Advanced Solar Powered Irrigation Products

Questions and Answers:

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Below are the most common questions customers have asked. If you have a question not listed below, please submit a question request to Support request or by email: and we will answer your question and add it to this list.

How is this installed?

Place the controller in a sunny area with at least 5 hours of sun a day.  Place the sensor in an area that is to be watered preferably in an area that is quickest to dry out from the sun and from thirsty plants.  Stick the sensor in the ground within five inches of a dripper (or within the main water pattern if using a sprinkler) with the red dot up at a narrow angle until it is completely in the ground.  Turn the watering set knob all the way to the left.

Give the system time to charge in the sun, typically about 24 hours.  Low batteries are indicated by two short blinks every minute In the evening after installation, water your garden area well.  By the next day, your system will usually be charged and will provide a reading of the soil moisture by blinking several times in a row, indicating the wetness of the soil.  Count the blinks and set the knob to the number corresponding to the blinks.  This should be a good setting for your garden.  If it appears to be watering too much just back it down a number.  Similarly you may adjust it up one number past if you wish more watering, for example if your plants show signs of wilting.

Each day the controller will sample the soil every four hours during the day.  It will compare the new sample to the set point, and automatically water for eight minutes then shut off.  You can change this watering time, see Advanced Instructions to set a new watering duration. 

I have a potting soil based garden and I wished a lot more water.  I turned it up to give me a reading of ‘7’ and the system never reached that number.  I don’t understand why since I saw numbers that were high after a rain.  What’s going on?

The soil readings are tied to the amount of water in the very near area of the sensor.  Light garden soils hold less water than other soils close to the sensor like clay and sand.  Clay that is very wet will read ‘9’ or ‘10’, and light soils will usually not read greater than 5 after the excess water has drained.  During a rain, there is an excess of water working its way through the soil.  So, it is not impossible to read a number greater than 15 at that time even in light fluffy soils.

Can I adjust the watering to 4 1/2 if I want it to water a little more than a setting of 4?

The settings on the knob are always rounded to the closest whole number. There is actually a lot of fine adjustment if you go from 4 to 5.

I have an orchard and would like to control soil moisture at about 8-10 inches deep.  Will there be a problem burying the probe this deep?

Burying the sensor 8 to 10 inches deep should not be a problem, but special care is needed.  It is RECOMMENDED you bury it at 5 inches down, in other words at the top of your root zone. That way you will make sure that your actual root zone stays a consistent moisture level.  You will need to dig a hole beside the area of interest and insert the sensor, red dot up, at a horizontal to the ground into undisturbed soil. If you have hard clay soil, take a screwdriver or similar and poke the screwdriver into the hard soil to make a hole. Otherwise, as freshly dug soil settles around the sensor it will affect the readings until it fully settles in to the environment. You will find the readings a bit uninteresting at that depth since the controller will do its job and keep it within a point (blink) of the set reading. When setting the unit up, place the sensor as indicated above, then irrigate your orchard well. Then wait 24 hours and set the SR-1 knob to that number of blinks as a starting point. Usually that setting will work well, but you may wish to adjust it up or down one number to taste.

How do I know that my system is watering? Is there any indication that it watered?

The best way is to look for higher soil wetness around the dripper or within the watering pattern of a sprinkler. When the system waters, the number of blinks will be less than the set point on the knob. It keeps this reading even after it waters. So, anytime in the 4 hours between measurements you can tell if it watered the last cycle because the number of blinks will be less than the set value.

If I turn my controller water level up 2 or 3 numbers, how many watering cycles will it take to reach it?

How many watering cycles to reach the new setting depends on the kind of watering system you have.  Systems with lots of high volume drippers will reach the desired setting much sooner than watering systems that provide less.  If you had the valve hooked directly to a pipe or high volume sprinkler, then as well the level would be reached probably in one watering cycle.  Keep in mind that for each soil type (see previous Q & A), there is a maximum amount of water that soil can hold after the excess drains away.  So if you select a water wetness setting on the knob that is more than your soil can possibly retain, your system will never reach that number. 

For my soil type, how do I know the maximum water level it can hold?

The easiest way to find out the maximum water level of your soil is to soak the area around the sensor with a garden hose or bucket.  Make sure that the soil is saturated.  Then wait 7 hours and determine the number of blinks on the controller.  This is your maximum water level for your soil type.  You need the 7 hours because some soils take that long to drain of excess water.  Keep in mind plants generally do not need the maximum water level of a soil.  They are healthier if the soil appears and feels fairly dry, or at least one number (usually two) below the maximum water level.  Using the setup instructions – to water thoroughly then wait 15 – 18 hours and set the controller at that blink number is usually an excellent setting for normal vegetables and flowers.

Can you explain more about high readings after a rain?

Normally we have a number from 0 to 10, representing dry and very wet.  So, how do we get numbers above 10?  It’s moving water pulling away heat.  The sensor works by supplying a tiny amount of heat, then looks how much heat remains on the sensor after the heating.  Moving water (rain or watering moving down through the soil), easily takes this heat away.  This gives a very high number easily.  You get this effect when standing still in cool water.  You feel some heat around your body until you move, or get into an area with flowing water.

The information shows that the system only checks and waters if necessary every four hours in the daytime. When I change the setting to wetter, it comes on right away. Then I turned it down, and it immediately shut off. Is this okay?

As far as turning it on and it coming on & off – it does this every time you manually turn it above the current flashing number of blinks – regardless of when in the 4 hours it is at. Similarly, any time you manually place the knob lower than the displayed blinking numbers, it will shut off right away. It is only automatically every 4 hours it does a sample, then if it is set at a higher point than its last immediate reading, it waters for the directed time (default eight minutes). 

It didn’t rain last night or water. In the morning the reading was higher than the evening before. What’s going on here?

The ground is moister in the morning. First, soil dries out in the afternoon from the sun, faster than the damper soil below it can replenish it. In the night, the wetter soil from underneath wicks water back to the upper layers. Second, dew can occur, and a substantial amount of water enters the soil as dew.

Will this controller work for all soil types?

This sensor technology has been tested and works in sand, silt, red clay, potting soil, loam and various mixes thereof as well as coir. Although no guarantee can be made for 'all soil types', the sensor has been shown effective in all those listed above.

How accurate is the system? 

The system has consumer grade accuracy. Sudden changes in temperature will cause temporary fluctuations that will at worst cause one watering dose to occur a little early. The system is completely sealed from any ground moisture or environmental degradation, so the consistency of readings/settings over years is excellent.

Different soil types will require different user-controlled settings – denser soil will require a higher desired setting due to the fact that this soil retains more water and therefore the ‘current’ setting will be higher than that of less retentive materials.

What is the basic operation of the system?

The solar panel charges the Lithium Ion rechargeable battery, and sends a signal to the control module to permit daytime watering. At daybreak and then every 4 hours, during daylight hours, a soil moisture level measurement is made. That level is compared with the user set ‘desired’ watering level. If the desired level is higher than the measured (current) moisture level, a watering cycle begins, turning on the valve for eight minutes. This amount of water prevents over-watering or water dripping through before it can be absorbed. It is possible to increase or decrease this amount of water if needed using the switches on the underside of the assembly.

The user adjusts the desired moisture level by turning the knob at the top of the control assembly to raise or lower the desired moisture setting. This is just the same as turning up or down the volume on a stereo. Every twenty seconds, the LED (Light Emitting Diode) will blink and indicates the ‘Current’ or measured moisture level. At any time a watering cycle is initiated when the knob is turned wetter than the current reading. Watering is stopped manually by turning the knob “down.” All the way down stops all watering. At night or if the battery is low the LED flashes briefly once per minute and the controller goes into a special low power mode.

My controller blinks continuously. Is this normal? Is the controller defective?

The Controller waits 15 minutes before taking its first reading after sensing daylight. If you happen to be watching the Controller during this time, the system will blink continuously for the 15 minutes. This is normal. The delay is to allow the user to place the sensor in the preferred soil prior to making a sensor reading, when first installing.

If the Controller continues to continuously blink after 15 minutes in daylight, this is an indication of a weak battery. There is enough battery to power the unit, but not enough to perform a moisture measurement. This condition can occur when the Controller is placed in a shady spot, or if the Controller has been stored for a long period of time. It also could be indicative of a failing battery. If the Controller is receiving six or more hours of sun for three days in a row, and the Controller still blinks continuously, contact Customer Support.

How long should this system last?

The electronics and the solar panel have over 5 years of predicted life. The batteries and the valve are limited life items. Typically Lithium Ion batteries used in this product are good for over 800 charge/discharge cycles. Given that most watering will be done in sunny conditions, the amount of discharge for a pump cycle is minimal. So, under these conditions these batteries should last about 6 years. The valve is rated for hundreds of thousands of operations. It is CRITICAL to not use dirty or sandy water without filtering. The valve will fail prematurely with dirty or sandy water, and that failure will not be covered by warranty.

Do you sell just replacement parts?

Yes. See the listings at Shop.   The valve could very well last you a lifetime if kept free from sand and organic materials. The valve can be disconnected and another controller ordered at a reduced price. We believe this system should last you five years. At any time after the second year, when the warranty expires, we will work with you to provide low cost replacements as long as the system has not been abused.