Garden sprinkler control?


Hello,
I am in Canada and realize this is "out of season" but since I have a few days off I thought I would do some research into buying a garden sprinkler control. We live on a small acerage (ranch) and have six underground sprinkler grids connected to a manifold with manual ball valves. I have been manually turning on the valves for each grid for the past 10 or so yrs. I wish to update to electric valves operated by a central control located inside the house. (Plan on taking extended holidays this coming summer) My question is what do you have for this type of control? Does anyone have any recomendations for what kind, brand type etc to buy or what to stay away from? . I consider myself to be "fairly" good at figuring out timers etc, but don't want something so complicated I'll need a PHD in electronics to operate. In addition, can anyone comment on what type of electric valves to buy?
Thanks Group for any constructive replies...Jimi
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Jimi wrote:

Hi, Have a look at Hunter or Rain Bird web site. If you want to automate your valve control, you'll need elecric valves, control box and wiring. You can do it yourself if you want to. I laid my sprinkler system at my house using Rain Bird kit. Hard part is digging, other than that nothing to it. I am in Calgary. Good luck,
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Jimi wrote:

http://www.championirrigation.com/HTML_Pages/Cat_CL.html I've converted over several systems
I use Champion actuators & Toro multi-staion timer
I prefer the brass/brass units....plastic ones suck :(
Valve bodies will last 20+ years or longer , acutatutors 10+ years or longer
they used to be sold at HomeDepot but knwo I get them at commericial irrigation supply house
use the classic size if available
Toro timer
Toro Automatic Sprinkler Timer/Controller Toro ECX. 8 zone watering capacity
look on ebay search for........toro timer
currently auction item 260050319975    is what you need
I like these units so much, they're the only ones I use
retail they're ~$60US + tax & driving to store
on ebay you can get them for ~$50 or less....including shipping
make sure they have all the plug in units to allow use of 8 valves....The controller can accept up to 4 dual valve plug ins........sometimes the auction is for less than 4, read the description carefully
auction 160051300968
wold be a steal IF it has enough plug ins for 8 valves extra plug ins are $10
cheers Bob
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<SNIP>
<SNIP>
Thanks so much for the Information Bob! I really like the TORO model and am sold on that for a controller. My situation is that the manifold with the valves will probably be about 50 feet from the controller. Is that a problem?. Also I will be using 3/4" electric valves and welding up my own manifold (pipeline welder by trade). Are there a lot of wires to run or is it like a wire harness that I would run to the valves? Thanks so much in reply...Jimi
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Jimi wrote:

I even installed one of these controllers for my 83 year old mom. She can actually run it after a few lessons.
My brother, my neighbor, my retired boss.....all use this controller (no complaints)

feet from the controller <<<<
Nope, My front yard mainfold is ~70ft from the controller; back yard ~50 ft
To send the signal to the valves I use 18 gage thermostat wire, I ran it in PVC conduit to a raintight junction box at the manifold. But if you want you can use individual wires....I like the thermo wire becasue the conducitrs are all differnet colors...easier to sort out.
In my situation I've got three valves at each manifold location, so I only need 4 wires to each location. I used 18-8 thermostat wire....... I had a roll.
The way you wire it up is.....a single common wire is shared by all valves, then each valve gets it's own individual wire from the controlller plug-in spring terminal.
If you've got 8 valves unfortunately you need 9 wires (1 common & 8 unique wires). So that means 18-9 or 18-10themo wire or individual wires your choice
ebay 330050476842    18-9 ebay 330050471783 18-10
you're good to go!
I'm not a fan of the direct bury cable...seen too many failures, I old school, I use conduit
When I build manifolds, I either solder up a copper one or glue up a sch40 grey PVC one; I always use the valves that have at least one union (output side). Plus I space the valve risers such that the "classic valve acutators" can be used and ther is plenty of room to unscrew the valves.
cheers bob
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Thanks again Bob for the info!...I think I'm on my way now....Jimi

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There is a world of difference in quality between what is sold at an irrigation supply house and what is sold at a home center, even if it is the same brand. The price differential is not, in my experience, much at all.
So my suggestion would be that you contact a couple of irrigation supply houses and find what brand they carry, then do research on that brand as to what you will need. I've dealt with irrigation supply houses in two states, and they have always been very willing to offer advice and make sure I have everything I will need.
My guess is that you will need to replace your valves with solenoids, find a way to get them all wired into where you will have the controller, and get a controller. You may want to get the solenoids/controller (some solenoids have a manual adjustment; some, I think, can be adjusted from the controller) that are adjustable, and one of the units that measures how wet your yard is and interrupts the sprinkler when it is raining. I like a very fully automated system, as I set mine to water very early in the morning, since I have read this is the best time since the water sinks into the ground before the sun is up to evaporate it, and doesn't sit on the grass (as it would if you watered at night), which can lead to disease.
I've had very good results with the contractors grade of Rainbird; my son has had good results with another brand (I forget which), but I think the contractors grade of any manufacturer is probably very good.
Jimi wrote:

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