Replacing Controller

Discussion in 'Irrigation' started by Rinker97, Apr 29, 2005.

  1. Rinker97

    Rinker97 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 63

    Hi all,

    I have a new house that came with an irrigation system. It has a 12 zone Irritrol Rain Dial controller and I see a rain sensor mounted to my gutter. The controller has no functions for rain so I assume the rain sensor is wired directly into the system. This morning my system came on even though we had lots of rain last night. I'm wondering if I should replace the controller with another type and sell this one on e-bay. What do you think? Also, what controller would you use? I had a Rain Bird controller at my old house (no rain sensor though) and had no problems with it for 12 years. We'll I did have a problem with the system coming on without the program telling it to do it during storms but once I added a surge protector to the outlet, that stopped.

    Thanks for your input.

  2. SprinklerGuy

    SprinklerGuy LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,778

    I wouldn't assume the controller is bad because it came on after it rained. the rain sensor may not be hooked up, the rain sensor may be bad, the rain sensor may be set wrong, but I'll bet the timer isn't bad
  3. Rinker97

    Rinker97 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 63

    Thanks for the reply. Actually I don't think my controller is bad. Just thought maybe a Rain Bird, or other controller, with a rain sensor function might do better than the rain sensor alone.

    I looked at it this morning quickly before I came to work and traced the sensor wires. They go to a valve box in my plantings near where the controller is located in the garage. It is connected to some wires in there that I guess then go to the controller. I had to get to work this morning and it was raining. I plan on climbing up and seeing what rain sensor they used this weekend, if the rain stops, and what it is set at.

    Also, is it easy to change out a controller if I decide to go that route. I would think I would just have to keep track of what wires go to what zones when disconnecting the old controller and then hook them back up to the new controller. I know I would need to get the rain sensors into the controller box but that won't be a problem.


  4. YardPro

    YardPro LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,570

    don't change the controller....
    New controller = $200.00
    New rain guage = $ 50.00

    do the math.........

    look on your controller and see if the sensor bypass is in the bypass or active position.
    also look in the controller and see if wires are hookes to the sensor terminals..

    next thing is that sensore like the miniclick have settings. If it is set at 3/4 inch and it has only rained 1/4 inch it will not kick it off..
  5. jcom

    jcom LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 791

    It sounds like they have used the rain sensor in conjunction with the common wire for all your valves. It is a common application here when access to the controller is a problem.

    The Rainbird esp4m will allow expansion up to thirteen zones if you want to bring your controller up to date.

    Good luck,
  6. Critical Care

    Critical Care LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,654

    Apparently the Irritrol Rain Dial controller does not offer the sensor option, and therefore having a rain sensor isn't going to do you any good. I haven't run into these too often.

    Whoever wired the rain sensor may have elected to use a spare wire, and the ground wire, within the controller cable going to the valve box rather than running a new set of wires. They may of even replaced the controller from one having a sensor hookup to one that doesn't.

    That Rainbird ESP4M modular controller is comparable to the Hunter PRO-C, which is also modular and can be expanded up to 15 zones.
  7. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    I may be one of the few on here that I've heard that like the Irritrol product line. Your Rain Dail, like many of the older model controllers doesn't have terminals for a rain sensor. The rain sensor being wired in series with the common wire is how we used to do it and it still works just fine. The fact that your system works implies to me as a tech that your sensor is OK, just in need of adjustment or repair. The other possibility would be that it doesn't work and has been by passed. I have never completely understood why, but many techs feel the need to release the rain sensor at winterization. What this means is the cap with the settings on it has been loosened. In this condition it will never work. Your sensor will be marked in 1/8" increments and you set the degree of sensitivity that you want. IMHO, the only real purpose to a rain sensor is to prevent you from watering in the rain. Since a rain sensor is normally mounted at gutter height, they don't really work. The mechanism that makes the sensor trip will dry out in less than 48 hours, even if you've had a 2" rain or better. For what a sensor costs, and the added labor to install it, I don't find them usefull for most of my customers. This is an up sell I avoid.
  8. ed2hess

    ed2hess LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 14,374

    Kinda hard to bypass a hard wired in sensor when you want to run a sprinkler check after a rain....?? The ones I ran into was hard wired outside the building!!
  9. bicmudpuppy

    bicmudpuppy LawnSite Silver Member
    Messages: 2,781

    Uhmmm, that would be telling.........the easiest "fix" if you have to run the check and the sensor is "tripped" and you can't get to the point it is wired into the common, assuming you can find the twin lead to the sensor (looks like speaker wire) shove a bare piece of solid 16gauge wire through the insulation at an above ground and somewhat protected point. If you feel guilty about dinging the wire, wrap it with some rubber tape when your done.
  10. Rinker97

    Rinker97 LawnSite Member
    Messages: 63

    Thanks for everybodies help.

    I looked at the sensor and changed it to 1/4" setting (is that a good setting?). I tried to see what was printed on it and it looked like it said Rain Brain. I looked at different websites but couldn't find this sensor. The one that looks like it is the MiniClik. I didn't try to run the system and add water to the sensor.

    Jcom is correct. The wires from the rain sensor go to a valve box outside in one of my landscape beds (right outside the garage where the controller is located) and hooked to the common wire. I don't think they did this because of an access problem to the controller but because the controller doesn't have terminals for a rain sensor. The builder had it installed so I didn't get a choice in controllers. My system at my previous house didn't have a rain sensor and I wanted one this time only if to stop the system during rain.

    Are the modular controllers the way to go now? I have a 12 zone controller with 10 zones running. I plan on adding some landscaping and should have heads added for it so additional zones would be nice. I was actually looking at the RainBird ESP-12LXi if I replaced it. I think having the sensor bypass and LED would be nice to have. Also, what rain sensor is the best to have.



Share This Page