You’ve probably heard that today’s smartphones are more advanced than the technology that put man on the moon. Considering how much technology is in the palm of your hand, the opportunities for your business are endless.
As smartphones get smarter, so can your business. Updated tech has led to new trends and advancements in landscaping and irrigation, including the introduction of the “smart yard.” These smart yards provide instant information to homeowners and contractors. They’re easy to use and your customers can save money on their water bills. All of that makes it hard to resist an upgrade.
“This is the future,” says Mitch Heiner, National Irrigation Product Manager at Ewing Irrigation and Landscape Supply. “It’s the easiest way to save water. It’s a plug and play way to save 30% to 50% on your water bill per year.” Savings for your customers could mean business opportunities for contractors.
Keep these three things in mind when you talk with your customers about adding this new technology to their irrigation systems.
Smart controllers are timers with sensors that improve water management by allowing users to remotely monitor irrigation systems through apps that can be downloaded to smartphones. By regulating water usage, these advanced products foster sustainability and save precious resources.
Smart controllers adjust to the ideal sprinkler run times depending on local weather conditions. Many can simply shut off if there’s been a storm and there’s no current need to irrigate.
The major players in smart controllers and high-tech monitoring are Hunter, Rain Bird, Toro and Rachio.
The Rachio 3 and Hunter Pro-C Hydrawise offer the most advanced features. Once you enter information such as landscape type and soil type into the wi-fi enabled smart controller, these units will do all the thinking for you. “They utilize local weather info based on the zip code to make determinations about what mother nature is up to,” Mitch explains.
These units will re-evaluate weather patterns and data throughout the day. For example, the unit knows when the temperature goes up and the water may be evaporating. The smart controller then determines if it should schedule another irrigation cycle to maintain a healthy yard or hold off on watering. Homeowners will be happy to learn that most of these units work with smart home devices like Amazon Alexa.
The Rain Bird LNK acts more like a remote control than a stand-alone smart controller. This app-based product simply plugs into the accessory port of a handful of controllers and lets you configure the scheduling as you see fit.
Toro’s SMRT-T Logic Internet Gateway allows users to remotely control all Toro irrigation controllers, eliminating the need to purchase and learn a new controller. It also provides the ability to remotely manage outdoor lighting or other features. It’s simple plug and play operation allows the SMRT Logic to sync with the homeowner’s router and connect to the internet using a proprietary 900 MHz radio signal that does not require network passwords.
Smart controllers also work with moisture sensors and flow meters. Flow meters can be wired up to any smart controller as long as it has the flow sensing capability.
The install for smart controllers is the same as the install for a traditional controller – the wiring is all the same. However, you would need access to the router on site, the router name and a password in order to complete the set up.
Each brand features its own smartphone app and allows you to manage everything remotely from your phone. It’s possible to override the schedule when necessary, but units will make their own adjustment based on the weather after the initial set up. In the event of a power outage, the unit resets itself when the power comes back on. The controller is smart enough to know when the last cycle happened and resumes where it left off.
Another piece of good news: Homeowners, especially those in drought prone areas where water costs might be high, find these controllers to be useful for saving money on their water bill, but there are smart controllers, like the Rachio 3 and Hunter Pro-HC with Hydrawise for commercial use as well that are capable of working with 12, 16 or even 24 zones.
One of the most useful features of smart controllers is the ability for both the homeowner and the contractor to have access to the information through the user-friendly smartphone app.
Rachio and Hunter provide detailed usage reports on their websites including how much water has been saved and how much water has been used year to date. They also provide insight on upcoming weather patterns that you might need to know about.
These features save you time and money – now, a scheduled trip to a home or business may be unnecessary. Over the course of weeks and months, that’s multiple site visits that you don’t need to make. You save on gas and more importantly on the time spent to review your customers’ landscaping.
“If you don’t have a smart controller now, you probably will,” Mitch says. “The future is now. And it’s a great return on investment - you could see a return in as soon as two years.” Upgrading these landscaping products to the 21st Century can not only make you money, but make your business smart as well.