What Is a Smart Sprinkler System?

A smart sprinkler is an automated irrigation system that optimizes water usage and improves lawn health. Controlled via a smartphone app, it can adjust watering schedules based on weather and soil moisture data, reducing waste and promoting sustainable landscaping.

Add Smart Irrigation to Your Home

These smart irrigation systems combine essential lawn irrigation with state-of-the-art controllers to improve water-use efficiency and exponentially lower watering costs.

Today’s homes are filled with innovative technology, from handheld smartphones that put the world (and a myriad of capabilities) at people’s fingertips to smart TVs and thermostats.

As artificial intelligence continues to evolve and advance, smart technology is finding its way into more and more systems and unexpected places.

Now, it’s leapt out of homes and migrated into backyards, bringing homeowners the marvel of smart sprinkler systems.

Brief History of Smart Technology Advancements in Sprinkler Systems

Irrigation technology didn’t develop these intricate watering systems in one fell swoop. There have been three major historical advancements in the world of smart irrigation.

As with tech advancements in other areas, it’s made gradual steps, from smart hose timers to smart irrigation controllers and now fully-customizable, high-tech watering systems.

Each step, though, has made watering more intuitive and efficient.

First Major Advancement: Smart Timers

The first breakthrough in technology automated hose watering by attaching smart timers to the home’s hose bib. These timers improved time-consuming, tedious hand-watering by providing the ability to set and run irrigation schedules directly from a smartphone.

For some homeowners, this smart system still meets all their needs. For some, the envelope could be pushed further.

So technology changed direction and introduced smart irrigation controllers to improve automated sprinkler systems.

Second Major Advancement: Smart Irrigation Controllers

Smart irrigation controllers move the functionality of a sprinkler system from the control panel interface into a smartphone app.

Instead of inputting a preset watering schedule and letting sprinklers run like clockwork day in and day out, smart controllers put access to the system into the homeowner's hands.

These controllers let users turn sprinklers on and off no matter where they are and can even go one step further and help determine how long to water.

The smart technology uses local weather data or real-time sensors to adjust watering duration and amounts based on rainfall, temperature, humidity, or soil moisture.

Third Major Advancement: Digitally Mapped Irrigation

The newest advancements in intelligent sprinkler systems—like Irrigreen technology—take watering efficiency steps further. Our revolutionary system digitally maps out a lawn and then “prints” an irrigation plan to water precisely where needed.

No more overlap of sprinkler heads and overspray into gardens or flowers, further reducing water consumption.

How Do Smart Sprinkler Controllers Work?

Today’s smart irrigation controllers rely on two sensor types. They use a weather-based sensor or an on-site soil moisture sensor.

The data gathered by the sensor helps the system determine whether to water or not and how much water to disperse.

1. Weather-based sprinkler controllers

The more common of the two methods is weather-based controllers, which are also referred to as evapotranspiration (ET) controllers.

ET controllers gather local weather data and make run-time irrigation adjustments so the landscape receives the right amount of water at the appropriate time.

They aim to minimize evapotranspiration, the amount of water evaporation at the soil surface coupled with water moving from the soil into plants and then out into the atmosphere, where it evaporates. Hence the name ET controllers.

Minimizing evapotranspiration means the most water possible reaches the grass (or plants) and is available for use. As little water as possible is lost to the environment.

ET controllers utilize ambient temperature, wind speed, solar radiation, and relative humidity to make predictions and adjustments.

Within weather-based controllers, there are three primary forms available.

  • Signal-based controllers rely on publicly sourced meteorological data to calculate the evapotranspiration value for the grass surface at the sprinkler site. The ET data is then transmitted to the controller through a wireless connection.
  • Historic ET controllers use historical water consumption in a region to create a water use curve that is programmed into the sprinkler system. The curve is adjustable for temperature and solar radiation values.
  • On-site weather measurement controllers use on-site weather collecting equipment to calculate real-time ET measurements and water accordingly.

2. Controllers with soil moisture sensors

Smart irrigation controllers with soil moisture sensors use well-established farming irrigation technologies to measure soil moisture content.

The sensors are buried in the root zone of the soil and take real-time measurements of the moisture level. These measurements are transmitted to the controller, where the system waters according to the readings.

Two different soil moisture sensor-based systems are available:

  • Suspended cycle irrigation systems are set up like conventional timer controllers, with programmed watering schedules, start times, and duration. However, when there is enough soil moisture, the system skips the next scheduled irrigation until the soil moisture drops low enough to require watering.
  • Water on-demand irrigation systems have a lower and upper threshold. When the soil moisture falls outside the programmed range, it initiates irrigation at a designated start time on specific days of the week.

Smart Sprinklers Bring Financial and Environmental Sustainability

Also known as the advantages of a smart sprinkler system or why homeowners love smart sprinkler systems.

The truth is that water is essential to keeping a lawn green and healthy regardless of its size. The same goes for trees, ornamental plants, and a garden—there’s no way to get around needing to water plants.

As water resources dwindle in some areas and prices increase in others, there is a drive and desire to use water carefully, minimizing evaporation loss and over-consumption. Here is where smart sprinkler systems step in and step up.

Even though watering is inevitable and essential, smart sprinklers help ensure water is consistently delivered while helping conserve water by only watering when necessary and applying the needed amount, nothing more.

Whether watching a household budget or trying to conserve precious water resources, smart sprinkler systems are a fantastic, sustainable solution for water-use efficiency.

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