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New Year, New Irrigation Controller?

smartcontrollerwallphotofinal.jpgAre you:
• Bamboozled at the thought of reprogramming your irrigation controller seasonally, let alone monthly?
• A part-time resident tired of relying on someone else to adjust your controller?
• Looking to save water outdoors?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, a smart irrigation controller may be right for you.

Smart irrigation controllers are the next big thing for residential outdoor water use. When programmed correctly, they have the potential to provide some serious water savings. In the most basic sense, smart controllers take into account local weather conditions and automatically adjust when to irrigate your landscape—no humans required.

Nothing like a New Year’s resolution that saves water with relative ease, right?

After the nice soaking rainstorm we received in November of 2013—where some portions of the Valley received 3 inches of rain—did it drive you crazy to see sprinklers running? With a smart controller, you don’t need to worry about turning off your controller after a rain event and then turning it back on again. A quality smart controller will detect real-time rainfall at your house and automatically adjust the watering schedule.

Savvy Consumerism
The price of smart controllers varies. Many of the major irrigation controller manufacturers now have smart controllers for the residential market, which has brought down the cost. Feature-wise, you will want to look for a smart controller that is able to adjust the frequency of watering events (days in between watering), not just the length of time an irrigation cycle runs (run time adjustment).
Basically, when you irrigate plants in the desert urban landscape, you always want to saturate the root zone (see our past blog on watering techniques). This allows you to go longer in between irrigation events. So, you’ll want a smart controller that will be able to do just that: irrigate deeply, and adjust the days in between watering. You can mention this to the person assisting you when you are at the irrigation supply store.

If you want to learn more about smart controllers before you buy one, consider attending our free workshop at the Southeast Regional Library on Thursday, February 20, 2014 at 6:30 P.M.

Another option is to attend the Salt River Project’s (SRP) Water Conservation Expo. SRP is featuring a $290 smart irrigation controller and offering an instant rebate to the first 800 SRP water shareholders or power customers who register for and attend the expo. The purchase price of the controller is $50 plus tax. The date of the event is Saturday, March 8, 2014.
The best part of all this is that if you are a Gilbert resident, after you have installed your new smart irrigation controller, you can call the Water Conservation office at (480) 503-6098 to schedule an appointment with a specialist. A Town of Gilbert Water Conservation Specialist will come out to your house and examine your smart controller settings to ensure you receive maximum water savings for a healthy, thriving landscape.

Important Links
• You’ve heard of Energy Star labeled appliances? Well, same principle applies to water. Look for WaterSense labeled irrigation controllers and other water saving devices when you shop.
• SRP has a comparison chart differentiating the features of smart controllers versus traditional irrigation controllers.
• For even more detail on this new wave of irrigation controller, check out the Irrigation Association’s list of tested smart controller products.

Photo credit Ewing Irrigation

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