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As time goes on, smartphones and the internet have been slowly integrated into practically every facet of life. With the potential to adjust your watering program from anywhere, at any time, it was inevitable that it too would find new ground in the digital age.
Whether web based or conventional, irrigation controllers come in various sizes and models, but are all generally built for similar goals. Meant as an electronic, user friendly way to control the delivery of water to your lawns and gardens, pots and crops, these devices are predominantly used to set the time, duration and frequency of watering. More advanced models used in conjunction with sensors, can vary watering cycles according to wind, rain, soil moisture content, frost etc.
Web Based Controllers
As the name suggests, a web based irrigation controller has many if not all of the functions conventional controllers possess, while also offering features that are made available through a connection to the internet. Such features can include advanced scheduling based on weather data received from online local weather stations, and remote accessibility through smartphones and tablets for up-to-date statistics and quick oversight of your irrigation system.
Your communication with your web based controller is dependant on its ability to maintain a reliable connection to your Wifi network. In the event of the loss of the Wifi connection, a web based controller will normally continue to water by defaulting to its most recently updated program.
Some web based controllers provide no, or limited manual interface, so programming can only be performed online, however the manual interface feature is becoming more common as current units develop and more options enter the market.
Bringing irrigation into the internet age is a logical step, as connecting these devices to the world wide web gives you a broader, more full view of the surrounding statistics. Irrigation doesn’t happen in a bubble, so knowing all the facts on a minute to minute basis can be highly beneficial in getting you the best results.
Familiarity will always be a feature influencing the choice of a conventional controller. Their price advantage and ease of operation appeal to a section of the population that is still made up of people very comfortable with their ability to operate and adjust their watering systems in the “old fashioned” way. There are also definite advantage in landscapes where professional gardeners are engaged in the control of the watering. While web based control can be a huge advantage in this situation, many gardeners will continue be more comfortable with their hands on contact with their gardens and with hands on contact with the management of the watering system.
While it may seem like conventional controllers have little to impress when facing their internet-optimised counterpart, there are still points to be made in their defence. With a slightly elevated price point and a need for reliable internet, while also having features that wouldn’t necessarily be needed for smaller irrigation systems, conventional models still have their place in the market. That said, web based irrigation is the clear winner in regards to optimised features and accessibility, building on the elements of its predecessors and utilising online support in an effective and useful way.
As with many products, the decision of which one you should buy comes down to what your needs are. Both types have their merits, and neither should give you any reason to question their overall effectiveness.