Timers & Controllers For Drip Irrigation
Irrigation timers and controllers are the brains of your irrigation watering system. A timer or controller controls valves that open and close based on your settings to provide water to your lawn, garden, or crops uniformly and reliably.
Drip irrigation controllers allow you to program a number of variables into your automatic irrigation system, including which zones receive water, which days they receive water, and how much watering each zone gets.
Some smart controller models can even coordinate with sensors to prevent wasted water in various ways. Some controllers connect to your home Wi-Fi to prevent watering on windy or rainy days.
Timers range from simple devices to advanced computers, so there are plenty of options to consider. This guide highlights the different types of irrigation timers, program options, and features.
Why Choose To Use A Timer To Control Your Watering?
Although you want to see your plants grow and thrive, using irrigation timers means you won't have to be with them constantly. A drip irrigation system with a timer will save you time as well as water.
Installing a drip irrigation timer will allow you to set it and forget it, freeing up your time for other activities. Your dripper timer will faithfully follow your programmed on/off times, giving your plants just the right amount of water when they need it.
If you are needing a timer to add automatic watering to your drip system, Hydrobuilder carries a variety of drip irrigation AC, battery, master controllers, and systems. Our big selection makes it easy for you to find the timer that best suits your drip system layout and your budget.
How To Choose Irrigation Controller or Timer?
The most important decisions you need to make when selecting an irrigation controller/timer are as follows:
- TIndoor or outdoor, controller mounting location.
- The number of stations or zones – must be at least as many zones or areas as your sprinkler system is broken up into.
- The number of programs (1, 2, 3, or 4) – should have at least 2 or more programs to give you watering flexibility. The programs on a timer are very different from the number of stations on a controller. This is explained below.
IMPORTANT: The rest of the features you can choose from on a controller are just for added benefits or increased flexibility.
Types of Irrigation Timers
If you're wondering which type of timer is best for your garden, we have prepared this quick guide to help you choose. No matter which product you select, your timer will turn your water on and off when you want it to, saving time, saving water, and saving money. This will allow you to provide uniform watering that will help your plants grow their best.
Mechanical timers must be set manually, but are very economical. Be sure to monitor your garden and lawn closely and make adjustments when needed with mechanical timers.
Electronic timers / Smart Timers provide more options and features, and can be controlled remotely from a computer or smartphone, allowing you to make adjustments in real-time when the weather changes. Some electronic timers can control both regular and drip irrigation systems.
Hybrids combine features of both with convenient controls and easy-to-read inputs. Hybrids also feature digital readouts and easy-to-use sliders for setting water duration.
Irrigation Zones and Programs
Irrigation drip and sprinkler systems operate a set number of zones. Also known as circuits, zones are areas that share the same water lines and irrigation valves. Areas are zoned to distribute water more evenly and precisely, according to how much water is needed.
For example, you can split your yard into different irrigation zones so spots of grass or plants can be watered more often than areas with shrubs and trees. This works more efficiently and is a more valuable use of water.
Drip Systems Controller Efficiency Options
To make your watering experience more convenient, choose a irrigation timer with options such as a sunlight sensor, a built-in calendar, and more.
- Cases & Weather Sheilds - If your timer is outdoors, shield it from the elements with a weather-resistant cabinet or cover
- Skip Watering Feature - A skip button permits you to skip watering a zone so you don’t have to reprogram the entire system.
- Watering Schedules - An interval lets you set the number of days between watering.
- Smart Calendar - A built-in calendar lets you choose which days of the week you want to water. This is especially useful when following local watering restrictions.
- Weather / Sunlight Sensors - Sunlight sensors adjust water levels to compensate for evaporation on hot days, while moisture sensors shut down the watering on rainy days.
- Rain Delay - Rain delay buttons let you turn off the system during storms for more efficiency.
- Battery Backups - A battery backup saves your settings during power outages, or if the primary battery dies, saving you from having to reprogram your settings.
- A 15-second delay gives valves ample time to close before opening the next zone’s valve.
How often should a drip system run?
This question has no quick answer since each plant may require a different amount of water. The time of the year also plays a big factor. Plants in California in the summer will require much more frequent and larger amounts of water at a time due to the dry and hot conditions compared to states up north or on the east coast. We suggest doing some basic research for the plants you are needing to water to determine how much water they will need. Usually, 10-15 minutes of dripping water on plants a couple of times per day is usually a good starting point.