Wi-Fi sprinkler controller Skydrop uses weather data to know when to water
One bummer about being an adult is suddenly having to pay for stuff that used to be provided for you. I remember being ticked off that I had to start paying for my own toilet paper when I moved out of the dorms, for example, and another rude awakening happened last summer when I bought my first home and got my first water bill. Suddenly saving water had higher stakes than it did when I was renting.
Skydrop wants to help people with sprinkler systems conserve water—and save money—in a convenient, set-it-and-forget-it way. A replacement head unit for existing sprinkler systems, Skydrop connects to the cloud to pull down weather data that tells it when to water, and more importantly, when not to.
The Skydrop unit replaces the wall unit for your sprinkler system. To install you just push your existing sprinkler valve wires into the new board, kind of like installing a new thermostat in your house. Speaking of thermostats, Skydrop’s sleek look, with a 4.3-inch LCD screen and jog dial that lights up with color-changing LEDs, may even remind you of the Nest a little bit. The main unit supports up to eight watering zones, and an expansion unit can increase that limit to 16.
Once it’s installed, Skydrop connects to the cloud through your home Wi-Fi network. Skydrop cofounder Clark Endrizzi told TechHive that Skydrop uses Wi-Fi to collect “hyper-local weather data” from neaby weather stations, so you don’t have to install your own. Algorithms use data about precipitation, humidity, temperature, wind, solar radiation, and even the soil condition to determine when to turn on the sprinkers.
For example, just like here in California, Endrizzi’s home state of Utah is currently experiencing a drought. But back in May, his town got a decent amount of rain, and Endrizzi’s Skydrop unit didn’t need to turn on his sprinklers for three entire weeks. Before, his preprogrammed controller would have been watering every three days unless he remembered to turn it off.
Skydrop’s web portal and companion app for iOS and Android let you control the system too. You can tell it what kind of plants you’re watering (grass, trees, etc.) and what time of day or night you prefer to water, and also get reports about how much water you’re using month to month.
Skydrop is expected to ship in mid-August of this year. The unit costs $299, and the company currently has a waiting list for orders, but plans to sell through some major retailers too.