Technology

10.28.14Alan Harris

Cloud on the Floor of WaterSmart Innovations

WaterSage is a cloud based irrigation controller with an intuitive wizard to assist with programming to maximize water savings.
The app for Lono contains rich information including water savings by week, month and year.

ECCO is an affordable soil moisture sensor with integrated wireless technology.

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
  • Slope
  • 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

“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.

ECCO

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.

If you enjoyed reading about the cloud based water management and irrigation solutions from WaterSmart Innovations, please share it with a friend, check out my previous posts , follow me on Twitter @h2oMatters and check out water stories I am reading on Flipboard:

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Alan Harris

Alan Harris is a water management pioneer. With roots in landscape architecture, Alan has worked with irrigation throughout his career experimenting with hydrozones and a variety of high efficiency irrigation systems. Now, over thirty years in the landscape industry, Alan continues to stay apprised of the latest technology even in a sales leadership capacity as our Director of Sales Operations for our landscape maintenance division. In addition to his contributions to this blog, Alan keeps his hand in water management as a regular contributor to Lawn & Landscape Magazine and speaker at WaterSmart Innovations Conference.

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COMMENTS (5)

  1. Thursday, 8:29 Martha Golea

    It’s great to see products like these popping up more and more. Technology isn’t exactly a driving force in the water management industry, as it is in every other industry. Weathermatic CEO Mike Mason just published a blog post about how behind irrigation manufacturers are when it comes to disruptive technology (http://bit.ly/irrigationignorestech) and from all the comments, it sounds like people agree there needs to be a big change!

    WaterSmart is definitely the place to be, tech-wise. I hate that I missed it, this year!

  2. Friday, 6:44 steve shoap

    Intelligent-irrigation systems can measure soil moisture across a landscape and deliver water only where needed. These systems can save precious water.

    I propose to lower the cost of intelligent irrigation systems. Today, the data network wires are separately trenched after the PVC pipes are trenched.
    I propose to lower the cost of these systems by embedding a wire pair in the irrigation pipes and pipe couplers. This wire pair then supports a digital control network. No extra trenching is needed.

    The proposed system will support the network protocols and hardware of all major intelligent irrigation suppliers.

    I have built prototypes and have had the system concept validated by an engineering group at the University of Dayton.

    Please help me get support to develop the system.
    I have US and Canadian patents.

    http://www.water-wire-irrigation.com

  3. Friday, 7:01 Janet

    And don’t forget Skydrop smart watering controller – http://www.Skydrop.com

  4. Thursday, 3:51 Michael Stowe

    I love this stuff! I am not a native techie. But am a native of Northern California where water issues perennially threaten to divide the state, Becoming a Certified Water Efficient Landscaper was my first high tech step in the direction of water conservation. But growing up on stoney, clayey soils, I have also always followed developments in irrigation technologies that could help me better serve my clients. Thanks, Alan!

  5. […] the irrigation tech in her work boots and I in my irrigation app, had just winterized the system for a long winter nap; when out on the lawn there arose such a […]

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