looking for recommendations on irrigation system


Active Member
The recent lack of rain and my fried lawn has pushed me over the edge, and I'm seriously considering an irrigation system.

I don't have the time, patience, or knowledge to install myself, so I'll be looking to hire a local installer.

I know most stock systems allow me to schedule different zones for different times, include rains sensors to avoid watering when it's raining, etc...

However, I'd like to tie it into my home automation system system if there are any clear benefits.

People that automate their irrigation - what advantages are there? What products do you use?

Since my ligthing is all Insteon, I've looked at this unit:


However, I'm not sure what the advantage of an Insteon controller would be. Why purchase this over another irrigation controller, something that might be controlled via a serial port? Especially since I'm moving towards CQC for my main home automation interface.

Also, is there anything specific I should have my irrigation installer do in preparation for my home automation (that could save me time)? Or should I just let him do his thing, and worry about tying it in to my system later?

Sorry for the dopey questions, but I've never owned an irrigation system, so I'm fairly ignorant on this topic.
Hooking your irrigation to your HA system will allow you to view and program it from your pc or control point rather than having to go the the controller in the garage or outside. It will also allow you to do a little more complex programming depending on how/where it is hooked up. The valves are pretty much controlled relays, so if you have an HA panel with relays, like the Elk or HAI, etc you can use that. Otherwise I would probably recommend one of the Rain8 devices by WGL systems.
I would definately recommend "automating" the system. It allows for complex schedules that can be adjust conditionally. This allows for far more efficient and effective irrigation. I recently had an audit performed by the Colorado Resources Council and they were super impressed with how effectively my automation system can adjust to conditions. I try to conserve wherever I can...
If your focus is on water conservation then mcsSprinklers provides a rich and flexible control. It is geared toward use of WGL Rain8 series products, but other options exists. It requires a PC 24/7 for control and can be hooked into other automation systems via the LAN and xAP. I believe CQC implements xAP, but I'm not certain if Dean made it visible to the user. I talked with the ELK and HAI guys at the last East Coast EHX in Orlando for integration, but the focus is now on putting the control logic in a microcontroller so the PC will only be needed for the UI.

You can get a pretty good idea of the system configuration for an irrigation control at http://mcssprinklers.com/scSystemConfiguration.htm
Thanks for the replies guys. So, I'm looking at the Rain8Net now and integrating that into CQC.

If I'm understanding the Rain8Net right, I wouldn't need a water sensor installed, description says:

Environmental data is automatically downloaded from the web to allow a more informed irrigation schedule. Normal watering periods can be altered based upon current conditions such as wind speed, day of the week, forecasted rainfall, and several other criteria to assure that water is dispersed only when needed. Access your system remotely to control any or all zones and to verify status.

Is this something that the Rain8Net does itself? Or would I have to pull data from the weather.com CQC driver and program some kind of logic in CQC?

Or is it possible to (and should I) implement an actual rain sensor into CQC?

Has anyone had any luck in getting an irrigation company to install the system without their controller and rain sensors? Or is the savings minimal?

Thanks again!
I don't know about your neck of the woods, but around here it can be pouring in one place and sunny across the street. In a situation like that, generic weather data really doesn't do much good. You would really need your own weather station. Most people I think just use the $20 rain sensors. They are simple devices that when wet tell the system not to run. That's about the cheapest and simplest best bang for the buck. It will basically prevent your irrigation system from operating in the rain or shortly after (the sensor has a 'drying out' period). Hunter makes one called the mini clik which is pretty popular. You can see it as well as others here. I have seen others use different things from weather station data to ground moisture meters. The in ground moisture meter is kinda cool as it will base watering on if the actual soil is dry or not at the right depths. But you really need to have several of them around, etc and it gets alot more complicated than a simple rain sensor. I would think you could find an installer to do it without a controller. If not, just have them put in the cheapest junk that can (usually a $30 Intermatic manual timer) and replace it on your own.
Thanks for the reply. Does a rain sensor interface with the Rain8Net, or do I need to figure out how to interface one directly into CQC and build the logic there?
So it looks like if one already has an Elk, it would be better to just use that to automate the irrigation, instead of a Rain8? If so, would I be looking at a relay board, or individual relays? Also, would a rain sensor simply be a contact sensor, hooked up to the expansion board?
You could go either way, but the Rain8net will introduce a PC. I would personally just keep it in the Elk. I like the relay boards like the M1XOVR or M1RB over individual relays.