Most old style irrigation or watering sprinkler control systems are a pain to set up and difficult to reprogram with lots of fiddly sub routines to go through. The result is usually that because it is such a nuisance to reprogram you don’t change the settings and waste lots of water. In the summer months as much as about two thirds of home water usage is outside and most is probably wasted due to overwatering. It doesn’t do your lawn or your bank balance any good.

A web based sprinkler controller like the IrrigationCaddy ICEthS1 is the first step towards a proper home smart irrigation controller because it is easy to change the times, duration and zones of irrigation. Also you can add a rain sensor so that your sprinklers are automatically turned off when it is raining.

Alternatively a horticultural smart irrigation controller will modify the watering times and duration to specific plant needs. This not only optimises water consumption eliminating waste but also improves plant growth and yields. The latest systems are connected to their own mini weather station. This provides details of temperature, sunlight, humidity and soil moisture levels. Irrigation schedules are then automatically adjusted because the unit takes into account changing weather conditions - specifically evapotranspiration (ET) and rainfall (ET is the amount of water lost from the soil through evaporation plus the plant's water loss, both of which are dramatically affected by weather conditions). Maybe that is technical overkill for the average homeowner who just wants to know how to make a sprinkler system more efficient and cost effective.

The IrrigationCaddy Web Based Sprinkler Controller and Watering SystemCredit: Amazon

One of the easiest sprinkler control systems to use on the market is The Irrigation Caddy (IC) device. Basically this is very simple to set up and control ethernet based irrigation control system. The clever thing about this system is that it allows the user to control and schedule an irrigation system from any computer with a web browser. No special software or clients are required, just a Web Browser on a computer. The Irrigation Caddy is controlled via a web browser, whether the browser is in a computer, an iPhone, iPad, or any other web enabled device, you can control this from anywhere in the world so long as you have internet access. The device has a number of key features and benefits:

  1. The User Interface is easy to use. 
    The user interface is friendly and intuitive so anyone can use the IrrigationCaddy, no training or lengthy manuals are required. If you can order something from Amazon with a few clicks this is the same, even technophobes will love it. No fiddly dials and knobs to push and click.
  2. There is an option for Multiple Programs 
    As standard there are 3 main scheduling programs, plus one other program called "Run Now". This is really useful if you are doing maintenance on your sprinklers and want to check that you have positioned them properly. The programs can be scheduled to run at any time. You can select time, duration and even at what frequency if you don’t want a daily schedule you can select what you want. Once you have set up the schedules, the revised programs can be saved, the IrrigationCaddy will store them in its non volatile memory, so even if you switch off or lose power for some reason all is well.
  3. For ease of use the 10 Zones can be Assigned Names 
    The watering zones can be named. You no longer have to remember which number goes with which zone. If you have a master valve system then zone 10 is automatically allocated to the master valve.
  4. You can have Multiple Start Times 
    Each program can be assigned multiple start times each day. You are not limited to one or two sessions each day in fact there are a maximum of five individual start times. This is a great really useful and convenient feature which will means you can  set the program once, and then start it several times during the day when you want.
  5. Totally Flexible Daily Scheduling 
    Unlike the old systems you may have seen or used the programs can be scheduled to run on even – days,  odd -  days, or every set number of days, and you can also specify exactly which days the particular program should be run. Even if you Water Supply Company imposes special watering restrictions you can easily set this up with a few simple clicks on the control screen.
  6. Easy and Convenient Time Setting and Adjusting Control Features 
    On the Control Screen interface the time settings can be easily adjusted by simply moving a slider. Almost like using Google Calendar. Also these ‘sliders’  are a great feature if you are on your iPhone, iPad or any touch screen device. This means the time can be changed visually so you don’t need to type anything, or even enter any numbers.
IrrigationCaddy Visual CalendarCredit: Amazon


6. Complete Visual Calendar  

This just like having a calendar or diary open in front of you because just like the time settings it gives you a totally visual representation of when the individual programs will run. You can get a monthly, weekly or even daily representation. So finally there is no more guesswork about if and when the sprinklers are supposed to run.

7. Peace of Mind and Security 

to be on the safe side there is a Security Facility; just to make sure for example that the kids don’t play around with the system. This allows you to set a username and a password so that no one else is allowed to change the watering schedules

8. To complete add a Rain Sensor

Another key feature is that you can add a rain sensor which will automatically halt your sprinkler programs until it dries out. This saves wasting water.

Toro 53770 Sprinkler System Timer Wireless Rain SensorCredit: Amazon

A Wireless Rain Sensor is very easy to set because you don’t need to start running and fixing cables to set it up. Just find an exposed position outside and then connect the receiver to your web based sprinkler controller like the IrrigationCaddy ICEthS1 . One very good unit is the Toro Wireless RainSensor This is a water conservation device which also meets the current legislative standards in states and municipalities that already have enacted water conservation mandates. The RainSensor unit works simply by absorbing rainwater and reacts automatically by shutting off power to your sprinkler valves. Then naturally after it stops raining the Wireless RainSensor will then gradually dry out, as does the soil, then it will reset which then permits your sprinklers to run again on their normal programmed schedule.

These web based sprinkler controllers and wireless rain sensors make a great combination and are not very expensive but are very effective and easy to set up. Why don’t you update your system? You could also save on water charges as well.  

Remember once you set this up you can control your web based sprinkler controller from anywhere in the world where you have internet access.