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View Full Version : Anyone on here mount controlers in basements?


Jason Rose
03-03-2006, 08:48 PM
Just curious as to how common this practice is... It's entirely TOO common here! I'm even finding systems that are only 10 to 12 years old with controlers in the basement. Makes for an absolute f%^&#(* nightmare to do service work... :angry: Granted newer systems can be operated at the valve manually, but had one today, just a go thru and adjust the heads and replace a couple clogged nozzles... Controler in the basement, of course I can't walk thru the house with wet muddy shoes so the homeowner has to try to figure out how to operate the controler manually and get the zone I want ON. I spent half my time there waiting for her to get the right zone... I say I want #3 and sure enough she has 1 going, over and over and over... :hammerhead:

There is absolutely NO reason for the controler to be in these basements! Just wondered if anyone here made a practice of installing them that way. If there is someone then I will keep my opinion as to the punishments to myself :laugh:

bicmudpuppy
03-04-2006, 12:22 AM
Just curious as to how common this practice is... It's entirely TOO common here! I'm even finding systems that are only 10 to 12 years old with controlers in the basement. Makes for an absolute f%^&#(* nightmare to do service work... :angry: Granted newer systems can be operated at the valve manually, but had one today, just a go thru and adjust the heads and replace a couple clogged nozzles... Controler in the basement, of course I can't walk thru the house with wet muddy shoes so the homeowner has to try to figure out how to operate the controler manually and get the zone I want ON. I spent half my time there waiting for her to get the right zone... I say I want #3 and sure enough she has 1 going, over and over and over... :hammerhead:

There is absolutely NO reason for the controler to be in these basements! Just wondered if anyone here made a practice of installing them that way. If there is someone then I will keep my opinion as to the punishments to myself :laugh:
I doubt you will find that caliber of contractor here. I deal with them in Johnson County all the time. Controller in the basement with white carpet on the basement steps and in front of the utility room to get there. How many accounts / how much repair time are you billing? Buy a Hunter clock and the commercial remote. Make yourself a pigtail from the clock with aligator clips on each zone wire and the common. You can even make a set of clips to steal power. Total setup is going to be around $600. You could also buy a sidekick instead for a little more money and have a dedicated unit. I like the Hunter idea because you now have a controller you can also program. Put the 9V batter in an ICC and you have memory and you can set A to a 1 min test and leave b, c, and D for onsite programming. You can then run a program from the remote, or just turn one station on at a time. I have seen the Hunter commercial remote work at a distance of almost 2 miles, and I have had good luck with it through a big box building at a distance of over 1000' and 400' of that was brick and steel. For $450 for the remote portion it is still worth the money not to have to walk back and forth. You can set up an ICC to work with that remote as a portable controller for $175 if you can live with or start with 8 stations. Best part is the ICC can go to 32 stations in that light weight plastic cabinet. For regular site use, you can even build a modular pigtail like the sidekick comes with. This is one investment that will pay for itself quickly.

sheshovel
03-04-2006, 12:26 AM
Hey..I think I have a brand new one I never used.Sell it too ya for cheep...a remote I mean.Will ddig it out tomorrow if your interested.
No basements here..but had one in a crawlspace one time way under the house and ya had to cammando on your belly in the dirt under the house to get to it around a corner..fun fun black widows..mice ..snakes and all

Jason Rose
03-04-2006, 12:53 AM
Well I sure don't do THAT much service work to warrant a $600 set up... I wondered about just a battery pack and a set of leads but I don't know how I'd hook it to the solenoids? I'm just wanting to be able to fire them if I need too. I suppose I could use aligator clips on the leads and use a knife to just nick the insulation off the wires, or if I had sharp probes I could use those to just stick into the wirenuts or the crimped connectors. (yes the one I did today had all crimped automotive connectors).

What's the bare minumum voltage I would need though? Isn't it like 16 or 18 volts? 24 being recommended... I know of guys that have built battery packs to do just this but for me the batteries would die of old age before I used them enough, and I'm not sure how to hook batteries in a series to get the voltage I'd need without blowing up a battery.

Frankly I think all controlers should be mounted outside for easy access to the person maintaining the lawn! (ME) But when people see how much extra it costs to mount one outside after you figure in the wiring and everything then they are happy as a clam with their cheap setup in the basement.

Actually I just remembered that I HAVE a cheapo clock in a cabinet in my garage.... lol! Not the most portable system still, due to the need for 110 volt power to run it. But certinaly feasable! Sounds like I will have to do a little rigging and make something that will work here. like I said, I still need a cleaver way to connect the power to the valves without really cutting the wires...

SprinklerGuy
03-04-2006, 01:09 AM
Hmmmm......Installation of sprinkler system $2500

Client: Mr. Sprinkler Guy..how can I save some money on this installation..

Mr SG: Well, we could put the controller in the basement instead of the garage that would save you $50

Client: Ok!!!

Mr. SG: Sign here ma'am.



Around here there are tons of them in the basements....I am guilty as charged for doing it sometimes...but it is what the client wanted. Who am I to complain? After all, I installed the system, how much work will it actually need? Besides.....I crank them up with a station master or a bleed screw anyway most of the time....if I have to set the timer...I remove my shoes....I don't mind..I'm getting paid $1 per minute to remove my shoes and walk down some steps.

Green Sweep
03-04-2006, 08:01 AM
We put controllers in the basement if there are absolutely no other options. I completed an install a few weeks ago where the homeowner just could not stand the sight of the controller in his garage. Even though I thoroughly explained to him exactly where & how I was going to hang the controller. We did a very neat job but he did not like the fact that there was a control wire running up his wall (He actually asked me if we had a white control wire). One of these obsessive, neat freak garage guys. I ended up moving the controller to his unfinished basement.
I service too many systems with controllers in finished basements. I have a few customers that actually create a path for me to walk with old newspapers before I come. Another customer (a nurse) has a box of booties to put over my boots next to her door. And, if I have no other options, I'll remove my shoes.

Rob

YardPro
03-04-2006, 08:09 AM
you can buy a station master for about $50.00.
it will do about anything you need.

Jason Rose
03-04-2006, 09:27 AM
you can buy a station master for about $50.00.
it will do about anything you need.

ok.... Do you have a link or anything? What all does it do? Is it battery powered? Where would I find one at?

Thanks!

PurpHaze
03-04-2006, 11:47 AM
Here's one link...

http://www.lashen.com/vendors/tempo/irrigation.asp

Jason Rose
03-04-2006, 12:05 PM
Here's one link...

http://www.lashen.com/vendors/tempo/irrigation.asp

SWEET!!! Thanks for the link!

Is that a good company to buy from, or should I check with Ewing irrigation first to see if they sell it or something like it? I like the fact that I could hook it to any wires without having to strip or cut...

One detail I forgot is that many people here have seperate wells and pumps for their sprinklers. The pumps are usually operated with a repay and only come on when the controler does and the system is under no pressure otherwise. I still couldn't test those systems without access to the controler! Grrrrrr.

PurpHaze
03-04-2006, 12:21 PM
SWEET!!! Thanks for the link!

You're welcome.

Is that a good company to buy from, or should I check with Ewing irrigation first to see if they sell it or something like it? I like the fact that I could hook it to any wires without having to strip or cut...

I don't know. I'd try someone closer like Ewing to where you normally deal with.

One detail I forgot is that many people here have seperate wells and pumps for their sprinklers. The pumps are usually operated with a repay and only come on when the controler does and the system is under no pressure otherwise. I still couldn't test those systems without access to the controler! Grrrrrr.

On those types of systems unless you're able to activate the pump relay switch also you're kinda up a crick without a paddle. :laugh:

Wet_Boots
03-04-2006, 04:40 PM
If you use Hunter controllers, with the exception of their really-cheap EC series, they come equipped with a wiring harness and connector that allows basement installations with an exterior connection for your Hunter remote control. You plug in the receiver (a beep tells you that you have power) and then you can work the zones with your hand-held remote transmitter. You never need enter the home to operate the system. In fact, if the customers are savvy enough to open and close the sprinkler suppy valve in the basement, and to switch the controller dial from Off to Automatic, you can do all aspects of sprinkler service from outside.

PurpHaze
03-04-2006, 05:38 PM
Ditto with the Eicon remote controller that we use on our Irritrol MC+ controllers. Only problem is that the Adapt-1 adapter runs about $40 each so we don't have all our controllers equipped. However, we can still remotely control all the controllers by hooking up the receiver directly to the controller's board.

PurpHaze
03-04-2006, 05:44 PM
Anyone on here mount controlers in basements?

BTW... I meant to make a smarta$$ comment about the thread title by saying I only mount women (my wife in particular) and NOT controllers in basements. :laugh:

Jason Rose
03-04-2006, 08:36 PM
LMAO!, yes, do not mount ANY electrical appliances in your basement or anywhere else for that matter...

As for the hunter controlers, I have only seen 2 in my life! Nearly everything in this town is RainBird. Frankly the 2 hunter controlers I encountered were very confusing and NOT at all user friendly to me. I guess it's all in what you are used to though! I do see several RainBird ESP controlers that have bad connections on the dial and I have to wiggle it or get it to just the right spot to make the display show what it's supposed to be showing, certianly not the majority, but still a couple.

YardPro
03-04-2006, 08:51 PM
i think that the hunter currently has the best conrtoller on the market.
i am not really brand loyal, but the hunter stuff kicks butt.

Dirty Water
03-04-2006, 09:15 PM
I have a harder time explaining the Hunter PRO-C and Irritrol Raindial to our typical 65 year old client, compared to the Rainbird ESP-M.

That makes RB worth it to me.

BSME
03-07-2006, 02:25 PM
If you use Hunter controllers, with the exception of their really-cheap EC series, they come equipped with a wiring harness and connector that allows basement installations with an exterior connection for your Hunter remote control. You plug in the receiver (a beep tells you that you have power) and then you can work the zones with your hand-held remote transmitter. You never need enter the home to operate the system. In fact, if the customers are savvy enough to open and close the sprinkler suppy valve in the basement, and to switch the controller dial from Off to Automatic, you can do all aspects of sprinkler service from outside.


i love it when a house has one of these outdoor access shutoff key things (great description I know)...

http://www.johndeerelandscapes.com/_Professional_R_S/_Catalog/images/78-88.pdf

that with an outdoor timer makes winterizations real easy

DanaMac
03-08-2006, 10:05 AM
A lot of new homes here will already have the plumbing stubbed out, and the wires as well, leading to the furnace/utility room/unfinished basement. So those wires get used occasionally. As SprinklerGuy said, many homes here with timer in basement. And some do-it-yourself jobs where the timer is in the crawlspace.

HBFOXJr
03-13-2006, 11:00 AM
Sprinkler Guy - tell me it ain't so. When I have a prospect ask about $, I ask if they want to go up and down the steps umpteen times to work with their sytem. Then I ask if they want pay a service man x$ to remove boots and go up and down the stairs umpteen times and the answer is a universal, resounding NO.

SprinklerGuy
03-13-2006, 12:23 PM
HB...I give up on trying to figure people out...I don't hound them w/ questions anymore and give them reasons to do it my way..if they want it their way..and they want to pay for it.....then I do it.

I found out in the last couple of years...that people don't want to hear the truth....so I give them what they want...and everyone is happy.


Welcome back btw!

HBFOXJr
03-13-2006, 02:59 PM
I'll admit I'm a beaten man too on some points. It's like shut up and take they money, they want you to have it. But this clock location thing, they like it my way and it's never been a deal breaker.

PurpHaze
03-13-2006, 04:10 PM
HB...I give up on trying to figure people out...I don't hound them w/ questions anymore and give them reasons to do it my way..if they want it their way..and they want to pay for it.....then I do it.

I found out in the last couple of years...that people don't want to hear the truth....so I give them what they want...and everyone is happy.

We're in a little different situation and this probably doesn't apply to what you're talking about but as technically an "owner" of school district sites we have specifications as to how we want certain things done. This is based on our past maintenance practices that we have found work well for us. For example, we want Christy concrete boxes with cast iron lids over isolation valves (F-8s for standard gate valves and G-5s for resilient wedge gate valves) instead of round plastic boxes for several reasons. The cast iron lids don't get sucked up by our large mowers, the concrete boxes hold up much better under heavy traffic and if lost by encroaching grass the valves can be readily found with the aid of a metal detector. We also prefer other methods of installation (i.e. our Marlex and SCH 80 swing joints) because of the sheer number we already have in the ground that have worked well for us for 25+ years and the fact that we then don't have to carry a larger assortment of repair parts. Now, does this mean that we always get what we want? Actually no. The good contractors will give us what we want and charge accordingly. The not so good contractors will put in what they use because it's easier for them. One of the main problems we have is that our facilities inspections are quite lacking to insure that we're getting what we want and/or pay for.

I'll admit I'm a beaten man too on some points. It's like shut up and take they money, they want you to have it. But this clock location thing, they like it my way and it's never been a deal breaker.

I too prefer controllers to be located outside, usually in the backflow enclosure on a pedestal or on a framed board/post configuration. This makes it easier on us when we set up our remote. Of our 110+ controllers throughout the district we have a few that are located inside of buildings that we actually can't get to without going through a number of doors and/or locks. A couple of years ago one administrator felt that security was lacking on many of the sites in regard to keyed locations. A "cyber key" security was set up for the sites that is a real PITA. This entails opening up a room where the cyber key box is located, opening up a control panel and inserting the cyber key and this opens a box with keys to various buildings. You then have to remove the key to the appropriate building where the controller is located, go to that building, unlock the door and then gain access to the controller. A computer program tracks the keys and amount of time each time the cyber key program is accessed. I have already relocated three controllers to the outside of buildings that fit this problem and still have a couple more to go. It's also my understanding that when this administrator leaves the district the cyber key program will be eliminated and things will return to master site keys because of all the problems. Go figure.

BSME
03-13-2006, 11:58 PM
Hayes...
I believe it was you that was thinking about gps before to locate valves... anyway... it seems like that's a big deal with those school systems... I just ran across this and don't really know how it works but it might be worth looking into..

can you put one of the markers in a valve box?
http://www.tempo-textron.com/docs/ML-0057-MarkerMate.pdf

PurpHaze
03-14-2006, 09:20 AM
Hayes...
I believe it was you that was thinking about gps before to locate valves... anyway... it seems like that's a big deal with those school systems... I just ran across this and don't really know how it works but it might be worth looking into..

can you put one of the markers in a valve box?
http://www.tempo-textron.com/docs/ML-0057-MarkerMate.pdf

Thanks BSME. I found these to be quite an interesting concept and presented the concept to the boss. However, that's as far as it's gone. Sure would make life a lot more interesting especially in those areas where we do want our valve boxes to disappear like on athletic fields.

cenlo
03-18-2006, 07:56 PM
When you guys are talking about not mounting the controlers in the basements, where are you mounting them?......in the garage or on the exterior of the house? We only use the Hunter Pro-C with the exterior weather box. Same key fits them all (bad design flaw but pretty handy). This way all of our projects ca be accessed with the same key and no one has to be home.

Jason Rose
03-18-2006, 08:10 PM
Speaking of KEYS... Does rainbird use all the same locks on their controlers or can I buy a master key for them???

I have several rainbird clocks I need access too and the keys are held by the owner, it's a pain to have to track him down just to find if he even has it on his key ring. Most of them are the newer digital clocks, one is an older mechanical that has a key lock. I guess I could try to get the keys, run them to the hardware store and have copies made...

I saw in a catalog someone was selling ALL keys for controlers in one bundle, It was a ton of keys and was pretty pricey. Not something I need, just need RainBird.

Dirty Water
03-18-2006, 08:21 PM
I've had real good luck being able to jimmy timer locks with the nozzle cleaner on a irritool or small screwdriver on my leatherman.

Green Sweep
03-18-2006, 08:22 PM
I believe that all Rain Bird keys are the same. I have one on my keyring that can open ESP's, LX's, MC's, etc. It even opens the pedestal RB controllers. I would suggest that the next time you install a controller, snatch 1 of the 2 keys supplied up & throw it on your key ring. The homeowner should be fine with 1 key.

Rob

Green Sweep
03-18-2006, 08:25 PM
I've had real good luck being able to jimmy timer locks with the nozzle cleaner on a irritool or small screwdriver on my leatherman.

On that note, I can start a DW 410 or 255 with a Rain Bird 5004 screwdriver. Comes in handy when you forget the keys at the shop.