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 and Turf in Joondalup

Posted on 12th September 2014 in Installations, Turf

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This week I did a front yard makeover in Joondalup. It involved removing the old lawn/weed, installing some new retic and then laying some turf.

The existing turf had turned to weeds and looked almost impossible to revive, so the process was:

a) Spray existing turf / weeds and kill off what is there.

b) The bobcat came and removed existing stuff to a depth of around 100ml and then filled with special lawn mix so that it was 20-30ml below kerb level.

c) Reinstall retic and ensure all is getting covered. This involved placing sprinklers around the perimeter of the property spraying in as well as in the middle spraying out. The previous system had a row of sprinklers down the middle and consequently missed much of the lawn. I also installed a new Hunter X Core to make watering so much easier.

c) Screed and lay the new wintergreen lawn.

The budget for a project like this is usually around $3000.00.

Here’s a before and after shot so you can see the difference

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Spring!

Posted on 7th August 2014 in General

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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!

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.

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.

The Great Australian Backyard

Posted on 6th October 2013 in bore, General, Installations, Installing, Sir Walter Turf

Back in the olden days when blocks of land were large the typical backyard was big enough for a full length cricket pitch as well as the Hills Hoist.

These days most backyards are compact and good for a game of chess…

Last week we were in Lancelin and installed a bore, retic and turf in this property. We finished it on Thursday and it looks sensational.

The sprinklers used are top quality MP Rotators (3000 series nozzle) on 2 stations and the 320m of turf was Sir Walter Buffalo. Its  a huge backyard ready for the kids to get out the footy.

 

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Heinrich gets stuck into the 8 pallets of lawn we had delivered. Check out the quirky Hobbit house in the next block…

 

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Finished product – looking great

Public Holiday at a Retic Bloke’s House

Posted on 30th September 2013 in In My Own Backyard, Just For Fun

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So what do you do when your dad is a retic bloke and its a beautiful day outside?…

Grab some black poly pipe, some black plastic and some microsprays and create a water slide… Nice work kids

 

How Much Do I Pay for Water in Perth?

Posted on 16th September 2013 in bore, General

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The cost of Perth water increased another 10% in 2013 so it is more important than ever that you are careful with the use of your reticulation. It is estimated that up to 50% of household water usage is attributed to the sprinkler system so it pays not to waste any of that water.

One option I encourage people to consider is the installation of a bore. While the upfront cost of around $4K is significant if you plan on being in the property long term then this is an option well worth considering.

The price of water* is tiered i.e. the more you use, the more you pay.  This is to help encourage the careful use of water.

  • 0 – 150 kL costs $1.381 per kL
  • 151 – 500 kL costs $1.841 per kL
  • Over 500 kL costs $2.607 per kL

*Ref: http://www.watercorporation.com.au/my-account/rates-and-charges

 

 

How to Cut Turf to Size

Posted on 14th August 2013 in Installations, Just For Fun, Products, Turf

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If you’re laying turf then inevitably you will need to trim it at some point.

There are many ways to do this, but we have found the steak knife to be the most effective way. But not any old steak knife. Most knives will cut wintergreen and the softer turfs, but if you want to cut thru Sir Walter then you will need something more solid.

We have found homemaker knives from K Mart to be the best as they are a strong one piece stainless steel knife. But good luck finding any as they seem to be a discontinued line. I bought the last 26 boxes in Perth!

By my reckoning there should be another 7 years of turf laying left there…

Transformations

Posted on 11th June 2013 in In My Own Backyard, Sir Walter Turf, sprinklers

When someone calls us to get to work on their backyard or front yard then essentially what they are hoping for is a transformation – a complete facelift that will have you say ‘wow!’

We don’t often get to go back  and see how our jobs look a year or two later, but this is one job I will stay in touch with because I drive past it every day.

Just 300m from our home is this residence right on the beach in Yanchep. It has had both an internal and external facelift over the last year or two.

Last year we came here and did the retic and turf at the rear, and then today we went back and completed work at the front. Here are some shots from a year ago as well as some pics of how it looks today.

 

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That was last year and here’s today…

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And then today we did the front

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