The use of a sprinkler controller for your home irrigation system can save you a lot of time by not having to water by hand. In addition, a sprinkler controller system can be programmed to water areas differently, working according to its own internal weather station, and it can even be linked with an off-site weather center to determine the frequency and duration for each watering. There are pros and cons to using a sprinkler controller that you should carefully consider before purchasing a controller. If you already use an in-ground irrigation system, using a controller to automate the process is a natural next step.
Determine Your Need
Depending on the size of the area(s) to be watered, you may not need a sprinkler controller. Arguably, no area is too small for a controller and if watering your lawn or garden has become a chore that you simply have no time for, a sprinkler controller will be an excellent addition to your home irrigation system. It will save you time and effort while keeping your lawn and garden green and vibrant.
Investigate Your Options
There are both “smart” and “non-smart” controllers on the market. Non-smart controllers simply water according to a set timer or a manual on/off switch. Smart controllers, on the other hand, come in a variety of styles--some much smarter than others. The simplest of the smart controllers base their watering schedule on historical watering data--how much water the lawn or garden required in the past will determine how much the controller determines waters will be needed in the future.
Other controllers incorporate sensors to gauge humidity levels or temperature. Other types of sensors track the moisture content in the soil to determine when to water. There are sprinkler controllers available that either have a built-in weather station or link to an offsite weather center to access the most up-to-date weather information.
Pros and Cons
The most obvious advantage to purchasing a “smart” sprinkler controller is that it beats any of the “non-smart” varieties hands down. Additionally, it waters more efficiently because it only does so at programmed intervals or when it senses the soil is not moist enough. Sprinkler controllers save you time and should pay for itself, giving you time to do other things.
On the other hand, sprinkler controllers can be expensive–a lot more than a non-smart timer. Depending upon the variety you purchase, the sensor may not be the most accurate, leading to over- or under-watering. If your controller links to an offsite weather station, there may be monthly fees for the connection. If, for some reason, the controller malfunctions and you don’t check it, your lawn or garden could go days without being watered.
Investigate your options fully before you decide which type of sprinkler controller is right for you. A sprinkler controller is a logical addition to an in-ground irrigation system, but you have many choices, from smart to non-smart controllers. Determine your needs, check your options and weigh all the costs and benefits before you commit.