Experts’ Tips: Irrigation controllers

February 20, 2019 -  By

Controllers

Rain Bird Corp.

Joe Porrazzo
Product manager — controllers
WiFi-enabled controllers are becoming increasingly popular as more people use their mobile devices to manage various systems on their properties. Choosing the right controller can be challenging for contractors because there isn’t a single perfect solution and different products work best for different applications. Contractors should consider their core customers’ needs and choose the controller that best meets those needs by asking themselves questions like:

  • Does the customer need to manage multiple irrigation systems or a single system?
  • Is flow sensing a must?
  • Does the property require advanced irrigation system programming features?

The steady rise of “connected” solutions also is making it possible for manufacturers to update and improve existing, previously installed controllers. It’s important for contractors to stay up-to-date with this information. Just because a controller doesn’t have a certain feature today doesn’t mean the manufacturer can’t add it at a later time.

Ewing

Warren Gorowitz
Vice president of sustainability

Smart controllers help conserve water and create efficiency while maintaining lush landscapes. The sustainable aspects of smart systems will interest your more ecominded customers, like those more interested in xeriscape designs. I recommend pairing smart irrigation systems with water-efficient nozzles to make a positive impact on the environment while creating lush lawns. These nozzles feature thicker water streams, wind resistance and great uniform distribution. Another supplemental tool for smart irrigation systems is smart flow sensors. These sensors monitor overflow conditions, alerting you to shut off water flow.

Rachio

Tim Myers
Head of product

Smart irrigation systems work best when both the pro and homeowner can have easy access. Current setups for most smart irrigation systems require the homeowner to share personal data, including his or her username and password. In the wake of privacy concerns, it’s important to have secure processes in place. Onboarding features that allow a pro to set up the system and seamlessly transfer ownership to the homeowner — while maintaining access without sharing passwords — is the safest way to go.

Hunter Industries

Ben Sacks
Associate product manager — controllers

From doorbell cameras to robotic dog-treat dispensers, the “internet of things” revolution has led consumers to demand control at their fingertips. Not to be left behind, the landscape industry is quickly evolving to meet these expectations. The smart irrigation techniques of today require an internet connection. Customers want automatic schedule adjustments based on real-time weather data and forecasts, text notifications from their flow sensors and the ability to access their irrigation controllers from anywhere in the world. The remote irrigation management capabilities of a cloud-based control system are essential tools for professionals to ensure healthy landscapes. These advanced technologies help users save time, money and water while protecting landscapes and meeting the needs of customers who want smart, automated irrigation solutions.

SiteOne

Steve Counter
Vice president, category management

A smart irrigation controller is like having extra labor on your team, maximizing your business and value to customers.

  • Save time. Online management allows contractors to adjust schedules, suspend zones and change watering factors from smartphones or desktop devices. Tip: Set up default schedules and make global system changes for all irrigation control systems at once.
  • Save money. Controllers can connect to online weather, which tells the system if, when and how long to water, thus saving resources and costs. Tip: Install a flow meter to provide instant alerts in the event of water waste due to a broken sprinkler head or pipe, or a faulty valve. With remote automatic shutoff, it prevents the broken zone from running until repaired.
  • Save maintenance. Smart controllers are managed best by a licensed professional contractor. Tip: Ensure that the local router has a clear connection to the controller and perform any needed maintenance to support that.

The Toro Co.

Peter Lackner
Product marketing manager

Upgrading our phones, computers and even our cars is something many of us do every few years. Updating home technology often doesn’t happen as often, but keeping current can save time and money. When was the last time your customers upgraded their irrigation system controllers? If the answer is “more than a few years ago,” now is the time. Putting technology to work in customers’ yards takes the guesswork out of watering. Next-generation irrigation system controllers make it easier than ever to save water, time and money. “Smart” controllers feature more user-friendly programming functions. Just like phones, icon buttons provide easy-to-understand shortcuts to the functions users need. They take you through the scheduling process, delivering precise watering without having to constantly refer back to the owner’s manual. The result is more efficient watering with less frustration.

Clara Richter

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