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Author Topic: X10 to control well irrigation pump  (Read 3340 times)

nabril15

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X10 to control well irrigation pump
« on: July 20, 2015, 01:30:34 PM »

Hello
I have an irrigation pump that is controlled by an Intermatic mechanical timer with the yellow dial. With it, I control days and minutes of irrigation (in 6 minute increments); it has a rain sensor attached to it that cuts off power after a rain. All good.

Below the timer, is a cut off switch that kills power to the unit.

My conundrum. I would like to add the ability of turning the pump off using my x10 remote. At midday yesterday it rained fairly hard; yet for some reason the pump came on this morning. So, I had to go downstairs, go outside and turn the pump off. I would like to do that via an x10 remote, but I want to maintain the functionality of the timer (i can select to water every other day and at what time).

Possible solutions:
1) Replace that kill switch with an x10 220v switch (I forgot the model number). However, the timer's clock will lose power and so it will lose the time.
2) Place the x10 switch AFTER the box, and thus leaving the scheduling work to the Intermatic timer. In a situation like this morning, an undesired ON, I can kill power to the pump via the x10 switch, even though the Intermatic switch retains its power.
3) I would like to replace the Intermatic with an x10 solution, but I want to be able to schedule watering every other day and for 12 or 18 minutes. Unless I use software, I have no way to do that with the brain of my X10 work, the MT13A timer.

I think option 2 will work, but I value your input and suggestions.
« Last Edit: July 20, 2015, 01:32:20 PM by nabril15 »
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bkenobi

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2015, 10:48:58 AM »

I might consider a different option for consideration.  The reason to install a rain cut off switch is for the purpose you have described.  If it does not seem to function correctly, then you might look at fixing it rather than adding more layers of automation.  Rain cut off switches basically have a bowl with a slow drain.  When it rains, the bowl fills up (assuming it's raining at a high enough rate compared to the drain rate).  When the bowl is dry, the switch allows the sprinklers to run again.

My thought is either the switch is faulty (does it cut off if you pour water in it), it's sized wrong (how long does it take for the switch to trip with a moderate rain and how long does it stay tripped after the rain), it's placed wrong (maybe it's covered by a tree or a roof line), or it's installed wrong (wired backwards for instance).

If you want to try a different sprinkler controller, there is one that's been built for HomeGenie that has more flexible configuration than most dedicated controllers.  I haven't used it myself as my sprinkler controllers seem to work fine for my needs...so far.

nabril15

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #2 on: July 21, 2015, 11:20:45 AM »

thank you bkenobi. You brought up valid points. I wont dwell on the irrigation aspect of this, since we talk x10 here.
My rain sensor has worked fine since it was installed. I think that in Sunday's case, it rained a decent amount early enough in the day so as to allow that bowl to drain. When the timer reached Monday morning, the bowl was dry and so it came on.

I would like to make the control of this pump a total X10 solution, but I don't know if it exists. I want to be able to water every other day for 2 periods of 12 minutes (one for each zone).
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JeffVolp

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #3 on: July 21, 2015, 11:25:45 AM »

If you want to try a different sprinkler controller, there is one that's been built for HomeGenie that has more flexible configuration than most dedicated controllers.

Here we use the WGL Rain 8 to control multiple irrigation zones.  Our X10 controller uses the month and previous day max temperature to adjust the cycle from once a week during the winter when most plants are dormant, to multiple early morning and evening daily cycles when temperature is over 100F.  When we have any significant rain, I just push a button on the X10 manual override to skip the next days cycles.  Of course that could be automated too, but rain is not much of an issue here in the desert southwest.

Jeff
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nabril15

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #4 on: July 21, 2015, 11:31:53 AM »

Thank you Utah Jeff
Yes, you dont have much rain issues over there..

I saw the WGL, and I see that it requires electronic control of the valves. The valve I have is a mechanical one that comes on/off by cycling through the pump.
Oh well. I will leave one thing in my home off the X10 umbrella.
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JeffVolp

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #5 on: July 21, 2015, 01:05:35 PM »

I saw the WGL, and I see that it requires electronic control of the valves. The valve I have is a mechanical one that comes on/off by cycling through the pump.

Actually, the WGL controller we have responds to X10 signals just any X10 switch or in-line module would.  Our irrigation program runs in the Ocelot, and it issues X10 commands to the Rain 8, which then switches on the appropriate 24V irrigation valve.  It can also step through a pre-programmed sequence for multiple zones.  I believe the Rain 8 also has a 24V output to trigger a pump if any of the zones are switched on.

You had mentioned two zones, but perhaps they are not controlled by individual irrigation valves?  In that case you can skip the Rain 8, and have X10 control the pump through an appropriate switch or in-line module.  But you would need an X10 controller with more intelligence than a simple timer if you want to skip days and adjust for environmental conditions.

Jeff
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nabril15

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #6 on: July 21, 2015, 01:36:55 PM »

Thanks Jeff.
Yes, I have a black valve that has 4 chambers (for up to 4 zones). I only have 2 zones, and I switch zones by turning on the pump, then off for 30 seconds, then back on.

You mentioned a more intelligent X10 controller than my MT13A. What would that controller be? Is there a more programmable controller than the simple MT13A? I've searched, and I only come up with the XMPT4, which is similar to my MT13.
« Last Edit: July 21, 2015, 01:41:35 PM by nabril15 »
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Brian H

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #7 on: July 21, 2015, 06:31:00 PM »

CM15A running Active Home Pro. Would be one way to go.
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b0b99

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #8 on: July 23, 2015, 09:43:48 AM »

I had a similar desire to control my irrigation system without major modifications and came up with the following solution.

My irrigation controller happens to be a Rainbird which controls which days and time to irrigate (other controllers are similar). There is a rain sensor which determines if it has already rained sufficiently to prevent irrigation that day. The rain sensor internally is just a low voltage switch (on/off). I spliced an X-10 Universal Module (set to dry contact) in series with this sensor and control the module with AHSDK and a small Perl program. The Perl program runs in an always on server and checks the weather forecast every morning and turns the universal module on or off. So the logic simply is:

Has it already rained OR will it rain today or tonight - do not allow irrigation.
Is it scheduled to irrigate today (timer in Rainbird) AND it has not rained (rain sensor) AND it will not rain today or tonight (program in server) - then irrigate.

You could probably do something similar even if you do not want to go that far with automation by using a universal module and turning it on/off as desired with your remote. If your rain sensor is the typical low voltage / low current type, this would probably be all you would need to do.

Bob
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bkenobi

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #9 on: July 23, 2015, 10:51:22 AM »

That's a simple solution.  Well done.

My RainBird system is pretty old and does not include a rain sensor.  But, I suspect it has a rain sensor input.  I could pretty easily add a switch from my HA RPi via GPIO to control rainy day overrides.  It hasn't rained in Seattle in almost 2 months now (very strange for us), so I haven't needed anything this year.  I've considered this feature in the past and I like your solution!  I'll probably just buy a rain sensor and add the GPIO override if we get back to normal this year.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2015, 10:54:20 AM by bkenobi »
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JeffVolp

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #10 on: July 24, 2015, 09:19:04 AM »

The Perl program runs in an always on server and checks the weather forecast every morning and turns the universal module on or off.

I'm curious how well that works.  I hike out here, so I watch the weather pretty carefully leading up to the scheduled hike.  Just a week ago NOAA predicted a 70% chance of rain, so the scheduled hike was scrubbed.  I watched the radar that showed storm accumulation.  Some areas did indeed get deluged, but there was a band that went up across the hike area that received no rain at all.  Of course, we have seen it go the other way too.  Several years ago I was co-leader on the infamous "sleet hike".

Out here we can see for miles in all directions.  Most storms seem to be fairly localized.  It is not uncommon to have one area receive heavy rain and even local flooding while just a couple of miles away they don't receive a drop.  It is pretty rare that we receive rain that blankets the entire area.

Jeff
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b0b99

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2015, 02:51:56 PM »

Jeff, it does not work as well as I would like since I have to rely on weather forecasts. I do track the results and for the month of June it was 80% accurate. So far this month (July) it has been 74% accurate. If I ignore the times the program thought it would rain and it didn't then it has about a 87% - 90% accuracy. Because our water here is fairly expensive, I'm less concerned with failing to water when it did not rain than I am with watering when it does rain. Since my timer is set to water 3 times a week, missing one day is not catastrophic.  I am currently using Accuweather as my source for the forecast but may experiment with Weather Underground to see if that is more reliable.

You are right in that the forecasts often miss the mark totally but in general they seem to be fairly accurate, especially short range. My program checks the forecast at 5:00am and the irrigation system is set to start at 5:30am. This gives me pretty up to date data but as you said sometimes the rain goes around my location.

Bob

P.S. Your XTB-IIR works great! I have not had a problem since I installed it last December.
« Last Edit: July 24, 2015, 02:56:27 PM by b0b99 »
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Tuicemen

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #12 on: July 24, 2015, 05:07:46 PM »

 I am currently using Accuweather as my source for the forecast but may experiment with Weather Underground to see if that is more reliable.
You will most likely find Weather Underground to be more reliable as you can get a location (in most cases) that is closer to you.
It uses  personal and professional weather stations and any one can setup a weather service.
I report to this with my personal weather station which updates every 18 seconds while I have a internet connection.
 >!
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JeffVolp

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Re: X10 to control well irrigation pump
« Reply #13 on: July 25, 2015, 08:29:57 AM »

Jeff, it does not work as well as I would like since I have to rely on weather forecasts.

Thank you for the feedback Bob.

Out here in the desert southwest, the water is cheaper than it was back east.  Our 20x40 foot "lawn" is just 3" of poor soil on top of a lava flow.  With the brilliant sunshine and 100+ temperatures, it dries out very quickly.  So we have to be diligent about irrigation for that and the shrubs.  We lost a couple of those this year because the town lowered the water pressure and the flow to them was down.

Jeff
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