Automating the Sprinkler System

Automating the sprinkler system can be a great way to care for landscaping, while helping to conserve water. Water schedules can easily conform to community ordinances. By scheduling watering in the early morning hours (when most efficient) and using rain sensors to prevent un-necessary watering, M1 can provide an economical and eco-friendly system.

In most cases, the M1 controls sprinklers using relay outputs.  Voltage outputs from the M1 may converted to relays using the M1RB.  This device connects to the J16 connector on the M1 control and provides 8 relay outputs.  If additional outputs are required, output expanders (M1XOVR) can be added to the M1 data bus.  The relays may be used to provide contact closure to input terminals on the the sprinkler controller or to switch power to the sprinkler solenoid valves.  Other system may be controlled through commands sent via RS-232, X-10, UPB, etc. Please refer to the documentation for your sprinkler controller/equipment for more details. 

For the purposes of this application note, it will be assumed that relay outputs are being used to control the sprinklers.  On the Outputs screen of ElkRP, give each output a name, a voice description, and enable the "Show" option.  This will allow each  individual sprinkler zone to be controlled from user interfaces such as keypad, touchscreen, iPhones/iPads, Internet, etc.



In this example a task is programmed to turn the sprinkler zones on in sequence, one after the other (front, side, back). Name the task and select the "Show" option on the task screen.  



A "phantom" or unused output is used to indicate or "flag" the task has activated the sequence.  This is to prevent activation of the sequence by turning on a particular zone manually though a user interface.  Also, a custom setting is used to set the duration of time each sprinkler zone will be turned on.  On the custom settings screen, name the setting Sprklr Timer and select "Timer".  The value field is used to set the initial value in seconds.  In this example it has been set to 600 (10 minutes).  The customer can change this custom setting value setting, allowing them to easily change the amount of time the sprinkler zones are active.



The rule below defines the task, which will turn on the first zone of sprinklers and set the "flag".

WHENEVER Water Lawn (Task 1) IS ACTIVATED
        THEN TURN Front Sprinklers (Out 10) ON FOR Sprklr Timer (Cust Set 1)
        THEN TURN OUTPUT 100 ON

This rule turns on the second zone of sprinklers in the sequence when the first zone of sprinklers are turned off.  The "flag" output is referenced in an AND statement to verify the "Front" sprinklers were turned on by the task.

The next rule turns on the sprinklers in the back and side yards for 10 minutes, when the first set of sprinklers turns off.

WHENEVER Front Sprinklers (Out 10) STATE IS TURNED OFF
    AND OUTPUT 100 STATE IS TURNED ON
         THEN TURN Back Sprinklers (Out 11) ON FOR 10 MINS

The rule below turns on the last zone of sprinklers and turns off the "flag" output.  Again, the "flag" output is referenced in an AND statement. 

WHENEVER Back Sprinklers (Out 11) STATE IS TURNED OFF
    AND OUTPUT 100 STATE IS TURNED ON
        THEN TURN Side Sprinklers (Out 12) ON FOR 10 MINS
        THEN TURN OUTPUT 100 OFF
        
The task can  be activated through user interfaces such as a keypad, touchscreen, smartphone or the telephone remote control. We can also activate this task through rules.  In the rule below the task will be activated at 5:30 AM on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  

WHENEVER THE TIME IS 5:30 AM
     AND THE DAY(S) OF THE WEEK IS/ARE –M-W-F-
          THEN ACTIVATE Water Lawn (Task 1)

HELPFUL TIP: Consider using a Custom Setting for the Time of Day.  This will allow your customer to easily change the time of day to best meet their needs and schedule.

How to disable the sprinkler system:
A task will be used here also.  The rule below defines the task ‘Disable Sprklrs’.  The task will turn off all sprinklers and turn on an unused output (output 101 in this example). The unused output is used as an indicator that the sprinklers are disabled.

WHENEVER Disable Sprklrs (Task 2) IS ACTIVATED
          THEN TURN Front Sprinklers (Out 10) OFF
          THEN TURN Back Sprinklers (Out 11) OFF
          THEN TURN Side Sprinklers (Out 12) OFF
          THEN TURN Output 101 ON
 
Rain and/or moisture sensors allow the M1 to prevent watering when it is not needed. These sensors are available from a variety of manufactures and provide an open or closed circuit when rain/moisture is present. These sensors are connected to an input (zone) on the M1 system.  The input should be programmed as Definition=16 Non-alarm.  When a non-alarm zone is tripped it does not produce an alarm or log an event, however, the state of the zone can be referenced in rules. Using a rain sensor, the task will be activated if it is raining.

WHENEVER Rain Sensor (Zn 7) BECOMES NOT SECURE
          THEN ACTIVATE Disable Sprklrs (Task 2)

The task can also be activated by a F-key on the keypad.  In the example below the F4 key is set to Automation Task 2 and the illumination event is set to follow Output 101, giving visual indication of whether the sprinklers have been disabled.



By adding the ‘and’ statement shown below in bold, if the Disable Sprklrs task has been activated, the sprinklers will not come on as scheduled because output 101 has been turned on.

WHENEVER THE TIME IS 5:30 AM
     AND THE DAY(S) OF THE WEEK IS/ARE –M-W-F-
     AND Output 101 STATE IS OFF     
          THEN ACTIVATE Water Lawn (Task 1)
 
The "disable" output will be turned off at midnight to reset the system. The state of the rain sensor is checked to ensure that it is secure before reseting the output.

WHENEVER THE TIME IS 12:00 AM
     AND Rain Sensor (Zn 7) IS SECURE
          THEN TURN Output 101 OFF


Activation on Odd/Even Days:
Some communities may require that watering be done only on odd or even days of the month.  M1 can be programmed to follow this type of schedule.  The rule below will activate the Water Lawn task at 5:30am on even days of the month.

WHENEVER THE TIME IS 5:30 AM
    AND THE DAY OF THE MONTH IS A MULTIPLE OF 2
    AND OUTPUT 101 STATE IS OFF
    THEN ACTIVATE Water Lawn (Task 1)

Activating the Water Lawn task on odd days of the month requires the use of an additional "phantom" or unused output.  This output will be used as timer.  In the rule below, when the day of the month is a multiple of 2 (even day) the output is turned on for 24 hours.

WHENEVER THE TIME IS 12:00 AM
    AND THE DAY OF THE MONTH IS A MULTIPLE OF 2
    THEN TURN OUTPUT 103 ON FOR 23 HRS, 59 MINS, 59 SECS

The next rule verifies that the output is off, which would only occur on odd days, before activating the Water Lawn task.

WHENEVER THE TIME IS 5:30 AM
    AND OUTPUT 103 STATE IS OFF
    AND OUTPUT 101 STATE IS OFF
    THEN ACTIVATE Water Lawn (Task 1)

 
How to deter intruders using sprinklers:
The rule below will turn on the sprinklers in a certain area (side sprinklers in this example) if an outdoor motion sensor in the area is tripped while the system is armed in away mode.  If used near lower level windows or the perimeter of the property where an intruder may approach, this can be an excellent deterrent.

WHENEVER Motion 1 (Zn 5) BECOMES NOT SECURE
     AND Area One (Area 1) IS ARMED AWAY
          THEN TURN Side Sprinklers (Out 12) ON FOR 5 MINS 

Welcome to our blog, the Security & Automation Connection!


Learn more about security, home automation, business solutions, energy management, access control, and many other solutions available though ELK's M1 Cross Platform Controls. Our goal is to make this blog a great resource for getting new ideas on how to take advantage of the powerful integration and programming capabilities of the M1. We will also provide tech tips and how-to's on a variety of applications to get you well on your way to securing and simplifying life!

Explore Topics