Rain Bird ESP-SMT Smart Controller

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by JimLewis, Jun 18, 2009.

  1. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Well, those are some idiot water purveyors. A lot of times, they make exceptions. If you have a smart controller, you don't have to worry about the restrictions.

    Anyway, you could get around this a little and still do the smart control method AND sort of be within the guidelines, if you wanted. When you are programming each zone (smart control method, not timer) you can customize the maximum cycle and soak times. So if the restriction was 20 minutes. Then I would just adjust the maximum cycle to 20 minutes and adjust the minumum soak to 120 minutes. That way if the smart controller felt it needed to water for 40 minutes, it would come on once at 6:00 a.m. or whatever, go for 20 minutes, then let that soak in for 2 hours and then turn in again for another 20 minutes. Then you still get your 40 minutes (or whatever the smart controller thinks is necessary that day based on the E.T. that has been happening) but you're only doing 20 minutes at a time.

    Yah, this is cheating a little. But are the police going to sit there for 2 hours and say, "Hey! Wait a minute! That zone already came on for 20 minutes earlier!" I seriously doubt it.

    That's how I'd get around it. But yah, you can turn it into just a timer if you want....
  2. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    Sorry, not in response to Tom Tom, but just general talk about the SMT. I have installed about a dozen of these and for the most part I am pretty happy with them. The navigation on them is a bit clunky and sometimes you have to scroll through an entire section in order to get to the next section, which is a bit lame. I have had similar over watering issues with them and have had to dramatically reduce my opinion of what "full sun" is. I too elevated the temperature cutoff to mid 40's and the rain accumulation adjustment as well.

    I have never really felt terribly comfortable with the "Next Irrigation Estimate" review portion. To be honest, im not sure exactly how to interpret it. There are times where it will show a spray zone in the shade due to come on for 45 minutes and a rotor zone in the full sun will be coming on that day for 52 minutes. I have checked all the settings for each zone and it still doesn't add up. Overall I have had to dial back some zones by percentage, but it seems to be pretty reliable overall.
  3. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334

    Agreed. Who the hell dictates run times on zones without knowing PR? That has got to be one of the most idiotic, uniformed irrigation restriction I have ever seen.

    You can still use the restricted run times, however it is likely you will run into problems with insufficient time to water. Adjustments can be made to other parameters to compensate, however getting the controller to adhere to idiotic zone runtime restrictions while still using the primary "smart" features of the controller will be more than a little difficult, if not impossible. The whole point of using a controller like this is to get a more accurate estimation of landscape water needs and to reduce the need for manually adjustments to the controller as environmental conditions change.

    p.s. TomTom, feel free to forward my response to the appropriate regulatory agency.
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2013
  4. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    In response to GreenLight's comments:

    Yah, the "next irrigation estimate" is to be totally ignored. Everyone at Rain Bird from my local rep. to the regional rep. to the guy who is in charge of the SMT division of the company has told me that's not at all accurate and they shouldn't have even put that on there. I'm not sure why they didn't get rid of that with the last firmware update they did last year. But everyone agrees, even at Rain Bird, that this should be totally ignored. It's not at all accurate since weather is usually changing.

    You're also right that you have to "dial-down" this controller a little. We've installed probably a good 250+ of these and one thing I noticed after the first dozen or so was that the controller seems to over-water a little. There are several ways you can mitigate this issue. The way I do it is; Instead of dialing down the sun-shade settings, I just go into the advanced settings and dial the global E.T. adjustment down to 85%. That just decreases ALL of the watering across the board by about 15%. I find that to be a the most accurate way to do it.

    From there, it's just minor adjustments. And I always spend time with my homeowner showing them how the "fine tune watering" portion of the controller works. Then they can fine tune the rest as needed.

    I'll throw in another tip that a lot of people don't know; the BLUE section of the controller dial is for the contractor. I tell my client not to mess with that section. The Gray part of the controller dial is for the homeowner. Rain Bird has coded these areas this way on purpose. So they can mess with the stuff in the gray settings. But leave the stuff in blue for ME. That's what I tell every customer.


    I also tell them the only thing they'll really ever need to mess with is the "Fine Tune Watering" section and the "Manual Watering" section. And those are the only parts of the controller that I go over with the homeowner. Everything else on the controller is interesting, but 98% off homeowners won't ever have any interest in those other sections.

    Also, a lot of people don't know this but on this controller (along with any of the modern RB ESP models) you can leave the dial anywhere you want to and the system will still work. It doesn't have to be straight up in the "Auto" position to work (altough I think it's best to keep it there).
  5. GreenLight

    GreenLight LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 526

    Thanks Jim, very good info on everything and I will take your advice.
    Im glad to get some confirmation on the "next irrigation est" window being inaccurate. It's a bit of a shame, I wish RB would get a bit more accuracy into that part of the review because im always curious as to how long it does intend to run and what exactly it's doing.
  6. Kiril

    Kiril LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 18,334


    I would assume it is accurate as of the moment you read it, however it cannot predict the future so keep that in mind when you look at the estimation.
  7. Corey4x4man

    Corey4x4man LawnSite Member
    Messages: 3

    FYI the ESP-SMTe is now available!

    Lots of new features, 22 stations and calendar to show accurate estimated scheduling!
  8. camner

    camner LawnSite Member
    Messages: 4

    And where can one go to find the new features of the ESP-SMTe vs the SMT? The Rainbird website does not go into much detail about that.
  9. JimLewis

    JimLewis LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,876

    Other than the scheduling calender and setting the root depth when programming, there aren't a whole lot of changes. That's probably why there isn't a lot out about those changes.

    Probably the best way to get the full low-down about every change is from your local Rain Bird rep. If you don't know who the local rep. for your area is, I recommend finding out and getting to know him. Over the years I've found my reps to be a very valuable resource.
  10. Rotor_Tool

    Rotor_Tool LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 349

    You are one of the few fortunate contractors that have had the same RB rep for a number of years. In most areas across the country with the exception of a very few - and I can name them, the RB rep has been employed and in the irrigation business for maybe 2 months. Contractors are likely to have a lot more experience and know the product line far better than their RB rep.

Share This Page