"Smart" controller efficiency testing

 All “smart” irrigation system controllers use either weather and/or site data as a basis for scheduling. This page summarizes results from real-world tests of both types of “smart” controllers—climate-based controllers, which measure a variety of climate and site conditions, and soil moisture sensor-based controllers, which rely solely on the amount of moisture in the soil to determine when to water.

Climate-based “smart” controllers

Santa Barbara, CA: Initial data from a trial of climate-based “smart” controllers in Santa Barbara County found that historically high water usage customers reduced their monthly water use by approximately 26% through the use of climate-based “smart” controllers, with some customers saving as much as 59%.

Irvine, CA: In a field trial, forty climate-based “smart” controllers were installed in the homes of high water users (the top 23% of all residential water users) in the Westpark Village community of Irvine, California. Results showed that the climate-based “smart” controllers reduced outdoor water usage by an average of 16%, and have the potential to reduce it by as much as 24%.

Puget Sound, WA: A test of climate-based “smart” controllers conducted in Washington among “very high” water users (those that use an average of 375 gallons of water more per day during the peak summer season than they do during the winter) reported average annual water savings of up to 20,735 gallons (or 27.7 CCF) per customer.

Boulder, CO: Studies comparing water usage at both residential and business sites before and after installation of a climate-based “smart” controller found an average savings of 35,000 gallons of water per site, per year (based on an average landscape size of .2 acres).

Soil moisture sensor-based “smart” controllers

Moreno, CA: This Southern California community successfully tested soil moisture sensor-based “smart” controllers as a means to conserve water in landscaped parkways. Results showed that the sensors improved irrigation accuracy and efficiency, and produced an average irrigation management labor savings of 35% over traditional irrigation methods. These soil moisture sensor-based “smart” controllers have now been installed in nearly 30 sites throughout the community.

Boulder, CO: Results from a series of studies sponsored by the City of Boulder, Office of Water Conservation, confirm that soil moisture sensor-based “smart” controllers can successfully automate irrigation scheduling in standard clock-driven irrigation systems. Their latest study shows that, even after five years in the field, soil moisture sensor-based “smart” controllers continue to conserve water while successfully matching irrigation applications to requirements.