Wanted: Nest of irrigation control systems
December 14, 2012 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Is there a wifi/web-based irrigation control system available? Ideally it would track weather patterns and moisture levels. Not interested in ethernet cable-based systems. Basically looking for the Nest of irrigation systems.
posted by letitrain to Home & Garden (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Lake Valley Engineering has what you want, I think.
posted by Confess, Fletch at 8:12 PM on December 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

My own opinion:
I cannot see how weather patterns would help. Usually they are so general, that they would not be relevant to any microclimate (which any piece of property would be). My own feeling would be to set up a system that would measure water content of the soil, perhaps "learn" evaporation rates over time (and current measured temperature and humidity values) and adjust the watering that way.
A local clay tennis court club has had a system that measured court moisture and watered the courts (at night) for years.
posted by mbarryf at 5:39 AM on December 15, 2012

From a friend who specializes in this sort of thing: "Did you mean for frost protection irrigation or to provide crop moisture?"
posted by cthuljew at 8:05 AM on December 15, 2012

As a general rule, the irrigation industry does this by watering based on the evapotranspiration (ET) rate. That's the sum of the water lost from the ground through evaporation and plant transpiration. You'd want to set your controller to water enough to replace what's lost through ET- that's theoretically the amount the plant needs. This is especially true for most turfgrasses, and native plants, but things might be different if you're watering non-natives or something out of the ordinary.

This module from Rainbird supposedly does this for you. I've never used this device, but I know Rainbird products to be pretty good. The other major manufacturers (Hunter, Weathermatic) probably have something similar, but I'm not real familiar with residential applications.

When I've watered to the ET rate in the past, managing parks and sports fields, I've used data from the state or extension office to determine ET rate, and basically did the math myself to figure out how much water to put out. It's a good baseline. Here is an example of data from the University of Nebraska -Lincoln website. And here is an example from the rainbird site on how to schedule irrigation to the ET rate.

My experience is as a licensed irrigator in the state of Texas. Your mileage may vary quite a bit based on your location and what you're trying to do.
posted by Shohn at 1:13 PM on December 15, 2012

I was just looking at personal weather stations, and came across someone on wxforum.com talking about how his home automation system could adjust watering intervals based on some combo of local weather data, though there was some debate over what local you'd need to be able to log to provide a good estimate of ET rate. Try searching around over thered.
posted by Good Brain at 8:05 PM on December 15, 2012

Response by poster: cthuljew: really neither. It would be used for adjusting landscape and garden irrigation more efficiently.

Right now we have a manual system that we turn off and back on in the rainy season and leave on in warmer seasons. I'd love to have a system that could learn local patterns and read actual moisture levels and set itself.
posted by letitrain at 9:28 AM on December 16, 2012

Response by poster: Shohn, the controller you linked looks pretty good. It might be a good solution until something comes out that combines its core functionality with web-based reporting and programming.
posted by letitrain at 9:33 AM on December 16, 2012

Best answer: A couple of months ago, I bought a Nest type irrigation controller called Irrigation Caddy (not quite as catchy as Nest). It is made to work with an ethernet connection but many on Amazon said they used a Universal wi-fi adapter to connect via their home wi-fi network. It appears to be compatible with rain sensors as well.

I haven't put it in yet, due to laziness, but thought it'd be worth mentioning to you.
posted by dottiechang at 1:11 AM on December 17, 2012

Response by poster: Thank you, dottiechang. That looks pretty close to what I want - I hadn't thought of using a wifi adapter.
posted by letitrain at 9:25 PM on December 17, 2012

If you already have a box for your old sprinkler system controller, it might be good to keep the shell to protect the Caddy from the elements. Try reading the Amazon comments for it, lots of useful suggestions!

If you try it, let me know how it works out! I have a feeling I'll be taking my time to put it in.
posted by dottiechang at 2:17 AM on December 18, 2012

The aforementioned friend just sent me this.
posted by cthuljew at 8:03 AM on December 19, 2012

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