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6 Smart Controller Myths Debunked

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Science fiction has spawned some amazing thought-provoking stories, none more provocative than that of computers ruling our lives. Why would things be any different when it comes to watering your lawn? In defense of smart controllers, that take their share of criticism, we are here to put to rest some common misconceptions.

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1) Will Smart Irrigation Controllers become spiteful and turn the sprinklers on during family events?

More than likely not, but be careful when setting up your water window. Sprinklers shouldn't be coming on during the day. Set a window of Sunrise -10 a.m. to ensure the irrigation never runs during the heat of the day. Smart Controllers will calculate this window as opportunities to irrigate and only water within the applied times.

2) If it’s going to rain will my sprinklers ever come on?

Yes! Minds are being blown, right…now. Have you ever been really thirsty and looked up to the sky for replenishment while it’s raining? How successful were you? Like us, most plants and turf don’t get enough rain to fulfill their daily demands. To combat this void in supply, irrigation controllers will detect how much rain is going to fall and provide the required missing amount…unfortunately, this missing amount may be distributed during a rain event. Deep breaths though as you are saving plenty of water for the rest of the year and your neighbors aren't taking notes when that's happening. If it's really driving you crazy, you can always put a simple rain sensor on a smart controller to ensure you never see irrigation near a rain event. If you use ETwater controllers with predictive weather capabilities your controller may not water the days ahead of a rain event, measure how much rain fell, then make up  the difference or not apply any water at all if the rain fall was adequate.

3) Do I have to take the time of year into account when setting up my Smart Controller?

Most smart controllers are going to use local climate indexes to come up with scheduling but simpler models require a reference point, and that reference point is typically the hottest time of year. For instance, if you live in Florida or Arizona and you expect temps over 100, set station run times for that time of year. This will give the controller some room to make adjustments down in the colder seasons. Smart Controllers produce most of their water savings in cooler months. With ETwater controllers you don’t need a baseline – it waters the correct amount from the start.

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4) Why do I have to pay a monthly subscription, this can’t be worth it?

With monthly fees the norm these days I can understand why there might be some apprehension to have another device in your house pinging your bank account every month. How many of those other monthly subscriptions actually save you money? Smart Controllers can require anywhere from $5-25/ month depending on the depths of communication you're interested in. This fee typically includes customer support, which is worth it by itself! Think of it as Apple Care for your whole landscape! Besides, your controller is now talking on a minute-by-minute basis to weather towers surrounding your city. The information bouncing around is formulating the perfect schedule for your landscape. This maximizes every drop without you ever even having to look at the controller.

5) They’re so expensive!

You know what, they are a little more expensive if you only look at the initial price. Typical ROI or "return on investment" for a smart controller is 13-16 months. Within a year and a half, you've paid the difference…from there on out you are saving all that money on water monthly!

6) My property is too expansive for WiFi controllers?

First off, my heart bleeds for you as there is no larger plight in this world than that of poor irrigation controller communication on a sprawling estate. Kidding aside it can be quite a problem when there are substantial grade changes or line of sight obstructions throughout a property. Fortunately, on larger sites, we avoid leaky firewalls by using cellular communication. Each controller has it's own SIM card and keeps your internal comms uninterrupted.

I'm sure I missed some other wonderful reasons not to save Earths most valuable resource, but I can't think of them. Please reach out and share your ideas and feedback on smart controllers with me @MDSavesWater on Twitter and @JainsUSA on Instagram.

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Comments

  • stormy ,

    Sweetheart, you know warm season grasses. They are an entirely different plant and management practices. People should do their irrigation MANUALLY until they learn their landscape plant’s needs. Cool season grasses can have their huge root systems trained for drought. EASILY. Watering a little every day is wrong for cool season grasses, for your warm season grasses sorta kinda important. ‘Cept Augustine. That should be treated and maintained like cool season grasses. This lawn is a monster we need to understand better or be sucked dry of money! I learned that in the decades I maintained thousands of acres in the Pacific Northwest. Taking the client out of the equation means YOU have to know that clients’ property better than they do! The slope, the soils, the type of grass crop, the height to mow! For cool season grasses that is probably the top of the list! Warm season grasses other than Augustine only need mowing of the weeds…crazy. Check out the University of your area’s Cooperative Extension Service. They KNOW the rules and soils and weather of the locality. I am sort of a great grandma of the landscape world from L.S. Architect (licensed), Commercial Pesticide Applicator, Master Gardener X 3, Plant expert, taught plants as well as graphics but most importantly Grading and Drainage. Separating people from their landscape means it is you who has to constantly be aware of that one landscape. Teaching your clients how to be self sufficient or at least to know enough to chose proper maintenance services will make YOU very much in demand.

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