Smart Irrigation Controllers vs. Traditional Methods: High-Tech for the Win!

We always hear about how “new and improved” or “high-tech” products make life better, but here is one set of products that makes good on the promise! Roughly two-thirds of residential water use in Southern California is outdoors for irrigation. Yet, a great deal of that water is wasted. Why?

Traditional irrigation controllers and busy homeowners are the answers. Often, folks are so busy that they forget to adjust irrigation schedules to compensate for seasonal changes in water needs. Traditional irrigation controllers don’t always make the issue any better.

The typical irrigation system doesn’t factor in changing weather conditions, especially rainfall and evapotranspiration (ET). Soil loses water through evaporation and the actual water loss of the plants in the soil. These two means of water loss are greatly impacted by weather conditions.

This is where the high-tech “smart” irrigation controllers save the day. Manufacturers have developed a variety of smart systems to save water by adjusting irrigation schedules and amounts. Three of the best methods are:

  • Weather Based Irrigation Controllers (WBIC). Uses historic weather data along with on-site weather data to accurately water only when it’s needed.
  • Soil moisture sensors. These sensors detect the amount of soil moisture using buried probes.
  • Subscription Based – Another type of weather-based irrigation controller downloads daily ET values via subscription service such as the cloud-based technology found in the WeatherTRAK LC controller or for larger application the WeatherTRAK ET Pro3. Often used by HOAs and Municipalities.

A great benefit for busy homeowners and site managers is that these systems require almost no monitoring once they’re installed. Activate them and your landscape will be irrigated at the right times and at peak efficiency.

A quick comparison of smart vs. traditional systems shows the advantages of smart controllers.

Feature                                                                        System

  • Automated watering:                                  Both traditional & smart controllers
  • Auto-shutoff when raining:                          Only the smart controllers
  • Uses weather to schedule watering:           Only the smart controllers
  • Seasonal monitoring/changes:                    Only the smart controllers
  • Uses 25% less water:                                   Only the smart controllers
  • EPA WaterSense endorsed:                          Only the smart controllers

Clearly, smart controllers are the smartest choice! Several outside agencies agree. The Irrigation Association (IA) as well as the International Center for Water Technology at California State University – Fresno found that smart controlled irrigation systems save up to 25% more water than their traditional cousins.

This, plus the potential for water increased water savings if broadly implemented, caused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to choose smart irrigation controller systems as one of the first endorsed technologies in the EPA’s WaterSense program. This program is similar to the Energy Star program.

Not to mention many traditional controllers can become a “smart controller” by adding additional components such as a weather sensing accessory. Pair the Hunter® Solar Sync® with a XC, Pro-C® or the I-Core for example to make it a Smart Irrigation System.

The irrigation experts at Hydro-Scape can help you choose the appropriate Weather Based Irrigation Controller or System Accessory so you or your clients can start saving water and money.