Smart irrigation controllers have been used in residential and commercial applications since the early 2000’s and reduce outdoor water use by monitoring and using information about site conditions such as soil moisture, rain, wind, slope, soil and plant type. Smart irrigation saves water and is based upon these factors.
Studies have found smart irrigation cuts lawn watering by 10 to 40 percent, depending on the device, soil type and user savviness. These irrigation controllers essentially receive feedback from the irrigated system then accordingly adjust the irrigation frequency and duration. Irrigation controllers and rain sensors increase watering in hot and dry months and reduce watering when the weather is cooler.
The two types of smart controllers are soil moisture-based controllers and climate based controllers. The irrigation controllers that are based on soil moisture can test the amount of water in the soil and adjust irrigation schedules, times and durations based on that data. Climate based controllers use the weather temperatures and humidity to regulate the irrigation schedule.
Lawn irrigation accounts for 54 percent of household water usage, according to Orange County, which far outpaces the next largest category, clothes washing, at 11 percent.
Here in Central Florida, Orange County Utilities recently made an official request of the St. Johns district that it amend its water-conservation rules to embrace smart irrigation. Orange County wants to further learn how well the devices will hold up and how well their performance will persist as homeowner interest in the new systems fades.
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