A Fresh Take On Flow Sensors

Flow sensors have become integral in revolutionizing water management. These pivotal components stand out due to their ability to detect flow, a key feature of modern intelligent controllers. But what does “sensing flow” mean, and why is it paramount in efficient water management?

The Power of Sensing Flow

Flow sensors are cost-effective tools, crucial in detecting and halting irrigation systems when anomalies such as system malfunctions, breaks, or vandalism occur. They’re designed to recognize and remember the standard flow rate of a system. Typically, manufacturers suggest running two complete irrigation cycles to capture this “normal” flow rate. Post this, operators can set the system to deactivate the main valve if the flow exceeds or drops below a predetermined percentage of this regular rate. When detecting such discrepancies, most systems are programmed to halt for a specified period temporarily.

Imagine a scenario: a disruption is identified in an irrigation zone two minutes into its operational cycle scheduled for 15 minutes. After the initial trouble and a ten-minute pause, the system reactivates. If the same issue arises, it will pause again. By the time it restarts, the irrigation for that zone would have completed its cycle, allowing subsequent zones to activate. This intelligent mechanism ensures optimal water usage and substantial cost savings.

The Flow Sensor Dilemma

Despite their evident benefits, flow sensors are only installed on some systems. Their applicability is selective. For instance, if an irrigation system shares its water source with the interior of a building, using a flow sensor can become tricky due to unpredictable water usage within the building. Before integrating a flow sensor into a system, it’s always advisable to consult with irrigation specialists.

Another challenge faced in widespread flow sensor adoption has been the direct wiring requirement to the controller. Retrofitting existing setups often necessitates burrowing through hard surfaces, making the implementation financially unsound, given the excavation and subsequent restoration expenses.

The Rise of Wireless Flow Sensors

Here’s the silver lining: wireless flow sensors. Over the past few years, wireless alternatives to traditional flow sensors have emerged, though their pricing often deterred potential users. Recent advancements, however, offer solutions that utilize existing field wires, reducing the need for extensive trenching. These sophisticated systems pair field transceivers with flow sensors and advanced smart irrigation controllers, enabling the monitoring of multiple flow functions, master valves, and detailed flow rates. Moreover, using digital devices, users can swiftly tackle excessive flow rates, deactivate malfunctioning sprinkler heads, and remotely adjust specific flow settings. While these systems come with an upfront cost, they often prove more economical in the long run, especially when compared to the costs associated with the extensive trenching of wired systems.

Several wireless flow sensor options have surfaced in the market. As enthusiasts of water conservation, we’re in a prime position to leverage this technology. With water costs escalating and technology becoming increasingly affordable, prioritizing water savings is an opportune moment. Adopting such innovations is a forward-thinking step towards sustainable water management.

Jain Unity Software offers flow sensing at no additional charge. This is our way of helping people make smart choices at no extra cost.


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