Tech Corner

Five Reasons Why the Connected Yard Is Changing the Irrigation Business

By Brian Ewing

The connected yard is the new way to manage residential irrigation. It’s being powered by a new breed of smart sprinkler controllers that go beyond traditional controllers to include Wi-Fi connectiv- ity to the internet, remote monitoring and operation via a mobile phone, real-time automatic weather adjustments and more.

These advanced features are creating new efficiencies for irri- gation professionals and transforming how they manage their business. Consumers are also looking for more connected homes, and the connected yard is a natural extension.

Here are the top five reasons why a smart sprinkler controller is changing the way you manage watering:

1. Remote access of sprinkler controllers. By having the controller connected to the internet, an irrigation professional can get instant access to a client’s system on his or her phone. This means no more waiting for a client to access a controller or hitting the road for minor adjustments. The time savings for this remote access can greatly increase efficiencies and allow you to reach more clients each day.

2. Ease of programming. With an interactive step-by-step programming process combined with the latest in irrigation science, smart controllers take the guesswork out of program- ming. No more manuals or irrigation tables. This ensures that you can accurately and easily tailor watering to each zone in a client’s yard. You can also seamlessly add cycle and soak func- tionality. No more over watering or runoff.

3. Real-time weather adjustments. Smart controllers connect to vast networks of weather stations that can automatically adjust watering based on the weather. Internet connectivity ensures that these changes are constantly up to date. This en-

sures your clients don’t water in the rain. These types of smart adjustments can save clients up to 50% on watering bills.

4. Automatic adjustments for municipality restrictions. With continuing water conservation efforts, many municipalities are enforcing restrictions on residents for outdoor water usage. Many of the restrictions change over time as policies adjust for each municipality. Clients can be caught off guard and poten- tially face fines for watering on restricted days. Smart control- lers have the potential to automatically adjust schedules based on the latest restrictions. While this has not come to reality quite yet, it is a natural next step for the industry.

5. Better understanding of your customers. Instant access to clients’ controllers not only creates efficiencies, but can also truly help you understand your clients’ needs. You can quick- ly diagnose a system for clients as well as provide valuable analytics around water saved. Most importantly, you can build a new level of service with your clients as you provide quicker service and information.

As you explore smart sprinkler controllers, keep this in mind:

• Make sure it is Wi-Fi enabled. This is what allows remote access of the controllers. Just because a controller is labeled as smart doesn’t mean it can connect to the internet and provide real-time weather adjustments.

• Look for EPA WaterSense label. This label ensures the control- ler can reduce water consumption while not compromising on performance.

• Ensure it integrates with connected home products. Connected home is all the rage and many clients will want to connect their smart controller. Make sure your controller direct- ly integrates with most popular platforms like Amazon’s Alexa and Nest.

As you can see, the connected yard will come to life with the emergence of these new smart sprinkler controllers. And this is only beginning; new innovations in hardware and software will continue to change how we all do business.

Brian Ewing is the vice president of sales at Rachio and leads the commercialization strategy for both the consumer and professional sides of the Rachio business. Prior to Rachio, Brian has held sales and marketing leadership positions with top tier consumer brands such as Black & Decker, Philips and OtterBox.

28 Irrigation TODAY | July 2016

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