Are there any battery operated Zwave sensors that you can place around the yard to tell if they need watering? I already have an automated sprinkler system but the problem is that with drip systems they regularly fail (broken lines, clogged lines, etc.) and stop watering the plants even though the controller is working. So I want to have something that will tell me if the plants are actually too dry. Is there anything for this?
Nothing zwave, I use an ecowitt hub (which connects via wifi) and then their soil moisture sensors that connect to their hub via RF [RE-RELEASE] EcoWitt GW1000 Wi-Fi Gateway
Similarly, when I got the Ambient WS-2000 station, I got two of their soil sensors because their data can locally sent into my Hubitat via [PROJECT] Driver for AmbientWeather API
How are these working for you? I’ve thought about going down this rabbit hole a few years ago with the Spruce sensors but then folks started complaining they died and weren’t reliable. What are your thoughts in the Ecowitt?
I'm also interested, even though I already have one and 3 more on the way
I have one of the soil sensors and it has worked pretty well. Mine is indoors though but they say it can be used outdoors and the construction seems decent.
Plus, if you did not want to go TOO elaborate they can work directly with the Ecowitt Gateway. So $36 for the gateway and $17/each per sensor (directly from Ecowitt). You can expand on it more if you want, or not. There might be cheaper ways elsewhere, not sure.
Spruce Irrigation makes a Zigbee moisture sensor specifically for lawns. You will have to install some repeaters to ensure they can talk to the hub.
(Edit: added link)
I would say I'm generally happy with them. I did have some that died unfortunately. They just stopped reporting moisture level. That gets really troublesome though because honestly it's not something you notice until your plants start dying. What I found was that the gasket inside wasn't making a perfect seal and water got it which fried the circuit board. Ecowitt did replace them for me though with no questions asked. I'm not sure if it was a bad batch, but I had that happen with 3 of them all around the same time but the replacements have been fine. Also advice if you live in a cold climate -- bring them indoors during the winter. They don't take kindly to the thaw/freeze cycle of the ground and I had one crack. Not a big deal, I mean I have to blow out the lines on the irrigation during the winter anyway so they don't burst, just have to add bringing them inside to my list. Also, they're just AA batteries so they don't work the best in the cold either.
Very mixed results with these guys. The ecowitss seem much more reliable.
If you can't find an acceptable z-wave solution, you may want to consider a Hunter Hydrawise Ready controller. I installed one of these last year and the Hydrawise app lets you create customized programs to optimize watering to each zone. They have soil sensors and flow sensors that can be used to monitor these things. I use the rain sensor only because my issue is over-watering due to a heavily wooded and shady property, but you may be able to use other sensors to solve your issues. Their website is hunterindustries.com.
Yes, @brad5 they can be challenging to use. They are very dependent on the strength of the Zigbee mesh across your lawn, and that can be one of the most difficult places to build a strong mesh.
When you do get a good mesh built for. the Spruce sensors, they are great. The Ecowitt sensors communication (915 MHz) is stronger over longer distances, but the are too tall to mow over. The low profile of the Spruce make them worth the Zigbee mesh challenges for me.
I was using the spruce sensors inside with a pretty strong zigbee mesh and still had them drop off. But I get what you mean about the ecowitt sensors and mowing!
Would the Spruce sensors, the Ecowitt sensors, or any other soil moisture sensor be able to detect the presence or absence of morning dew on the grass? I'm guessing not, because, well, that relates to moisture on the grass, not the soil. But I don't know anything about these sensors...perhaps someone can tell me if my intuition is correct.
You could use the Ecowitt soil moisture sensors with a Gw1000B gateway. Only problem I see is having to remove and reinstall them for every mow. I have a Rachio sprinkler controller and it does a pretty good job of tracking the soil moisture and watering as needed.
I mowed over one of my Ecowitt sensors just a little while ago. Really pissed me off, but my own fault. I went ahead and removed the other one even though I hadn't mowed over it because I was sure I'd forget eventually and kill it too.
Can't speak to the Spruce sensors, but the Ecowitt's would not be able to sense dew. They are a blade that goes about 4 inches into the soil. The part which is above the soil is the electronics and battery to power the sensor. To my knowledge there is no sensor in that part of the device.
I have one of these connected into a hacked ZigBee contact switch which signals a simple open/closed. It was going to be a rain sensor but we've given up on rain ...so it doesn't get much use.
This laid in a shallow tray right at the surface of your lawn surface might dew what you want
But be forewarned, depending on how you power it, the loss of power causes a false state change. Ask me how I know, I currently have a solar powered battery that isn't making it through the night.
@JustinL Ecowitt has a Leaf Moisture sensor that should be able to sense dew.
I haven’t used one, but it looks to be exactly what you are looking for. The Ecowitt gateway can support up to 8 of these in addition to the other sensors it supports.
Let us know how well it works if you try one.
Nice find. The brochure/manual even mentions dew. I’m going to order one and test it out.
Any idea if there are LORA based sensors?
I am curious about doing this, but I have no clue how to establish a Zigbee mesh outside.
Yeolink seems to be having success with their use of LORA for their outdoor gate contact sensors. You have to use their hub though. I am thinking about using them but I need another hub like I need another hole in my head.