Install Weather Based Irrigation Control

Weather-based irrigation is an emerging technology that can save significantly on outdoor water use. Weather-based controllers turn off watering when it rains, making sure your plants get just the right amount of water and only when they need it.

Medium
Households: 0 completed, 1 committed
560
Points ?
$30
Annual Savings
$40 - $200
Upfront Cost
These are estimates
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Energy and water savings

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0
kWh Electricity
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0
Therms Natural Gas
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0
Gallons Gas
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5600
Gallons Water
  • Save precious water resources
  • Save money
  • Healthier happier plants

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Overview

The Action
We will install a weather-based irrigation control system.
Is this action for me?
If you own your home and have outdoor irrigation, this action is for you!
When and Who?
This action can be done anytime! DIY? Maybe, depending on your comfort level with home improvement projects. It depends partially on the complexity of programming the controller and whether wiring may be required.
How long will it take?
Medium - time to identify the right controller and install.
What is the cost?
Around $40 - $200 or more depending on the system and features.

Benefits

  • Save precious water resources

  • Save money

  • Healthier happier plants

Resources

Financing

Find loan options for home energy & water upgrades through Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing

The Basics

Weather-based controllers make it easy to make sure your plants get just the right amount of water at the right time. They also save water, money and time.

Checklist

Learn about weather-based irrigation controllers
Choose the right controller for your home
Install and program your controller

Weather-based irrigation systems

It is pretty obvious that watering the lawn after a rainy day doesn’t make sense. It would be a waste of water, make the grass overly soggy and create runoff of soil and nutrients.  However, that is what most automated irrigation systems do unless you manually turn them off.  Installing a weather-based irrigation control system can save water as well as protect your plants from over or even under watering.  There are two options for weather-based control - a simple rainfall shut-off device or a smart weather-based control system.  

Rainfall shutoff devices

Rainfall shutoff devices are now available for installation on almost all irrigation systems. These are relatively inexpensive, costing between $25-$100, and are easy to install.  These devices have sensors that automatically react to moisture either from rain or the soil, and subsequently turn the irrigation system off. This is convenient for those times when you’re not available at home to manually do this yourself.

This is an easy solution; however, prices for weather-based irrigation controllers have come down and for just a bit more (or even possibly the same price) you can install a full weather-based controller that provides more functionality and water savings.

Weather-based irrigation controller

Weather-based irrigation controllers are intelligent irrigation systems which act like a thermostat for your sprinkler system.  They check weather and/or soil conditions to tailor watering schedules to current conditions.  There are two different ways controllers collect this data - either on-site or signal-based. On-site systems use sensors to collect data on temperature, moisture, and sunlight in your yard.  These controllers may also have a chip including a 20-year history of weather patterns, enabling them to calculate irrigation need based on known conditions.

Signal-based controllers glean their information from radio, telephone, cable, cellular, web or other technology to get the current local weather reports and update the irrigation system based on these local reports. This takes the guesswork out of irrigation, and saves a lot of water in the end.  With proper installation and programming you can save water and money without having to think about it.

Choose the right controller for your home

The selection of a smart irrigation system might seem daunting.  The most important thing to look for is WaterSense approved systems that meet the EPA’s criteria on water usage.   Find a list of approved systems on the EPA website.  Just like programmable thermostats, not all irrigation controllers are created equal -- some are more complicated to install and program.  Check out user and consumer reviews to find one that meets your budget, water needs and preferences on level of programming and complexity.

Install your controller

Many controllers can be installed DIY, however sometimes there is wiring required and programming can be complex.  If you want to install yourself, check out the installation manual and look for a controller where you feel comfortable with the installation requirements.  If you are not sure, a licensed landscaping professional should be able to help.

Add a drip system

With your new weather-based control system the average home can save up to 8,000 gallons a year!  Now take the next step and upgrade to a drip irrigation system.  With these two systems you will be as water efficient as you can get and save money and precious water resources!