Rainbird ESP-RZX

The ESP-RZX Controller provides zone based set up that is easier to understand by untrained users. We supply and fi, 6 and 8 zone models at $385.00 inc GST and $415.00 inc GST respectively.

These controllers are easy to use, have a 3 year warranty and no dials to get sticky or break off. The large LCD display shows all of the programming for each zone at the same time. Simple graphic based user interface is easy to explain and presents every controller feature at your fingertips.

If you are seeking a simple to use and top quality controller then I can recommend this one to you. More info from Rainbird is here.

Joondalup Reticulation Controller Installation

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About 18 months ago I installed a Hunter X core at a property in Joondalup and in the last month or so it has stopped operating.
I went to assess it and if necessary replace it under warranty.
The panel had no display and there was no power coming from the transformer, so my guess was that the transformer had died. I was happy to change it as it had failed under the warranty period.
I turned the power off and went to remove the 240v cables from the box and got an electrical shock. Not a bad one, but enough to let me know it wasn’t something I should touch again…
I got my multimeter out and tested the power with the mains switch both on and off. It was putting out 247v in both positions.
It raises the question as to what’s going on… I have a restricted electrical license but not one that allows me to fault find in these situations so I had to leave it for another more qualified person.
It’s a reminder that electricity is dangerous stuff and even when it looks safe it may not be, so don’t take the gamble on changing your own reticulation controller unless you have a license.

What Does ‘P err’ Mean on a Hunter X Core Controller?

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If you own a Hunter X Core Control box and see ‘P err’ on your controller then it means nothing will work (or it may come on for a few seconds and then fail) and there are two possible causes.

The first and most common is that the master solenoid coil has developed an electrical problem and is sending a fault message back to the controller. ‘p’ = pump or master valve. We can locate and replace this – problem solved.

The second possibility is that the box is faulty and needs replacing.

You can determine which one it is by removing the wire to the P terminal and running a test cycle. The sprinklers won’t come on, but if its the Master valve then the error message will disappear. If its the controller then it will persist.

Occasionally it might be both… but that’d be unlucky!

If you need help to make sense of it then just call and we can assist.

 

 

The Fuse Message on Irritrol Kwikdial

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This is one of the most common reticulation issues especially in suburbs like Butler, Carramar, Banksia Grove and Clarkson where these controllers were installed as part of the landscaping package.

The first thing you should know is that there is no fuse! And the little battery symbol with a line thru it doesn’t mean there is a problem with the battery. There is no battery.

The message means one of two things:

a) There is a fault with a solenoid

b) The controller is faulty.

We can run some tests to prove which one it is, but don’t waste your time looking for a fuse or a battery!

As a general guide if the display is flickering and intermittent the box itself will be dead, but if everything looks good then it may well be the solenoid coil.

My Retic Controller Doesn’t Work on One Station

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But it probably isn’t the controller at fault…

Sometimes your reticulation isn’t working on one station because there is no power getting to the solenoid to open it. I was in Two Rocks today with this exact problem and it turned out a dog had chewed the wires and broken them.

What to do in these situations?…

Firstly – check that there is power ‘leaving the control box’. Put the multimeter probe on the station terminal and on the common and the reading should be 24V+. If not then the problem lies there. (This does happen) Simply change the wire to an unused terminal and you should have power.  Voila!

If there is power there then the break is somewhere between the control box and the solenoid. Depending on how easily accessible the wire is will determine what you do next.

If its possible to use a wire tracker then you may wish to go this route, but assuming most people don’t own one of these then the next best option is to look in obvious places for a break.

These are usually:

  • at the base of control box
  • by the solenoid itself
  • anywhere the ground has been disturbed.

If it doesn’t turn up easily then you need to decided whether it is worth tracing from the box and testing at regular intervals.

If it a sole solenoid then you don’t have much choice, but if it is sitting next to another solenoid then you have two options.

a) wire the two stations together and run them as one – if there is enough pressure.

b) use an ‘add a station‘ device to act as the wire that was broken.

Option A is cheaper if you can get it to work as the ‘add a station’ modules come to nearly $100.00 for the part itself. However if this is your only option then its good to know you can use it.

For help with any of these issues call Andrew on 0400044236 or email brightonreticulation@gmail.com

New Hydrawise Controller

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A little while back I reviewed the first model of the Hydrawise controller, an innovative new device that allows you to control your irrigation from desktop, android or iPhone app.

The first offering was functional but not that pretty and fairly expensive. The team at Hydrawise have now released a couple of new models, done work on both design and price and the result is great.

I was sent a 12 station model to test and review (so that’s my disclosure) and yesterday I managed to get it up and running. I installed it a few days ago in my garage, but the wifi reception was poor and it kept fading in and out so the easiest option seemed to be that of running some more cable and installing it closer to the house rather than boosting the signal.

The new design (pictured above) is a lot nicer looking than the original and the functionality is excellent. They come in 2 models: a 6 station and a 12 station, however in both cases one station needs to be allocated to a ‘master valve’ or ‘pump start’ meaning they are really a 5 or 11 station if you are running a master valve (and if you aren’t then you should be).

The base model is not waterproof although you can purchase a purpose built box to house the controller. I chose to mount mine in a dry area, although another option I was playing with, before it got messy, was that of stripping the guts out of an old X Core and using it as a box. (It will just fit but needs to mounted sideways.)

They come with a plug in transformer so you need to have a powerpoint somewhere to plug into. That makes the DIY option a lot easier but it adds the expense of an outdoor powerpoint for those who currently use controllers with built in transformers and have them hardwired (probably 80-90% of homes in WA)

Installing it was simple, although I’m not a fan of the tiny terminal blocks as they are harder to locate cable in. The touch screen is clear and fairly intuitive and there is a setup wizard for locating and connecting to wifi. That was simple and we were up and running quickly.

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When it came to programming the controller I found myself on a bit of a learning curve as the methods used for programming your Holman/Hunter etc don’t apply. It wasn’t difficult, but it took a little playing around to get the hang of it. It is able to be configured to specific watering days, start times and run times. I also failed to activate the Master valve initially so that had me scratching my head for a bit as to why nothing would come on.

The programming is done under the ‘zones and schedules’ tab and once you personalise the settings it all comes together quickly and easily.  There are a number of options you can add including a flow meter and an ‘enthusiast plan’ for those seeking more info about weather conditions.

Had I not managed to put a spade through my common wire I would have been up and running a lot quicker, but an hour of messing around and trouble shooting slowed me down.

The stuff I liked about it:

Remote access – that’s a biggie these days and to be able to control your sprinklers from anywhere is worth a lot. Its great not to have to even jog down to the shed to turn the system on or reprogram it.

Simple Configuration – once you get used to the way the system is set up it makes good sense and is easy to use.

No need for battery or rain sensor – with your data stored in the cloud a battery back up isn’t needed and with the controller programmed to relate to local weather stations a rain sensor is no longer required.

Contractor options – For those who feel any kind of reticulation programming is beyond them there is the ability for a reticulation contractor to login to their system and program it for them. It can add to the diversity of a business and help people who don’t find this stuff easy.

Some areas for consideration

Watering Days – a specific ‘watering days’ option for WA would be valuable. In WA we can water for 2 days/week off main supply or 3 days off a bore. For a programmer it wouldn’t take much to factor this into a system and it would ‘auto-select’ the right days for people.

A Built in Transformer Model – Here in WA again… 90% of controllers are hardwired meaning there is no powerpoint to plug into, but rather just electrical cable which is used to connect to the controller’s transformer. I know that if I were to be installing these regularly in place of other controllers I would need to factor in the cost of an outdoor powerpoint and an electrician to fit it. Add about $175.00 to the cost. If you’re going to go with a built in transformer then it makes sense to add a waterproof housing that fits with the look of the unit. Update – These are coming soon.

3G? – I guess wifi is like clean water today, but a 3G backup could be another option if the wifi is poor/unavailable.

Up until yesterday I was using a Hunter X Core with a Roam remote control to service our own home, but now that I’ve taken it off I doubt I will be putting it back up again. The features offered by the Hydrawise make the Hunter obsolete, but the challenge for Hydrawise will be to convince people that their product is worth spending the extra $$ on.

For most early adopters there is a price tag attached to being first in line and some will be prepared to pay for this. But early adopters are a small percentage of the population. To pick up the mainstream I would imagine further work on price would be needed, but I imagine this will be possible if volume can increase.

As a retic controller installer I like what I see and I’d be keen to use the product, but the trade price on Hydrawise makes it prohibitive for us to make a profit on. So again the $$ come into play.

Hydrawise is in the market with a great product that will certainly be attractive to many, and WA is a big market, but finding those who are willing to part with the extra $$ to gain the new features will be the challenge.

Our prices on Hydrawise supplied and fitted:

6 Station – $680 inc GST plus the cost of an outdoor powerpoint / case if needed.

12 Station – $820 inc GST plus the cost of an outdoor powerpoint / case if needed

 

Faulty Hunter X Core

I’ve had this happen once before.

The controller sends current through the terminals even in the off position. On a previous job I installed 3 Hunter controllers on a unit complex in Balga only to discover all 3 were constantly sending current through the terminals meaning valves were staying open.

After numerous attempts at re-wiring and trying to locate the problem in the solenoids I ended up changing the controllers out and all was well again.

This one was from a job I did yesterday. Onsite various terminals would send power at odd times and after half an hour of fiddling I decided it was quicker to change the box over than to persist with seeking a solution.

I don’t get many faulty X Cores, but this one is going back…

 

Turning Your Retic Controller off For Winter

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If you live in Western Australia then June 1st is the day when all sprinklers get switched off for the next 3 months. Simply turn the dial on your controller to ‘off’ and come back in September to turn it on again. Between now and then there should be enough rain to see you through and keep your lawn and garden healthy.

This restriction doesn’t apply to new lawns which can still receive a watering exemption while they are being established. If you aren’t sure what to do just give me a call and I’ll help you out – no cost

Rain Sensor Wet on Holman 469

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If your Holman 469 isn’t working then one of the first things to check for is whether the display says ‘rain sensor dry’ or ‘rain sensor wet’.

If it is ‘dry’ then you have 24v power supply. If it says ‘wet’ then you have lost power. It may be that a fuse has blown or it could be that one of your RCDs has tripped.

Either way the ‘rain sensor wet’ message is the sign that things won’t work.

If a fuse has blown then the next step is to find out why. Chances are you have a dodgy solenoid coil that is causing the fuse to blow and it will need to be replaced before things will be properly fixed.

 

The Roam Remote Control

I managed to get a hold of one of these babies for home the other day. On a quarter acre block it’s a bit of a pain running back and forth to test the stations so a remote comes in handy – and its even better when you need to change a nozzle.

Now its no longer a case of unscrew, flush, test while running back to the control box each time. Now you can operate the controller while standing next to the sprinkler. Much easier!

The remote allows you to operate your stations for a run time that you choose. Its really simple to install and use.

For some reason my first attempt at installation resulted in some bizarre error messages and strange behaviour by the system. The controller worked fine without the remote attached, however when I wired it up I discovered that 3 stations were coming on at once. There was power (23v) coming from pump, the actual terminal in use and two others.

It was a mysterious problem and I thought the controller was at fault, but I disconnected the remote wires and reconnected… and then all worked fine. I’m not sure what the issue was but its sorted now.