Web Based Controllers

trclac(9)February 3, 2014

I notice that Irrigation Caddy just released the W1 Wireless Web-Based Sprinkler Control. I'd really like to get a web-based controller, and utilize my iPhone or iPad (or computer) to control my settings. The simplicity and ability to easily to adjust settings seems very attractive over the old dial controllers. But before I dump a couple hunder dollars, has anyone had any experience with these? If so, does anyone have recommendations on the best brand/model?
I've been thinking of getting one for about a year, but with this new release, the temptation is back. I'd just like to know if anyone owns such a device and would recommend them.

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Sounds too pat. Too much like a sales pitch. Not the average desire or experience of a home gardener. How often do you think you would need to actually use a remote device to tweak your system? JMHO

    Bookmark   February 18, 2014 at 11:22PM
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I can't control my sprinkler from Hong Kong (I'm in Texas) but I can control it from up to 1000 ft away (set station and run time) with my Hunter remote (think TV remote). And when I'm out working on/tweaking the system, I don't have to keep running back and forth to the controller box. But mostly I use it to run the stations from in my house. Love LOVE it!

    Bookmark   February 23, 2014 at 10:01AM
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:), use your phone for irrigation, that is very awsome

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 11:57PM
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Although this is an older thread, I think others may find the answers useful, so I'm adding to it.

I can think of several reasons why web-based smart controllers are a bad idea.

1. The primary reason for installing a smart irrigation controller is once you set it correctly you can just leave it alone and let it make its decisions to adjust the watering schedule on its own as the season and weather changes. Why burden yourself with constantly checking and adjusting the settings or monitoring how long it watered on your smart phone? If you accept this point of view, then you'll see that web-based controllers are over-hyped.

2. Furthermore, most of these controllers only work when they can communicate with the server on the manufacturer's website. Almost all of these web-based controller makers are tech startups. How long does an average tech startup stay afloat before going belly up? What would happen to your ability to use your wifi based controller if this tech startup went out of business?

3. All of the web-based controllers rely on forecasting weather to modify the water schedule. They generally rely on NOAA forecasts (ask yourself how reliably accurate are your local weatherman?) They also use neighborhood weather stations to adjust the forecast. But local water stations can by a mile or more away from your home. Anything more than a few blocks away from your location can have significantly different rainfall than your location. My opinion is only rain gauges and weather sensors located specifically at your location are accurate for your own location.

4. The web-based controllers use weather forecast to adjust the duration of watering, but none that I have seen does anything to reconcile difference between forecast and actual realized weather. Let's say it forecasts a rainy day and so the controller skips watering for that day, but if the forecast turns out to be wrong and it doesn't rain and instead turns out to be sunny, then your plants will be stressed. Nor for that matter do these web-based controllers take into the account the actual amount of rain fall. They can't tell the difference between a 1/10" vs. 1" of rain. To them rain is rain, they just stop watering if rain is forecast. If your lawn gets an inch of rain it may be able to skip watering for a few week, but not if if only got 1/10".

If you accept these observations so far, you'll see that you'll be better off buying a traditional local weather-based smart controller. By local, I mean local to your own home. For all these reasons above I prefer to use an ET-based smart controller that measures weather conditions and evapo-transpiration (ET) at my own location. The cost for such a system is comparable to the average wifi-based controller.

One thing the web-based controllers have are snazzy graphics, but other than that they aren't really that smart. The limitation is largely the result of the fact that the folks who built them are mostly just programmers and not people with a lot of knowledge on soil, plants, etc. Only one web-based controller, the Water Sage, I have seen so far incorporates the same level of sophistication to determine evapo-transpiration, but even the Water Sage doesn't have a rain gauge to reconcile difference between forecast and realized weather.

I just installed a Rainbird ESP-SMTe controller. It's a smart controller that measures rainfall and temperature and adjusts the watering accordingly. I have been very happy with it. It doesn't come with a remote control, but my theory is once I program it correctly, I will just leave it alone and not mess with it. I want to kick back and relax and let the smart controller take over. Having remote control capability is not an important enticement to me. I can get a remote control kit if I want to for this unit, but it will cost me too much and, I'd only use it to clean clog drip emitters and I can live without the remote for this purpose.

To me web-based controllers still have a lot more maturing to do to match the capability of the best traditional (hardwired) ET-based smart controllers. Maybe in the next five years they will catch up, but none at this time does. Their forte is all based on snazzy, eye candy graphics.

This post was edited by potbelly_gardener on Sat, Oct 4, 14 at 0:21

    Bookmark   September 29, 2014 at 1:40AM
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