Why do my sprinklers need WiFi?

As the smart home movement picks up steam, more and more devices are getting connected to the internet. Some may say “Why do I need WiFi sprinklers? I set the schedule on my simple system and forget about it.”

I can see that side of the argument. Things are bound to go wrong when you add more complexity to your life. If something works for you, then stick to it. But don’t complain when you’re left behind.

It may seem like this is just some fancy gimmick that lets you turn off your sprinklers from your office, but for those of us that are experimenters, nerds or engineers, we want to play with new toys that can automate our lives and tell a story in the form of graphs and charts. I’m the kind of guy who can’t wait to have a sensor implanted in my body so I can know EVERYTHING that’s going on. But that kind of thing is a ways away, so I’ll settle for a WiFi sprinkler system.

I think the ability for most of these smart irrigation controllers to read the weather forecast and skip scheduled waterings is fantastic. Some will say you can do the same thing with a rain sensor, but I think a rain sensor is another hole I have to drill and wire I have to run. The less wires the better.

I love that some apps let you visualize and name your zones so you can be super specific about watering certain trees or flowers as you need.  I love that some apps help you out with slope and soil content so you can do better than guessing. I’ve got tough clay soil that grass has a hard time taking hold in.

My favorite piece of this WiFi sprinkler puzzle is connecting with other APIs like If This Then That (IFTTT). IFTTT allows you to patch together different services into really interesting and helpful results. For example, you could have a push notification sent to your phone any time watering starts in your garden. You could log the start time and stop time of the watering in a Google spreadsheet. You could do some wacky thing like turn on a disco ball and play music in the house when the sprinklers start. It’s all possible, the only limit nowadays is your imagination.

The ability for your sprinklers to speak the same language as other devices and services is just the very beginning of this ride. I see a future where every plant has its own sensor and can give you realtime updates on its health. Not just the status of soil it is planted in, but the actual health of the plant. How great would it be to see a prediction of how many oranges or avocados will grow on your tree this year? Or the predicted yield of your organic garden?

Check out The Big Ole WiFi Sprinkler Controller Comparison to get an overview of what irrigation controller might work best for you.

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