WiFi Sprinkler Irrigation Controller using EtherRain
EtherRain Networked Sprinkler Controller
EtherRain is a modular Ethernet-connected sprinkler and irrigation controller. It uses the standard network communication protocols and so it is very easy to configure a WiFi sprinkler/irrigation controller using EtherRain: it is simply a matter of plugging EtherRain into a commerically available WiFi bridge. WiFi bridges are inexpensive, reliable, and provide much better performance than the type of modules that can be integrated into a low cost controller. In addition, if you have a large irrigation installation, bridges are available with built-in 4-port switches, so you can easily build a 32 zone EtherRain based solution with a single WiFi bridge.
Benefits of an EtherRain WiFi Sprinkler Irrigation Controller
The most important aspect of a sprinkler controller for many people is the user interface. EtherRain was designed to use an external scheduler and we offer some of the most powerful yet easiest-to-program and most conveniently accessable schedulers in the industry while also supporting popular home automation systems. But for this page we are focussing on connectivity using WiFi, assuming that you've already found a user interface that is right for you.
The main issue with WiFi is obtaining a solid connection between your WiFi router and your sprinkler controller. You want to be able to position your receive antenna to get the best signal to ensure your WiFi commands are received without drops so the benefits on this page will focus on acheiving the highest connectivty to achieve the most reliable operation.
Benefit: Flexible mounting for best signal strength
Using an EtherRain with external WiFi bridge solution, you have the freedom to mount your sprinkler/irrigation controller where you need to - so you can connect your sprinkler wires easily without having to worry about the WiFi signal strength at that location. You can simply run a short CAT5 or CAT6 patch cable to your WiFi bridge which can be located higher, or around the corner, or away from any obstruction that might exist near where your sprinkler controller is mounted. If you are retrofitting an existing controller you'll find that most existing controller mount locations were not designed with WiFi signal strength in mind.
Benefit: Freedom to Use the highest performance WiFi products
Commerically available WiFi bridges that are available from networking companies offer much better WiFi performance than the modules that are integrated into irrigation controllers. The networking companies have done extensive research on how to position anntennas internal to their products. Many have mulitple antenna arrays that are optimally configured. A WiFi module integrated into a third party product will not provide the connectivity performance that a commercial product will. This is important in a high percentage of retrofit irrigation installations because because most of the time the controller is located in an out of the way location.
Benefit: A future-proof solution
WiFi standards have changed rapidly over the last years. From 802.11a, 802.11b, 082.11g and now 802.11n! In addition the security algorithms are constantly being updated. There will be change. And when it comes you won't want to throw away your perfectly working irrigation controller just because WiFi standard changed. By using a WiFi bridge with your EtherRain sprinkler controller your investment is preserved when WiFi standards change because you'll only need to replace your low cost bridge device.
Benefit: Easier troubleshooting
Eventually your WiFi sprinkler controller will have a connectivity issue. When it happens how are you going to deal with it? With the irrigation controller separate from your WiFi connection point, you'll be able to more easily troubleshoot. If your WiFi bridge doesn't connect, you can get expert support from a large company with dedicated support staff, or you can buy another low cost unit without having to buy another complete expensive WiFi sprinkler/irrigation controller.
EtherRain WiFi Installation Examples
Up to 8 Zones WiFi Irrigation Controller
A low cost Cisco WET610N or Netgear WNCE2001 combined with EtherRain provides an easy and high performance connection.
Up to 32 Zones WiFi Irrigation Controller
A Cisco WES610N WiFi bridge with integrated 4-port switch will support up to 4 EtherRain controllers while providing the best available WiFi performance.
Other WiFi Bridges
We've highlighted the Cisco and NetGear WiFi bridges here because they have good performance and are widely available. Other brands of WiFi bridges will also work. Some of our customers use the Apple Airport Express for WiFi bridging functionality.
To view the EtherRain frequently asked questions (FAQ) page, click here.
For information on schedulers and scheduling software compatible with EtherRain, click here.