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h20saver

New Member

11

Monday, April 6th 2009, 11:59am

What is an Internet Sprinkler Controller?

Based on the number of views, it looks like people are interested in the topic of Internet sprinkler controllers. It's important then to define what an Internet sprinkler controller is, so that we clear up confusion and ensure that expected benefits are properly outlined.
An Internet sprinkler controller is simply a controller that can be contacted, programmed, and scheduled using a web browser (ie, Internet Explorer, Opera, Safari, Firefox). The benefits provided by programming or controlling via a web browser are:
1. standardized remote access
2. a user interface that is easier to use and understand
3. more irrigation control (ie, more programs, finer irrigation control)
They usually offer additional benefits, like more sophisticated irrigation control using calanders, and real time weather information. These benefits are provided on "smart" Internet sprinkler controllers, and these features reduce your household operating costs by reducing or eliminating wasteful overwatering.

If you do a search using the term "internet sprinkler controller" you will be inundated with products that call themselves "Internet Sprinkler Controllers" when they really are not. This causes confusion and muddles the value of true Internet Sprinkler Controllers. There are many companies that advertise or have contracted PR to claim their products Internet Sprinkler controllers. However be wary of these claims. Many of these products are really automated controllers that require a personal computer for control and the manufacturers claim that since the computer can be connected to the Internet, then therefore their controllers must be "Internet Sprinkler Controllers."
That's why you need to focus on the benefits provided by true Internet Sprinkler Controllers. For example, if you want standardized remote access (for example ability to program and control through a smart phone or browser) ask if the controller can be programmed through a standard web browser. Also, find out if a personal computer must be turned on for the controller to work. You don't want to open your personal computer to the Internet for remote destop access just to control your sprinklers - that's inviting trouble and could be costly. If the sprinkler controller can't be programmed or controlled through a web browser, or if a personal computer must be in the loop for control, then you are NOT going to get the benefits you would logically expect.

Hope this helps as people learn about what an Internet Sprinkler controller is and what benefits they should expect, if they decide to install one, when compared to standard timer boxes.

h20

bbruck

New Member

Posts: 10

Location: Falls Church, VA

12

Tuesday, April 28th 2009, 6:05pm

a fruitless quest - for me

By coincidence, this winter I became VERY interested in home automation (HA) - and my 15-year-old spinkler system needed rehabbing. For a couple months I inhabited the HA boards reading every word on integrating my irrigation system with my growing (Insteon-brand) HA system.

What I found was that HA in general - and HA irrigation afficianados in particular - are hobbiests. What I expected was that in the HA world I would find the best of the smart controllers merged with the latest in HA. What I found was that there are some good, basic sprinkler systems that can be controlled by HA - and everything the folks say above are true - you can use the internet or a smartphone to operate them etc.

BUT...

The basics of smart controllers just aren't there. People are writing scripts to integrate their HA sprinkler controller with NOAA weather data, or happily cobbling together on-site sensors and using their own judgment as to how to use the data.

I eventually went with what I saw as a best-in-class smart controller, and my installer said that the company plans to release a "computer interface" later this year. God knows it will probably be a silly serial interface to X10, but...

Bottom line - I don't think that the technology is there yet to give us the best of both worlds.

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