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Intelligent irrigation

By Ben Sims
24 January, 2018

Intelligent irrigation – here come the smart controllers

It is an exciting time in the reticulation industry with the emergence of many brands of smart controllers now on the market. I can only talk in detail about one brand which is the Hydrawise 6 station outdoor controller by Hunter that I have installed at my residence. I was lucky to be invited to the launch of the controller where Hunter trained us during a 3-hr workshop. It didn’t take long for me to become a massive fan of this excellent controller. It is the 2nd version of the Hydrawise with many issues being solved during the first version.

Gone are the days where you need to keep going back to the controller to change settings as it can be done entirely after the initial set up from your smart phone or computer. This is great if you have a rental property or work away allot as you don’t even need to be home to turn your reticulation on after winter (although making sure everything is still working is ideal). At the end of the season you can turn it off, so you won’t get any fines for watering during winter. The weather ‘triggers’ are great. If you use the free setting on the app or website, then you use the weather data from Perth airport. If you sign up to a small monthly fee, then you have access to quite a few private weather stations also that are close to your home. This means there is no need to get a rain sensor (will turn off watering during or near rain events). Using the free setting I have it set to not come on if there was more than 6mm of rain the day before or 20mm during the week before my watering days. You can also set it to come on based on temperature but in Perth we aren’t allowed to water more on hot days and must stick to our 10mm maximum. On cooler days we can set it to not water at all (I have it set to not water when it is 14C or less). You can also set it not to water if the wind speed is too high however with only 2 watering days on scheme water in a hot climate and being restricted on these days only you might end up not watering at all if it was a windy week which would be a disaster in Perth. You can also set it to not water if the chance of rain is higher than a certain percentage or if the humidity is high.

Technology that is included in the Hydrawise is the use of weather data to control watering (mentioned above) and Solenoid load testing to measure the voltage getting to the solenoids and coming back to the controller and if there is an open circuit (broken wire or blown fuse). Sensors that can be added include a rain sensor, flow control and soil moisture sensors. Flow control sensors are great for leak detection as they ‘learn’ the flow when the system has no leaks and if that flow decreases or increases you are alerted. This is great for contractors or the home DIY customer as you can fix problems whereby in the past you might discover them weeks or months later when your grass or plants have died.

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For any details I may have missed please visit the Hydrawise website:

https://www.hydrawise.com/