Written by Doug Chilton, Sales Representative

In Southern California as well as throughout the state, the cost of water is increasing at a dramatic and accelerated rate. In today’s challenging economy this is no small matter. People are looking for ways to save on their energy and water costs in their homes.

Homeowners are turning to smart controllers for a way to save significant amounts of water and money. Studies show most smart controllers will save up to 25% of the water applied by that of a traditional controller. The following will give you some information on the various smart controllers in the market that you should consider when making your choice.

What makes my controller unintelligent?

I’m sorry to say it, but we do. Ordinary or unintelligent controllers rely on us, the user, to set the timer that operates the irrigation. We determine the amount of days and length of run times for a particular valve to irrigate. Most of those times are wrong. We water every station the same amount. We don’t set it to stop watering when it begins to run off onto the street. We don’t make any changes to the schedule until after the first rain. How many times has your controller watered during a rain storm?

What makes a controller smart?

A smart controller automatically adjusts the irrigation schedule in response to changing weather conditions. Another name for a smart controller is weather-based. They use information about local environmental conditions, like temperature, humidity, rain, plant and soil types, to determine and calculate how much water the landscape needs to stay health. They automatically lower the run times as the season cools and we head into winter. They will shut off during a rain storm and have rain soak delays before resuming standard programming.

Smart controllers can collect weather data in 3 different ways: an on-site weather station, receive weather data through Wi-Fi or through cellular connections. They can be operated by a smart phone or through the Internet. They can read flow and report any unscheduled or overwatering.

Here are some recommendations (list not exhaustive):

Hunter Pro-C with Solar Sync

  • 4 to 16 stations, indoor and outdoor models
  • On-site weather station, with rain shut-off
  • Easy wireless weather station installation
  • No monthly communication fees
  • Automated daily weather adjustments to run times

Signature 8250

  • 4 to 12 stations, indoor model only
  • Wi-Fi connected to Internet, no monthly communication fees
  • Phone app – programming and manual operations
  • No complex key pad or display
  • Weather data daily downloads.
  • No on-site weather station

WeatherTrak LC

  • 6, 12, or 18 station, outdoor model only
  • Cellular connection, monthly communication fees
  • Flow sensing with water usage management tools
  • Phone app – alarms and alerts anywhere, anytime
  • Best daily ET Everywhere weather data, accurate down to 1 square km

Water District Rebates

Many smart controllers qualify for rebates from your water district. Check your water districts conservation tab on their web site for available rebates. You may need to apply and receive approval for the rebate before making your purchase. A large part of the controller’s cost may be funded.

Hydro-Scape can answer any additional questions about Smart controllers.

The controllers still require to be set up effectively. Some technical knowledge in setting up the controller’s performance parameters is required. Additional tweaking of schedules and input data is needed to fine tune the controller’s performance. It’s not a “set-it and forget-it” device. An irrigation system with a high degree of uniformity in applying water is paramount to helping save water. If you’re watering your sidewalks or street, a smart controller will help you do it more efficiently.

Please stop by any of our 15 branch locations if you still have any questions or concerns. We have experienced customer service representatives that can help you make your choice by showing you the different types of controllers, and assisting you in choosing the correct controller for your landscape. Hydro-Scape can also help you with any installation or programming questions you may have.