Automating my home: Sprinkler Automation


When I first heard about sprinkler automation, I couldn’t conceive of a reason to invest more into a system that was pretty much hands off.  Our house has 5 zones mostly covering the backyard, and as pretty simple.  What finally sold me on the idea was my wife asking me to go into the garage to hit the rain delay when I was getting dressed for work one morning.  I started thinking about how silly it was that I had to go to all that effort just to shut down the sprinkler system for a day due to weather.  The final straw though was when I tried to change the programming.  I had thought my old home thermostat was painful to program, this made me want to give up on watering all together.

Doing a little research, I found out that our local water district will pay a substantial rebate for automated sprinkler systems.  I dug into why this was, and what the potential savings might be.  I found some systems with external sensors in ground to monitor the ground saturation, but the reviews on those were a bit troubling.  Many reviews stated they required constant recalibration, and it seemed the technology might be a little immature at this point.  For the most part, the mid range systems I was looking at all used local public weather station data to determine if they needed to run.  The interfaces were designed for smartphone users, very user friendly, and designed for family use.

Based on rebates, and ease of use, I took the plunge with the Rachio 2.  Setup was pretty simple, wiring it up was the toughest, just because I had a hard time getting the wires to seat.  Not any fault of the product, but my hands are too big to handle the low voltage wiring.  Joining the wireless was great, although I did typo my wifi password a couple times, but again, my own fault.  The configuration of zones was flawless, it walked me through the process, testing each zone, and then labeling it with a friendly name.  I was even able to take pictures of each zone and load them in.

As a bonus I was able to share the system with my wife.  Rather than logging in with a single account, I can give her access, and if I ever have a landscaper to keep up my yard, I can give them limited access to adjust as needed.  A small thing but pretty amazing they went to that level of detail.  Another nice touch is, it notifies me when it is watering, and it lets me know when it makes adjustments due to changing weather conditions.

All in all, I couldn’t be happier, and I would recommend if your water district offers a rebate, it is a no brainer.  Little improvements and quality of life gadgets like the Rachio 2 help manage our house, even when we aren’t there, and keep me from going out to the garage when I am half asleep to find the rain delay button.