Smart irrigation valve adds connectivity and automation to any hose

Zilker irrigation controller
© Zilker

Zilker aims to bring smarter watering to more yards, without adding a costly sprinkler system.

Smart watering and irrigation devices keep popping up like mushrooms after a broken sprinkler head, and considering how much of an average home's water use is for the outdoors (30%), and how much of that gets wasted from inefficiencies (about half), it's probably high time that more of these types of devices are readily available. According to the US EPA, landscape irrigation is said to account for about one-third of all residential water use (to the tune of some 9 billion gallons per day), so cutting out most of those watering inefficiencies can have a significant impact on home water consumption.

For homes with watering or sprinkler systems already installed, adding a smart, connected irrigation controller and monitor is a great place to start, but for those of us without an irrigation system already in place, it won't do much for us if we just need to automate our hose or manual sprinkler.

However, the latest entry to the smart yard and garden market might just fill that need, as it's a drop-in water valve that adds a host of convenient features to any hose bibb, allowing for more control over your outdoor watering, even without having a sprinkler system. The Zilker system includes a small bridge, or hub, which is installed inside the home to communicate with one or more of the valves, and the valves themselves, which are designed to thread onto standard hose fittings, one per zone or hose.

With the Zilker bridge and valve in place, the flow from the hose can be controlled automatically, through a combination of scheduling and the inclusion of local weather conditions, as well as manually (with a single on/off switch on the valve), and by using the iOS app, water delivery from each valve can be set by either the desired inches of water to apply or by the desired amount of gallons.

Multiple valves can be set up with each bridge, and a single hose bibb with a 4-way adapter on it could be used as a multi-zone controller with one valve for each watering line, with each valve configured to a different schedule for varying yard watering needs. Users can have one zone for watering trees and shrubs, one for watering the lawn, one for the garden, etc., and because these can all be above ground, using standard garden hoses, it's possible to have a smarter watering system for much less work and money than installing a new irrigation system.

Zilker is currently in a crowdfunding phase with a pretty ambitious Kickstarter campaign, where early bird backers at the $129 USD level can reserve a bridge and valve (with additional valves at $59 each), which are expected to be delivered to backers in the spring of 2017. More info can be found at Zilker, where the company mentions that many cities have rebates for purchases of water timers like theirs, so your end cost may actually be less than your pledge.

Tags: Gadgets | Water Conservation

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