Anyone on here mount controlers in basements?

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Jason Rose, Mar 3, 2006.

  1. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    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:
  2. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    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.
  3. sheshovel

    sheshovel LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,112

    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 fun black widows..mice ..snakes and all
  4. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    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...
  5. SprinklerGuy

    SprinklerGuy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    Hmmmm......Installation of sprinkler system $2500

    Client: Mr. Sprinkler 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.
  6. Green Sweep

    Green Sweep LawnSite Senior Member
    Male, from Pittsburgh, PA
    Messages: 322

    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.

  7. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    you can buy a station master for about $50.00.
    it will do about anything you need.
  8. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

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

  9. PurpHaze

    PurpHaze LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,496

  10. Jason Rose

    Jason Rose LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 5,858

    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.

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