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Smart Controllers: Water Intelligence for a Sustainable Future

10/01/2018 1:46 PM | CAI Rocky Mountain Chapter (Administrator)

By Justin Bayer, CAI-RMC Editorial Committee

Every industry eventually has to get smarter.  Some take longer than others, to be sure, but eventually there comes a time when ignoring the future of technology and advancement can only be done to the detriment of a successful business.

Change isn’t easy, and more often than not, change does not come without cost.  In a day and age where our iPhones and Androids rarely leave our hands, companies like Rainbird, Hunter, and Rachio (to name a few) are revolutionizing the way irrigation is managed.  They are doing this by keeping up with the curve of technological advancements, and these developments in irrigation controller tech have distinct advantages.

Easier User Interfaces:

Something that immediately stands out about the use of Smart Controllers is the way in which an irrigation system for an HOA, commercial business, individual home, or multi-family complex can now be accessed from your fingertips.  Let’s face it, in the past (and even present) irrigation controllers don’t exactly have a reputation for being user-friendly.  Setting up timers and running water to various zones for specific amounts of times can be learned with proper training or research, but as with all technology, there are ways to make this easier.  Technological advancement doesn’t always lead to an easier user experience; the more options there are means as a user you need to know more about the controller, more about how to set it up, and more about what different functions can provide to make for a more efficient experience.

That being said, the companies developing intuitive technology around irrigation are creating avenues which make understanding their products infinitely easier for the “average person.”  This isn’t an insult to those who are not irrigation techs, this is just saying that functionality and user interface through a smartphone application developed in-house by these companies can be easier to digest than reading a 100-page manual on an irrigation controller.  No offense to Rainbird and Hunter, but that’s some pretty dry reading. 

By making the options within the applications simple and concise, and the access to these applications more readily available than ever (you can check your Facebook, change your irrigation settings, and order yourself some take-out all from your couch!) understanding your irrigation system and making the proper changes is now more understandable and accessible than ever.    

So you can access your irrigation controller from your phone, what other advantages are there?

Sustainability: 

Water is a hot topic, and rightfully so.  The effects of over-usage of water is noticeable in everyday life, with many advocates pressing for more efficient water-management.  Irrigation is important to the consumption of water, and this topic comes up often at Board meetings and walks with members of communities.  The water bills are too high, how can we lower them?  

Smart Controllers have the capability to connect to Wi-Fi (which is how you access the controller from your phone) and take into account weather in order to make changes in the irrigation schedule for days when irrigation may be completely unnecessary.  So not only are you able to access and make changes to your controller from anywhere you have cell-phone service or wireless internet, but there are systems available which can make the changes for you.  If you’re managing a large portion of common area for an HOA and your system waters everything during a rainy day, you’ve not only wasted countless gallons of water, you’ve also wasted you or your Association’s own money.  Utilize the advanced technology enough times and the controller has paid for itself, not to mention that water is no longer being needlessly wasted. 

Smart Controllers are not for everyone.  A lot of people struggle with new technology, and with change.  There is a learning curve to every advancement, and if running irrigation through an application is not for you, that’s okay.  Companies like Rainbird and Hunter have additional options for rain sensors that monitor the weather to turn-off controllers during rain storms which are physically connected to the controllers, or through Wi-Fi.  The point is there are options to make positive change, and the companies on the cutting-edge of irrigation technology will continue to create systems that make managing an irrigation controller easier, but most importantly, more sustainable.

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