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Irrigation controllers 1

It seems like everything nowadays is becoming “smart”. I have a “smart phone,” my neighbor drives a “Smart Car” and just the other day one of my friends was describing a “smart TV” to me that he was thinking about purchasing.

So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised or afraid when my landscaper tells me I should consider using a “smart controller” for my irrigation system.

So what is it that makes it so “smart” anyway and why is my old irrigation controller considered “dumb”? By the way, I would never say that to his face, it might hurt his feelings.

You see, I’ve grown attached to my old irrigation controller because we spend so much time together. I constantly have to check on him and adjust his times to make sure I’m not over watering or under-watering.

Well that is what makes smart irrigation controllers “smart”; they are technologically advanced enough to determine on their own whether or not my landscape needs watering, and if so, how much. This can not only save me a lot of time but money as well, by only irrigating when plants really need it.

How smart controllers work

No matter how efficient a traditional irrigation controller’s watering schedule is, it cannot take into account changing weather conditions and adjust the watering schedule automatically.

Smart controllers base their watering schedule upon evapotranspiration (ET). ET is the amount of water lost from the soil through evaporation plus the water actually used by the plant, both of which are dramatically affected by changing weather conditions.

Smart controllers determine how much ET has occurred and replaces only the amount of water that is needed by the plant.

This specialized irrigation controller uses weather information and site conditions to determine how much water to apply and when to irrigate. Some of these controllers use a combination of historic and on-site weather data to determine these needs.

Another kind of irrigation controller uses a subscription service that downloads ET needs on a daily basis. Others rely on soil moisture sensors buried in the ground to determine the irrigation schedule. Another kind of irrigation controller even uses a combination of these three methods.

Why it’s smart

Smart controllers are smart not only because of the technology involved in the way it functions, but also due to the fact that it only waters when plants need watering.

Water conservation is extremely important, with only two percent of the Earth’s water supply is fresh water. And water costs are going to continue to rise.

Tests by the International Center for Water Technology at California State University – Fresno have shown smart controllers can save up to twenty-five percent more water than traditional controllers.

Traditional controllers tend to err on the side of overwatering to ensure plants do not die, but overwatering is a leading cause of problems with ornamental plants. Also, the cost associated with treating and replacing plants is much more expensive than the water itself.

Well, gotta run, my smart phone is ringing. It’s probably my son wanting to brag to me about his new smart watch again….

If you want to learn more about smart irrigation and how to manage your water in a more effective way on your metro-Atlanta property, give our experts at HighGrove Partners a call at (678) 298-0550 or fill out our handy contact form to the right. We’re here to help you save water and dollars!

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This post was written by Eric Pence, Highgrove Partners’ client relations manager

Image credit: slworking2

Last modified: August 20, 2013