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How irrigation controllers help to conserve water and time

April 19, 2022 -  By

In parts of the U.S., water availability is a significant issue.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom wants to ban watering “decorative grass” which frustrates Richard Restuccia, vice president of water management solutions at Jain Irrigation.

“We are treating a symptom by doing that, not the problem,” he says. “It’s the way we water, not what we’re watering.”

Jain and other irrigation manufacturers attempt to tackle that problem with the newest irrigation controllers. LM spoke with several of those companies about their latest and greatest controllers and controller software, asking why an irrigation contractor should consider using them.

Jain smart box. (Photo: Jain Irrigation)

Jain Irrigation smart box. (Photo: Jain Irrigation)

Jain Irrigation: Jain designed its new 4G LTE Jain ETWater SmartBox to take advantage of the 4G and 5G cellular networks. The SmartBox connects to Jain’s Unity smart irrigation management system. With a capacity of up to 48 stations, the controller includes connections for rain sensors, booster pumps, master valves and flow sensors.

“All of the computing is done in the cloud,” Restuccia says. “You can’t put too much computing power into a controller and put it on someone’s wall without charging an exorbitant price for it. Because all of that communication is done in the cloud, the upgrade in the box really is the upgrade of the computing device.”

Rain Bird's LX-IVMR wire controller. (Photo: Rain Bird)

Rain Bird’s LX-IVMR wire controller. (Photo: Rain Bird)

Rain Bird: The EPS-LX-IVM from Rain Bird introduces “smart valves” to the irrigation world. The two-wire system eliminates the need for a decoder on a valve with an Integrated Valve Module (IVM). The IVM reduces the number of wire splices by half, allowing for two-way communication between the valve and the controller, according to Amar Thiraviam, group manager at Rain Bird.

“All of the valves, for lack of a better term, are ‘dumb valves,’” he says. “We’ve removed the decoder from the entire system, and we’ve created a smart valve … (which allows for) direct communication between the controller and the valve. The valve can communicate with the controller without the controller asking first. The decoder could only respond when the controller asked something of it.”

The X2 irrigation controller from Hunter Industries. (Photo: Hunter Industries)

The X2 irrigation controller from Hunter Industries. (Photo: Hunter Industries)

Hunter Industries: Using the Hydrawise software, the Hunter X2 controller succeeds the X-Core controller, with the option to add Wi-Fi for remote management and advanced water savings. The X2 maintains a dial-based programming style offered by the X-Core.

The controller’s Wi-Fi remote, known as a WAND, allows for online management with alerts for controller status and faulty wiring. Users can also access the controller through a phone if Wi-Fi is unavailable. The Hyrdawise software allows users to set schedules — with automatic adjustments based on local weather data — and manage an unlimited number of controllers with real-time status updates.

Smart Rain controller. (Photo: Smart Rain)

Smart Rain’s SmartController. (Photo: Smart Rain)

Smart Rain: Smart Rain’s SmartController is compatible with flow, rain and wireless moisture sensors. The device connects 48 zones, two flow sensors and two master valves, saving users 30 to 50 percent in irrigation costs.

The controller waters each zone to its specific needs before moving to the next area. The SmartController connects to the internet using either Wi-Fi or a cellular network and users can access the Smart Controller through Smart Rain’s app.

Rob DiFranco

About the Author:

Rob DiFranco is Landscape Management's associate editor. A 2018 graduate of Kent State University, DiFranco holds a bachelor's degree in journalism. Prior to Landscape Management, DiFranco was a reporter for The Morning Journal in Lorain, Ohio.

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