Sometimes the cloud brings rain and sometimes the cloud brings opportunities for water conservation. The cloud in question is the internet and it has changed and will continue to change the way we live our lives. These four innovations (recently or soon to be released) may or may not disrupt the world of irrigation, but they do have significant water conservation implications.
Droplet – Reinventing How Plants Get Water
A combination of robotics, cloud computing and connected services transform the way this sprinkler functions. Droplet draws upon a vast system of data to intelligently determine how best to care for the watering needs of plants. By being exceptionally smart, precise and frugal, Droplet reportedly can lower sprinkler water consumption by up to 90%.
What Makes Droplet Different
We know smart controllers use data from thousands of weather stations to determine the ET rate (evapotranspiration) and how much water should be applied to replace the water lost to wind, sun and plant transpiration. The Droplet takes it to the next step and applies water based on the individual plant’s horticultural needs all from a single sprinkler. Let Droplet know where the walks, drives, windows, building and other elements you want to stay dry and Droplet will adjust the arc of the nozzle to keep the irrigation off of those areas.
Another unique feature is Droplet only needs a standard garden hose, a power source and WiFi within 100 feet.. In other words a traditional irrigation system and controller is not required. With a 30 foot radius the droplet can apply its highly customizable water program to cover 2700 square feet of landscaping.
Iro – An Irrigation Controller…Sans Buttons and Knobs
Historically irrigation system controllers have a combination of buttons and knobs which have to be pushed and turned in the correct order to (hopefully) properly program. As irrigation systems have added more features the interface has become more complicated. The Iro by Racchio does not have a single knob or button. The system is controlled through an app on a smart phone designed specifically to make the experience painless and much more intuitive. Like any good smart controller, the Iro uses weather data, specific for your location and adjusts the watering schedule automatically.
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RainMachine – Touch-a, Touch-a, Touch Me for Water Conservation
For the slightly more tactile water conservationist, the RainMachine uses a touch screen interface, a handheld smart device or a computer. RainMachine also connects via WIFI and downloads weather data every 3 hours from NOAA. NOAA uses satellites, radars and thousands of weather stations, delivering the most accurate weather forecast on Earth. Forecasting seven days in advance, the RainMachine improves watering efficiency thus dramatically reducing water waste. RainMachine will even display the last 30 days of water use.
skydrop – Twist and Shout Your Way to Water Conservation
If you have a Nest thermostat you are familiar with the twist and push concept for programming. skydrop uses a similar interface to set the irrigation proram. skydrop also uses weather data to make smart irrigation water conservation decisions. However, skydrop goes one step further. After the initial setup skydrop enters a learning period where it will send push notifications to the user asking for feedback. With this information, skydrop, like Nest, fine tunes the schedule to maximize efficiency and water conservation.
The cloud and the “internet of things” will continue to bring new water conservation devices to market. These four 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, which will hopefully include flow sensing and reports.
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