Cheap and Easy Sprinkler Control

project_irrigation
project_yard

(Paul C) #1

New user, and just wanted to share a solution I have cobbled together, that (so far) seems to be working very well.

I wanted a way to control our sprinklers. Not a built-in sprinkler system, but just a hose + sprinkler set up. This works for us, because of our yard layout…we laid the hose out around our border stones, and by putting two sprinklers (one on each side of the yard), we’re able to get everything. We lay this out every spring, so we just had to go out and turn on the water. Usually getting soaked in the process and/or forgetting to turn it on (or off), etc., etc. Checked into some things, read some reviews, and it seemed like the Orbit products didn’t last long, and the ‘real’ sprinkler controllers were $$$ So, this solution was born.

I purchased:
A simple Wemo smart outlet, but anything like this would work:

And a sturdy ball-valve, that wasn’t solenoid based and low voltage:

This valve has the added benefit of already having a 3/4" fitting (garden hose), and it closes automatically when it loses power. Opening time is about 3-4 seconds, so no water-hammer when it comes on. Also have a little wall-wart that gives power to this valve. Had one already, but you can get them for about $5 if you don’t have one. 12v/2A…standard little things.

So…two watertight cases (about $8 each…cheap plastic) were purchased. Power was run to one of them, and the Wemo with the wall-wart went into one of them, and the wire routed out through a small notch which I siliconed over. Drilled two holes into the other case (and notched it too), so the hose could go in/out. Latched them both up, and put them just outside the house. Turned on the tap, and left it on.

So…now I can just say “Yo, Google…turn on the back sprinkler” (the name of the plug), and it comes on…valve opens, and yard is watered. Since this is nothing more than a regular adapter, you can schedule things, remote on/off, etc., etc. Did two cases because I wanted to separate the electrical from the water-spewing pieces, and the boxes keep the motorized valve from getting rained on.

  • Valve: About $35
  • Outlet: About $30
  • 2 Boxes: About $16
  • Total: About $75

Been in service for a few months last year, and brought things back out about a month ago. Took everything inside over winter, to be safe. Just wanted to offer up a possible solution to others who may be searching.


(Glen King) #2

Nice… great inventiveness!

I was thinking about something like that. But I have a RainWave 4-zone controller that I picked up a couple years ago for $50. It’s now $80, but still worth the price. Like yours, it attaches to the existing spigot. It runs on a pair of AA batteries, which lasts an entire season. The four zones are completely independent of each other; as long as you don’t program it for any ‘crossover’ where two zones are watering simultaneously, it’s great. Last season I had it driving two in-ground zones, and one 30-foot radius rotary head. The fourth zone is used for drip irrigation.

I’ll be segueing from that controller to the SkyDrop controller this year, as I make my installation more ‘permanent’.


(Paul C) #3

Thanks, Glen.

I looked at those, but I was a bit leery of such things, since I’ve heard they had issues with water-hammer, and that the on/off pistons had issues after a season or two. That valve is pretty beefy…solid brass, two good O rings internally around the ball valve. Normally closed, so if it loses power, the water just shuts off.

Heck, given what most folks probably have lying around, if you already had a spare smart-outlet and a wall-wart, you’re done for about $40. I’m probably going to monkey around with the implementation of this, too.

Going to put an outlet box with GFC outlets into the box, with a plug on the end. And probably going to mount the valves with the brass fittings on the OUTSIDE, leaving the motor inside and covered. Keep the electronics dry and separated from any water/debris. I could probably fit at least 4 of those valves into one box that way, and at end of season, just open the box, unplug the outdoor cord, unscrew the hoses,and carry it all inside.

But…it’s only one way to go. At least it works. :slight_smile:


(Robin) #4

I did something similar using a Fibaro dual relay and two solenoid valves (much cheaper than motorised ball valves).


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Gives me hot, cold, warm options to the garden tap so can be used to automate the irrigation but also good for filling kids paddling pool with warm water.

I initially used motorised central heating valves but they couldn’t hold back the mains pressure, sent than back and saved a fortune lol


(Paul C) #5

How much were the solenoids? Those ball valves I used were only about $30.

I avoided the solenoids, because they tended to run hot (needing voltage the entire time to stay open), and because of water hammer when they snapped on/off. But I’m running mine off my outdoor tap, not directly from the mains.


(Robin) #6

They were about £8 (UK) each.

Haven’t noticed any water hammer, but that’s probably down to my use of plastic plumbing and insulation.

I also haven’t noticed them getting hot electrically… but considering I’m running very hot water through one of them (which they are designed for) I wouldn’t be too worried about that anyway. They are rated for the voltage applied, and in my case CE certified, so I’m satisfied that they are operating within tolerance.