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How irrigation Wi-Fi controllers offer the opportunity to cover more ground

August 23, 2022 -  By
Wi-Fi controllers help make the lives of irrigation contractors easier thanks to remote system management. (Photo: K-Rain)

Wi-Fi controllers help make the lives of irrigation contractors easier thanks to remote
system management. (Photo: K-Rain)

Jon Lauer remembers the proverbial Stone Age of irrigation controllers. The owner of Professional Irrigation Systems in St. Louis, Mo., and 21-year veteran of the green industry, says until the Wi-Fi controller came around, innovation was sparse.

“(Irrigation controllers have) been a tried-and-true product,” Lauer says. “They try to improve it with longevity or application, but nothing has been developed, especially like a movement like the Wi-Fi controller.”

Nowadays, Wi-Fi and smart controllers are the next best thing. Lauer uses them for his business, which provides irrigation services to primarily residential clientele.

He and Chris Haluch, owner of Haluch’s Landscapes in Hampden, Mass., spoke with LM to give their thoughts on why Wi-Fi controllers are a good fit for your business.

The right fit

Haluch Landscapes uses mainly K-Rain Wi-Fi controllers, specifically the Pro EX 2.0. Haluch says the controller allows him to manage up to 28 zones for his 95 percent residential and 5 percent commercial clientele.

“They’re very easy to work with, and that’s part of why I made the switch,” Haluch says. “It’s also good because we can, from our office, if a customer has a problem, hop on their controller and troubleshoot. We can fix it instead of going all the way out there, and that’s invaluable.”

Haluch says his team uses a waterproof handheld remote to access the controller when they’re on the property. They also install controllers outside of homes for easy access and inspection.

Like Lauer, Haluch remembers a time when inspecting an irrigation system was a job that required one person in the home and another outside, going from zone to zone to make sure things worked properly.

Professional Irrigation Systems uses Hunter Industries’ Hyrdawise controllers, which Lauer says allows his team to manage properties proactively.

“We can do seasonal adjustments and shutdowns. So, if we get 5 inches of rain during the week, we can shut the system down. It’s advanced in terms of diagnostics. If the customer’s (irrigation in their) front lawn isn’t working, it will notify us,” he says.

It also builds accountability with an audit log, Lauer says. The audit log, which can be accessed through a computer and/or a phone, allows the contractor to go back and look at any changes made to the system in the past.

Get sticky

Lauer says Wi-Fi controllers have helped his business get “sticky,” which is what Lauer calls retaining customers. He says Wi-Fi controllers, with their many features, helped his company do that.

“All of us are looking for an item that makes a customer sticky to you,” he says. “We’re trying to reduce attrition and keep revenue coming in year after year. (Wi-Fi controllers) allow us to create that extra level of stickiness. It’s a matter of us treating the customer properly.”

Lauer says Wi-Fi controllers help Professional Irrigation Systems meet and exceed expectations — especially for customers who upgrade from traditional controllers because they know the inconveniences of the old models.

Handling larger properties

Wi-Fi controllers might not be an ideal fit for some large-scale commercial properties. Haluch says that Wi-Fi connection can sometimes be fickle when it needs to reach a controller on the outside of a large building.

“Wi-Fi can sometimes be tough on commercial properties,” he says. “Sometimes the Wi-Fi is coming from the middle of the building, and you can have a hard time getting connected to the controller on the outside. But that’s the only time we’ve ever had any issues.”

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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