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What is a Smart Irrigation Controller?

“Smart controllers estimate or measure depletion of available plant soil moisture in order to operate an irrigation system, replenishing water as needed while minimizing excess water use. A properly programmed smart controller requires initial site specific set-up and will make irrigation schedule adjustments, including run times and required cycles, throughout the irrigation season without human intervention.”  - SWAT -Smart Water Application Technologies- (Irrigation Association)


Smart Controllers Use a Variety of Methods to Estimate or Measure Soil Moisture Depletion Including:

  • Pre-installed historical weather data 
  • On-site weather data collection
  • Fee based weather data acquisition - requires an internet connection or other means
  • Soil moisture sensor
  • Any combination of the above

Benefits of Owning a Smart Controller:
The biggest benefit of smart controllers is their ability to automatically adjust watering schedules throughout the year. After initial set-up and some fine tuning, smart controllers only need to be reprogrammed when there are changes to the landscape or irrigation system.

Smart Controller Watering Techniques:
In the desert, plants prefer deep and infrequent waterings. When selecting a smart controller, look for a controller that can water your landscape deeply and infrequently. Read Landscape Watering by the Numbers for information on depth and frequency of watering.

Proper Programming of the Controller is Essential:
With proper programming, a smart irrigation controller can effectively water your landscape. Without proper programming, landscapes may receive more or less water than needed. Proper programming requires knowledge of plants, soils and other landscape conditions. It is important to read your manual for program instructions or contact a landscape professional who has experience working with smart controllers.

Scottsdale’s Water Conservation Office offers free landscape workshops every March and October to residents on a variety of landscape topics that may help in programming a smart controller.

Will I Save Water with a Properly Programmed Smart Controller?
Water savings will vary depending on how your existing controller is programmed. For example, if the scheduling of the existing controller is only adjusted a few times per year, there is potential to save water due to the frequent automatic adjustments of the Smart Controller. If your existing controller is properly programmed and frequently adjusted to match the changing weather, then the water savings potential may be low.

Smart controllers are eligible for the irrigation controller rebate.


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