Water Saving Tools for Your Sprinkler System

March 31, 2022

Whether you’re considering the health of your grass, or the health of your wallet, managing your water usage is an important part of maintaining your lawn. This is particularly relevant if use city supplied water, which is subject to frequent price increases.

An underground sprinkler system that runs on a timer is great way to conserve water. You can further improve your watering efficiency with two inexpensive system add-ons. A rain sensor and a smart timer can greatly reduce water waste.

Rain Sensors

A common misconception is that a Rain Sensor will “predict” rainfall before it happens. Most rain sensors actully measure rainfall.

Rain sensors actually gather rainfall, and tell your sprinkler timer to turn off if enough rainfall is collected. There are hardwired and wireless version of these devices available, and they do require compatibility with your irrigation time.

Rain sensors typically use either an expansion disk, which swells as water is collected, or a collection cup, which fills to a certain level as it rains. Expansion disks are most common found on residential and commercial systems.

Expansion disk are a cork material, smaller than a dime, that can simulate the moisture in the soil. When it swells, the sensor will interrupt the communication signal on the “common” wire through the system and not allow current to enter the “field wire path”. Once there has been enough evaporation/heat the cork will dry and allow the switch to raise and resume normal irrigation cycles. This is one of the most effective tools to help your lawn get the proper amount of water, without waste.

Most sprinkler systems will irrigate early in the morning and during the humid and hot months you can get pressure systems that build up overnight and will rain after you go to bed and before you wake up. A half inch of water on the lawn before your system adds another half inch of water during regular irrigation can lead to lawn disease, erosion, mosquito habitats, and that stinging feeling you get when the water bill arrives. Nothing irrigates likes rain fall no matter how well your heads are adjusted, so make the most of it when you can, and enjoy the gift!

Smart Irrigation Timers

Smart sprinkler timers allow you to connect to the system using a smart device and an app. You’ll be able to control the system, adjust timers, turn the system on and off, get push notifications, etc. Being able to make adjustments on the fly, even when you aren’t at home, will allow you to reduce water waste, and optimize your watering from any location.

Many of smart times utilize features that are so extensive that it can be quite overwhelming. For examples, several models allow you to grant access to a contractor they do not have to be on-site to handle repairs. Some will pull milliamp data to do a health check on the current and solenoid strength of the valves in the system to ensure any failures are instantly reported. Many smart controllers pull weather data based on zip code and populate ET data daily (and historically), as well as saving measures based upon how the controller adjusts the system in coordination with weather data.

You can also install a flow sensor to your smart controller, which will allow you to get push notifications for anomalies in the system, i.e. leaks. The flow sensor can terminate service until the issues is assessed.

Smart Sprinkler Timer Installation