Water is a vital element for any lawn and garden. Its utility, on the other hand, may have a considerable impact not just on the environment but also on your wallet. The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reported that 50% of water used for outdoor irrigation is wasted.
Remember that plants are not benefited from excess water, so it will just be a burden to the environment and will be a waste of money. For those who are concerned with water conservation and at the same time wish to save the wallet, the use of a smart irrigation controller is the best solution.
What is a smart irrigation controller?
Smart irrigation controllers are a proven and advanced technology to use water effectively for outdoor irrigation purposes.
These equipment automatically manipulate the watering schedules and the runtime to meet the moisture requirements of your garden, allowing you to use water only up to a reasonable extent while keeping your turf and the garden happy and healthy.
Unlike traditional irrigation systems, these devices are able to adjust the watering plan based on the real-time weather conditions as well as soil conditions of your landscape.
Smart irrigation controllers gather data on how much water is applied to the garden under particular weather or soil conditions. So, it can adjust the water level once such conditions are matched again.
These controllers can perform themselves using their own historic data, or you can control them with your phone, tablet, or computer.
Most crucially, such irrigation controller devices can be controlled remotely from anywhere in the world. This will make watering your garden easier, especially when you are from a long distance from your home.
How do smart irrigation systems work?
The working principle behind any smart irrigation controller is that they monitor a condition that is related to the moisture level in your landscape in order to determine how much water to be applied and when to apply.
In fact, these conditions can be temperature, wind, humidity, solar radiation, soil moisture level, evaporation, or plant water.
Weather-based and soil moisture-based irrigation controllers are the two main categories of smart irrigation controllers. You can choose the best type for your landscape.
When it comes to weather-based smart controllers, they are also known as evapotranspiration controllers or ET controllers, and they use local climate changes in terms of temperature, humidity, wind, and solar radiation to schedule the irrigation process.
Evaporation and transpiration are combined in the process of evapotranspiration. Transpiration is the removal of water from plant surfaces, whereas evaporation is the loss of water from the soil surface to the atmosphere.
Weather-based controllers use data related to evapotranspiration to calculate the water needs of the plants.
Weather-based irrigation controllers are available in three different forms : signal-based controllers, historic ET controllers, and on-site weather measurement controllers.
On-site weather-based smart irrigation controllers come with a sensor which monitors the temperature, humidity, or the solar radiation of the particular landscape and accordingly adjusts the irrigation schedule.
Signal-based controllers rely on the weather information that is sent to the controller from a remote weather station or publicly available weather information. Historic ET controllers use their programmed information on historic water utilities in different regions.
On the other hand, soil moisture-based controllers use information on the soil moisture level gathered by a buried probe in the root zone of the yard to schedule the irrigation.
A sensor in the buried probe determines the dampness of the soil and sends messages to calculate the precise water requirement of the yard.
Soil moisture-based controllers are two different types: water-on-demand irrigation controllers and suspended cycle irrigation systems.
Are smart irrigation controllers worth it?
Yes, these devices are worth its money. You can install a smart irrigation controller for a fairly affordable price. If you feel the initial cost for these devices is high, do not worry they won’t take much time to pay back its money for you.
In general, these controllers save 20 to 50 percent of your irrigation water consumption and thereby significantly lower your water bills within a few months.
As mentioned earlier, it has revealed that 50% of water is wasted in outdoor irrigation. Most gardeners do not have an idea about the timely water requirement of their plants when watering.
It is obvious that the water requirement of the plants varies with the environmental conditions. During wet weather, the ambient environment is well moist so the plants and the soil lose less water via evaporation.
On the other hand, during hot weather and windy climates, high temperature and the arid air contributes to withdrawing more water from the plants as well as from the soil making the plants thirstier. Hence, in such situations the plants require relatively much water.
We have often seen that most gardeners have stuck to a same watering schedule besides the environmental conditions being taken into account. This is the foremost reason for the wasting of irrigation water. So, in such a scenario higher water bills will not be a surprise.
In addition to cutting down the money for excess water, these controllers help promote the health of your garden, probably reducing the money spent on health issues of your plants.
Root rot, which is one of the most prevalent problems resulting from overwatering, can cause a huge damage to your plants.
Since smart irrigation controllers compensate the water requirements of the plants just as they need, you can get rid of such kinds of health issues.
How much water does a smart irrigation controller save?
A number of studies have been conducted to determine how effective smart irrigation controls are at conserving water. These studies have proven these devices can save 20 to 50 percent of water when compared with the traditional irrigation methods.
Smart irrigation controllers save 20% more water than traditional irrigation controllers, according to the findings of the Irrigation Association (IA) and the International Center for Water Technology at California State University.
Smart irrigation controllers can calculate the actual water requirements of the plants based on the data gathered from its surroundings.
For example, when it rains or if the soil is well moist, the controller will automatically reduce the water flow or turn off, to save water.
Therefore, these smart devices ensure optimal utilization of water while contributing to water conservation. Therefore, with the scarcity of water resources we need these types of equipment more than any other era.
How much does a smart sprinkler system cost?
A smart sprinkler system’s price varies based on the features. Some might think these devices are super costly.
However, you can find smart irrigation systems for affordable prices especially, for your home-level applications. The price of a controller device tends to be increased with the advanced technological tools that come with it.
You can purchase a smart irrigation controller for a reasonable price of $150 and the cost can be increased up to around $800 for more sophisticated ones.
Usually, smart irrigation controllers for residential settings do not cost as much as those for large-scale landscapes. In addition, you might have to pay subscription fees for climate and weather information packages for some systems.
How long do smart sprinkler controllers last?
Under proper care and excellent maintenance, smart sprinklers will last at least five years. Corrosion is the main threat to reducing the life expectancy of sprinkler controllers.
Thus, be mindful to protect wires and the other gadgets of your sprinkler system to assure its optimal lifespan.
How do I choose a smart irrigation controller?
There are many options for smart irrigation controllers on the market. You can purchase the one that best matches your yard from an irrigation supplier, retailer, or hardware store.
What should you think about while buying a smart irrigation controller? Well, there are several important things that you should pay attention to before selecting a controller device for your garden.
Ease of use
Most ET controllers depend on weather data to schedule watering and run times. Usually, it might be quite tricky to apply this weather information to the controller’s software.
Thus, when selecting an irrigation controller, check whether these weather information are available along with its software or not.
Ease of installation
Check whether the system is easy to install using minimal use of additional wires and other infrastructure. Be mindful that it needs to get the support of an irrigation specialist to install the device.
The capacity of the system.
Make sure that the device has enough capacity to cover up all the zones in your lawn or the yard space.
Look for your system to last for a sufficient period of time before replacing it. Often, most smart irrigation controllers have a minimum life of 5 years.
Provide leak alerts and notifications
Check the device to give alerts and notifications if there is a water leakage or any other fault such as damaged sprinkler heads, or slack valves in the system.
It would be better if the system can inform you via email or text message regarding any kind of failure in the system.
Remote access to the system
It will be easy for you if you can control the system remotely via your mobile phone. So, it will allow you to irrigate your lawn or the garden even if you are on vacation.
Which device is used for smart irrigation?
In some devices, sensors are responsible to collect information on the-site moisture related properties to decide how much water to be applied and how long it should be applied to meet the water requirement of your yard space.
On the other hand, some devices to be certain, signal-based ET controllers use weather information fed to the device to calculate the water necessity of the landscape.
Who invented the smart irrigation system?
In the mid-twentieth century, Nebraska farmer Frank Zybach devised center-pivot irrigation. This created a huge impact on the agricultural production in the globe.
At that time most of the farmers especially in semi-arid regions gained an immense advantage with the Zybach’s machine to irrigate their lands to increase the yield. By 2013, the most widely utilized irrigation system in the country was center pivots.
With the evolution of the technology, many modifications are done to traditional irrigation equipment to create an efficient, user convenient, and time and money saving irrigation system.
Seryozha Barkhudaryan, Artyom Tonoyan, and Grigori Kartashyan developed an integrated smart irrigation system by merging several areas of water management, software engineering, and hardware development.
They monitor the field conditions to assist farmers to take evidence-based decisions regarding the irrigation process.
Best smart irrigation controllers
Besides the brand name or the product name, any smart irrigation controller device works under the same principle.
They measure a particular moisture related property in the lawn to schedule the irrigation. Here are some best smart irrigation controllers you can find on the market.
The Rachio 3
The Rachio 3 is one of the best smart sprinkler controllers on the market. It can automatically tailor watering schedules to satisfy the moisture requirement of your garden.
This device is easy to install. Interestingly, Rachio 3 is the only device that comes with hyperlocal intelligenceTM Plus and wireless flow meter.
You can choose between different zone variants of this gadget depending on the size of your garden. You can find Rachio 3, 8 zone (3rd generation) devices from Amazon for around $199.
The RainMachine Touch HD
RainMachine Touch HD devices are for indoor use only. These irrigation controllers are available with smart Wi-Fi irrigation sprinkler controllers thus they can tailor irrigation schedules based on weather conditions.
However, it is possible to store weather data so the controller can perform when Wi-Fi is down. You can access the device remotely via your smartphone. The RainMachine Touch HD device costs around $259.
Orbit B-hyve XR
Orbit B-hyve XR controllers make the irrigation of your yard simpler. The B-hyve app helps you to operate this smart irrigation controller anywhere you are.
The device can adjust to weather changes of your yard including rain, freeze delays and wind to set the watering schedules. This controller has the EPA WaterSense certificate to save water. You can purchase Orbit B-hyve XR irrigation controller for $169 from Amazon.
Orbit B-hyve Smart Indoor Irrigation Controller
This is another type of smart irrigation controller that helps you optimal use of irrigation water while saving your wallet. Interestingly there is a web app to control this remotely.
Thus you can function the unit wherever you are. These controllers come with WaterSense technology, so they can decide the quantity of water and the time duration to water the landscape based on the on-site conditions such as soil type, solar radiation, and historical evapotranspiration data.
When comparing with the prices of other smart controller systems the price of these devices are somewhat low. The Orbit B-hyve smart indoor irrigation controllers are available for $89.02 from Amazon.
The Rain Bird ST8I-2.0
The device monitors the weather changes of your landscape such as temperature and humidity and creates the watering schedule accordingly.
The device can send you notifications regarding its functioning so you can be fully aware about the irrigation process and also faults or any leakages of the system. Rain Bird ST8I-2.0 device costs around $150.
The RainMachine Touch HD-12
This is an EPA WaterSense certified unit that assures you an efficient watering of your yard. The unit is capable of monitoring real-time weather data to run the irrigation process.
In addition, the device has access to publicly available weather data too. Interestingly, this does not depend on a cloud service to run. You can control the unit from its touch screen. The RainMachine Touch HD-12 can be found for $260 from Amazon.
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