Smart irrigation: why your sprinkler system should be smart
Smart irrigation technology not only makes irrigation more convenient and cheaper, it is also the right thing to do.
By adopting smart irrigation, you will be doing yourself and the world a favor.
In this article, you will find out why smart irrigation is important. Don’t worry, this is not a complicated and expensive irrigation system that most people can afford. Read on to find out why.
Smart irrigation: complete irrigation system vs. smart sprinklers
First of all, you need to differentiate between the two solutions.
Irrigation controllers are stand-alone irrigation units that control your irrigation. Since it’s a standalone solution and you will need to check if it’s compatible with your smart home controller.
On the other hand, you can upgrade your ordinary irrigation sprinklers and make them smart. The only thing you need is a simple smart relay which you wire to your electric sprinkler. As long as the smart module is compatible with your smart home gateway, there shouldn’t be any problem to connect it with other smart devices in your home.
Most of the garden hoses and equipment have motorized valves that connect irrigation controllers to their own water supply. Making an ordinary irrigation sprinkler smart is not that difficult. However, setting up a complete smart irrigation system will most likely require you to hire a professional to plan the garden zones in advance.
In short, the main advantage of a complete smart irrigation solution is, that it offers you more features and also insights about the weather, soil conditions while adding a smart module to your existing irrigation is cheaper, simpler to install and you can control it the same way you control other smart home devices. The latest is a better choice if you already have irrigation and/or you don’t need as many features and you want to control your smart home from one app.
How smart irrigation works
Smart irrigation system collects information from sensors and sends predefined user orders to actuators, that make the water sprinkler to go off.
The data is collected by moisture sensors. A user defines the moisture and the temperature range. When the threshold is reached an action is performed (i.e. start/stop irrigating when moisture is at a certain level). The irrigation controller can also make sure that the water is actually flowing, that the pipes are not clogged or leaking, etc. The user can control the system easily via a smartphone app. Based on weather information and sensor data, the controller can determine on its own when it’s the best time to irrigate, how long to irrigate and how much water to use.
The 6 main features of smart irrigation
One of the biggest decisions when choosing a controller is how you are going to control it. Do you want to control your irrigation remotely via a smartphone app, or would you rather control it directly on the device with buttons? The latter might be useful for people that are not comfortable with using smartphone apps. There won’t be any physical buttons, just a LED light to signal if the system is working. Anyway, if you’re ok with these drawbacks and are perfectly capable of using smartphone apps, we suggest you choose remote app control. It’s more convenient, more intuitive and you can check and control your system from anywhere.
Set up separate irrigation zones for plants that have different needs
Each irrigation valve irrigates its own area. The area irrigated by one valve is one irrigation zone. You can personalize each irrigation zone and water the soil as much as the plants there need it. You can have as many zones as you have valves. Make sure your irrigation controller supports as many zones as you need.
Think in advance how you want to use your smart irrigation. How complex will it be? Irrigation controllers vary when it comes to scheduling options. Scheduling is a very useful feature, as it gives you peace of mind – even when you’re on vacation. When connected to a moisture sensor, it can automatically shorten or prolong irrigation times to make sure your plants are not thirsty or drowning in water. If you need specific scheduling options, make sure the controller supports it before purchasing. The best time to irrigate is early in the morning – before 10 AM.
Notifications are useful and convenient. You can get notified when the irrigation starts, when it’s completed, if there are any errors, some controller even notify you if there is a leakage in the system, etc. Whatever your wishes concerning notifications are, make sure the controller supports it before purchasing.
Even smarter smart irrigation
Some irrigation systems can go one step further and take into account the weather and the local environment. Smart scheduling is a great idea that could optimize irrigation even further, but with current technology can be quite quirky. One feature that works well is turning off the irrigation when it rains.
As of now, most smart irrigation controllers cannot connect to your smart home gateway and other smart devices in your home. It is definitely the next step for most smart irrigation units and we can expect to see more smart home gateway support in the future. The ones that support it definitely have an advantage.
Before purchasing, decide which features you actually need. You might not need all the fancy features of the expensive smart controllers. For most smart homeowners, scheduling irrigation times will be enough. Always plan your needs ahead and then check which solution fits you best.