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Irrigation Discussion Discussion of irrigation integration with HomeSeer systems.

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  #1  
Old September 1st, 2016, 03:05 AM
mikee123 mikee123 is offline
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Help with starting a small irrigation system please

I have just bought a basic irrigation system, without any valves or controllers, just wanted to get that into the ground first. I am now thinking ahead, and at some point would like to be able to integrate it to HS. So, starting it will be 2 zones, so I will need valves which I can control from HS. I am not sure I need a controller for that, if I can control the valves somehow from HS that would be good enough. I have seen solenoid 24V valves, which would probably do what I need. I can get mains power to where the valves would be. I was thinking maybe I could use Fibaro or Qubino 2x1.5kW modules to control them. But how do I go down from mains Voltage 240V to 24V ? Or is that what a controller would do ? I need expandability to a maximum of 4 maybe 5 valves, so it will not be a big system
I should add, I am UK based
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  #2  
Old September 1st, 2016, 03:26 AM
mrhappy mrhappy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikee123 View Post
I have just bought a basic irrigation system, without any valves or controllers, just wanted to get that into the ground first. I am now thinking ahead, and at some point would like to be able to integrate it to HS. So, starting it will be 2 zones, so I will need valves which I can control from HS. I am not sure I need a controller for that, if I can control the valves somehow from HS that would be good enough. I have seen solenoid 24V valves, which would probably do what I need. I can get mains power to where the valves would be. I was thinking maybe I could use Fibaro or Qubino 2x1.5kW modules to control them. But how do I go down from mains Voltage 240V to 24V ? Or is that what a controller would do ? I need expandability to a maximum of 4 maybe 5 valves, so it will not be a big system
I should add, I am UK based
Virtually any 240V > 24V power supply would probably be able to switch a couple of solenoid valves, probably a couple of hundred of mA worth of current depending on how many valves you have (depends on the spec of each valve) however because the Fibaro module has volt free contacts then you could (and probably should) run 24V through the unit and have 24V running to the valves.

If you need extendability then you could just add another Fibaro dual module of course (and you could get away with just one power supply running through both units) however I don't know in reality if that is a good method for scalability.

How comfortable would you be with an Arduino? There are loads of 8 channel relay boards out there for connection to an Arduino and you could use the Arduino plugin, it is not a finished solution though and would require some basic knowledge just to wire things up.

Being the green and pleasant land that we are I have not seen any sprinkler controllers specifically marketed for the UK but there are loads out there for the rest of the world that would deal with the switching for you and have various interfaces.

I had an irrigation system dangling off a solenoid valve running at 240V but it was to keep the lawn watered as a short term measure, I then replaced the lawn with Astroturf, problem solved.
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  #3  
Old September 1st, 2016, 05:00 AM
mikee123 mikee123 is offline
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Lol my wife wants astro turf... Arduino might be an idea. Wiring I am comfortable with, but don't really know much about Arduino (except for what it is). So that would mean get a 240V to 24V transformer, an Arduino relay board, and a waterproof enclosure to put everything in. Then 2 solenoid valves to start, the arduino plugin and I should be up and running...
Normally I would prefer the Fibaro option, but they have issues on HS3, but that's another story. Might have to look into the new Fibaro Gen5 modules and see if they work better.

I had a look, connecting the Arduino to the relay board is fairly straight forward. But then I still need to 'connect' the Arduino to HS. I will also need a %V power supply for the Arduino. So ther are going to be at least 2 boards which will have to go into the enclosure, plus 2 power supplies.

Maybe the Fibaros or Qubinos are the easier option although they have other issues.

Last edited by mikee123; September 1st, 2016 at 05:24 AM.
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  #4  
Old September 1st, 2016, 06:18 AM
mrhappy mrhappy is offline
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Originally Posted by mikee123 View Post
Lol my wife wants astro turf... Arduino might be an idea. Wiring I am comfortable with, but don't really know much about Arduino (except for what it is). So that would mean get a 240V to 24V transformer, an Arduino relay board, and a waterproof enclosure to put everything in. Then 2 solenoid valves to start, the arduino plugin and I should be up and running...
Normally I would prefer the Fibaro option, but they have issues on HS3, but that's another story. Might have to look into the new Fibaro Gen5 modules and see if they work better.

I had a look, connecting the Arduino to the relay board is fairly straight forward. But then I still need to 'connect' the Arduino to HS. I will also need a %V power supply for the Arduino. So ther are going to be at least 2 boards which will have to go into the enclosure, plus 2 power supplies.

Maybe the Fibaros or Qubinos are the easier option although they have other issues.
There is also devices like the Particle Photon (and many others) that you could consider, they offer a relay shield type setup that I believe has four relays and you would just power and could connect your valves to the relay contacts. This would of course be reliant on you having Wifi in that location.

I have a Particle Photon in my shed currently connected to a couple of PIR's, a soil wetness sensor, a micro switch on my bin and a temperature sensor. Last month I have salvaged a micro irrigation system from a friends garden that I will probably experiment with using next year (I thought plastic plants were probably a step too far) and have added an extra line to control a water pump from the outputs. They are relatively easy to get talking and IFTTT can even be used from HS to control the outputs.

Last edited by mrhappy; December 28th, 2016 at 04:18 PM.
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  #5  
Old September 1st, 2016, 07:53 AM
mikee123 mikee123 is offline
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If I connect the Arduino to my LAN, and install the plugin, do I have to run code on the Arduino to switch the relays or how would that work ? I still want to explore this option a bit further as its probably the most cost effective.
Another solution I have just found, is the GreenIQ hub. I can use Alexa to control, which is great for me, but if I wanted control while being away I have the app or IFTTT, which isn't great in terms of response times from what I read, but on this application that's not critical. Problem with that solution is pricey, £200 + valves.
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  #6  
Old September 1st, 2016, 11:35 AM
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cheeryfool cheeryfool is offline
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Mike

You might also consider OpenSprinkler.com The 24VAC model would ship to you for USD 166 inclusive. You'd need a 24VAC UK power supply plus the valves. I have mine hooked up via ethernet. It has a great and simple web UI, which is replicated in phone apps.

There's also a free plugin for HS3 that allows monitoring and control of the system.

I just recently replaced my Hunter sprinkler controller with one of these and couldn't be happier.

btw. It has an Arduino inside, though you are blissfully unaware of that.
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  #7  
Old September 1st, 2016, 02:12 PM
mrhappy mrhappy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikee123 View Post
If I connect the Arduino to my LAN, and install the plugin, do I have to run code on the Arduino to switch the relays or how would that work ? I still want to explore this option a bit further as its probably the most cost effective.
Another solution I have just found, is the GreenIQ hub. I can use Alexa to control, which is great for me, but if I wanted control while being away I have the app or IFTTT, which isn't great in terms of response times from what I read, but on this application that's not critical. Problem with that solution is pricey, £200 + valves.
You would have to run some code and you could buy the plugin (although if you wanted a bit of a project you could write an arduino program and HS script, depends on whether you want a project or not) which is a financial consideration of course. Arduino's and messing with stuff like that is what I am comfortable with (and have a load of up my loft) which is why I made the suggestion but realise it is not everyone's idea of fun.

Looking at that GreenIQ hub there does appear to be an API and having a quick look it could be controlled from HS by script (at a push for some basic control, a plugin would be much better) if you wanted that route.
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  #8  
Old September 1st, 2016, 03:39 PM
mikee123 mikee123 is offline
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I bought a Raspberry Pi for a project, but I never even got as far as even connecting it... so as much as I like projects, time is a bit of an issue. So the plugin would be the way to go for me. I am wondering given the experience with the Pi, if I buy all the bits and end up storing them in the attic along with the Pi...
So maybe I should consider the GreenIQ. IFTTT hasnt got a great integration, but I think I can do the basic functions. Also I have an app, which is not integrated at all, but a way of controlling it when I am away. When I am at home, I like using Alexa. Its fun and fantastically lazy... , and there is a GreenIQ skill, so I can say Alexa water zone 1 for 1 hour... Obviously its expensive.
Also I am looking at the opensprinkler solution, I will spend some time researing that tomorrow. The weekend I will try to get all the pipes laid for my system, by then I should have an idea of what controller and valves to go for. I found a nice ready build box with 4 valves inside, only need to connect the supply and feeding pipes, and connect the valves to a controller.
A lot to consider, functionality, cost, ease of installation. I think ideally an arduino based system for cost and integration, GreenIQ for the Alexa integration and ease of installation, so both in 1...
But that doesnt exist.
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  #9  
Old September 1st, 2016, 04:56 PM
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cheeryfool cheeryfool is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mikee123 View Post
I bought a Raspberry Pi for a project, but I never even got as far as even connecting it... so as much as I like projects, time is a bit of an issue. So the plugin would be the way to go for me. I am wondering given the experience with the Pi, if I buy all the bits and end up storing them in the attic along with the Pi...
So maybe I should consider the GreenIQ. IFTTT hasnt got a great integration, but I think I can do the basic functions. Also I have an app, which is not integrated at all, but a way of controlling it when I am away. When I am at home, I like using Alexa. Its fun and fantastically lazy... , and there is a GreenIQ skill, so I can say Alexa water zone 1 for 1 hour... Obviously its expensive.
Also I am looking at the opensprinkler solution, I will spend some time researing that tomorrow. The weekend I will try to get all the pipes laid for my system, by then I should have an idea of what controller and valves to go for. I found a nice ready build box with 4 valves inside, only need to connect the supply and feeding pipes, and connect the valves to a controller.
A lot to consider, functionality, cost, ease of installation. I think ideally an arduino based system for cost and integration, GreenIQ for the Alexa integration and ease of installation, so both in 1...
But that doesnt exist.


Btw. I just tried using Alexa to control my OpenSprinkler and it works great. It's not 100% as natural a command, but "Alexa, set zone 1 to 20%" will water zone 1 for 20mins.
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  #10  
Old September 1st, 2016, 05:10 PM
mikee123 mikee123 is offline
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Originally Posted by cheeryfool View Post
Btw. I just tried using Alexa to control my OpenSprinkler and it works great. It's not 100% as natural a command, but "Alexa, set zone 1 to 20%" will water zone 1 for 20mins.

Ok thats good to know. I will do some more research, but i got a few good ideas from you guys already.
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  #11  
Old December 12th, 2017, 02:12 PM
sbrunner sbrunner is offline
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You buy the controller, whether standalone or remote controllable. The controller typically has a small plugin power supply, delivering the power for the controller, sensors, and valves.

Valves are connected via direct-burial low voltage landscape wiring directly to the controller. Power consumption is very little, like 1W or 2W. Typically, only one zone operates at a time to maintain sufficient water pressure, the whole point why you need different zones, other than different timing. If you do not have grid power, you can also buy valves that have ultra low power consumption and work on battery power. A controller itself can run for a year on a 9V battery, unless you use one with wifi.

The key in designing an irrigation system is to find out what kind of nozzles you need for each area of your property, what nozzles you can group together into one zone, how you structure zones, the water pressure, also elevation and distant dependent, how much water is being released and how much water you need to release for your soil, slope, plants, etc, and watering times. There are literally many different kinds of nozzles to chose from, from drip, to spray, different kinds of spray, rotators, etc. If you want to design it well, not a trivial task. You also need to control pressure (typically 20 - 60 PSI depending on your design and nozzle). If you have a sloped property, you need to control pressure for on many places on your property.

A lot of utilities have regulation in regards to backflow preventers. Utilities typically take backflow prevention very seriously to keep the water supply safe. Failing to deploy one can open you up to lots of liability. Contact your water utility and what type of backflow preventer you need.

The most expensive when building an irrigation system is design and labor. Parts are very inexpensive. Stick with top brands like Hunter and Irritrol. Rachio makes a nifty controller with Homeseer plug-in available.

On thing to keep in mind is that irrigation systems are capable of releasing huge amounts of water in very brief periods of time. 20 - 30 gallons per minute is normal. Even on a small property, you can get into the tens of thousands of gallons per month easily. Water rates in the US vary between $3 to $16 per 1000 gallons. Some utilities also add a wastewater fee even for irrigation. If you live in Texas, eg Austin, your monthly water bill can very quickly go to > $500/mo and above, and can go into the four figures if you made design or programming mistakes.

Irrigation can be built yourself, but is one of the more complex DIY projects. Although I am maintaining my system for years, I get a consultant in from time to time to look over things.
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