How Do Rain Sensors Work?

Have you ever looked out the window and mentally kicked yourself because you didn’t think to check the weather before you left home? And now it’s raining and your sprinklers are scheduled to turn on right about…now?

A rain sensor would save you the mental anguish and money from not running your sprinklers during a thunderstorm. You’ll conserve water while still maintaining your lawn if you let a rain sensor manage your sprinklers.

If you’re one of those people who needs to know how something works before you install it, this post is for you, because we’re discussing how rain sensors work.

First, what is a rain sensor?

As you might have guessed, it senses rain.

It’s a device that communicates with your sprinkler timer about the level of rainfall. If enough rain has fallen, then the sensors let the timer know to skip the next cycle and not run.

It’s a convenient piece of technology. If you’re out of town or just unaware of the weather forecast, the rain sensor will make sure your lawn isn’t overwatered.

Types of Rain Sensors and How They Work

When you live in the Midwest, you get used to rapid changes in the weather. You know the saying, “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.”

That’s fine if you’re just taking off an outer layer because you’re too warm or keeping a spare umbrella in your car. But when you’re a sprinkler system, you need more help knowing when the weather isn’t good for you to turn on.

Depending on the type of yard you have, where you live, and how often it rains, you might choose a different type of rain sensor.

Rainfall collection cup
This rain sensor stops the sprinkler from turning on when the rainfall cup fills to a certain level. A possible issue that could arise is a false fill signal. Leaves, debris, and even bugs can fill up the collection cup, causing the sprinklers to shut off.

Expansion disk
Expansion disk rain sensors operate via a gauge attached to the sprinkler system. Disks inside the gauge absorb water and expand as more rain falls. That sends a message to the sprinkler system controller and interrupts the signal that turns on the sprinkler. The signal is blocked until the disks shrink back to their original, dry size. Then the sprinkler controller receives the start signal once more and resumes its regular schedule.

Benefits of a Rain Sensor

No matter the type of rain sensor you choose, all rain sensors offer many advantages over not having one attached to your automatic sprinkler system. Some of the benefits, both immediate and long-term, include:

  • Saving money
    Whether you pay for city water or spend electricity running a pump, the money you save over time will more than pay for the rain sensor.
  • Extending sprinkler system life span
    Every irrigation system is a lot of moving parts. If the parts are utilized less frequently, like during the rainy season, they will last longer.
  • Conserving water
    Less water is wasted when less supplemental water is needed to hydrate your lawn or garden.

Save Water with Pro Irrigation

Nowhere else will our residential or commercial customers find the 5-Star Experience – delivering value the way you see it, dependability, innovation, and a culture of growth that fuels our service commitment and your lawn’s ongoing success.

Let the pros at Professional Irrigation Systems show you how installing the best sprinkler system will have your lawn looking beautiful in no time. Contact us today for a consultation.

Different Types of Irrigation Systems Explained

We’ve made it our business to be experts in irrigation systems, but we understand that not everyone knows the difference between the different types of irrigation systems.

There are many different ways to supply water to a large body of plants. Water is provided in different volumes and reaching different areas, which can affect plant growth. Some systems are better for certain plants than others, which is why we’re discussing irrigation system differences and the advantages and disadvantages for each system.

Drip Irrigation

Drip irrigation is one of the most popular types of irrigation systems. Simply put, drip irrigation is the process of lacing your garden area with irrigation lines that feed directly into the root systems of your plants, “dripping” water into them gradually.

The roots have the direst need for hydration, so a drip irrigation system essentially cuts out the middleman and supplies water directly to the roots.

Advantages of Drip Irrigation

  • Reduces weed growth
    A drip irrigation system is placed explicitly through the plants that you want to water, so it’s tough for the water to stray away from its intended target. As a result, rogue weeds in your garden won’t benefit from the water, ultimately reducing the overall number of weeds.
  • Efficient water usage
    Drip irrigation is by far the most efficient irrigation system regarding water usage. It typically uses less water, and the water it does use is less prone to evaporate.

Disadvantages of Drip Irrigation

  • Requires precise installation
    Drip irrigation is only useful if it’s been installed correctly, which takes expert precision and experience. An improperly installed drip system could cause drought conditions, which causes your plants to grow shallow instead of deep. Make sure you have professional help when you’re setting up the drip irrigation system.
  • Requires maintenance
    A drip irrigation system sometimes requires more maintenance than another type of irrigation system. The drip irrigation equipment is vulnerable to debris, mineral buildup, and damage from outside forces like lawnmowers.

Sprinkler Irrigation

Sprinkler irrigation is more or less the opposite of drip irrigation. Instead of applying hydration directly to the roots, the water is supplied overhead by the sprinklers.

While drip irrigation is more up close and personal irrigation, sprinkler irrigation allows you to hydrate a larger area of land like an athletic field.

Advantages of Sprinkler Irrigation

  • Able to cover large areas
    Sprinkler irrigation is probably the most cost-effective way to cover a broad swath of land, like a farm with acres and acres of plants to water.
  • Can be used anywhere
    Sprinkler irrigation is versatile. Drip irrigation is difficult to maintain over a large space, while surface irrigation relies on the slope of the land to work properly. Sprinklers can be used just about anywhere.

Disadvantages of Sprinkler Irrigation

  • Expensive upfront cost
    When it comes to the initial installation, sprinkler irrigation systems can be the most expensive. The general cost goes down once it’s up and running, but the upfront cost could be hefty.
  • Susceptible to wind
    The biggest drawback for sprinkler irrigation is that wind can scatter the spray, resulting in inconsistent watering. This could be a minor inconvenience occasionally, but it can become a serious problem if you live in an excessively windy area.

Surface Irrigation

Drip irrigation waters the root of the plant, sprinkler irrigation waters from above, and surface irrigation is somewhere in the middle.

There are different forms of surface irrigation, but they all take advantage of gravity and the shape of the land to “flood” the soil. Put more simply, water is poured onto the ground, and the land allows it to distribute itself across the soil naturally.

Advantages of Surface Irrigation

  • Easiest and most affordable
    Surface irrigation is an ancient irrigation technique that has been refined by modern technology. It doesn’t necessarily require sophisticated technology to work, and if you want something with a lot of variety, surface irrigation is for you.
  • Best utilization of rainwater
    You’ve probably shaped your property in such a way where natural water flows reliably to irrigate your plants. For that reason, areas where surface irrigation is used are very effective at utilizing rainwater.

Disadvantages of Surface Irrigation

  • Dependent on terrain
    For surface irrigation to work correctly, you have to make the terrain accommodate it, whether it’s by creating channels for the water or relying on the natural slope to let gravity do its thing. Unexpected changes or disturbances in your land could affect the effectiveness of surface irrigation.
  • Waterlogging risk
    Surface irrigation could channel too much water into your crops, which can drown the roots and be counterproductive. You need to take care to ensure your surface irrigation system doesn’t overhydrate your plants.

Get the Best Irrigation System for Your Needs

Regardless of what type of irrigation system you choose for your property, one thing you’ll need to have is the right team to install the equipment. Professional Irrigation Systems is already St. Louis’ and Saint Charles’ irrigation system leader for residential and commercial clients.

We only use the best parts and hire and train professionals who can live up to our name. We believe that quality, service, and value still matter, and we are proud to bring our customers a 5-star experience with every project. Contact us today for a consultation.

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