When talking about sprinkler repair Sanford FL the conversation often turns to irrigation controllers. Should you upgrade to something more modern?
Types of Irrigation Timers
These timers range from basic to feature-rich units. Sprinkler timers are also called controllers. Conventional timers are programmed by the user as to when to turn on and for how long. Smart controllers connect to your internet and use weather data to program the irrigation.
Sprinkler controllers are most often called timers or clocks and they come in a wide range of makes and models. It is essential to choose a controller based on the size of the sprinkler system and any specific landscape requirements that you may have as many different needs and applications that exist in landscaping.
Most of us are faced with the question which timer is best for them. There are some significant factors that substantially affect your selection. First, decide if you want your timer to be smart or conventional, the operating location, the number of zones it needs for your sprinkler system, and any other additional features.
Features of Sprinkler Controllers
You have some questions to think about as you’re shopping for a timer are how complicated is it to program the clock and calendar functions? How detailed do you want the controller’s schedule to be? Does the unit allow for seasonal adjustments? Does the model you are considering have functions for daily, weekly and monthly scheduling?
Conventional Timers VS Smart Controllers
There are two main categories or types of controllers: conventional and smart. A good conventional controller has all the necessary features that are typically needed for most of your watering meets conventional timers are usually hung on a wall in the garage and that is where you stand and enter all the watering program information using the units dials and buttons.
One of the most significant drawbacks to conventional timers is that when performing maintenance or making programming changes, you have to walk back and forth from the timer out to your yard, to turn it on and off or advance it to the next zone.
Then go back to the controller, hit the next zone and head back outside to view your results. This can be a very time-consuming and tedious activity since you must repeat this process for each zone.
A smart controller on the other hand has Wi-Fi or cellular connectivity allowing you to use your computer or mobile device to program and operate the unit from any location, even if you’re away from home.
No more tedious walking back and forth between the timer and the yard. Just use your phone tablet or computer to activate the smart controller. Some smart models can even notify you when there is a problem like a broken sprinkler head or about a zone that isn’t working correctly. More advanced models are capable of automatically programming themselves, based on the watering needs of the landscape.
Next, let us look at where you are going to locate your controller sprinkler timer. They come in indoor or outdoor models. Non weather resistant models come with an attached external transformer that plugs directly into the wall outlet. You never want to locate an indoor controller outside. Typically, indoor units are hung on the wall in a garage, closet, shed pump house or some other structure like a barn, but always near a power outlet. You can plug in the attached power cord. The critical thing to remember when choosing the location for installing an indoor model is that you always must protect it from the effects of Mother Nature.
Outdoor timers, on the other hand, come with weather, resistant housing and are more durable than the indoor models. Although they are designed to be hardwired directly to your electrical system, an optional power cable, commonly called a pigtail enables the unit to be plugged into a standard wall outlet.
Since outdoor timers offer more features than indoor units, installing and using them in indoor locations with the added pigtail has become very commonplace. Large outdoor models come equipped with advanced features that let them be configured for a greater number of stations.
Your sprinkler system design should divide your property into watering zones or stations. The typical residential sprinkler design has between four and twelve zones. Commercial designs might have as many as 48 stations or, possibly even more.
How Many Zones?
It is essential to know how many zones your system will has, and if you are upgrading an existing model, you must get a timer that has at least the same number of stations as your current unit. It is also a good idea to choose a timer with a few extra stations in case of future landscape, remodeling or expansion like adding a vegetable garden.
The number of zones in your system is equal to the number of control valves. You can calculate the number of zones by counting the number wires that are already connected to the terminals inside your timer.
Most manufacturers have the common terminal and pump start/master valve terminals marked. Most systems have six zones. The word program, when used in connection with a timer, refers to the set of watering instructions for the number of zones that will run during a planned watering cycle.
The more stations you have running on separate schedules, the more programs that timer must be able to store in its memory. Most timers can run up to four different programs, often labeled as program ABC and D and finally, it’s time to choose what additional features you are looking for your timer to include.
These extra features and options are a matter of personal preference and are not critical to the sprinkler system functioning correctly. With this in mind, we have compiled a list of questions for you to answer that will help you make an informed selection:
Questions to Ask About Your Sprinkler System Timer
Do you need the controller for drip irrigation? You can have a drip Zone on the same timer. That runs the high-volume sprinkler stations, but typically it’s setup on its own program.
Will you place the timer next to a wall outlet or will the unit need to be battery-operated a battery-operated sprinkler timer? Battery timers are an ideal solution to use in a remote location that doesn’t have electrical access.
Do you need or want the timer to be connected via Wi-Fi for remote access and programming and control?
Pump Start and Master Valve
If you use well water, does the timer have a pump start or master valve terminal? This important feature combines irrigation and pump control by turning on the water pump relay and activates a zone control valve.
At the same time, does your controller of choice allow the installation of a rain sensor? A rain sensor is required in Sanford FL and automatically shuts off the sprinkler system when rain is detected. Not only does this conserve water and save you money, but also prevents your plants from being over watered
Battery VS Flash Memory
Does the timer have non-volatile memory? Typically, battery backup is only for protecting the watering schedule programs, it doesn’t actually run the system and for an extended multi-day power outage. The battery will eventually die and the program wi’ll be lost. The non-volatile memory also called flash memory, maintains the program, data and watering schedules without battery or AC power.
Less expensive controllers can be difficult to program and may be less durable and often your options are limited. Outdoor controllers can easily be used to just add the appropriate pigtail adapter.
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