What is Intelligent Irrigation?
A standard controller is nothing more than a timer. When we open sprinkler systems in the spring, we set the times when irrigation should turn on and for how long it should run. We cannot be there every day to change those times based on weekly rainfall, temperature, or weather so we use settings that are good from April to late June. We come out and do a “mid-season adjustment“ to lengthen those times for the heat of summer, from late June through August. We should then come out and do another “mid-season adjustment “ to shorten those times for early Fall until closing. To ensure your landscape has the water needed we have to always schedule times for the hottest & driest days of each part of the season. This is acceptable but causes us to use more water than actually needed. It would be ideal if we could be there every day to adjust the system as needed for each individual zone.
A standard controller has no detection or alarm system. There’s no way to know if there is a leak or break in the system, or if a valve or solenoid goes bad (or if rodents have gotten into the valve box and chewed on the wires). Therefore a whole zone could potentially not be getting water and the only way you will be notified is when you see damage to your plant material or property.
Intelligent irrigation or ‘smart’ controllers address these issues. For example, our most popular model, the Hunter Pro-HC, has daily schedule adjustments (based on local weather data), monitors past, current and forecasted temperature, rainfall, humidity, and wind speed. This allows for daily adjustments of watering times and schedules to balance water savings with water efficiency for plants. It also gives you the flexibility of operating your controller from any computer or smart phone.
Intelligent irrigation controllers not only adjust watering times daily for each zone but they also monitor the condition of your system. Pro-HC controllers continuously monitor the electrical current flowing to your solenoid valves. If the current is too high or too low, Hydrawise (the Hunter Pro-HC software) will alert you and tell you which valve is not working properly. This allows you to correct a failed valve before damage is done to plant materials. If you install the optional flow meter with your Hunter Pro-HC, the system will also monitor your piping and sprinklers. You can receive automatic alerts when a pipe is broken to prevent property damage.