Not a day goes by that we don't get at least 1 inquiry about this topic. After testing multiple models on our own homes, researching things like cloud based access, port-forwarding, true ET logarithms, weather station subscriptions, "blink" technology and discussing said controllers with industry specialists, Heads Up has decided it's time to blog!
Whether you call your automatic sprinkler device a controller, timer, "box" or thing in the garage – it has always been somewhat challenging to sort out how to run our sprinklers here in north Texas. Too many variables to manage with our watering which makes it hard to figure out when to water, how long to water and how often to water.
The new generation of smart phone enabled controllers takes the human out of the watering equation while taking care of the business of when to water our yards. They can also tell us when they run, if they don't run, if something is wrong with a zone and a myriad of other issues – or any combination of alerts we decide – or none at all. They give us to freedom to turn on our sprinklers while out of the city or out of the state or out of the country!
Just like being able to lock your doors, close your blinds, turn on lights, adjust the thermostat, open garage doors and make breakfast (OK, maybe not make breakfast directly…) this generation of smart phone enabled controllers are ready for prime time.
Of course, garbage in = garbage out as with every innovation regarding computers. Here are the main issues to ensure a successful smart phone enabled controller:
- Know your soil type – here in North Texas practically everything is clay
- Know the different types of heads – spray heads, rotors, bubblers, drip
- Know the difference between shade and sun – no really this matters!
- Know the plant material – unless you plant winter rye, most grass is warm season turf
- Know the average root depth of plants – grass = 3", flowers = 5" and shrubs = 10"
- Know the slope – not everything is flat!
- Know the above characteristics for each zone/valve you have on your controller
So the only thing you have to do is figure out which manufacturer you want to go with, purchase the controller, install it, configure it and there! You're done! With an average controller cost of $200 to $300 you can recoup your investment in 3 to 6 months! Using true ET controllers can help conserve water and save you money. Several cities in north Texas offer rebates for these controllers.
Here at Heads Up, we've gone through the analysis and testing process. We recommend Rachio Iro 2nd generation controllers with a station capacity of up to 16 valves. The controller is available in "big box" stores, online, from selected irrigation supply houses and from your local licensed irrigators.
We strongly recommend getting professional help from a licensed irrigator in setting up the stations the first time and recognizing the setup should be tweaked within the first 4 weeks of use. We also recommend having an on-site rain & freeze sensor because sometimes it is raining on your yard and weather stations can't know that! But after the initial setup, just sit back and enjoy your vacation.