Have you heard of Eve Irrigation yet? Trust me, you will. If you live in a house, you probably know just how “fun” programming the sprinkler controllers/timers that are available at the major home improvement and landscaping centers across the country can be. One of my hobbies is landscape and sprinkler system installation and, if you haven’t had the “pleasure” of working with one of these things, I envy you. I’ve been doing it since the late Eighties and I still get confused at times.
How Do You Set Up a Watering Schedule?
Figuring out whether an indoor plant needs water or not is pretty easy. Stick your finger into the soil in the planter. If the soil feels wet or moist, no water is needed. Alternatively, if the soil feels dry, it needs water. However, figuring out whether your yard needs watering is a little more difficult. Sure, you can walk around the yard poking your finger into the soil here and there, but, do you really want to?
Sprinkler Timers Were Seen as a Godsend
Even with a sprinkler system installed in the yard, watering every corner of the yard could be a bothersome chore before timers came out. You had to turn each valve on and off individually, which meant you had to remember to go out and do it. Before sprinkler timers, you had to go out every half hour or so, turn off the hose, move the sprinkler, and then turn the hose back on. Sprinkler timers were introduced with the promise that those days were gone.
You could “easily” program in the start and stop time, or at least the amount of time each zone was watered for. As these devices became more and more technologically advanced, they gave us the ability to have each zone turn on for a different amount of time on different days of the week. This was because the manufacturers realized that your trees and shrubs would often need more water than the grass. Now we have sprinkler timers with weather radios and rain sensors that can override the programming if it has rained or if rain is predicted.
Sprinkler Timers Were Never That Easy to Use
The problem with even the timers that have rain sensors is that they were never all that easy to program properly. Those that allowed you to program different watering times for each zone almost needed a computer science degree to program in a way that you got the result you wanted. I had one that required six trips back to the customer’s house to get the schedule just right.
Enter the Eve Irrigation System
For quite some time we’ve been able to buy small stakes for our indoor pots that were placed into the potting soil and detected moisture. If the plant needed water, the stake would notify you somehow. Some changed color while others made a sound or had a light that lit up. However, they weren’t outdoor safe so they can’t be used to help you determine an outdoor watering schedule. Enter Plaid Systems and their Eve Irrigation product.
This product is, from my point of view, awesome. It completely does away with the problem of programming a sprinkler timer so that your plants don’t die from thirst or get too much water. It accomplishes this by using pretty much the same type of technology as the indoor moisture sensors and combining it with a SmartThings hub for control purposes. To check out the SmartThings hub, cruise on over to the article I wrote about it earlier this year. It’s worth a look.
Add Yard Watering to Your Smart Home System
SmartThings is a home automation product that allows you to control devices and appliances connected to the SmartThings hub over the Internet. The coolest thing about the product, in my opinion is that it’s a collaborative platform that the user community has the ability to program for in order to improve and expand the capabilities of the product. In the tech field we call that “open source.” Most of the new capabilities of the system have come from the user community. One of these advances is the Eve Irrigation controller system.
How Eve Irrigation Works
The SmartThings hub communicates with connected devices that it controls using either the ZigBee or Z-Wave protocols. This makes adding new sensors and devices to the system quick and easy as it doesn’t require any specialized computer or networking knowledge.
The Eve system uses sensors similar to the ones we’ve seen for houseplants. There are two huge differences though. First and foremost is the sensors used by the Eve controller, humorously called Adam, are designed for outdoor use. They also have a radio in them they use to communicate with the controller. When the stake “feels” that the ground is moist, it informs the controller and that zone is not watered.
However, the Eve controller also communicates with the SmartThings hub to determine if rain is forecast. If there is rain in the forecast, no watering is done. There’s really no need to program anything with the Eve Irrigation system if you don’t want to. You can, but you don’t need to. Also, what would a new home automation product be if you couldn’t control it from afar using your smartphone or tablet? Old news, that’s what it would be.
Installation is probably the hardest part of getting this up and running. You have to know how to use basic hand tools. Label and remove the wires from your old controller and remove it from the wall. Mount the Eve unit and connect the wires. Stick a few sensors in the ground, power up the system and allow everything to connect. Then walk away because you’re done. Sure, you can program the controller using one of the apps if you want, but honestly, why? Just let Adam and Eve do their thing for you.