New Hydrawise Controller

Posted on 5th October 2014 in Controllers

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A little while back I reviewed the first model of the Hydrawise controller, an innovative new device that allows you to control your irrigation from desktop, android or iPhone app.

The first offering was functional but not that pretty and fairly expensive. The team at Hydrawise have now released a couple of new models, done work on both design and price and the result is great.

I was sent a 12 station model to test and review (so that’s my disclosure) and yesterday I managed to get it up and running. I installed it a few days ago in my garage, but the wifi reception was poor and it kept fading in and out so the easiest option seemed to be that of running some more cable and installing it closer to the house rather than boosting the signal.

The new design (pictured above) is a lot nicer looking than the original and the functionality is excellent. They come in 2 models: a 6 station and a 12 station, however in both cases one station needs to be allocated to a ‘master valve’ or ‘pump start’ meaning they are really a 5 or 11 station if you are running a master valve (and if you aren’t then you should be).

The base model is not waterproof although you can purchase a purpose built box to house the controller. I chose to mount mine in a dry area, although another option I was playing with, before it got messy, was that of stripping the guts out of an old X Core and using it as a box. (It will just fit but needs to mounted sideways.)

The new controllers retail at $279.00 for 6 station and $379.00 for the 12 station. They come with a plug in transformer so you need to have a powerpoint somewhere to plug into. That makes the DIY option a lot easier but it adds the expense of an outdoor powerpoint for those who currently use controllers with built in transformers and have them hardwired (probably 80-90% of homes in WA)

Installing it was simple, although I’m not a fan of the tiny terminal blocks as they are harder to locate cable in. The touch screen is clear and fairly intuitive and there is a setup wizard for locating and connecting to wifi. (You can also connect via a cable.) That was simple and we were up and running quickly.

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When it came to programming the controller I found myself on a bit of a learning curve as the methods used for programming your Holman/Hunter etc don’t apply. It wasn’t difficult, but it took a little playing around to get the hang of it. It is able to be configured to specific watering days, start times and run times.  I also failed to activate the Master valve initially so that had me scratching my head for a bit as to why nothing would come on.

The programming is done under the ‘zones and schedules’ tab and once you personalise the settings it all comes together quickly and easily.  There are a number of options you can add including a flow meter and an ‘enthusiast plan’ for those seeking more info about weather conditions.

Had I not managed to put a spade through my common wire I would have been up and running a lot quicker, but an hour of messing around and trouble shooting slowed me down.

The stuff I liked about it:

Remote access – that’s a biggie these days and to be able to control your sprinklers from anywhere is worth a lot. Its great not to have to even jog down to the shed to turn the system on or reprogram it.

Simple Configuration – once you get used to the way the system is set up it makes good sense and is easy to use.

No need for battery or rain sensor – with your data stored in the cloud a battery back up isn’t needed and with the controller programmed to relate to local weather stations a rain sensor is no longer required.

Contractor options – For those who feel any kind of reticulation programming is beyond them there is the ability for a reticulation contractor to login to their system and program it for them. It can add to the diversity of a business and help people who don’t find this stuff easy.

Some areas for consideration

Watering Days – a specific ‘watering days’ option for WA would be valuable. In WA we can water for 2 days/week off main supply or 3 days off a bore. For a programmer it wouldn’t take much to factor this into a system and it would ‘auto-select’ the right days for people.

A Built in Transformer Model – Here in WA again… 90% of controllers are hardwired meaning there is no powerpoint to plug into, but rather just electrical cable which is used to connect to the controller’s transformer. I know that if I were to be installing these regularly in place of other controllers I would need to factor in the cost of an outdoor powerpoint and an electrician to fit it. Add about $175.00 to the cost. If you’re going to go with a built in transformer then it makes sense to add a waterproof housing that fits with the look of the unit. Update – These are coming soon.

3G? – I guess wifi is like clean water today, but a 3G backup could be another option if the wifi is poor/unavailable.

Up until yesterday I was using a Hunter X Core with a Roam remote control to service our own home, but now that I’ve taken it off I doubt I will be putting it back up again. The features offered by the Hydrawise make the Hunter obsolete, but the challenge for Hydrawise will be to convince people that their product is worth spending the extra $$ on.

For most early adopters there is a price tag attached to being first in line and some will be prepared to pay for this. But early adopters are a small percentage of the population. To pick up the mainstream I would imagine further work on price would be needed, but I imagine this will be possible if volume can increase.

As a retic controller installer I like what I see and I’d be keen to use the product, but the trade price on Hydrawise makes it prohibitive for us to make a profit on. So again the $$ come into play.

Hydrawise is in the market with a great product that will certainly be attractive to many, and WA is a big market, but finding those who are willing to part with the extra $$ to gain the new features will be the challenge.

Our prices on Hydrawise supplied and fitted:

6 Station – $500 inc GST plus the cost of an outdoor powerpoint / case if needed.

12 Station – $600 inc GST plus the cost of an outdoor powerpoint / case if needed

 

 

Reticulation Control Box Upgrade

Posted on 22nd September 2014 in Controllers, General

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Spring is the busiest time of year for the replacement of reticulation control boxes. At the end of winter we stroll out to switch the retic back on only to discover the box has died and needs replacing.

We specialise in the supply and installation of top quality reticulation control boxes and generally prefer the Hunter X Core for its quality and features.

If you are seeking a new box then check our other site www.reticcontrollerman.com for info on various brands and prices.

 

 

Retic Off

Posted on 6th June 2014 in Controllers, Local Knowledge

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In case you weren’t aware all reticulation needs to be switched off as of June 1st and until Aug 31st.

For most controllers it is a simple matter of turning the dial to ‘off’ and ensuring the sprinklers don’t run. If you continue to run your retic over winter then you will get fined around $150.00

If you aren’t sure how to switch the system off then give us a call and we’ll try and talk you thru it over the phone.

 

Tricky Access Reticulation

Posted on 8th April 2014 in Controllers, Installations

Sometimes it can be difficult to install a system when there is no way of running wire from the control box to the solenoids. Maybe the liquid limestone went in too quickly and people hadn’t considered the future problems. 

It may not be all over…

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There are a couple of battery powered solenoids models available that require w ater supply, but do not need a control box positioned on the wall. We prefer to use the Hunter Node for reliability and ease of use. It functions in much the same way as the X Core controller and had the option of installing multiple solenoids, so even if you can’t access your water meter or get power to your solenoids the ‘Node’ may still allow you have a functioning retic system

How to Progam a Hunter X Core

Posted on 2nd April 2014 in Controllers

This is the most common controller we use so for those who would like some easy to follow instructions here they are courtesy of Hunter

Part 2 – some more advanced programming:

My Retic Won’t Shut Off

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For people with Hunter X Core Controllers this is one of the most common issues and it arises because the controller is incorrectly programmed.

What happens is the system comes on at 5.00am (or whenever you have set it for) runs thru the whole cycle and then does it again… and again… and again…

The problem is more than one identical start time being set.

By that I mean that start time 1 is 5.00am, start time 2 is 5.00am and then start time 3 is 5.00am. For some reason this confuses the machine and causes it behave in this way.

The reality is you only need one start time to run a program, so if you have this issue then ensure you only have one time set.

Control Reticulation With an Iphone or Android Phone

Posted on 12th October 2013 in Controllers

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A few years back I found myself wondering why no one had devised an app for controlling irrigation and started investigating how to develop something like that myself.

But as time went on I discovered others were already in the race and were likely going to be ahead of me. I decided to leave it and wait to see what developed.

Well here’s one solution that has arrived on the market recently. Its called Hydrawise and offers remote control and programming of your system via a computer or smartphone.

Compared to regular controllers they are not cheap, but they do offer that extra functionality of remote programming. The website suggests the entry level home controller is $395.00 and then there are some options you can add to provide more information about your watering.

At this stage it is about double the cost of a regular X Core, so you’d really have to like those extra features to make it viable. While I like the idea I am yet to be convinced it is value for money.

Here is a video of someone who is pretty happy with the product.

My hope would be that someone would develop an ‘add on’ module for a controller that could be operated via smartphone that would cost approx $50.00 + set up. If this were the case then I think the take up would be high, but right now I think we are still in the innovation stage and costs are quite high.

My Controller Looks Like Its Working But Nothing is Coming on

Posted on 26th May 2013 in Controllers, General, solenoids, What's Going on There?

So you set your controller running and everything looks right on the digital panel, but there is no water?…

What’s going on?…

Well if you are running your retic off the mains then its most likely that there is a problem with your master solenoid. If it isn’t working then you won’t get any water to the different stations.

You can test if this is the issue by locating it, turning it on manually (usually you need to turn the coil a quarter turn anti-clockwise) and then running the system as usual. If everything works with the master valve open then you have found your problem.

If not then the problem may well be the controller itself.

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Rain Sensor Wet or Dry?…

Posted on 26th May 2013 in Controllers, What's Going on There?, wiring

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If you have a Holman 4/6/9 controller and the display looks ok, but it doesn’t seem to be working then the first thing to check out is whether the rain sensor display says ‘rain sensor wet’ or ‘rain sensor dry’.

If it displays a ‘wet’ message then it means that there is no 24v power going to the controller and therefore no power to operate solenoids.

There are a few things that could cause this:

1) check your RCDs in your meter box as if one of these has tripped then you won’t have power to the box.

2) check your fuse. Most likely a fault will have blown the fuse.

3) It may be that the transformer that converts 240V to 24V has died. Not much you can do here but replace the unit.

But before you call someone out do the ‘wet/dry’ check first!

Water Water Water

Posted on 11th March 2013 in Controllers, General, Installations, Turf

Any time lay lawn we will set your retic control box for you, but after that its up to you to make sure it is actually working.

Different controllers respond differently to power outages and occasionally controllers can ‘die’, leaving you with no water. A recent turf installation we did in Brighton came close to tragedy.

The house was uninhabited and the person responsible for it lived in the country. After laying the turf we set the control box and left, only to discover two weeks later that the control box had faulted and the lawn hadn’t been watered as needed. It was close to dead and was going to need some intense watering to bring it back to life.

At last inspection it seemed that the lawn had a chance of making it, which is very fortunate. A dead lawn doesn’t just cost money to replace. It costs to remove and tip, so in the end the exercise costs even more than double.

So please please please – check that your lawn is getting watered as it should be. And if its not then call us straight away so we can help you sort it out!