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Smart Irrigation Controllers Confounded

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Smart controllers might not be as reliable as expected, according to a recent study from Texas A&M University. Researchers have found that smart controllers get confused and can overcompensate in erratic weather.

The experiment has tested eight controllers over the past three years. In the past year, three of the eight controllers were shown to over-irrigate, while the remaining five did not apply enough water. In 2010, it was too much rain that threw off the controllers. Only those equipped with tipping-bucket rain gauges were accurate.

To ensure that the controllers act as designed, they allowed each manufacturer to come in and program them appropriately. Controllers have improved in the last three years over which the experiment has been in progress, but they still perform inconsistently.

Smart controllers rely on weather data to calculate and apply the correct amount of water needed by plants, without relying on human intervention. They combine weather data with a variety of sensors to measure rainfall, heat, and sunlight.

The full results are included in the recent report on smart controller testing and performance found on the Irrigation Technology Center website at http://itc.tamu.edu/smart.php.

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10.18.2011 at 07:53 Reply

The one part of that test is NOT realistic and would improve results is that the controllers were programmed once each year based on data sent to us the university. All homeowners and contractors know what do when the controllers do not deliver enough water....increase runtimes. After that happens, then the controllers will reduce watering automatically based on the weather. Controllers that over-water will probably NOT be readjusted and waste water. So programming to deliver less water than required should be looked at with favor by those interested in reducing water use.


10.19.2011 at 08:29 Reply

Who don't they compare timers that were set one time and never adjusted to these 8? But that's not my real comment...

SMART controllers are the best TOOL in the industry to save water. PEOPLE save water, not fancy boxes on the wall. Having a SMART controller with remote management can save water, but you need that human intervention. I have been selling, installing SMART controllers for years and NEVER, I MEAN NEVER have told a customer that just buying a fancy box saves water.

I feel this article is misleading. I would like to see an article showing how SMART water controllers save water with human invervention. Having remote management saves not only water but labor, fuel, etc.


10.19.2011 at 08:54 Reply

Chris Husband said that he wanted to see a report on how SMART controllers save water with human intervention. He can go to weatherset.com and download such a report on 1000s of ET controllers funded by the people of Califorina.