Some Rain Sensors are Dumb – Get SMART!

Learn about the drawbacks of rain sensors and why you should opt for a SMART sprinkler controller instead to save water, money and time.

Don’t get me wrong … you never want to have an automatic sprinkler system without the minimum protection against water waste that a rain sensor provides. If you’ve ever seen a system running while it’s pouring rain … talk about waste! My point is that SMART water-saving technology has advanced so far the last few years, it’s probably time the simple, hard-working rain sensor is put out to pasture.


How Does A Rain Sensor Work?

A rain sensor is basically an on/off switch. When sufficient rain causes the little wafer in the sensor to swell up and interrupt the electrical connection to the control box, your system won’t water until it dries out. The problem is that rarely does the amount of effective rain (rain that had a chance to soak in so the plants can use it) coincide with the needs of the lawn and landscape. In other words, your plants may suffer for the one, two or three days it takes for the sensor to dry out and allow the system to turn on again.

Drawbacks of Rain Sensors

You may say that the long drying out period is not a big deal, but think before you speak. Did you know that the wettest month on average here in NOVA is August? Did you also know that a majority of summer rain falls very quickly in the form of thunderstorms? How about the fact that we tend to have a high clay content in our native soils which slows how quickly water can soak in and leads to runoff? You may have answered yes to some or all of these questions, but the rain sensor would have answered no to each … ‘cause it’s dumb! If we get an inch of rain that falls in 15 minutes, all the sensor knows is ‘off’ and it won’t know ‘on’ until it dries out in a few days. In the meantime, your begonias may be hating life.

Benefits of a SMART Sprinkler Controller

Nowadays, you can replace that rain sensor with a SMART (Self Monitoring and Reporting Technology) weather station which not only suspends irrigation during rainfall but determines ‘effective rainfall’ and calculates its replacement value in your watering schedule. Come again? It will not only measure total precipitation but how quickly it came down. Using pre-programmed data for each zone on percentage slope, soil type, sun exposure, etc., it will automatically adjust watering times. That steep, southern facing slope of cool-season turf might only have its watering time reduced by 20% while the time for the mulch bed on the shady side of the house might go down 75%. Pretty SMART!

At BG Outdoor Services, we’ve been in the irrigation business for over 30 years and are proud of the advances in water-saving technology that brought us to this point. We championed this cutting-edge technology back when SMART sprinkler controllers first appeared, and the results for our customers have been incredible. You too can conserve water by upgrading to or installing a SMART sprinkler system and controller. Contact us today to learn more about smart solutions that save you water, money and time.

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