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Add Water Flow sensor input and software

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24 comments

  • Avatar
    Stefan

    I have been looking for a way to monitor water consumption on my vacation rental for a long time. The only options that I have found and they are still not on the market are http://www.waterheroinc.com/ http://www.fluidwatermeter.com/ Also there were wemo water and driblet, but they seem to have died already.

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    Riguy

    Rachio is doing this already. They integrate with the flow sensors already on the market (cst, toro, and hunter). Rainmachine needs to support this use case. Rainmachine, how open is the platform. Using the SDK could I write a support for the data from a flow sensor?

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    Peter

    Make the rain machine more versatile. Allow changes to the naming of plant types. Allow the user to type in the application For example: lighting. Also have a feedback as to an external probe for outdoor heating, or hot water controller. Make the freeze zone adjustable in reverse to turn on when hitting a certain temperature. This would give the device more versatility and allow controlling many functions from one source.

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    jeff S

    Some cities, including City of Austin, are using dropcountr.com to electronically monitor meters. If there's a way to integrate that service with rainmachine to allow an easy way to see how much water a zone uses when flowing, that would be helpful in calculating average sprinkler precipitation rates and not over/under watering.

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    Kimball

    Honestly this is one of the only differentiators that make a difference to me. I had a 120,000 gallon "incident" with the stop and waste last year that has me very interested in alerting when overflow occurs. Thinking that my irrigation flow sensor could IFTTT alert my LeakSmart is a home automation dream.

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    Doug

    And to also useful measure/balance water distribution per zone. (broken heads/lines the main one - much needed).

  • Avatar
    peter

    Or more important that stuck valves~~ Broken sprinkler heads that just push gallons of water wastefully.

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    John Kubiatowicz

    Ping!  Any chance that there is a hardware refresh in the works that might allow attachment of a flow sensor?

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    dexterdom

    +1

    I would also like this functionality

  • Avatar
    Brandon Moyer

    RainMachine would like add a Flow Sensor but also Moisture Sensors. These are products that we are currently in the Pipeline. 


    Brandon M

  • Avatar
    dexterdom

    It would be great if you could support pulse output meters, such as this one. It has a high-resolution pulse that would be useful for detection of slow leaks (1 pulse = every 0.01 cubic foot or 0.283 liters).

    I bought one a few weeks ago and will be installing it on my dedicated sprinkler supply line before the watering season begins.

    http://www.ekmmetering.com/3-4-water-meter-stainless-steel-high-definition-pulse-output.html 

  • Avatar
    John Kubiatowicz

    Hello, Brandon.

    Did you mean there are products in the pipeline that will add flow sensors?  I am on the edge of needing to replace a different smart watering device (from a company that went out of business).  I need at least 12, better 16 zones.  However, I just put in a large (expensive) landscape.  I can water things now, but not terribly intelligently.

    Should I wait a bit for RainMachine's new product?  Alternatively, I would love to be a Beta site (and might event be able to reflect back Crestron drivers in some fashion).

  • Avatar
    jmw

    I would also appreciate a feature that would support real time water flow to more accurately determine the amount of water being used for irrigation.

  • Avatar
    Seth

    I wanted to throw my hat in for flow meter support on the RainMachine. Basically I want to see input support like how Rachio is doing it as a second sensor input (I want one rain and one flow), but I don't want a Rachio because they're cloud-dependent.

  • Avatar
    Ken Marsh

    Another vote for flow meter integration. I'm wondering if the existing hardware could re-purpose the rain sensor input to instead count pulses from a pulse output type flow meter (see dexterdom above).

    I have little use for a rain sensor, but lots of uses for a flow rate sensor:

    1) Accurate baseline flow rates for each zone feeding the watering simulations and water delivered stats

    2) HI flow alarm for leaks, stuck valves, etc.

    3) LO flow alarm for blocked emitters, stuck valves, failed solenoids, etc.

    4) "Sanity checks" for my water company billing

    If this is feasible, a software switch could select which functionality the user needs (rain sensor or flow meter).

  • Avatar
    Brandon Moyer

    I don't have a specific time frame on this, but it is a direction we want to head.

    Thanks for your time and patience.

     

    Brandon 
    RainMachine Support

  • Avatar
    Ralph Becker-Szendy

    I'll give this a thumbs up.  Good idea.

    But beware: It will only work for simple configurations, namely when there is a single (or a few pipes) that feed all the sprinklers, and there is only one (or only a set of compatible) RainMachines.   I think solving this for simple configurations is where most of the RoI is.  People who have more complex systems will likely be able to help themselves.

  • Avatar
    Ken Marsh

    Valid point, Ralph. I suggest that the complexity of the irrigation system topology is outside the domain of the RainMachine programmers. But give each RainMachine the ability to measure flow, and the irrigation system designer will then figure out how many RMs and flow sensors are needed, and where they are to be installed. This improvement gives RM a level of hardware fault-tolerance that would lead the pack.

    I see that the latest API 4.6 (alpha) has begun to add the hooks for this powerful feature. Thanks to Brandon for all the hard work and attention to the user suggestions.

  • Avatar
    Ralph Becker-Szendy

    By the way, the real problem with this is finding an affordable and accurate flow meter, in particular in larger sizes.  Industrial and accurate flow meters exist, but are expensive (thousands of $). The good ones are non-contact (ultrasonic doppler).  Go to the Omega Engineering catalog for an eye-opening education.  All of these solutions need to be calibrated (since they depend on pipe geometry), which is outside of what individuals at home can do.

    Waterheroinc.com: They sell either a 3/4" water meter, which for our application is way too small: our irrigation/utility line is 2" (because it also has fire hydrants and fire sprinklers on it), and our domestic line is 1-1/2" (because it is designed for two residences, either is more than 100' from the pump house).  And they sell a pickup that can get clamped onto a water company water meter, but our household has no water meter (we are on our own well system).  I also don't know what a utility would say if someone clamps a personal sensor onto *their* meter, given that most utilities today already have their own electronic sensors; they might take a dim view of that.

    Fluidwatermeter.com: not shipping yet.  I like their idea, of bringing clamp-on ultrasonic doppler technology down in price to about $300.  But initially it will be restricted to 3/4" copper pipe, which is very small for irrigation systems.

    CST, RainBird, Hunter, Toro: Available in larger sizes (Toro also goes down to 1/2" and 3/4" plastic).  They are all based on impellers (moving parts in the water flow), so expect them to get fouled and stuck, so you will end up cleaning them regularly, and if you don't they will get very inaccurate.  The larger sizes can only measure several gpm and up (for example, the 2" size starts measuring at 5gpm), so drip irrigation or a small set of sprinkler heads won't even register.  And they cost $400 and up in reasonable sizes (even at online discounters).

    So for now, having the software support in a RainMachine is good, but wide adoption will be held back by the lack of convenient and affordable sensors.

    For our house, we have a much better solution: We simply monitor the run time of the pumps, and if they come on too often, we know something is wrong.

  • Avatar
    Collin (Edited )

    I joined this forum specifically to also toss in my input of approval on this thread for some sort of flowmeter option to be put into this controller.

    I hooked up my new RainMachine a few hours ago and so far just messing around with it I am somewhat impressed with it. A flow / actual water usage measurement  is the one big thing that seems to be missing with this product. I also understand there would need to be an input for this device, but I would hate to loose the rain sensor input to the unit, so I have to wonder if it could be done through that extra USB port I see on the top left?

  • Avatar
    Ralph Becker-Szendy (Edited )

    Collin: I agree, it would be a nice improvement.  Honestly, it only makes #2 on my priority list of improvements (#1 is being able to turn on multiple valves at once, even at low current).

     

    But a specific comment to your concern on losing the rain sensor.  In this day and age of very fain grain weather reporting and forecasting, and the fact that you can install a personal weather station for pretty cheap and connect it to the RainMachine (perhaps via a detour like WeatherUnderground, see footnote), the hardware rain sensor is less important: just get rain data from your own or your neighbors weather station, or from NOAA.

     

    Footnote: WeatherUnderground seems to be both sick (unreliable, being messed with), and going obnoxiously commercial.  All this is likely an effect of them being bought out by IBM. Given IBM's track record of ruining companies they acquire, I fear Weather Underground will go belly up sooner rather than later.

     

  • Avatar
    Praxis

    Another vote in support; I also joined the forums specifically to voice support for flow sensors.  This is a big differentiator that competitors are already doing.

  • Avatar
    Seth

    Looks like the new Pro-8 and Pro-16 have an input for a flow sensor.

    Are those of us with Touch HD's out of luck or do those header pins used for the rain sensor adapter happen to be GPIO pins that can be software expanded to support a flow sensor input like they were for a rain sensor?

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