Zurn’s most popular residential trench drain product lines.  Its name may sound intimidating, but there’s nothing to fear from this plastic drain.  It was designed for pools, patios and landscape drainage much like its competitor, the NDS Mini Channel.  Both the NDS Mini Channel and the Z880 are 3” wide at the top, and both systems have similar features that give each other a run for the money.

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NDS Mini Channel drain compared alongside Zurn Z880 residential trench drain

Channel Body Differences

The difference between the two systems really starts with the channel bodies.  Take a look at the photo above.

The Mini Channel (shown left) has a gray, honeycombed channel design meant to distribute load stress and prevent the system from collapsing.  This design extends to the grate supports, which hang out from the channel walls in an upside down flying buttress.

You can see that the Zurn Z880 (shown right) has a thicker, solid channel body. It is composed of high density polyethylene (HDPE), the same material as the Zurn Z886 or NDS Dura Slope commercial-grade trench drain systems.  The inherent durability of the channel body gives some “street cred” to this little patio drain.

The Z880 channel body also has “ribs” extending from the outer walls that give the channel extra surface area at vital contact points to the surrounding concrete.  The ribs help “grab” the concrete, anchoring the system in place and providing additional strength.  The channel will not separate from the concrete once installed.  The ribs also add flexibility to the design of the system because they serve as cutoff points in the drain that can still connect to other modular channels or outlets.  I’d estimate the cutoffs are every foot.

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Zurn Z880 plastic drain features include ribs and support legs

The walls of the Mini Channel are made of smooth PVC.  The absence of ribbing is advantageous when installing in a paver patio but poses a problem in the long run if you want to install it in concrete.  Without ribbing to act as anchoring points, the drain body can begin to separate from the concrete years after installation.  In addition, water and dirt may begin to flow between the concrete-channel interface, causing the channel to pinch.  To prevent this pinching effect and the subsequent weakening of the channel wall, make certain that the Mini channel grates are always securely fastened down.

Grating Option Comparison

While Mini Channel grates come in a standard slotted pattern, the Z880 grates (shown below) have a more decorative pattern that gives them a classier appearance.  The thicker grate also holds more weight, providing more structural integrity than thinner Mini Channel grates, but ultimately has less open area for water to drain.

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Color options for the Z880 plastic trench drain system

The Z880 and Mini Channel systems each offer six color options which are the same with one exception.  The Z880 offers a sky blue grate while the Mini Channel offers a forest green grate.

If you choose the Z880 system, you’ll be surprised to see that the channel matches the grates’ color.  Unlike pool drains by other suppliers, the Zurn Z880 eliminates this “edge line of a different color” that borders the grating.  This gives the system an overall nicer appearance.

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Z880 grating matches the trench channel body

Grates for the Z880 system clip into place.  Each grate has several “tongues” on its sides that snap into the channel grooves.  It’s easier than buying grate screws and lock downs, won’t create weak points in the channel structure and can be popped out of place easier for cleaning.

Iron Age Grating Options – Cast iron decorative grating is available for both drainage systems.  Created by Iron Age Designs, the grates are both beautiful and efficient.

The Mini Channel has four decorative patterns that fit the system, three of which are shown below:  Minnione, Carbochon and Interlaken.  Each grate is slightly different in terms of thickness and how it sits inside the channel.   Iron Age cast iron grates make NO accommodations for screws needed to lock down the grate.

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The Minnione, Carbochon and Interlaken decorative iron grates by Iron Age Designs

So far there is only one cast iron grate option offered by Iron Age for the Zurn Z880 pool drain.  What amazes me about the pattern is that it’s a Regular Joe.  No, really, it is.  I’ve never found out who was behind it, but somewhere along the lines the decorative option for the Z880 drain became a cast iron slotted grate.  Of course, it looks entirely more sophisticated than a standard slotted grate, but it’s something I’ve never stopped being amused about.

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Zurn Z880 plastic grate compared to Regular Joe by Iron Age Designs

One thing that is not amusing about the Regular Joe grate for the Z880 is the placement of its “tongues.”  In the picture above, you can see the inconsistency between the plastic Zurn grate and the Iron Age Designs option.  The lockdown tongue on the cast iron grate is placed too high, which means it probably won’t secure into the channel properly.

I don’t want to sell the Z880 drain short, though.  Zurn does offer four other decorative options, including a bronze decorative grate, for homeowners who want to upgrade from plastic without buying the Iron Age grate.

Whereas, the Mini channel may wear and tear more quickly (especially in regions of freeze-thaw) because of the cellular channel design, the Z880’s solid body design and anchoring points makes it a more rugged product over the long haul.  The Mini Channel is a sleeker, less expensive channel drain system that works well when used with pavers. The Z880 is a sturdier system designed for concrete installation. These two systems are so similar, yet they are worlds apart.

For design assistance and pricing on any of these products, contact Trench Drain Systems at 610-638-1221 or send us an email.

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One thought on “Product Comparison – Zurn Z880 vs. NDS Mini Channel”

  1. Hello from the UK my wife loves your design and colour of your drain channels,
    but have you a UK outlet or do you ship small orders to UK at what cost,my postcode
    address is CM179AT that is Essex England.

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