We love techie water management solutions…especially water management solutions housed in the cloud. Here are a few of the cloud (and one non-cloud) based water management solutions we saw displayed on the floor of the Expo.
WaterSage by OnPointe EcoSystems
WaterSage is a WiFi, weather-based, EPA WaterSense labeled, cloud irrigation controller with an intuitive wizard to assist with the programming. The wizard uses text and pictures to guide the user through the information needed for an ET based controller to make smart watering decisions:
- Plant type
- Solar exposure
- Soil type
- Type of irrigation heads
By simply clicking the landscape pictures most closely matching the valve zone the wizard recommends run time as well as cycle and soak times for each zone. Manual fine tuning allows further adjustment of the recommended times. For the more advance user, WaterSage has an “Expert” mode which allows further customization of the soil, plant and irrigation settings.
“Lono the Provider” is the Hawaiian god of rain. Lono the irrigation controller is a black (and green) box, 100% controlled via smart device app at a very affordable price point – $199. While having an “app for that” is not ground breaking technology in the irrigation industry it is new to flip the design where the original intent of the “controller” is to simply be a WiFi enabled box.
The interface of the app is very rich in both design and information provided. The app lets you know how much water was saved by week, by month and by year. Feedback is a powerful tool in achieving water conservation goals.
Droplet and SkyDrop
Also represented at the WaterSmart Innovations Expo were Droplet and Skydrop. You may recall these products from Water Conservation in the Cloud. Seeing these products in person for the first time our initial thoughts were Droplet was a little larger than expected and SkyDrop was just as clean (think iPod or Nest) and sexy as anticipated.
When it comes to soil moisture technology there is a bit of a love/hate relationship. Soil moisture is a very important and useful data point for both plant health as well as water conservation. The problem is soil moisture can vary around the property and is greatly effected by sun, soil, slope and large trees.
ECCO is a game changer. Each sensor contains three CPUs capable of 20 MIPS of processing capability, two 2.4 GHz radios encased in a hermetic PVC container at a price so affordable the design intent is to have one ECCO sensor for each and every zone.
The sensors in ECCO require no user input, contain no on/off switch, no buttons or any wires. Simply insert ECCO into the ground of each zone, connect the bypass switch to the sprinkler valves and forget it! The ECCO “learns” how much irrigation is required to reach optimal soil moisture and adjusts the run time accordingly. Our sources tell us there will soon be an “app for that” as well.
WeatherTRAK by HydroPoint Data Systems
Certainly no stranger to the ET, cloud based irrigation controllers, HydroPoint has been in the marketplace with their WeatherTRAK solutions for twelve years and were present as usual at the EXPO. What makes this year more notable than previous years is HydroPoint received the prestigious 2014 WaterSense® Manufacturer Partner of the Year award from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) marking the first time a smart irrigation manufacturer has won.
The cloud and the “internet of things” will continue to bring new water conservation devices to market. These water conservation devices and several others can be found here. Some of these devices will likely be very successful and others maybe not so successful. In the latter case there may be some risk if the cloud service is proprietary and ends up being a sunny day with no cloud, forever. However, many of these devices will pay for themselves in a year so anything beyond the payback period keeps more money in your wallet for when the “next best thing” is released.
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