Part of a series on Complex Control with the Smart Housekeeper. Using the Smart Housekeeper and wireless technology to optimize the effectivity and adjust your sprinkler system.

Sprinkler Control

Jeff Vogel

The Grass Floods in the Spring, Burns in the Summer, and molds in the fall!
Part of a series on Complex Control with the Smart Housekeeper.
Using the Smart Housekeeper and wireless technology to optimize the effectivity and adjust your sprinkler system.

Jeff Vogel started Smart Electronics in 1994. He graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy in 1991 with a Bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering. Then, in 1994, Jeff completed his Master's degree at U of D. He's done home automation research and development for his Master's Thesis, his company, and other projects for about 6 years. VogelJC@aol.com  www.smartgateway.com    


If you have a sprinkler system, you probably know of the problems that exist with optimizing your watering times.

Most underground sprinkler systems are controlled using electric valves. While there are some old ones that have manual valves, all in all, they're easy to retrofit to be controlled electrically. Whether you have an old mechanical 3 day timer or a new sophisticated multiple 7 day electronic timer, the problem still remains -- the timers don't know when sunrise and sunset are. Further, if you want to optimize the effectivity of watering your investment, you need to water it in relation to the sun. I'm sure you've noticed that in August, it's rather dark at 8:00 p.m, while in May, it's stays sunny until almost 10:00 p.m. Furthermore, these timers don't measure what the temperature and humidity is outside, so they can't begin to assume what the evaporation rate of the water is in the lawn.

This month's application will show how you can use the Smart Housekeeper to alter your watering schedules and times based on time of year, total rain, outside humidity, and temperature. We'll also show how we used the X-10 Pro wireless transmitter to aide in adjusting the sprinkler system.

Setting up your layout:

The first part of any new addition to your home automation system is to set up your layout Since I already have a layout for the outside of my house, I'll just add indicators around the yard every where I have sprinklers. Then I'll assign them to the appropriate zones. I'll also add the appropriate weather measures that I intend to use while optimizing the system.

Adding the controls:

The first part of our automation is to add a basic control that advances or selects the zone upon receipt of an appropriate X-10 command. Then, we'll use the X-10 wireless transmitter to walk the yard, select the zones, and adjust the watering patterns. Each sprinkler's watering range should overlap that of the next. Wireless controls will eliminate the hassle of running back and forth to the control station. Below you'll see another layout created that includes all of the control elements we'll use for our project.

We'll begin with four watering levels based on total rain, temperature, and humidity. We've also added X-10 controls which enable direct zone control from X-10 commands received on House Code P. Lastly, we have 'Begin Watering' and 'Stop Watering' scenes which are used with the schedule command within The Smart Housekeeper to perform the traditional watering controls.

Click to proceed to Watering Levels

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of HomeToys

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