Internet-Based Smart Irrigation Systems

Internet-based smart irrigation system technology is rapidly expanding throughout the industry, particularly for residential usage.web-based

Internet-based smart irrigation system technology is even featured in Forbes magazine, “Tired Of Wasting Water With That Dumb Sprinkler? Meet The Smart Sprinkler Controller.” This irrigation system technology allows residential users to control and monitor their sprinkler systems from anywhere in the world using a web browser or iPhone/Android app. It also uses the homeowner’s wireless internet (wifi) to access a live stream from nearby weather stations.  As a result, residential users are provided with real-time weather data, without the need to install a personal weather station or rain sensor.

lawn1Using adaptive algorithms to generate custom and dynamic watering schedules from this weather data, the smart controller automatically determines the optimal watering schedule for the irrigation site. The system automatically adjusts watering cycles, duration and frequency for optimal results in any weather condition. Some smart controllers will even take into consideration local watering restrictions.

swat_logoWeb-based irrigation systems are certifiable through both the EPA’s WaterSense program and the Irrigation Association’s Smart Water Application Technologies (SWAT) testing.  For a comparison of WaterSense and SWAT testing protocols, click here.

Let’s take a look at some of the web-based irrigation systems currently available…


Skydrop’s WiFi-based smart controller entered the market in September of 2014. The company is based in Lehi, Utah, and promotes its product as helping residential users to abide by local watering restrictions. (“Don’t be a lawn bandit, and don’t risk hefty fines.”) According to Skydrop, the typical homeowner can install and set up its controller in less than 30 minutes.

Malibu-GardenIn addition to using real-time weather data, the Skydrop smart controller also measures soil moisture to determine how much water the landscape is losing.  Like most other internet-based systems, the Skydrop device is programmed by zone according to soil type, plant type, sprinkler type, slope and shape. The  Skydrop controller can also be integrated with other smart home systems such alarm controllers, solar heating/cooling, and outdoor lighting.

logo-90The controller includes a “cycle and soak” feature to eliminate or reduce runoff when landscapes are sloped. The company claims that watering each zone separately and only when required results in an average reduction in water usage of 35%. The Skydrop smart controller has qualified for the EPA’s WaterSense® Certification, yet the company does not plan to pursue SWAT testing at this time.

The Skydrop controller operates eight zones plus a master valve/pump, and is expandable to 16 zones with an expansion unit. The retail price for the Skydrop 8-zone controller is around $300, and the expansion unit retails for $50.

Hydrawise (Hunter Industries)

flowerHydrawise was recently purchased by Hunter Industries. The Hydrawise smart controller provides interactive online reporting and alerts that allow the user to view water usage for each watering cycle or the water flow rate at any time. Email alerts notify the user of water flows (e.g., due to a broken pipe or faulty valve) when no zone is currently running. Alerts can also be configured when the water usage for an irrigation zone changes by more than 10% (such as, from broken spray heads or faulty wiring).

Hydrawise2ColorTrim260Hydrawise is one of the products which does not require port forwarding on the user’s router in order to control the irrigation system from anywhere in the world. Rather, wireless functionality is provided inside the controller; the user enters a wireless password on the controller itself.

hydrawiseAccording to Chris Foster, Midwest Sales Manager for Hunter, the Hydrawise system utilizes Cloud technology, allowing the residential user and support technician to “meet in the cloud,” thereby preventing any potential security risks.  “Hydrawise is fourth-generation technology,” he said.

The Hydrawise controller is available in 6- or 12-zone models; expansion modules allow an individual system to be expanded up to 36 zones. The product is WaterSense certified and was the winner of  The Australian Backyard Innovation Challenge in 2015. Hydrawise has not been SWAT tested. Pricing is available through a Hunter distributor.

According to Michael White, Vice President of Turf & Landscape Sales for Automatic Irrigation Supply, one of the best features of the Hydrawise system is the professional support that is now available through Hunter Industries.

Cyber Rain

The Cyber Rain smart controller is manufactured by Israel-based Galcon, which is owned by Kibbutz Kfar Blum.  According to the company, Cyber Rain was the very first central irrigation product to earn the EPA WaterSense certification (in 2012). It also claims that the Cyber Rain controller can reduce water costs by up to 40% annually. Cyber Rain is SWAT approved.

LogoCyberRain1Cyber Rain supplies a small device called an “Access Point” that is plugged into a router so that the controller can access the internet using Cloud technology. The Access Point communicates with an unlimited number of Cyber Rain controllers through its own two-way wireless network. The standard radio can communicate up to 200 feet, while the longer-range radio can reach up to two miles with the optional antenna.

downloadCyber Rain offers a Smart Scheduling Wizard to set up the water-wise irrigation schedule customized to the particular landscape. For zones with dense soil or on a slope, for instance, the Cyber Rain smart controller offer a cycle and soak feature to avoid run-off.

Controllers are available in 8-, 16- and 24-zone models. (The optional antenna can be attached to increase range.) Prices for the residential systems range from $500 to $600.  Professional installation is not required for the residential systems, but appears to be recommended.


Rachio introduced its first product (“Iro”) in 2014; Iro is an intelligent irrigation controller that is powered by Rachio’s cloud-based software.  It an be rachio-logo-for-web-300px (1)controlled either through a web-based dashboard or through an intuitive Android or iPhone app. During setup, the homeowner’s smartphone sends a signal to the Iro, connecting it to the internet through a WiFi network. It then communicates with Rachio’s cloud-based software. The company claims that installation and setup take less than 30 minutes with no special tools or expertise required.

The Iro will automatically check the local weather forecast and issue adjustments based on evapotranspiration and precipitation data to match soil moisture depletion. The Iro also learns from the customer’s adjustments over time. As a result, users can personalize the balance between water use and the level of plant health in each zone.

Irrigation-Flowers013Iro’s Smart Cycle will automatically schedule cycle and soak irrigation events to eliminate or reduce runoff when landscapes are sloped and/or the infiltration rate of the soil is less than that of the precipitation rate of the nozzle for the given zone. A virtual rain sensor will suspend irrigation events if rain is forecasted within the next 24 hours.

Iro controllers are available in 8-zone ($199) and 16-zone ($249) models. The Iro system has received the EPA’s WaterSense certification. Rachis is SWAT tested and has earned the prestigious EPA WaterSense label for irrigation efficiency.

Comparison of Residential Web-Based Smart Irrigation Controllers

 SkydropHydrawiseCyber RainRachio
SmartPhone CompatibleYesYesYesYes
Ipad/PC CompatibleYesYesNoYes
Android CompatibleYesYesYesYes
Uses Real-time Weather DataYesYesYesYes
Provides Online ReportingYesYesYesYes
Uses Cloud TechnologyYesYesYesYes
WaterSense CertifiedYesYesYesYes
SWAT TestedYesNoYesYes
Do-It-Yourself InstallationYesNo
Professional SupportNoYesNoYes
Interfaces with Other Home SystemsYesYesNoYes
Includes Cycle and Soak FeatureYesYesYesYes
No. of Zones Available8, 166, 12*8, 168, 16
Price$299.99-$348.99 $260.00-$310.00$499.00-$599.00$199.00-$249.00

*May be expanded up to 36 zones.

The Future

Having recently attended a trade function focused on what water management will look like in the year 2065, Automatic Irrigation’s Michael White firmly believes that the web-based systems are crucial to allowing homeowners to be better stewards of water resources.  “Twenty-five years from now, water will cost much more than it does today,” he said. Consequently, “These new systems are good for the consumer and they’re good for the industry.”

(Editor’s note: Rachio’s data was corrected and updated from the original post based on additional information provided by the manufacturer.)


U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation, “Weather- and Soil Moisture-Based Landscape Irrigation Scheduling Devices”

New Product – Battery-Powered Water Flow Meter

Spot On Irrigation System Flow MeterInnoquest, Inc., is pleased to announce the first handheld battery powered flow meter designed specifically for irrigation systems and sprinkler nozzles.

Primarily for measuring the flow rate from nozzles on center pivot irrigation systems, the SpotOn Flow Meter comes with a plastic boot that is placed around the operating nozzle to capture and direct the flow downward. It is easy to use and digitally displays the flow rate in GPM, L/min or L/hr in less than a minute.

Click here for additional information


  • Range: 0.08 to 15.0 US Gal/min 0.30 to 58.0 L/min 20 L/hr to 3480 L/hr
  • Accuracy: Greater of +/- 4% or 1 least significant digit
  • Resolution: 0.01 GPM up to 9.99 then 0.1 GPM over 10.0 0.01 L/min up to 9.99 then 0.1 L/Min over 10.0 10 L/hr
  • Size: 8in.(20.3 cm) Diameter X 8in.(20.3 cm) Tall Weight: 1.2 lbs (545 grams)
  • Fluid Compatibility: Water and water based solutions only
  • Wetted Parts: Stainless Steel & Plastic

Ideal for Growers with Center Pivot Irrigation Systems

“The SpotOn Flow Meter is ideal for use by growers who use center pivot irrigation systems,” Bill Hughes, President of Innoquest, said, “but it can also be used in industrial settings and for home inspections. Although determining the flow rate of irrigation nozzles is important for a variety of reasons, it is especially critical during initial setup when the flow rate should correspond to the system’s design specifications. By measuring flow rate regularly, it’s also easy to check for nozzle wear, obstruction or regulator problems.”

Primary Uses & Features

The SpotOn Flow Meter can be used to measure the flow of irrigation nozzles, pumps and piping with flow rates up to 15 GPM. It’s also great for home inspections, e.g., checking silcocks, shower heads and sink faucets. Self- contained and battery powered, the meter features a simple, rugged design that requires no plumbing or fittings and includes no moving parts. The SpotOn Flow Meter is only compatible with water and water-based solutions and currently lists for $249.

For more information on the SpotOn Flow Meter, call 1(800) 637-1623 or visit Innoquest, Inc. has been designing and manufacturing sensors and instruments since 1993.

To download photos, pricing and specs, visit Innoquest, Inc. For more information or an interview, please contact: Bill Hughes, President of Innoquest, Inc. (815) 337-8555.

IA’s Point of Connection Contractor Leadership Summit

Leadership Summit Leading the WayIrrigation Contractor Leadership Summit

Feb. 8-10, 2012  St. Augustine, Florida

Point of Connection is a networking and education conference designed specifically for owners and managers of irrigation contracting companies.

Hosted by IA’s Contractor Common Interest Group, the leadership summit includes:

  • Relevant sessions on topics that matter to irrigation contractors.
  • Brainstorming and networking with business owners and managers from across the country.
  • A chance to relax and socialize with your peers.
  • An opportunitiy to earn up to five continuing education units.
“Point of Connection was developed by contractors, for contractors. The 2011 networking and education was excellent. I’d highly recommend it to any Irrigation Association contractor looking for success in 2012.”
– Eric Santos, Valley Crest

Irrigation Association's POC Leadership Summit Brochure Cover>2012 Event Highlights:

>• Full-day sales and marketing seminar for the irrigation contractor with Jeff Carowitz of Strategic Force, Inc.

>•  Irrigation and water management in the landscape with the University of Florida’s Dr. Michael Dukes.

>• Sessions on standards, codes and contractor business opportunities as well as a state affairs update.

>• Guided tour of the World of Golf Hall of Fame.

>• Annual Texas Hold ‘Em poker tournament.



Before Jan. 9 After Jan. 9

IA Members

$425 $500


$625 $700





*Includes one-year discounted IA membership.

Renaissance Resort at World of Golf Village, St. Augustine, Florida

Renaissance Resort at World of Golf Village, St. Augustine, Florida

Plan to attend:

Hotel Information
Renaissance Resort at World Golf Village
500 South Legacy Trail
St. Augustine, FL 32092

What to Ask When Purchasing a ‘Smart’ Controller

What questions should I ask before purchasing a “smart” controller?

The Irrigation Association®, a non-profit organization supporting water conservation through efficient irrigation, has information on their website to educate consumers about the questions to ask their contractor when considering a “smart” irrigation controller.

Click here to read more. . .

Be sure to read it prior to meeting with your irrigation professional. And before beginning any work, be sure to confirm that your contractor is specifically trained in the installation of the “smart” controller they have selected.