Your New Hunter Pro HC Controller from TIS

TIS - Houston Irrigation - Smart Irrigation Controllers

Your new smart controller will reduce water consumption, generating a substantial ROI while creating a healthier landscape environment.

This eMagazine entry is meant for TIS clients that have elected to go with the Hunter Pro HC Smart Controller.  It includes instructions for connecting the controller to your existing wi-fi network as well as a list of Frequently Asked Questions.  This is not an article about the controller or its performance.

Thank you for choosing TIS and the smart controller.  You have made a decision that will lower water bills by reducing water waste while also creating a healthier, more sustainable, landscape environment.  This article will give you step by step directions on setting up your wi-fi connection and it will answer a few of the most common questions we get regarding this particular controller.

Setting Up Wi-Fi.  To make the wi-fi connection, go to the controller and if the touch-screen is dark, tap it once to activate it and then proceed with the steps below.

  1. Tap the “settings” tile and then choose “wireless.” Note that if you do not see the “settings” tile, press the “home” button to return to the home screen.
  2. Choose your existing wi-fi network and then enter the password.  The keys are very small and the password is case sensitive so be careful to input the info accurately.
  3. Verify that the controller is connected (a message will be displayed and the wi-fi connection icon will appear in the lower right corner of the screen).  Please don’t hesitate to let us know if you have any questions at all.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).

How do I get the App? Please do not register an account or download the app on your own as it could delay or prevent us from activating and programming your new controller.  After the wi-fi has been connected, an email will be sent from Hunter Industries/Hydrawise.  That email will walk you through creating and activating your account so you can access and use the app from any smart phone, tablet or laptop.  Note that we have heard from a number of clients that say the activation email made its way to their bulk or spam folders so be sure to check those folders if you do not see it.

What if I need help registering, downloading or installing the app? Once your controller has been set up, we would be more than happy to guide you, over the phone or in person, through setting up the app and learning how to use it.  If you would like help, please call the office and we will set that up.

I am not the most tech savvy person, is the app easy to use? The app is very easy to use.  The irrigation zones are all individually named and listed on the main page.  Clicking on one of them will make standard play, pause and stop buttons appear which are used to turn zones on and off as needed.

Help, I turned a zone on and it did not respond! Don’t push play (start) more than once.  The app sends commands to the controller once every sixty seconds and your command could take between one and fifty-nine seconds to be received and processed.  Note that there is a note at the top of the zone box that will let you know how long the controller will take to process the command you entered.  This note only appears for five or ten seconds but will let you know what to expect.

What happens if my controller loses wi-fi connection? The controller will report this to our team and then re-connect on its own when it is able.  The controller will function like a traditional schedule-based controller when there is no active wi-fi connection.

What if my wi-fi signal is really weak? We have successfully used a wi-fi booster on the few properties where this is the case but over 90% of our properties have a strong enough signal to reach the controller.

What happens if my controller loses power? The controller will report this to our team in real-time.  When power is restored, the controller will re-establish connection and continue functioning normally.  All settings are stored on the cloud so nothing is ever lost.  If the controller is without power for more than a day, we will notify you, and/or take action to ensure there is not a circuit breaker or GFCI problem.

How much data does the controller use and can anyone access my network? The controller uses very little data as it syncs with the local weather stations and will not account for any significant data usage.  Once your password is entered, it is secure and no one else can access your network.

Why does my controller show an inaccurate amount of rainfall over the last 24 hrs? The weather stations report rainfall to the controller and some report instantly while others take a while.  The current rainfall displayed on the dashboard is an average and it is not reported in real time like a lot of the data the controller receives, but rest assured that the controller is making the right decisions for your property.

There was rain in the area but not at my house! Don’t worry, there is an on-site rain/freeze sensor wired to your controller that compensates for what is happening at your property specifically and allows us to see what is going on at your specific site.

Why am I seeing an “average” of weather data from my area? We subscribe each client and controller to as many as five local weather stations.  We try to choose one to the north, south, east and west of your property to get a good average of what is going on in your area.  While one airport weather station comes free with the controller, we have found that one station is not ideal because it can read high, low, malfunction or be down for maintenance and repairs.  Also, the airport stations are usually too far from your house to be a good indicator of what is going on in your area.  Subscribing to multiple weather stations ensures if one station is down, your controller is still getting reliable weather data and it also tends to get stations a lot closer to your property; usually within a mile.

My rain sensor says, “not active,” is something wrong? While this is worded a little weird, what this means is that the rain sensor is not currently filled with rain.  If the sensor icon is red, it means rain is currently inside the sensor and the sensor is engaged which prevents the system from watering.  If the sensor icon is green, it means the sensor detects no rain and is not preventing the system from watering.  Note that the sensor is meant to stay active (red) for a while after the rain has left the area and this is exactly what we want.  The sensor does not report active rainfall, it reports moisture and wet conditions on site that are associated with recent rainfall.

I think my controller is watering too much or not enough! The controllers are set, by us, to water approximately 1.00” per week in full sun on turf and shrub beds during the warmer months while watering at a rate of between 1.25” and 1.50” on color beds during the warmest months.  Temps above 96 degrees can make that application spike up to 1.20” per week in turf/shrub beds and 1.75” to 2.00” per week in color beds.  This is the right amount of water for the most common plants and turf used in our market but that doesn’t mean there won’t be problems.  If you think there is something wrong, let us know and we will be happy to take a look.

Why have my water bills have been going up lately? The HC controller knows when your St. Augustine, Bermuda or Zoysia turf is dormant and it monitors the temps.  It will automatically adjust the run times accordingly so you can expect a bell curve in your water bill with the months of June and July using the most water, while the months of December, January and February will use very little.  The controller tracks the time and days it comes on and that information is stored in the cloud indefinitely so we can always quantify exactly how much your controller is watering.

Do I need the app and do I have to pay attention to the controller? You can certainly use the app, follow the programming, read the reports or run the controller manually whenever you like but we will take care of programming and monitoring the controller.  If you are not interested in using the app or monitoring the controller, no worries, we have you covered.

Why can I not change the settings for my controller? The controller is set to replace ET (evapotranspiration), which is state code and is, by far, the healthiest way to water.  It not only saves money but it makes the landscape look the best it can.  The settings are scientific and are replacing the amount of moisture lost from the soil in the manner that is best for the specific plants or turf you have on site.  Homeowners have access to run the system manually and to read through all of the reports and settings but the programming is handled by our team, state code and scientific formulas that have made our properties some of the best in the Houston market.

What kinds of additional sensors are available? The controller is factory set to accept two different sensors (most controllers can only take one).  We recommend a rain/freeze sensor and a flow sensor.  All of our controllers come installed with a rain/freeze sensor at no additional cost.  The flow sensor is priced per site because two wires need to be run to its location and it has to be installed near the backflow so the distance of running those wires and the work involved to accomplish that on each site may be drastically different.  The flow sensor measures water flow and reports leaks.  Soil sensors are also available but are not ideal for use on every zone as a result of the way they work (just because the soil is wet in one area of a property does not mean another area is wet as well) but they are a good solution for specific zones.

What is the cost to renew my maintenance plan and what does that cost include? The cost to extend irrigation maintenance coverage is $360.00 per year, billed every January, and it includes; 24/7 remote monitoring, ET programming, weather station/weather data subscriptions, two site visits per year to adjust heads, nozzles and to report damage, and a discounted rate for all service and repair labor (standard rate is $90/hr and the rate for clients on our maintenance plan is $75/hr).  Dollar for dollar this is one o the best services we offer.

What if I do not want to renew my TIS Maintenance Plan? The controller will continue to function even without our maintenance plan though you will lose our ET programming, the 24/7 monitoring, the site visits, the reduced labor rate and would be responsible for renewing the weather stations on your own ($60 per year).  Rest assured that your controller will continue to function even if you choose to take over the operation of the unit yourself.

What if I do not want to renew my weather station subscription? The controller allows for the use of one free airport weather station and you will have access to the data from that station at no cost whatsoever.  We do not recommend relying on a single weather station or a station that is more than 1.5 miles from your site but the controller will function without any kind of subscription at all.

PG
John A. Taylor is President and CEO of TIS Services in Houston, Texas. He was awarded the 2013 EPA Partner of the Year Award for his water conservation efforts and he lectures on water conservation through innovative and conscientious irrigation across the country. TIS focuses on sustainable landscape and irrigation solutions. John is a veteran of the Unites States Marine Corps and lives with his wife and children in the Houston area.

John has blogged 12 posts here.

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