I have a Netatmo weather station with a rain gauge. It would be great if the Iro could have access to the Netatmo to know if it rained and how much it rained. Or perhaps integration with ITTT (the If This Then That) app.
I think the the goal is to do that with the actual weather, backed up/complimented by devices like Natatmo. That way, people without a Natatmo don’t have to buy one Next up, weather sensors in the ground and then who needs anything else
I would be very excited to drop a few moisture sensors into the ground in my various zones and then let the Iro figure out sprinkling based on the true need of the ground.
Moisture sensors in the ground appeals to me greatly. One of the competitors does this (or is going to do so) with the parrot flower power sensor. That fact that’s it’s only bluetooth with a range measured in microns, and doesn’t yet have an android app for the parrot sensor is the only reason I didn’t go for it.
A moisture sensor integrated into the system (being on the same network) that gave feedback on the effectiveness of the watering and on the effects of the weather so that the program could automatically adapt would be the next logical step, and a huge advance.
+1 I would buy it! Sensor for the ground.
+2 for the sensor….something like the Edyn garden sensor. I live in a marshy area, and sometimes the ground can be quite moist and other times really dry (same goes for different areas of the yard).
Moisture sensors are the key to good conservation, but integration with the controller and web-UI is critical.
Currently, we use a Toro XtraSmart moisture sensor with our CyberRain and its really great for optimal water usage. However, to observe the status or modify settings, we’re required to go into the garage. Defeats the purpose of the CyberRain.
Installation of the XtraSmart is super simple and this is very important. Before the XtraSmart (wireless, battery operated), we had an Acclima sensor. First, it was a royal pain to install the Acclima, but then the unit failed and it was an even royaller pain to find it again, dig it up, and replace it. The Acclima is a far more accurate technology and we loved the integrity of the data it provided, but in the final analysis, precision is not that important. Maintenance becomes the most important thing, and being able to install, reinstall with little effort is the overriding factor.
I am not promoting the Toro, it just happened to be the easiest choice for us at the time. Anything that meets the requirement of easy installation, maintenance, affordable, and reasonably reliable would be fine with me. Of course, it needs to be an open system that supports integration with a third party product like the rachio.
One more comment – I see in this forum many mentions of rain sensors. I don’t have experience with those, but it doesn’t seem to be ideal since it only tells you how much it rained. But since you’re watering the lawn you may find that you don’t need to water again even if it didn’t rain. This can happen if the humidity is high and its been cloudy and cool. Rainfall is an indirect measure of what you really want to know – does the lawn need water? In addtion, there may be other sources of water a lawn gets at times like from a septic system, or shallow water table that exists at different times.
I’ve been following this thread because we have been mulling this about here at Rachio for some time. @charlesclloyd, You have made some really well thought insights. It’s great to hear these discussion happening as they only make us better. Thank you for the contribution. We are listening appreciate the possible benefits of remote sensing moisture in the ground, however you hit on some of the points that become serious issues for a product manufacturer.
Bare with me, I’m going to geek out a bit.
Building on your post, a feedback sensor would need to be easy to install and calibrate, affordable, does it require a level of maintenance that is cumbersome, and is it reliable from both and electrical, transmission, and mechanical standpoint, and is the feedback loop tuned enough to provide the results you should expect? What I mean by this is, an array of sensors would be needed throughout to represent locations that vary due to drainage, compensation, plus many of the variables you spoke of as well as the irrigation system’s ability to compensate should the moisture sensor alert the Iro. Control loops such as this are difficult to make stable without calibration and therefore usable in all situations. Also, the sensors do not predict probabilities of coming rain and is only reactive not predictive.
So this product extension becomes very hard to create, make bulletproof, and beneficial to the point of outweighing the costs, thus making such sensors not be ideal for the market place.
All this being said if we find the system can be built and fulfills the promises of reliability, low maintenance, and provides benefits to the level we expect, we will definitely pursue it.
+1 for Netatmo integration!
Just curious, what would be a reasonable cost for a moisture sensor in you eyes? Taking into account you may need multiple units to cover the inconsistencies in your landscaping?
$40-$50. But I also see my use for this sensor more as a system calibration. Ie: How long do my sprinklers need to run to get water down to the recommended 5-6". I can put the sensor in each zone for maybe a week and then move it. Once the system know that calibrated value for every zone, I think weather data based ET calculations are enough to adjust. Or maybe to augment online data adjustments, One can calibrate every zone, then leave the sensor in one zone and the system assumes the same variance from calibrated data for that zone applies to every zone.
I like @svento way of making this work. Allowing moisture sensors to be allowed by A. Moving the sensor around for calibration for each zone initial setup will be a low cost to help with watering the correct amount more accurately than we are now.
And B. Give users the option to integrate a sensor per zone if they want to. These two methods will allow us iro users how we want to proceed cost wise. Awesome idea.
I agree that the sensors do not need to be a permanent installation in each zone. We need to be able to move them around until we understand what is needed in each particular zone for irrigation cycles. We need static sensors (roof mounted, etc.), to tell us what is happening ‘now’ to help adjust the calibrations we created using the mobile sensors to set baselines per zone.
I would like to thank you all for your input. I’m going to bring up some of these ideas to the team.
Doug, I’m willing to pay. Given what grass problems cost, labor and effort to fix problems (dry patches, water waste), etc., if it cost what my Iro costs to get moisture sensors that will give me the info I need, I’m totally down with it. Here in drought country, wasted water is very expensive in a multitude of ways.
Svento comments about water penetration depth is very important. However, I would like to embed and track at least some areas of my lawn and garden permanently, if possible, as I suspect the dynamics of water management do change over time…