Smart irrigation controller uses in-ground sensors and weather forecast to reduce water bills by 60%

Hydros irrigation controller and sensor
© Simple Elements

This adaptive intelligent watering controller for lawns and gardens could drastically reduce your water bill, while keeping your plants healthy and hydrated.

In an increasingly water-stressed world, smart appliances and gadgets can help to reduce our home water use in an efficient and easy way, and this new smart irrigation controller is a great example of combining local sensors, regional weather forecasts, and smart algorithms to provide optimal watering for landscapes, lawns, and gardens.

Considering how precious our freshwater resources are, the method of just putting a sprinkler in the middle of the lawn and turning the hose on (which will soak the ground until we remember to turn it off) should be seen as archaic and wasteful, and even 'dumb' irrigation controllers (which can be more effective than using a hose to manually water) are in serious need of an upgrade.

We've previously covered a few other smart watering controllers, namely the WaterBee, Edyn, and Iro systems, all of which can be controlled and monitored via a smartphone or web interface, but the new kid on the block, the Hydros, promises more options for setting up "the most optimal watering schedule" for your yard.

Hydros consists of a series of sensors, which are inserted into the ground in each watering zone (up to 12 zones) to monitor soil moisture, temperature, and light conditions, in conjunction with the controller, which connects wirelessly to the sensors and the home's WiFi network to control the timing and duration of watering.

The Hydros sensors are designed to be low in profile (1/2" high), which enables users to be able to mow their lawn without removing the devices, and are powered by a rechargeable 2400mAh battery, said to be capable of powering the sensors for up to 6 months between charges.

The controller, which acts as the brain of this smart irrigation system, is touted as being "self-scheduling" due to its ability to take the sensor data, the weather forecast, historical weather data, as well as that coming from other Hydros systems in the local area, and to combine those with its watering algorithm to deliver the right amount of water at the right time.

By adding a sensor for each watering zone you'd like to control, Hydros can set up optimal schedules for each one, which, when combined with the smart watering algorithm, avoids the whole 'one-size-fits-all' irrigation model that many 'dumb' controllers use. Hydros works with 24V watering valves, which is the standard for home irrigation systems, and is compatible with both 220V and 110V power supplies.

Hydros users can monitor and view the sensor data and the watering scheduling through an app, which allows for the setup of automatic scheduling, as well as for controlling each watering zone manually, right from a smartphone or tablet.

Like many smaller tech companies and startups that have designed innovative products, Simple Elements, the company behind Hydros, is using crowdfunding to bring the product to market. Backers of the project at the $160 level will receive a controller and a sensor (at $90 below the expected retail cost), which are expected to ship to buyers in March of 2015.

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