I was just wondering if anyone could recommend a brand of timer for drip irrigation systems. I've been using these Raindrip timers ( http://www.raindrip.com/timers ) for the past couple years and I've spent a small fortune replacing them as they seem to wear out within a single season or don't work to begin with. I'd really like a reliable, battery operated timer - anything with one or two zones would be great. Thanks for your input!
Drip Irrigation Timers
How expensive are the timers you referred to?
I bought the Orbit timers and found them fairly rugged and reliable. The valves wear out over a few years (maybe from leaving them outdoors year round). The newer model is easier to set up and easier to read (big dial for settings and a bigger display to read) but the manifold is not as good as the old all brass model (4 hose manifold). The initial cost is around $50 or less at Home Depot where you get the 4 hose manifold, 4 zone timer, and two valves. Extra valves are around $15 a piece.
Orbit's quick disconnects which looked like a vast improvement over old quick disconnects have proved to be unreliable over time - corrosion sets in which can fuse to the hose or manifold, rubber rings break over time, the shutoff valve can and does get turned sideways so doesn't shut off properly, and finally dragging hoses with quick disconnects can disconnect easily (too easily).
This site shows both styles (new and old) but the prices seem a lot higher than buying locally.
The Raindrip timers I purchased were also from Home Depot. The single zone timers are about $20 - $25 and the dual zone timers were about $40 - $45.
I had all kinds of problems with them - the dual zone timers all had a design flaw that would cause the timer to stop working when I pushed the batteries into its compartment. I figured it had something to do with dislodging or kinking the wires. I bought and took back 4 different timers and had this problem with 3 of them.
I've had much better luck with the single zone timers but I eventually ran into some of the problems you've mentioned such as the shutoff valve getting turned sideways and not shutting off - that's a problem if you go away for a while and come back to a flooded garden.
I also made the mistake of leaving my system plugged in during the winter. It doesn't get very cold here but I guess it was cold enough to ruin at least one of the timers.
I checked out the Orbit timers and they definitely look more rugged than what I have. If I understand correctly though, the Orbit timers hook up to standard garden hoses? That's a slightly different set up from what I have right now. I have a timer attached to a filter and PSI regulator and then directly to 1/2 inch drip irrigation tubing with 1/4 inch lines running off of it. Could the Orbit system be adapted to work with that kind of system?
Yes, the Orbit timers I showed are for hoses (they have other timers too) but I run all my drip irrigation off these timers.
I have very alkaline soil and water. Causes problems in lots of irrigation, timers, etc. I use soaker hoses, drippers, misters, and some sprinklers mostly on my small lawn areas.
In my small 10' x 14' lean-to type green house I have a mist system. Only used occasinally, which plugs up often because of the alkaline water.
I have several timers, none of which am I very happy with. I have several 4-way hose connectors, which only work for a year or two.
Irrigationn season here is over for this year.
I do think it's important to disconnect timers and remove batteries in the winter. Store them inside. The worst thing that can happen to them is rusted battery terminals
Patti - I definitely agree. That's a lesson I learned the hard way. Or, more accurately, the expensive way.
Rutholive, I noticed an interesting product for your alkaline situation on www.dripworksusa.com (I don't know how to do links). It is called "hard water magnetic water conditioning". It claims to keep the lime or whatever in solution instead of building up in your water system. Thought I would pass this along.
I have a mist system. Only used occasinally, which plugs up often because of the alkaline water.
Somewhere recently someone mentioned this same issue and a recommendation was made to soak the clogged up misters in vinegar. The follow up suggested that the results were excellent.... might be worth a try.... I have a bucket full of drip emitters that are clogged and I'm going to try soaking them all in vinegar one of these days....
Rutholive, I followed my own link (which I didn't know was going to work like that, yay) and just wanted to add, click on magnets on the left side of the page. That's the product for dealing with your problem.