Purchasing a sprinkler timer is not as easy as one would expect: It takes a lot of time to compare the products available on the market, because many sales offers only give part of the performance data. Important parameters can often only be found after detailed research in operating instructions or customer reviews, or not at all. Different manufacturers also specify key data in very different forms or in different units. The following blog post will help you with a list of the most important watering computers including an overview of performance data.
Note: This post is about watering computers that combine computer and solenoid valve in one device and can be attached directly to the tap. This type of control is therefore also referred to as “water tap control”. There is also a second category of irrigation computers that you need if you work with solenoid valves in your irrigation system! With the help of these computers, electronic control of a certain number of solenoid valves connected to them is possible. This second type of irrigation computer is covered in a separate blog post!
For the layman, it is often difficult to see whether the envisaged sprinkling computer is suitable for the intended purpose or not. Run-of-the-mill irrigation computers that master the basic functions are a dime a dozen. However, if the sprinkling computer is to have certain functions such as the integration of a soil moisture sensor, manual watering at the push of a button, battery level indicator, etc., or if you are looking for a computer that can be used in combination with an automatic water distributor, then the search is much more difficult.
Below you will find comparison tables of sprinkler timer from different manufacturers, branded products and no-names. It lists the essential criteria that are relevant for buying a sprinkler timer.
Note: What cannot be shown here is the longevity of the products. Since sprinkler timer are usually installed outdoors and are permanently exposed to wind and weather, high demands are placed on the robustness of the materials used. The plastic must not become brittle and break due to sunlight and weather, the computer must remain sealed even after several seasons. The best way to determine whether the computer meets this requirement is from the experiences of other buyers and the resulting online ratings and comments.
In order to enable you to find the right sprinkler timer for your application as quickly as possible, these are divided into 4 groups:
This is the usual watering computer, of which there is the largest offer. It has one output and can therefore only supply one irrigation zone. No problem if you only need to water a small area and are not forced to divide it into zones. If it does, then you have to use a device from the three categories described below.
The sprinkler timer in this category are computers with two water outlets. The water outlets can be programmed separately and allow 2 sectors to be watered separately.
The sprinkler timer in this category are computers with three or four water outlets. The water outlets can be programmed separately and allow 3 or 4 sectors to be watered separately.
These watering computers can be used with a Gardena Automatic Water distributor and can thus supply up to 6 sectors with water.
Finally, an explanation of the criteria used in the tables:
Watering cycles per day
Indicates how many times per day the computer can water. In order to be able to use the Gardena automatic watering distributor, at least 6 watering cycles are necessary. With watering computers with 6 or more cycles, it is therefore possible to operate up to 6 watering sectors. Computers with fewer than six daily cycles can only run one, two, three, or four sectors, depending on how many outputs they have.
Indicates the criteria according to which the watering intervals can be programmed. For example, some computers only allow a one-time definition of the start time and duration together with the choice of the day interval between the individual waterings or whether watering should be carried out on odd or even days. For others, the desired watering can be programmed individually for each watering cycle.
Defines the minimum and maximum possible duration of an irrigation run. Above all, if micro-irrigation is (also) to run via the computer, care must be taken to ensure a sufficiently long maximum irrigation duration, since e.g. drip irrigation only runs with small amounts of water but comparatively long.
Indicates the maximum water pressure that the computer can handle. And the minimum necessary for it to work correctly.
Rain sensor or soil moisture sensor connectable?
Shows you whether you can use a rain sensor or a soil moisture sensor with the computer. On computers with two or more outputs it is also sometimes possible to connect a separate sensor to each of the outputs. Note: With computers that work with the automatic water distributor of Gardena and can thus supply up to 6 sectors, it is not possible with the models currently available to integrate several sensors for the different sectors, but only one, which then applies to all sectors.
Manual watering at the touch of a button
Describes the possibility of starting watering immediately by pressing a button reserved for this purpose and entering the desired time. This is very practical in day-to-day operation, since you always need water spontaneously, regardless of programmed runs. In that case, it would be very cumbersome to have to click through submenus every time to let water run.
Irrigation break possible?
Describes the possibility of having a programmed irrigation suspended at the push of a button. For example, if it has just rained and you want to do without watering. The watering is then suspended, from the next watering everything follows the usual course again. In some cases, the option of reducing irrigation is also offered. Irrigation is not completely suspended here, but only the duration is reduced by a certain percentage.
Battery level indicator
Indicates whether the current charge status of the batteries is shown on the display of the watering computer. This is useful for noticing in good time that the batteries are running out.
Works with Gardena water distributor?
Indicates again explicitly whether the computer works with the automatic water distributor from Gardena (Gardena water distributor automatic)