Hack Fibaro RGBW controller to become a sprinkler controller

I’ve used the RGBW controller with four 12V pumps to jerry-rig an irrigation system. The RGBW controller also gives you 0-10V analogue inputs, which I used with soil hygrometers so that I could trigger the watering on a certain soil humidity rather than a schedule.

Be aware that the RGBW controller ramps up the voltage between 0 and 12V by default - so you need to configure the step size to be 12V (or the number of steps to 1, I can’t remember how it works) - other wise it will run through the whole range of voltages on the way up, which, so I’m told, is bad for the pump. Can anyone confirm if it actually is, by the way?

Cheers,

Adam

3 Likes

Excellent, I figured it could do this because it is designed to control that specific load…12 or 24 volts. I’m sure that coding could allow this to either be on or off, as opposed to ramping up the voltage. I hate “burying its functionality” in a sprinkler system but I also hate that a simple device like this for controlling sprinklers hasn’t been designed at this price point…take away the dimmer and I’m sure it’d be a couple bucks cheaper. No reason a device with 4 channels for controlling sprinklers would need to cost over $100, especially if the code can be wrote using smartthings language and Smartthings does all the heavy lifting.

2 Likes

Is your irrigation system using a “pump” or a solenoid valve?

I’m only speculating, but id guess whistler’s is a solenoid as I am not aware of a continuous duty 12 or 24 volt pump that could develop 40+ psi water pressure in 3/4" plumbing.

I also intend on using solenoid on mine as it currently has old brass valves on it. My house was built in 1976, a year after I was born…lord I don’t feel as old as the house😱 lol…but I had to gut it and bring it up to speed and in doing so I have put several z wave devices on and chose smart things as my hub. I love the functionality of the thing. I only wish I knew how to write code to develop for the things because I’d do something with it…like the sprinkler idea and so on. I’m a bit of a tinkerer. I will probably run some of the LED lights under the cabinets and integrate the Fibaro RGBW with it. My only question with regard to that, if the Fibaro RGBW controller is on the system would it work with a regular light switch or would I need a zwave type switch set up to control on/off? I could manage with only an on/off switch and dial in colors with the app if I wanted to change things up.

Not 100% sure what you are asking… Are you talking about main power to the strip?
This would be a similar scenario to the main power to Hue Lightbulbs … if the main power is reset, then the strip may default back to full white or full dark…

Aha - perhaps I’ve gone about it an odd way! I have no experience with traditional irrigation systems, so I just jerry-rigged one with whatever I had lying around!! How does your system supply pressure - through gravity?

I had three 12V pumps left over from a previous project - they cost about £6 each (not sure what the etiquette is on the forum, can post a link to the product if it’s allowed?). I put each of these in a separate small rain butt outside and wired them back to three outputs on the RGBW controller. The fourth I/O is in input mode reading the analogue output of the soil hygrometer (£2 off eBay). When the voltage output of the hygrometer falls below the threshold set in the software the pumps activate and pressurise the system - until the hygrometer gets damp and shuts them off again. The pumps are just connected to cheap plastic manifolds and 4mm irrigation pipe, terminated in little 4mm adjustable sprinkler heads. All of the latter parts were around the £1 - £2 mark off eBay, so all told the system was about £50.

At the moment, it’s three zones of watering with one zone of moisture sensing; I’m planning to get another soil hygrometer and have a zone of sensing for each zone of watering so that it properly responds to soil conditions. If you’re happy with scheduling instead then four zones off one controller - assuming that the sum of your pumps’ current demands is not more than 12A.

I don’t have much land here in London, so I’ve been thinking about using the same principle to trickle nutrient mix through a vertical arrangement of rockwool and growing a “vertical” garden!

When the RGBW controller is in RGBW or RGB mode (i.e., not I/O), a normal contact closure switch can be connected to any input to trigger any of the following:

  • Switching
  • Dimming
  • Colour cycling

Pressure is supplied via normal public water mains … irrigation comes from the same system as household potable water. It goes to a distribution point with 4 solenoid activated valves out to 4 zones of lower-pressure plastic irrigation hoses, drip and sprays.

…CP.

I guess that was kind of confusing sounding, lol. Anotherwards, if the strips are wired to the controller…the actual controller would be wired to power. How would one turn the controller on and off absent the smartthings app? Would it need to be controlled by a linked zwave device, like the aeon labs 4 button remote, for on/off or is there a regular light switch that would supply momentary power to the controller to turn the light either on or off?

So a momentary switch…like a light switch that is pressed to turn on lights, closing the circuit momentarily, but returns automatically to an open circuit…would work? Pardon my ignorance as I don’t know the fancy schmancy “technical name”, just how they work…mostly. LOL

Hi there, you’re looking for a “normally open (NO)” retractive / momentary switch. If you wire it to inputs 1, 2, 3 and 4, by default it it will give you the momentary on you’re looking for.

It’s also possible to configure it to be a toggle switch, so that each state change of the switch toggles the RGBW controller to change state as well - I.e., you press it down once, the light comes on; press it again, the light turns off (regardless of the fact that the circuit is left open at the end of each depress and release).

Incidentally, if you only wire the retractive switch to one input rather than all four, it will temporarily turn that one channel on (so if you’re using four single-colour switches with one RGBW controller, you can switch them on or off individually… or individual colours in an RGB strip)!

Out of interest, why do you need momentary on?

Well, I started out talking about frankensteining the RHBW switch to control my irrigation system but ADD got the best of me and I ended up talking about my interest in using the RGBW switch as its intended and putting it under my cabinets. My question regarding that was if the RGBW switch is wired up to my led lights and connected to my smartthings hub, how would I be able to turn those lights on without accessing my app in my iPhone? I assumed a momentary on switch would be what was needed to activate the digital control inside the RGBW controller to turn them on…perhaps I was wrong? LOL, My struggle is real and so is ADD.


Hey, I have a very simple water valve, that irrigates my small garden, no zones! Would I be able to replace my existing, and dumb, irrigation controller that runs off a small battery, with a Fibaro RGBW Controller instead? And just buy a larger battery for it?
So I could run it off smartthings, and I have some nuisance cats that I’d like to use a motion sensor to trigger the system so they don’t ruin the grass!

Where would I connect the positive wire of the pump, to any one of the R, G, B, or W connections on three Fibaro module?
Would this work do you think?

P.S. I can’t get any 220 there unfortunately, so it would have to be 12v.
What size battery would I need to power the Fibaro RGBW Controller if this is doable.

While I initially thought this would be a superb idea when I saw this thread pop up, having thought about it some more I think it’s too close in price to a proper irrigation system that can be integrated (some great prices on Rachio Iro right now) once you factor in the PSU, connectors/cabling/water proofing etc etc.

It’s also not cheap enough when this DIY is available and is proven:

I saw that “Smart Sprinkler System” but it sounds way too complicated for me.
I’m hoping someone can tell me of I can do the same thing with Fibaro RGBW Controller for €49, and just a 12v battery for €10?
I’m not interested in sensors, zones and cloud algorithms, just would like to turn on one water valve on a schedule via smartthings.

Most of the ‘complication’ has already been done for you and if you can achieve what you want to achieve with the Fibaro, you’d be more than capable of doing the ‘Smart Sprinkler System’, likely for less with more capability that has been proven and for less.

Each to their own however, good luck with your project!

The thread you’re referring to, of which I’ve read all of them regarding this topic, has switches for master valves, 16 zones, moisture sensors, local weather reporting etc ad infinitum. It involves coding, relays, switches, a whole ton of stuff and if you’ve read the thread people are still having issues troubleshooting.

I have 7 metre square lawn, with a simple on/off valve connected to a battery operated timer, which I’d like to connect to my smartthings hub. I’m reaching out to the community to see if any one can advise if a simple Fibaro RGBW would be able to do the job, and which kind of battery I would need.
Then I could set my Fibaro to turn on for 5 minutes each night to water the garden, for 60 euros hopefully.
Any advice greatly appreciated.

Maybe this is more what you are after?

I found a Rachio Iro 8 zone in Home Depot on sale, never opened, for $63.02! What a steal, so I bought it. Installing this week. Will see how it works out.

1 Like

And I just realized I posted this a year ago! Wow, time flies. Thanks for all the solutions. I guess I was just waiting for a cheaper solution. Couldn’t see paying $150 for a device that does way less than my Gen 1 Smartthings Hub, Smartthings is wayyyyy smarter and my family uses it way more than I ever thought they would. I may still invest in a Fibaro controller for under counter led lights and hook it up to my Smartthings.