There are two general types of smart irrigation technology: weather based and soil moisture based. Both can help you save water, but there are some important differences. Here is the lowdown on the two, so you can choose the system that best suits your needs:
Moisture-Based Smart Irrigation Technology
The other type of smart irrigation system is a moisture-based system. This technology uses sensors to measure the actual moisture content of the soil. It then adjusts the time of irrigation water based on this data. As with weather-based systems, moisture-based systems are marketed both as integrated controllers and as add-on technology. Prices for this type of system vary considerably, from a couple hundred to thousands of dollars.
Be aware that there are two distinct types of moisture-based systems available. The first, referred to as suspended-cycle irrigation, uses a traditional timed and automated watering schedule. The only difference is that it doesn’t allow watering to happen if the soil moisture threshold is too high. However, if the soil is too dry it won’t adjust the pre-programmed schedule to allow for additional watering. Many of these sensors can be added to an existing traditional controller.
The second type of moisture-based smart irrigation system is a water-on-demand system. This one maintains two soil moisture thresholds – high and low – and automatically calls for water as needed to maintain soil moisture between the two. This type requires that the existing controller be replaced with a controller with its own sensors. When properly calibrated this can be an extremely efficient set up because it allows more site data to be programmed.