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Learning The Basics Of Your Sprinkler Timer

Sprinkler timers, a.k.a. controllers are devices that control when your sprinklers turn on and how long they run. They are essentially the brain of your sprinkler system. Sprinkler timers send electric signals to the valves, which regulate the flow of water to the sprinkler system. The electric signals sent to the valves tell them to open or close. This allows water through and runs the sprinklers.

The Rain Bird ESP-ME3 4 Station Wi-Fi Ready Indoor/Outdoor Controller is a popular sprinkler system controller.

There are varying degrees of complexity in sprinkler timers. The simplest designs allow you to control small areas of sprinklers and don’t have as many programming features. More complex controllers can control larger areas with more sprinklers. And they have advanced programming options, such as flow monitoring and separate programs for individual stations. Other optional features are rain sensors, solar power, remote control compatibility, and WiFi. WiFi-enabled controllers allow you to control and check on your sprinkler system from your smartphone or tablet.

Sprinkler timers come in mechanical, semi-electronic, and fully electronic designs, although fully mechanical controllers are somewhat outdated, and rarely used. Semi-electronic or electromechanical sprinkler timers use an electric clock and gears to activate irrigation zones, while fully electronic timers use circuits to run the clock/timer, memory, and control functions. Fully electronic timers offer a wide range of features, but are more sensitive to power fluctuations and may require a surge protector. Electromechanical timers are very reliable and not as sensitive to power fluctuations, but do not offer as many special features.

Upgrading Your Timer For The Best Lawn

Although sprinkler timers are fairly maintenance-free, you may wish to upgrade your timer or install additional parts or features. Such upgrades and installations are very simple and easy and can be done by either the homeowner or an irrigation professional.

The image below shows the Hunter X-CORE 8 Station Indoor Controller which can accommodate up to 8 stations with 3 programs and 4 start times each. This controller can also accommodate smart watering by incorporating Solar Sync to adjust watering schedules based on your local weather conditions.