The “water printing” technology prevents water from going where it is not needed
The app is easy to navigate
DIY installation option available
It must be installed from scratch, you cannot retrofit an existing sprinkler system
Weather-driven automatic irrigation may not be fully baked
A little rough around the edges; The irrigator controller, for example, is a circuit board in a box
You’ll have to evaluate whether it’s worth replacing your entire sprinkler system with Irrigreen, but homeowners with serious water usage concerns can find it very valuable.
Anyone with a sprinkler system knows at least a little about waking up in the morning to find puddles of water on a driveway, sidewalk, or sidewalk—lazy water that should be feeding your lawn, trees, or flower beds. The Irrigreen Precision Sprinkler System involves a serious and expensive precision engineering problem.
The star of the show is a new type of sprinkler head based on the same design principle as an inkjet printer; Irrigreen co-founder and CTO Gary Kleinfelter pioneered the concept of inkjet printers and holds 35 patents on the technology. Each digital Irrigreen Sprinkler is equipped with 14 nozzles that can spray water with different pressure to reach different distances. And those distances can vary as the sprinkler rotates in a 360-degree arc, so water is only applied to the edge of your lawn or flower bed and doesn’t reach areas that don’t need watering.
Watching a YouTube video of the Irrigreen system in action He can explain how this works better than I can in words, but the concept is pretty simple: The homeowner uses the Irrigreen app to mark out the yard around the sprinkler head, setting the maximum distance they’d like the water to reach in each direction. Just grass in one direction? Open things all the way. A barrier, fence or side of the house in a different direction? Mark the distance back so that the water only goes where it is needed. The system remembers the relative water pressure to be used in each direction and responds accordingly during a watering cycle.
Before we dive into this review, however, you should know that unlike most (if not all) other smart sprinkler controllers, the Irrigreen is a complete nose-to-tail system that includes all in-ground hardware and sprinkler heads. You cannot remove an existing controller and use it with a standard system, or replace existing sprinkler heads with Irrigreens. And while Irrigreen says its system requires far less hardware (just 250 feet of pipe and 5 digital sprinkler heads versus 1,500 feet of pipe and 40 conventional sprinklers for a typical yard) installing an Irrigreen system still means digging trench lines. yard (or hire a contractor to do it for you).
Since it wasn’t practical for us to temporarily evaluate an entire irrigation system without at least Irrigreen sending a landscaper to my house, the company provided a digital sprinkler that can be attached to a standard garden hose and used. above the ground So my experience was obviously not the same as what I would have gotten with an underground facility, but it was close enough. And the software experience, including map features, would be the same either way. While Irrigreen didn’t provide many instructions for setting up the hardware—I suspect most of their customers get their systems through landscape contractors—I was able to get it set up and running without too much trouble.
Also, the software is where the magic is, and I was inundated with errors and couldn’t get anything to work the first day, Irrigreen said that was probably because the unit was in maintenance mode as it downloaded updates. Sure enough, everything started working as expected without intervention on the second day. (Some sort of notification of these updates would have been helpful.)
The system connects to your 2.4GHz Wi-Fi network, but also has a mobile phone backup mode in case the broadband connection fails. The wireless setup requires scanning a barcode on the somewhat industrial electronics, followed by some basic application steps. After identifying your irrigation areas, the system runs a calibration to test your water pressure, which takes a couple of minutes.
At that point, your (or your contractor’s) next job is to map out your yard. This is done through an interactive system that drops the sprinkler head in the middle of the screen and tasks the user with dropping pins in a circle around it. At each point, you can place the skewer as close or as far away from the sprinkler as you like, at least up to the maximum throw of the sprinkler. This distance will depend on the water pressure you have available: Irrigreen indicates that approximately 35 feet is the limit; mine came out at 24 feet.
Mapping your garden is intuitive and easy and, dare I say it, fun. While it’s not superimposed on an actual photo of your garden, which would be nice, if it’s hard to use custom aerial photos, it’s easy to see where to throw the spikes (up to 50). trial and error. In my case, I wanted to work around a tree and a sandbox in one corner of the yard, and some plants on the opposite side. It took me less than 5 minutes to walk around the yard and pour the water within a few inches of each marking obstacle; that’s why, Irrigreen says, his system “prints” water on the lawn.
Unfortunately, this part of my backyard (me think it was rather small) was too large to be completely covered by a single Irrigre sprinkler head. If I were to invest in the system for good, I think this area of my yard would require two sprinkler heads.
Once you’ve mapped out your garden, the hard part of setting up is done. Irrigreen’s app allows you to perform manual watering tasks, schedules based on time and date (including specific days of the week, even/odd days and more) and offers an automatic watering mode that uses internet weather data to adjust water usage. There isn’t much information on how this automatic mode works, and the system proved to be a little confusing in my tests: on the day of the hail and cold storm, the system said it “ran longer” instead of skipping the “warmer weather” watering as it should.
Over time, things settled down to ambient conditions, which means that maybe this is a system that needs a bit of running before it really finds its groove. All of this information is tracked in a logging system that keeps tabs on watering activity, but the details in this section of the app are sparse and could use more information to help guide the user on what’s going on.
Note that you can also use the control box hardware (which is, worryingly, a bare circuit board mounted inside a plastic case) to start basic manual runs for a single zone or all zones, or to stop all watering, but there are three buttons inside. not well labeled. Ask for the (very beta) manual if you plan to open the box.
The price of Irrigreen depends on the size of your ear and the number of sprinkler heads you need, and online budget tool allows you to analyze an estimate. For my lawn (estimated at about 6,100 square feet), Irrigreen suggested five sprinkler heads for a total of $3,280. Based on my tests, however, I’m confident that at least eight heads would actually be needed. However, that’s not crazy compared to the average cost of a standard sprinkler system, usually between $500 and $1,000 per zone. For what it’s worth, my current setup has about 20 conventional sprinklers.
Is irrigation the best new way to water?
Although promising today, I think Irrigreen is growing. There’s no way to get push notifications about watering, for example, and there’s no third-party connectivity for smart home platforms like Alexa or Google Home, let alone Apple’s HomeKit. Today’s hardware looks more like it’s built for a lab than a suburban home, and then there’s the cost of installation to consider.
It is also difficult to verify the company that claims that an irrigation system can save 50 percent of the water used for irrigation; but at least its “water printing” concept seems to provide more precision and less waste when watering. Unless you’re looking to replace grass with artificial turf, Irrigreen is worth paying attention to.