How to Choose an Irrigation Controller


irrigation controllers

Web Based Timers– Example: Irrigation Caddy S1– Web based controller that can connect to Wi-Fi or an Ethernet cable, 9 zones, 5 start times, and is rain sensor compatible. Your controller can be controlled from your PC, tablet, or mobile device. No special software is required.

Battery Operated Controller– Example: Irritrol IBOC-12PLUS 12 Station Outdoor Sprinkler Timer– Sets up to 12 stations, comes with solar and battery powered options, and built-in surge protection. Battery operated controllers can be used for residential or commercial use or for sprinkler and drip irrigation systems.

Standard Controllers– Example: Hunter PCC1200 12 Zone Outdoor Sprinkler Timer w/ Internal Transformer– Up to 12 stations and 12+ run times per day can be set up, weather sensor ready and could be used for large commercial applications. Simple and cost effective, standard controllers are a great option for those installing a basic sprinkler system.

Cyber Rain

Irrigation controllers can use weather conditions to determine how much water to apply and when to run your sprinkler system. Little monitoring is required, and it can help you save up to 25% of the water that you would apply by a traditional controller.

Most irrigation controllers vary in their complexity, but are relatively simple to install and operate. Installation requires some basic electrical knowledge and can be accomplished by most homeowners in as little as twenty minutes or as much as three hours. Sprinkler timers come in a wide range of makes and models. It is important to choose your timer based on the size of the sprinkler system and any specific landscape requirements.

Three major factors that should affect your selection of a sprinkler timer:

Zone/Station Quantity- You need to decide how many zones are in your irrigation. The timer you select must be able to operate at least as many zones as your sprinkler system is broken into.

Location – You have to decide where you want your controller mounted– indoors or outdoors

Desired Number of Programs- A minimum of two programs is recommended for programming flexibility; you may want more for increased flexibility. Most sprinkler timers come in single, two, three, or four-program designs.


Additional Features:

  • Remote: Many of the major irrigation companies such as Hunter, Irritrol, and Rain Bird carry compatible remotes that you can use up to 2 miles away to operate your system without all the walking back and forth.
  • Seasonal Watering Adjustment: Most timers have seasonal scheduling options, in addition to daily, weekly, and monthly scheduling.
  • Memory: If you live in an area where power outages are common occurrences, battery backup is highly recommended, which will store programming indefinitely without power.
  • Self-Diagnostics: Some timers include water fluctuation compensating diagnostic programs or short-circuit protection.
  • Rain Sensor: A great water-conserving feature for sprinkler timers is a rain sensor, when precipitation is detected watering is suspended temporarily.

**As a matter of personal preference many additional features and options may be available that you can choose but are not critical to your sprinkler system functioning properly.**

Here are a few links to help you make the best decision for your lawn:

Sprinkler Timers

Drip Irrigation Timers

Battery Operated Controllers

Types of Timers

Choosing a Timer: