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  #61  
Old 09-07-2011, 04:32 PM
txirrigation txirrigation is offline
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Originally Posted by SoCalLandscapeMgmt View Post
I see where you are coming from. But you can't write off the controller because the H.O. is a dimwit! Seriously though try the Rain Bird STP+ or the STP. They are about the most dummyproof controller on the market.

http://www.rainbird.com/landscape/pr...rs/STPplus.htm
That doesnt look too bad. I always install the controller at my house first to get familiar with it. I will have to go and pick one up to see how I like it.
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  #62  
Old 09-07-2011, 04:58 PM
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JimLewis JimLewis is offline
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Originally Posted by txirrigation View Post
I installed quite a few of the RB ESP-SMT controllers, and without fail had to go back to the site to re-teach the home owner how to use it. Multiply 20-30 RB SMT controllers x 2 (avg) visits back is 40-60 FREE service calls, that cost me money and time.
We've installed over 200 of the SMT units since all the way back to Oct. 2009 - 8 months before they were released on the market. And I've been to more ESP-SMT training seminars than I can count over the last 2 years. And one thing they (RB) always taught us is that this controller is NOT a set-it-and-forget-it kind of controller. You need to expect to possibly have to go back and tweak it a little. They told me from the beginning to account for the possibility of maybe 2 follow up visits every time you install one of these. And so we always do that. Every time we install one we tell the customer that we've factored in up to 2 follow up visits and if they need us to, we'll be glad to come back and to a little tweaking. I factor this into the price point that we sell these at and then if they don't call back ever (which is 75% of the time) we just make that much more money. In fact, we've lowered our price a little just because we found we weren't getting as many call-backs as expected.

So I think right off the bat you're expectations for this controller were all wrong. Maybe nobody every told you that this wasn't that kind of controller and to expect follow ups. That's unfortunate. But it is a good controller. You just need to have reasonable expectations.

Quote:
Originally Posted by txirrigation View Post
I installed quite a few of the RB ESP-SMT controllers, and without fail had to go back to the site to re-teach the home owner how to use it.
Without fail??? See, I take issue with that a little too. I know I'm in OR and you're in TX. But we've installed over 200 of these guys and I would say we have to go back MAYBE 20-25% of the time. The majority of the time, I've never had to go back. Now, I'm in a climate where we don't depend on irrigation quite as much as you do down in TX. But still.... you got called back every single time? I just have to say that hasn't been my experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by txirrigation View Post
I would much rather post a "Seasonal Run Time" sheet above the controller that tells the home owner how long to run each zone during which season of the year.....That way you turn a "Dumb" controller into a smart controller without the guess work. The customer can then find out water usage at different run times. I also put the recommended % incase they would rather use the seasonal adjust, but that is less accurate.
Yah, see, that may work in TX where the weather from day to day is like
HOT-HOT-HOT-MILDLY HOT-HOT-HOT-MILDLY HOT-HOT

But that would never work here in OR and many other parts of the country. The weather here can vary a LOT from one day to the next. In May, for instance, it could be rainy and 55 degrees one day and sunny and 75 degrees the very next day. And it goes up and down like that even within the same day a lot of times. Totally unpredictable weather. I could never just tell people to set their clocks to a certain run time or certain percentage each season. Weather varies WAY too much for that.

The SMT is more work, for sure. But we've been really successful with it. I just don't let my customers mess with anything other than the "Fine Tune Watering" area of the controller. If there's anything more that needs to be done, I'd rather come back and tweak it myself. I did one yesterday. Took just 5 minutes and I was already in the area. No big deal.
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  #63  
Old 09-07-2011, 06:03 PM
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Mike Leary Mike Leary is online now
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Originally Posted by JimLewis View Post
But that would never work here in OR and many other parts of the country. The weather here can vary a LOT from one day to the next. In May, for instance, it could be rainy and 55 degrees one day and sunny and 75 degrees the very next day. And it goes up and down like that even within the same day a lot of times. Totally unpredictable weather. I could never just tell people to set their clocks to a certain run time or certain percentage each season. Weather varies WAY too much for that..
:::Sigh:::, I wonder how I made it for thirty years with a couple of Lincoln moisture probes and a historical sheet for each client. The weather in the PNW is variable, but predictable. Only a couple of times have I ever had to modify the clocks or (gawwd forbid), put them in programmable rain-shut-down. The amount of rainfall in the PNW during the season is not worth even thinking of the expense of a "smart" clock, unless one wants a Caribbean vacation and a shiny red truck.
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  #64  
Old 09-07-2011, 06:39 PM
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JimLewis JimLewis is offline
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Originally Posted by Mike Leary View Post
:::Sigh:::, I wonder how I made it for thirty years with a couple of Lincoln moisture probes and a historical sheet for each client. The weather in the PNW is variable, but predictable. Only a couple of times have I ever had to modify the clocks or (gawwd forbid), put them in programmable rain-shut-down. The amount of rainfall in the PNW during the season is not worth even thinking of the expense of a "smart" clock, unless one wants a Caribbean vacation and a shiny red truck.
:::Sigh::: Mike still stuck in rewind believing how they used to do it in the 60s and 70s is just as good.... You remind me of my Dad.... Which isn't a bad thing. Just sort of stuck on the oldies....

Let me 'splain how it really works these days (Cuz I know you been outta the game a few years and the heat up in that tin missle you drive around in is getting a little hot, I can tell....)

I'll illustrate with my house - because this is a very typical example of how people would water around here until the SMT controllers came out. I used to have my controller set up to program each zone every day for a certain amount of time. Obviously, sun and lawn zones longer and shadier or plant zones a little less. But I always wanted my lawn and plants to look perfect. I live in an upscale neighboorhood plus everyone around here knows me as the landscaper so I gotta keep things always looking great. Can't take any risks. So watering daily was the norm. And it's like that for most of my resi. clients in upscale neighborhoods. They're rather overwater and water too frequently than risk anything not looking perfect.

I had a rain sensor attached. But it was just a simple rain shut-off device. Didn't really measure rainfall at all. Just turned off the system when it got damp enough outside. And it would stay off for a day or two. Then it would come back on and allow the system to run. Didn't really matter that it was only 58 degrees and cloudy that day/week. It was just programmed to run every day unless the rain sensor interrupted it. So even though you really wouldn't need to water on a 58 degree day in May, it would do it anyway. It would do that every single day, whether my landscape needed irrigation or not. My water bill would be a go up a good $60 a month in the spring / summer, due to irrigation.

Fast forward to the year when I installed the SMT. Now I still turn on my system around the 1st of May. But it doesn't turn on at all for like 18 days. Instead of watering almost every day, now I'm just watering only when the soil has FINALLY gotten dry. My controller watered only 2x this May! That's it! It used to water much more than that. And in June, it only turned on a few times as well. Even in July it only came on a handfull of times. Again, I would have had it on almost every day in previous years for all of those months.

Water bill is down now to an avg. increase of only $25-$35 in the spring/summer months.

To me, it's worth spending a few hundred $$ to save $25-$35 a month in wasted water. It's a no-brainer. Pays for itself in the first two years. I was vastly overwatering. And I find most of my resi. clients are as well. Nobody messes with their controller. Nobody changes anything. Despite my best efforts to train clients how to use the "Seasonal Adjust", nobody every remembered to do that. They just turn it on in the spring and turn it off. And the notion that they would pay me to come over and adjust it 2-3 times a year is rediculous. I charge $70 an hour! You kidding me?? A one-time investment saves them from wasting a significant amount of water and equates to some good savings.

I know.... you'll say it's all newfangled electronic doo-dads, hogwash and plastic banana stuff. It's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. My Dad was still wearing Hush Puppies till the day he died. Still swore they were the best shoes out there and everything else was a waste of money. I know.... Go ahead and tell me how they don't work and it's all pie in the sky...... I'm ready.....
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  #65  
Old 09-07-2011, 07:18 PM
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Mike Leary Mike Leary is online now
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Originally Posted by JimLewis View Post
:::Sigh::: My Dad was still wearing Hush Puppies till the day he died. Still swore they were the best shoes out there and everything else was a waste of money.
I'm wearing prolly my twentieth pair of Red Wing "Romeos"; I'll go down the same as your Dad, bless him for sticking to his scruples, I'd say he taught you a thing or too.

Last edited by Mike Leary; 09-07-2011 at 07:22 PM. Reason: Don't be a stranger on the forum, Jim, we miss you.
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  #66  
Old 09-07-2011, 07:56 PM
txirrigation txirrigation is offline
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I think the RB SMT might be good for your area, but around here ANY weakness gets exposed quickly.

This year has been the worst (obviously) in a long time. It is not uncommon to have 2-3 weeks above 100. We got a "cold front" that took us down to 94. Even in good rain years the rain shut off works because we may get rain once every 1 1/2-2 weeks.

I could see if you lived in a climate where things changed often that it would be useful. Here it is either HOT or Cold, with about 2 weeks of transition in between. For most people that means the controller is either OFF or ON.
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  #67  
Old 09-07-2011, 08:15 PM
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Wet_Boots Wet_Boots is online now
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A better question would be just how much of an advantage is gained over a controller that can adjust watering times according to the month.
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  #68  
Old 09-07-2011, 08:23 PM
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Mike Leary Mike Leary is online now
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Originally Posted by Wet_Boots View Post
A better question would be just how much of an advantage is gained over a controller that can adjust watering times according to the month.
OR, (call me old school) a tech to show up and check the operation (including nozzles) every month or so. Only Central system will know when a nozzle is plugged. On the ground techs still get it for me.
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  #69  
Old 09-07-2011, 08:26 PM
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Wet_Boots Wet_Boots is online now
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I don't install crap that has to be checked up on. The set-global-percentage-by-month feature seems to be a good advance, that on its own might justify the cost of a controller.
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  #70  
Old 09-07-2011, 08:31 PM
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Mike Leary Mike Leary is online now
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Originally Posted by Wet_Boots View Post
I don't install crap that has to be checked up on. The set-global-percentage-by-month feature seems to be a good advance, that on its own might justify the cost of a controller.
Umm, what controller do you use that gives a warning to your I-whatever phone whenever a nozzle plugs?
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