Whether they rely on real-time on-site weather data, broadcast weather data or historical weather data, new “smart,” or E.T. (evapotranspiration), controllers leave little room for error, and provide water savings of 20 percent to 50 percent.
But it’s not just that your increasingly “green” customers will want smart controllers – within the next decade, they’ll be required to have them in many areas. California has passed a bill that, among other things, mandated the use of smart controllers for new developments. Many municipalities are also beginning to mandate smart controllers for new installations.
Water agencies in many drought-affected areas are offering rebates for the use of smart controllers, as well, in a carrot and stick strategy that often includes water restrictions.
Residents in one research study (the “Westpark Study” conducted by the Irvine Ranch Water District, the Municipal Water District of Orange County and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California) saved nearly 40 gallons per household per day after installation. And savings were up to eight times greater for commercial landscapes. Smart controllers also reduced runoff from 63 percent to 71 percent.
The Irrigation Association now offers both a Certified Landscape Irrigation Auditor program, and a Certified Landscape Irrigation Manager program Raines says that customer concerns about both power and water management are merging.
“Ambient light-powered controllers are making it possible for greater freedom in positioning valves,” says Benjamin Raines, Dig Corporation. “These types of controllers are going to make running field wires obsolete. New ambient light controllers are not as cumbersome as their solar-powered predecessors but are much more compact and efficient with the ability to operate 24/7.”
“The concept of water management is a great opportunity for landscapers,” says Andy Smith, Irrigation Association. “Not just for commercial clients, I think even homeowners are beginning to understand the importance of water conservation. Landscapers who step up and understand water management – and offer regular checks of a system’s efficiency – will be bidding with something more to offer than price alone.”