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

 

 

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:

Why We Recommend MP Rotators Over Other Rotary Nozzles

Posted on 16th December 2013 in Installations, nozzles

Sure – this is Hunter propaganda, but in my experience MPs have proven themselves to be top quality nozzles over time. It is not uncommon for me to return to a house I installed MP rotators in after 3-4 years and see them performing as well as the day we installed them.

Sprinkler Run Times

Posted on 30th September 2013 in General

If you aren’t sure of how long your sprinklers are supposed to be on for then here is a graphic from the Water Authority with some approximate times.

 

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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!

Only One Station Comes on… What Have I Done?

Posted on 27th September 2012 in Controllers, What's Going on There?, wiring

I went to a job today where the client told me that they were on a shared bore and that only one of their stations would come on. The pump would come on when the rear lawn was running but not on the other 3 stations… strange…

What was going on?

When I got there I also discovered that he had installed a new control box and wired it up himself. I assumed all this was done correctly, but after half an hour of testing various things it dawned on me that what he had done was wire the master/pump wire incorrectly.

He had mistakenly put the pump wire in station 4 and station 4 wire in the pump terminal thus meaning only one station would work. Once we reversed the wires everything worked as it should have.

The learning here is:

– always get the wires back in the right place

– if in doubt make sure you get the pump/MV and common correct. The rest is easy.

And if you ever re-wire your own control box and have just one station come on then consider that you have got the MV/pump wire in the wrong terminal.

Its easy to do!

 

How To Reset a Hunter X Core Controller

Posted on 14th September 2012 in Controllers, General, Installations, What's Going on There?

 

If you have an X Core controller that seems to be playing up then the most likely cause is that it needs resetting.

This can be done easily.

1. Press and hold the ‘PROG’  button.

 

2.  While holding the  ‘PROG’  button press the RESET button for 3 seconds, then release the RESET button while continuing to hold the ‘PROG’  button.

 

3.  Continue holding ‘PROG’ button until time is displayed (this takes about 8 seconds)

Remote Control for Retic Controllers

Posted on 14th September 2012 in Controllers

If your control box is in an awkward spot or if you have a bigger property then testing the retic can be a real pain in the proverbial.

Running back and forward to the box to test, flush re-test takes time and the solution is a simple remote control that will save you that annoyance.

Finally, you don’t need to walk back to the controller to stop and start a manual watering cycle.

The ROAM Remote lets you do just that: Roam wire-free for simple remote operation. The mid-range solution for residential and commercial applications, the ROAM will operate up to a 300 metre range.

For use with Hunter controllers SRC, XC, X-CORE, PRO-C, ICC, I-CORE & ACC, the ROAM offers features other remotes cannot, at a price we all like. With a large LCD and simple push button operation, this remote is tough enough for anything with its sturdy ABS construction, but small enough to fit in your pocket.

Can I Repair My Retic Control Box

Posted on 5th July 2012 in Controllers, What's Going on There?

The short answer is probably ‘yes’. You can repair anything if you want to, but it isn’t good economics.

The last time I checked the cost of repairing a control panel for a retic box it was around $150.00 at an electronics specialist. Then there is the removal and replacement – allow another $150.00 and you are already close to replacement cost, but with no warranty.

So in short – like most things these days a retic control box is a disposable item, so my advice is to get one with a decent warranty.

Which Reticulation Control Box?

Posted on 9th March 2012 in Controllers

In one sense its fairly easy as they all do pretty much the same stuff these days. You can have multiple start times, various programs, and set it to do some very specific things.

There are 3 different boxes I’d recommend.

1. Rainbird – These are a top unit by a well known brand and do an excellent job. Easy to use and very reliable they also have a 24 mth warranty. $450-$500 supplied and fitted. These are probably the most expensive of the domestic range.

 

2. Hunter X Core – These come in a 4/6/8 station box and are very easy to use. There is a two year warranty on the X Core and they are a very reliable box. $320-360 supplied and fitted.

 

 

3. Rainmaster – made by Holman these boxes are easy to use and have a 5 year warranty which is very appealing. Lately I have had a few of these fail on me so I’m less keen to use them now. Holman do honour their warranties with no quibbles, but I’m just a little more cautious on using these now. $380-420 supplied and fitted