by Gary Muhlestein –
Regional watering restrictions and a desire to conserve resources are resulting in a demand for ever smarter irrigation controls – controls that have the ability to adjust watering schedules based on external information such as weather forecasts, recent precipitation, and soil moisture content.
Until now, Z-Wavers wanting to incorporate smart irrigation control into their home automation systems have had to rely on their own ingenuity, as can be seen in a few projects posted online that have involved do-it-yourself control logic and ganging together multiple relay-type Z-Wave switches. Smart irrigation control is about to get a lot easier.
Two manufacturers were showing the first purpose-built Z-Wave irrigation controllers at the Consumer Electronics Show.
Nortek Security & Control was showing their GoControl® Smart Irrigation Controller, which supports up to 15 zones. It appears to be a head-less design, with programming and management done through the homeowner’s Z-Wave gateway/hub controller.
Under the front cover there appears to be plenty of room for wiring connections:
The GoControl Smart Irrigation Controller will have the ability to analyze local forecasted weather data that can then be used to adjust irrigation settings in
real time, and depending on the recent rain fall level, override an existing watering schedule to conserve water. The GoControl Smart Irrigation Controller will feature the Z-Wave 500 Series chip and will have Z-Wave Plus™ certification. MSRP is $139.95.
Nova Teqni introduced their IrrigationPRO zi8, which can be setup remotely via the Internet or locally from the 8-inch color touch screen.
The Nova IrrigationPro zi8 controls from 8 to 12 zones, is compatible with existing 24V AC valves, and has an optional rain sensor. Dimensions are 6.8″ x 5.9″ x 1.7″ (175mm x150mm x 43mm). The zi8 should be available for purchase sometime in May of 2016.
An added benefit to having one of these smart, Internet-connected irrigation controllers will be the ability to trigger individual sprinkler zones remotely from a cell phone or tablet as the homeowner or groundskeeper inspects and adjusts sprinkler heads. On a large property that could save a lot of running back to the irrigation control console.