Tuesday, June 14, 2011

2 new ET research sites are go!

Last week, two additional ET research sites went online. Two homeowner properties participating in Miami-Dade Water & Sewer’s Water-Use Efficiency Program elected to go “smart” with their timer in exchange for allowing us access to their irrigation system’s water-use data for a year.

Coral Gables

Following some repairs at a (now former) research site, the installation work began at a property featuring a 3-zone mechanical irrigation system on city water. As is our wont, we began with the ceremonial removal of the indexing valve – the enemy of all things efficient.

Installed in its place: 3 electric valves, a new vacuum breaker device to safeguard the potable water lines, and a water meter for data collection purposes.

We then removed the mechanical timer, installed the weather-based timer, and mounted the weather station.

Coral Gables…again!

From there we moved on to another property a few blocks away with a 4-zone mechanical irrigation system on city water. Once again we kicked-off proceedings by slicing off the indexing valve.

A brief aside about indexing valves – predicated on water pressure, the indexing valve is a simple and cheap method for distributing irrigation in a landscape. It restricts irrigation zones to sequential ordering, and because its cam needs only a rush of water to shift, its best friend is the mechanical timer, essentially an automated on/off switch. Working in tandem, they condem all zones to an identical run time (valve’s handiwork) and only in 12/15min increments (timer’s trademark) – never factoring in zone plant life or application rate.

This property had its master valve/vacuum breaker located away from the timer, allowing us to focus pipe-work around the new electric valves and the water meter.

We then installed the “smart” controller and mounted its weather station.

Cats and dogs

These new sites bring the ET-based property total on the project to 5. Although already demonstrating some indication of water-savings (given the precision "smart" timer programming requires), the true disparity in water-use between the ET-based timer and a schedule-based timer will become clear once the current drought gives way to the rainy season.

Previous 2011 installations:

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