Frequently Asked Questions
What are the benefits of “smart” controllers?
A “smart” controller saves money by reducing water usage. In addition, landscapes that are watered appropriately are healthier and less likely to suffer from fungal disease and insect infestations that can require costly treatment, potentially saving users even more money.
“Smart” controllers also make landscape irrigation easier and more convenient. Traditional irrigation timers require manual adjustments every time the weather changes. “Smart” controllers automatically adjust the watering schedule based on local weather/site conditions, or soil moisture. So, once the initial setup and monitoring is complete, there's no need to reset the controller. The “smart” controller makes adjustments automatically.
Have “smart” controllers been tested and proven effective?
Manufacturers of “smart” controllers rigorously test their products before releasing them for sale. “Smart” controllers have also been tested in a number of communities throughout the country, including California, Colorado and Washington. Results from these studies have shown that “smart” controllers—both climate-based and soil-moisture sensor-based—are effective in reducing outdoor water use, with typical water savings in the range of 20%-40% annually. In fact, one study in Santa Barbara, California, demonstrated up to a 59% reduction in water use among some historically high water usage customers.
Click here for more information and results from these “smart” controller field studies.
In addition, the Irrigation Association has developed an independent third party testing protocol specific to “smart” controllers. Review the results of these tests.
What is IA-SWAT testing? How does it work?
The Irrigation Association has developed an independent third party testing protocol specific to “smart” controllers. Currently the protocol is administered through the Center for Irrigation Technology, an independent testing laboratory, applied research facility and educational resource center based at California State University, Fresno. The objective of this protocol is to evaluate how well current commercial technology has integrated the scientific data into a practical system that meets the agronomic needs of turf and landscape plants.
Each product evaluation is conducted by creating a six-zone virtual landscape subjected to a real-time climate through monitoring of a selected weather station to evaluate the ability of individual “smart” controllers to adequately and efficiently irrigate that landscape. After initial programming and calibration, the controller is expected to perform without further intervention during the test period. Performance results are then analyzed and if the product has proven to maintain root zone moistures within an acceptable range while minimizing excess, the manufacturer may choose to release results to the Irrigation Association for posting on the website.
Click here to review the results of the IA-SWAT tests conducted to date.
What are the SWAT’s current initiatives and priorities?
SWAT has made significant progress since the irrigation industry and water purveyors first met in New Orleans in 2002. Our first initiative, the development and launch of test protocols for climate- and soil moisture sensor-based controllers, has successfully been completed, as has a marketing study to assess existing market conditions and end-user attitudes. A marketing toolkit was developed for water purveyors, this industry web site and a homeowner/small business website. Protocol development is underway for rain sensors.
Our vision and efforts have also been recognized by the EPA. Some water purveyors are now requiring SWAT test results for "smart" controller rebates and incentives. We are off to a good start, but SWAT still has much to do to continue the monumental task of promoting new “smart” irrigation technologies and changing residential and commercial consumer thinking, habits, and purchasing behavior. With continued support from water purveyors and the irrigation industry, SWAT can continue to make great strides in successfully meeting this challenge.
What can our organization do to support SWAT efforts?
The involvement and support of irrigation distributors throughout the country is critical to the success of our education efforts—as a resource for purchasing and learning more about "smart" irrigation products, and by pooling financial support to continue developing and expanding our outdoor water use efficiency programs. Please help us keep the momentum going. Join the growing list of SWAT supporters, or build on your previous support.
For more information, contact the IA at 703.536.7080 or by e-mail. We're also looking for volunteers to help guide SWAT efforts and initiatives. To find out more about participating in the SWAT Promotions Working Group, contact the committee chair by e-mail.