Looking for irrigation contoller with WiFi

Discussion in 'Irrigation / Sprinkler Forum' started by CountryBumkin, Jun 24, 2015.

  1. CountryBumkin

    CountryBumkin Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Can anyone recommend a sprinkler/irrigation controller that has a WiFi feature to allow one to remotely verify that the system is functioning properly?

    My home community has an irrigation system (10 zones) to water the font entrances and adjacent roadway plantings and lawn. The pump house is in a difficult to access location - so no one is checking on the well pump or controller until, it is noticed that the landscaping is dying. It seems this is common as the HOA does not have a contracted irrigation company so no one is looking. We just call for repairs when a problem is noticed.

    The current RainBird controller is bad. It looks like it has been broken for a while. It would be ideal if it could be replaced by a controller where one could go "on-line" (i.e. have access to controller remotely) to see if it is working properly (like a diagnostic checkup) and to verify or change the time-of-day and zone programming if needed.

    Also, there is no Ethernet connection at the Pump House. So the system/controller would need to be active and ready/waiting for WiFi connection whenever a computer (e.g. laptop or smartphone) is within range of the controller. Then I could drive up "near" the pump house and just connect to the irrigation controller from my laptop inside the car.

    Is this possible?
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    You might look up PlantLink. Remote ground moisture sensors that claims to work up to 100 yards from an indoor base unit. I have no experience. Besides the product itself, your search might find discussions that compare that to other methods.
     
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  4. CountryBumkin

    CountryBumkin Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Thanks for replying, but that's not what I'm looking for.

    I want to be able to tell if the irrigation controller is "functioning properly" (has power and programming) and it would be nice to know that it ran as scheduled (maybe it would show that Zones 1 -5 ran/started at 5Am to xx on Monday and zones 6-10 ran/started at 5Am on Tuesday, etc. ( without having to physically go to the Pump/controller location).

    I was thinking of something like this http://irrigationcaddy.com/features
    But I want to ask/see what the professionals are using.
     
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
  5. Killer95Stang

    Killer95Stang Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2012
    Location:
    Southern CA
    I just installed the Rachio Iro, which does everything you described. The unit has smart programming that uses weather stations to adjust watering based on weather conditions, to save water. I've also been using it to fine tune and service all of my sprinkler heads/ nozzles. Not to mention, I received a $100 rebate from my water company for installing it. Recently received a motion alert from my exterior security camera and noticed that my neighbors dog was in my yard. I was able to remotely start my front yard sprinklers from my phone, which successfully chased the dog out of the yard.
     
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  6. CountryBumkin

    CountryBumkin Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    I bought the Irrigation Caddy - thought I'd give it a try. So far seems like a nice product. And I can control it from my iPhone with their app (you just need to register with Irrigation Caddy to use their "Cloud" connection. I set it up at my house and it connects fine through my home's Wi-Fi enabled Router/network.

    However, it doesn't appear that it will work as I had hoped (installing at the remote Pump House location) - at least not without adding a Wi-Fi capable Router in the pump house. Apparently my laptop and the Irrigation Caddy are designed to look for a Wi-Fi signal and then connect to it. But the Irrigation Caddy doesn't "broadcast" a signal. It is a passive device that is just looking for a Wi-Fi signal. So both the Irrigation Caddy and my laptop are sitting next to each other but neither are trying to initiate a connection.

    I'm told I need a Router to broadcast a Wi-Fi signal. This is doable but adds another device to the mix.
    So I'm still researching. But for a device intended to be installed at a home or a business that has a Wi-Fi router setup (in range of the Caddy) it is a nice controller.
     
  7. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    Hi CountryBumkin, I looked up this Irrigation Caddy and it seems like it solved a lot of issues but is it commercial grade and what happens if it breaks down? It seems to be made for the homeowner, nice and small, but not weather proof. My concern is the irrigation valves in your HOA are probably Hunter's. They are large and robust but can this little controller handle the continuous current load. What about lightning strikes near by and if some day you are not around ( I mean forever) who can service this unit? Yes for around $100 I would also try it. However, remotely it might read that the irrigation is running but no guarantee that water is flowing such as a bad valve.

    for a WiFI, go to Brighthouse.com for WiFi Hotspots. On their home page they have a WiFi link. If one is near by you'll need to use your login if you have a Brighthouse account. This might work for you. I have a home in Avalon Park and live in Lake Worth, this would work for me where I can remotely controller the irrigation and not rely on a rain sensor.


    Requirements to access a Bright House Networks WiFi area free of charge
    • Be within range of a designated WiFi area. To find the locations of WiFi areas near you, see the Bright House Networks WiFi page.
    • Have a computer with wireless capability, smartphone, or other wireless device.
    • Subscribe to Lightning or Standard High Speed Internet. A pay per use option is available to customers who do not subscribe to High Speed Internet.
    • See the steps below to log into a Bright House Networks WiFi area. For a more secure connection, see the login instructions on the BHN Secure article.
    If you receive the following message, it is best that you click Learn more. This links to information about how to login to the BHN Secure network.

    - See more at: http://support.brighthouse.com/Article/Log-In-Wi-Fi-Hotspot-2777/#sthash.JqmNoioK.dpuf
     
  8. CountryBumkin

    CountryBumkin Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    I'm using the Irrigation Caddy at home now. I agree with you that it does not appear to be commercial grade (but it doesn't look like it is built any worse the Rain Bird controller my HOA is using now). It is installed in my garage. If I got one of these for the HOA Pump House, it would still be out of the weather. Regarding the current flow comment - I don't know what total current this unit is designed for (but each zone is 24VAC) and the manufacturer does have expansion modules that can be added to allow it to control up to 48 zones.

    So far it works well from my home computer and my iPhone. I'm not too satisfied with the way it is controlled from the unit itself (the buttons feel flimsy and sometimes I can't get from one menu item to the next without multiple button presses).

    Overall, I think it is a "keeper".

    I have a Rain Sensor connected to it now. It also has the ability to connect to (read from) a Flow Meter - so if I add this then I could remotely look at flow and know that the valve(s) are opening. Or I could look at the built in report/log at the end of the week and see how much water flowed in total or per zone.

    Thanks for the tip on Bright House. If anyone knows of a "Commercial" grade controller with these (Wi-Fi) features -please let me know.
     
  9. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Joined:
    Mar 30, 2011
    Occupation:
    Rocket Scientist
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Just buy one of those systems required in California.

    They have Wi-Fi and wireless internet so the Gov can control them.

    Just hack the MAC so you can take control.

    They may be free under a Fed funding program.


    Good Luck.
     
  10. CountryBumkin

    CountryBumkin Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Just to update this thread - in case some in the future is searching for "irrigationcaddy",
    The unit failed last weekend. Less than a year old. Only two zones work now, I followed Irrigation Caddy's web support instructions and submitted a technical assistance request (i.e. how do I test/confirm the controller is bad, is the unit covered by warranty, what next?) but they never bothered to respond.
    I have my old RainBird controller hooked up and all zones work again - so that proves to me it was the Irrigation Caddy controller that failed. Why did it fail? Don't know. Maybe lightning, maybe built crappy.
     
  11. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

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    Did the one you buy have WiFi ?
     
  12. CountryBumkin

    CountryBumkin Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Yes. The IrrigationCaddy had the wiFi. I was nice while it worked. I could bring up the Irrigation Caddy app on my smart phone and turn zones on/off. Nice for troubleshooting and setting up spray patterns, etc..

    However, it's broke now, so I'm back to using my "old reliable" RainBird no-thrills controller.
     
  13. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

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    So what part stopped working ?

    Were you using the Irrigation Caddy app to control the zones ? And it stopped working ?
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2016
  14. CountryBumkin

    CountryBumkin Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    The app worked okay, but the physical controller stopped working for zones 2-10. I noticed that some of the zones stopped working. I checked the voltage on the controller terminals. I was getting 24V on the individual zones when the zone was off and no wires connected, 0V with zone off and wires connected, and 15.6V with the zone On and wires connected. This seemed wrong - why do I have voltage on the terminal when zone if off when no wires connected?
    If I switched the wires for zone 2 to zone 1 (or say zone 3 to 1), the valve on zone 2 would work (or the valve on zone 3 would work), but then the valve on zone 1 would not. So I determined that only zone 1 was working, all of the other zones did not.

    I created a support ticket with Irrigation Caddy (they don't have a contact phone for support) hoping for some troubleshooting or warranty support, but they never responded. I updated the info on the support ticket a few times over a week, but still no response from IrrigationCaddy.

    So I'm giving up on this, and switched back to a "well-know" brand. Now all my zones are working (but no wiFi control - which I can live without).
     
  15. zl700

    zl700 DIY Senior Member

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    Aug 26, 2009
    Location:
    Western NY
  16. CountryBumkin

    CountryBumkin Active Member

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    Sep 4, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Yup - you were right. It broke, and I can't get any support.
    No more buying from the "little guy", from now on I only buy from well established, reputable companies that actually support the products they sell.
     
  17. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

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    If the voltage dropped to 15.6V with a load then it sounds like the 24V supply is not regulating.

    Voltage on the terminals with nothing connected and no load sounds normal, unless it has dry relay contacts.

    1 bad zone valve could be loading the supply down more than normal.
     
  18. CountryBumkin

    CountryBumkin Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    Thanks. Troubleshooting advice like your would have been nice to hear from the manufacturer.
    I did ohm all of the solenoids - they are all about the same around 15 Ohms. So I don't think any of the zones/solenoids are the problem. Maybe the 24V power block is bad and not supplying enough voltage.
     
  19. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

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    Rocket Scientist
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Is it a switching supply ? That may be the problem and cheap to replace.

    Can you take a picture of it ?

    Good Luck.
     
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