The World’s Worst Irrigation Controller?

Posted on 10th February 2016 in Controllers

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What can I say?…

If you have one of these then you know what I’m talking about.

They are one of the most difficult and least intuitive to program.

We can fit a better one for you!

Irrigation Servicing and Repair

Posted on 10th February 2016 in General

reticulation service areas

Where do we go?

We are based in Yanchep, and specialise in all suburbs from Joondalup to Two Rocks. Suburbs we service include Alkimos, Eglinton, Trinity, Butler, Jindalee, Quinns Rocks, Mindarie, Clarkson, Merriwa, Kinross, Currambine, Iluka, Carramar, Banksia Grove and Tapping.

We may go further south, but if not we can connect you with someone who will do quality work at a good price. .

Save Water Perth!

Posted on 21st December 2015 in General

This is the latest Water Authority campaign and it lets us know we have had an unusually hot and dry start to spring and summer so our dams are sitting very low.

If you can drop 2 minutes off your watering time you will help out!

Just call if you need help

 

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Almost half of household water is being used on our gardens. And it’s only getting hotter – so we need to act now.

Please join others and reduce sprinkler run times by just 2 minutes per station. So we can all avoid wasting more precious water. 

Water saving tips for the garden

Icon of clock faceWater either before 9am or after 6pm
Watering early is best as it allows the water to soak to the roots and be available to plants throughout the day when they need it most. And remember, only water once on your rostered watering days.

Icon of soil with wetting agent in itImprove your soil
Good soil is the foundation of a waterwise garden, but sandy soil is common in WA and has a low water and nutrient holding capacity. Use soil improvement products and wetting agents to reduce water loss.

Icon of mulch in a wheelbarrowUse mulch in your garden
Apply 5–10cm of a chunky, waterwise mulch to significantly reduce evaporation loss and save water. It’s like sunscreen for the soil and can also reduce weed growth and improve the look of your garden.

Icon of plants in a gardenChoose waterwise plants
These are suitable for our climate and can live with less water. Group plants with similar watering needs so you can water efficiently, or get creative and transform the lawn on your verge into a waterwise garden.


Shared Bores and Strange Problems in Yanchep

Posted on 27th September 2015 in bore, What's Going on There?

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This week I had an early morning phone call from a regular client who lives at the top of our street.

 

‘Andrew – my retic is on and it won’t go off. I’ve turned the controller off but it keeps running…’

 

If this were a system running off the mains then we would naturally presume a faulty master and station solenoid but this was a bore. I told him to turn the bore off at the mains and that stopped the flow.

 

Assuming it was the electrical contactor failing I told him to get the electrician out to check it out and replace it.

 

So the electrician attended and couldn’t see a problem, apart from the faulty station solenoid.

 

So the client rang again and we discussed it some more.

 

It didn’t make sense. It had to be an intermittent problem. Then 3 days later he called again to say it had happened again.

 

Odd… I told him to get the sparky back because pumps don’t just come on of their own accord

 

The electrician went back and could find no fault with the contactor. Really?…

 

I was at home having a coffee so I headed up the street to see if we could resolve this somehow.

 

Sure enough it all worked perfectly, except for the faulty solenoid. I was hesitant to fix the solenoid until we had resolved the intermittent pump issue otherwise we would risk the pump coming on with nowhere for the water to go and possibly burn it out.

 

It was a puzzle… and it was also a shared bore…

 

So I guessed that perhaps the other person’s contactor had failed. Now we were getting warm. The contactor was fine, but then it dawned on me to check the settings on their controller.

 

Sure enough the times my client had noticed his retic running when it shouldn’t have corresponded to the times that the neighbour’s retic was running.

 

Problem solved and now we just need to replace a solenoid.

Shared bores can present some unusual issues so give us a call if you get stuck and need to troubleshoot

Add a Station Incompatible with Controller?

Posted on 19th September 2015 in What's Going on There?

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I’ve been using ‘Add a stations’ for a while now as they are great for turning one power wire into two and solving the problem of having to run a new cable.

This week I arrived at a job in Ocean Reef where a 5 year old device appeared to have failed. One station would run via the ‘Add a Station’, but not the other. A couple of solenoids were also old and dodgy and in need of replacement.

So I did the job, installed the new Add a Station, ran several tests and all seemed to be ok.

Then I got a call back a few days later that the problem has come back.

I arrived and checked the Add a Station to see if it was working. There was power to the blue wire, but not the brown wire. I changed it for another new Add a Station and the result was the same.

I tested the controller which was working fine and operating the solenoids perfectly. I tested the wiring by running new cable from the controller to the solenoids and again it didn’t work.

So it was a complete mystery as to why things were failing

It seemed like a bad batch of Add a Stations perhaps?…

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Then I got home and tested the Add a Stations on a brand new Hunter X Core and both worked perfectly. So the only conclusion is that the controller is failing to operate as intended. It was an Irritrol Raindial and functioning fine in every other way.

I haven’t tested the system with a new controller yet as the client is obviously reluctant to spend more money, but it seems this may be the only solution…

 

Reticulation and Turf Installation in Mindarie

Posted on 4th May 2015 in Installations, Installing

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If you live in Mindarie then there are a few things worth knowing before installing reticulation and turf.

Water Flow: in Mindarie water flow is usually very good – at least 30l/min. Bores are a good idea as blocks are often large, but they can also be quite expensive.

Soil Content: Expect a lot of limestone rocks and sandy ground. Usually this makes for hard digging and its also essential that you use some good quality lawn mix below any turf that is laid.

For a free quote on any installation work in Mindarie give us a call.

Alkimos Turf and Irrigation Part 1

Posted on 25th March 2015 in General

I didn’t realise there were large half acre blocks in Alkimos, but last week we did part 1 of a retic and turf install. 100m of kikuyu and retic hooked up the mains, but to be converted shortly to the new bore and then another 600m of turf laid

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PVC Pipe Blowout

Posted on 27th January 2015 in Never Seen That One Before

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This is unusual.

I was called to a job in Jindalee where the PVC pipe had simply blown out. Where you can see the hole the PVC is soft and pliable and for some reason it had blown there.

Occasionally this happens but I haven’t figured out why yet…

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

 

 

Spring!

Posted on 7th August 2014 in General

spring

Spring is almost upon us and its time to get your reticulation system back in order.

 

Don’t wait until the first hot day and then turn it back on only to discover its not up to the job. Call us and we will make sure everything from control box to nozzles are working perfectly!