OK, that got your attention didn’t it. Especially when looking at the long-range weather forecasts we could be up for another scorcher in Wellington this summer. Last summer was a debacle in as much as we nearly ran out of water as a region and I don’t know about you, but my garden was almost dead by the time the rain broke.
Now, this blog is about a product under development from a new kickstarter called Greenbox. It’s an automated irrigation system that claims it can save an average of 25% of water use when it comes to watering your garden and lawns. Yes yes, I know there are plenty of automated irrigation systems on the market, but they tend to be dumb, rather than smart.
Where Greenbox is different is interesting.
Firstly, it’s cheap. $219 USD reserve price its one of the cheapest automated systems that you can buy. Now, it won’t be available right until summer, but you can reserve a unit now and it will turn up once they start manufacturing.
Secondly, it’s very smart. On two counts.
It connects to the Internet wirelessly and monitors weather stations and weather feeds so that it knows if it is raining, or is likely to rain, and then alters its watering schedules accordingly. It automates the irrigation regime based on smart thinking about the weather in real time.
As well as that, it only waters as much as it needs. You can set up eight different zones based on the type of garden you have. Dryer zones, spring water zones, lawn zones, and so on. It knows based on what you are watering how much water is required, and using a custom algorithm, only delivers the water needed based on temperature, evapotranspiration, wind, and so on.
You can of course train the box with other rules such as the odd day even day watering rules and even a total sprinkler ban.
On top of that, it can be monitored and controlled from anywhere via a smartphone, tablet, laptop, PC, or any other device and it will send you notifications of what it is up too.
It also backs up your data to their own Cloud, along with other analytical information, so you can assume over time those algorithms are going to get much smarter.
This type of smart service has the potential to save a lot of water and make the process of irrigation across the city far smarter. The Council needs to be looking at smart services like this and doing some thinking, as should you and I. For example.
- At $219 the Council should consider subsidising these units. The cost savings in water use reduction is likely to offset the subsidy.
- As a Council, buying hundreds or thousands of units will attract a lower cost, again, making it easier to subsidise.
- A lot of water is used by Council themselves on parks as well as other large consumers like golf courses. Council should look at this technology for themselves in order to reduce costs.
- For those on water meters, outside the city primarily though we’ll probably all end up with them at some point, water reduction saves money.
- Ultimately, smart irrigation smooths out the water need which means that as a rate payer we are likely to be able to water later in the season, which is good for the garden, and good for us, given there will be more water available.
This is just one example of the type of smart technology that can help a city. There are other brands in the pipeline, but like I said, this is the first that is relatively affordable and comes with a proprietary smart algorithm that allows for much better use of water. In addition, the interface is easy and anyone can use it, you don’t need a background in programmable logic controllers…
A note on Kickstarter: Kickstarter is a service in the U.S. that allows companies to come up with great ideas and then seek funding. Think Dragon’s Den online. You pledge the cost of the service or item and when they have enough money pledged, they start production. There is a little risk in this approach and you need to be aware that of all the Kickstarter services I’ve bought they are almost always late. But they do turn up eventually.