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Thread: Suggestions for drip irrigation timer upgrade?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
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    2,675

    Suggestions for drip irrigation timer upgrade?

    I've been using Orbit hose end timers to run my drip irrigation for DW's most sensitive beds. They last at most two seasons before they start to continuously leak internally. Several of them are now doing so, so need to be replaced. I'd like to upgrade them to a more robust solution that will handle three circuits. I need to connect to a hose bibb, but can hard pipe all the downstream connections. I can provide power to the (outdoor) valve location.

    Anyone have a suggestion for a better solution? I see several different variants on the ones I've been using, but they all look and cost about the same, with the same very mixed reviews. I'd be happy to spend 3X as much for a system that will just work for the next decade.

  2. #2
    I would look at a timer with multi station capabilities, and individual valves for each station. Use thermostat wire to connect valves to control. For years, I raised mums for State Fair, and that's how my system worked. Valves ( Rain Bird) were totally rebuildable. If one failed, I didn't have to break down manifold to replace a valve. First timer was electro mechanical, and replacement, which has been in service for over twenty years, is digital. Forgot what brand as it's been almost twenty years now

  3. #3
    I think you would be happy with a Hunter or Rain Bird residential system for your irrigation requirements. I've used both in the States, but Hunter is the system of choice in my area. As Bruce stated, the valves are easy to service when needed. In the past ten years of my current four-zone Hunter system, I have not replaced any components. I do clean the diaphragms in the valves at the beginning of every season and purge the water from the lines at the end of the season.

    The distribution box for my system is about 20 meters from the Hunter controller in the garage. The connection from the controller to the valves in the distribution box is by direct burial multi-conductor telephone cable.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2005
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    Highland MI
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    4,188
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    I have the Orbit b-hyve timer for my irrigation system. It is wi-fi enabled so I can turn zones on and off from my phone while I work on heads. It also will automatically institute a rain delay based on the weather forecast to avoid the sprinklers running in the rain. About $90 on Amazon. https://www.google.com/aclk?sa=L&ai=...gQIARBc&adurl=
    NOW you tell me...

  5. #5
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    Sep 2013
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    Wayland, MA
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    I like the idea of building a distribution box using commercial-quality separate components. Thanks!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Location
    Upland CA
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    4,831
    Hard to beat Rainbird, and you can get parts easily.

    Locally I buy Rainbird stuff from an irrigation supplier, and they carry a better grade of stuff for almost the same price as HD. I never knew there were different grades of many items.
    Rick Potter

    DIY journeyman,
    FWW wannabe.
    AKA Village Idiot.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Potter View Post
    Hard to beat Rainbird, and you can get parts easily.

    Locally I buy Rainbird stuff from an irrigation supplier, and they carry a better grade of stuff for almost the same price as HD. I never knew there were different grades of many items.
    Stuff at BORGS was built to a price point, aka "CHEAP," while irrigation place was built for quality. Customers at the irrigation place have too much to loose it part fails.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2016
    Location
    Millstone, NJ
    Posts
    365
    Rainbird has a design feature on their site that you program everything in and they will give you a detailed design and material list. and the stuff is pretty well priced on the site.
    I too am using an orbit or something similar for my beds though. i take it in every winter. Im going into my 4th season with it.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Location
    Longmont, CO
    Posts
    715
    for our garden, i put 12 1in rainbird ( the best valves according to my landscaper) in a home depot deck box with the orbit bhyve controller. built a manafold from PVC pipe. each valve has an outlet on the front of the box that i can screw a hose onto. I have been very happy with the setup. for 3 zones, i would go for the small bhyve controller and 3 good valves. find a plastic deck box / end table / etc and install everything in there with 3 hose connections on the outside of the box.

    tips: do not buy the "screw on" barb connections. they all leak. they are terrible. and make sure you have a pressure regulator if you have over about 60 psi, i have 80+ and its too much for the valves and can blow the poly tubing off the barb fittings. heads and drippers are made to run at more like 25 to 35 psi.

    i can get you a picture of the system in a bit. it was a game changer. every spring, it takes me just a few hours to modify my system to water whatever has been planted in the different beds. pvc pipes in the raised beds with holes drilled in them, and drip lines in the other beds. even the fruit trees. I just need to add a zone for the greenhouse this year.

    we use an orbit hose timer on the patio, but as you say, they don't last.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2013
    Location
    Wayland, MA
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    I put together a system this morning with Hunter valves and a rainbird controller. At this point everything works and nothing leaks, so I'm calling it good for today! We're in a stretch of hot (for here) weather with no rain in the forecast and hundreds of new plants so getting something working was a matter of some urgency.

  11. #11
    Roger, we switched to drip irrigation/xeriscape many years ago and I went through the exact same experience as you. My conclusion: There is no truly awesome hose bib-type timer. Rainbird, Orbit, etc. They would all fail sooner or later. I think they are all the same internally: Cheap plastic solenoid parts. After having one fail open while we were out of town, I implemented a policy of just replacing them every spring. I write the purchase date on each one with a sharpie and just ditch them at the one year mark. That's the only real solution I've found that works. Hope this helps,

    Erik
    Felder USA Territory Representative: Central & South Texas

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