Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions and answers have been developed to respond to commonly asked questions by distributors, contractors and homeowners.
Q: What if there was a power interruption? Would everything still get watered?
A: The "flash memory" in the controller will remember your program for years in the absence of A.C. power. Your system will not, however, water when A.C. power is off. The flash program and back-up battery are for memory retention. A short, neighborhood power outage, less than 48 hours, will not cause the system to lose the time and date. (It is recommended that the 9-volt, alkaline back-up battery be changed once per year). If you forget to change the battery and the system loses the time and date, everything will be brought up to date the next time you use your computer to contact the controller.
Q: If my computer goes down, can I still use the remote?
A: Your last program sent from the computer resides in your controller in the garage. If your computer crashes, your controller will continue to water on the last schedule it received until you send it a new one. You can also command manual operations with your handheld remote even if your computer is not working.
Q: What if there is a power surge?
A: If there is a power surge, the controller has some protection with the capability to divert incoming electrical surges to earth ground.
Q: How do I know if there are any electrical short circuits?
A: The controller has a diagnostic capability that will detect electrical short circuits in the valve solenoids or in the wiring from the controller to the valves in the system. The diagnostic circuit breaker will turnoff the zone with the short circuit and it will identify the problem zone with a blinking light on the controller. It will water all other operable stations according to their schedule.
Q: Can my system be reprogrammed even if my PC is down?
A: Yes. If you have given your selected Personal Identification Number (PIN) for your PC-based system to your installer or maintenance person, your system can be reprogrammed even if your PC is down. A turf care professional (with the same program and equipment) can come by and make any changes you want, via laptop computer hooked up to a remote.
Q: What happens if I get a new computer?
A: Install the software for the PC Control system in your new computer, download your entire program to a CD and upload that program to the new computer from the disk. Use the current PIN number to access your controller.
Q: How many schedules can you have in the program? (If you’re a contractor, how many customers’ schedules can you have in your program?)
A: We do not know as of yet where the practical limit is.
Q: Can you schedule a "no" irrigation day?
A: Yes. You can turn off a particular day of the week as a repeating non-water day, such as "no watering on Tuesdays".
Q: What happens if you have overlapping start times?
A: You have an option of no (0) overlap or two (2) overlaps allowed. In the no overlap mode, a message box will pop up in the schedule if you try to overlap a zone. The overlap option is provided so landscape lighting can run even when an irrigation zone is active.
Q: What is the maximum run time per station?
A: Each station can run for 24 hours.
Q: Does the controller supply the main power to the landscape lights?
A: No, the controller provides switching control for a 24-volt, AC relay using the controller’s zone wires and the Valve Common wire. You can use the Irritrol SR-1 relay, usually used to start pumps, that has a 24-volt relay that closes a bigger, main power relay that lets power through to the lighting transformer. Some landscape lighting manufacturers, like Nightscaping®, have transformers for lighting housed in cabinets that have a 24-volt relay for switching on the incoming power.
Q: Do I assign my fountain to water or lighting stations?
A: Assign your fountain to a landscape lighting zone. Lighting zones pay no attention to rain sensors, water budgeting, odd or even day watering or the Scheduling Advisor™. Watering zones respond to all the above.
Q: The reaction time seems slow when the system is starting up. The SYSTEM STATUS tab rises and falls very slowly.
A: At start up, make sure to wait about 15 seconds or so for the system to establish contact with the controller in the garage. The SYSTEM STATUS tab will rise and then descend into view with AUTO ON or AUTO OFF depending upon your controller's setting. If the reaction time is still slow, click on SETUP and then click on the PIN CHANGE button. Enter your current PIN number in both the old and the new boxes and then click OK.
Q: Will the system require an expert or can I run it?
A: The system is virtually straight-forward and very intuitive. The PC Control is meant to be installed and set-up by an irrigation or landscape professional and then run by the end-user thereafter.
Q: How hard is it to replace a component?
A: Additional or replacement controllers or remotes are salable separately. Also available as replacement parts are external plug-in transformers, controller access panels and USB cables.
Q: How can I access my PC-based controller from work or while traveling?
A: Remote access computer programs such as PC Anywhere or Go to My PC allow the owner complete home computer control. These programs allow the owner to access his or her home computer online using a remote laptop while on the road, so the user can access his or her home computer and easily program and operate the PC Control system.
Q: Is there a HELP desk # that I can call if I have any questions?
A: Yes, you can contact Irritrol’s Customer Service at (800) 634-8873. You can also contact them via e-mail at email@example.com.
Programming help is also available in several ways:
In the HELP mode:
In the Schedule Selection screen, you can also click on the original schedule to activate the installer’s initial default program.
- You can click on the Scheduling Advisor for several tips.
- You can find the installer’s phone number and e-mail address.
- You can find Irritrol Systems’ technical HELP line and e-mail address.
- You can send your program over the Internt to either of the above for reprogramming.
- You can go to the Irritrol Systems website (www.irritrol.com/pccontrol) for FAQs on the PC-based system.
Q: How many lighting stations can you have and must you specify if it is a lighting station?
A: The latest unit will handle up to 3 lighting stations. They must be designated as lighting stations so the rain sensor, non-water days and water budget will not inhibit their running days or times. We are using a transformer that will handle 3 stations on at a time. The light bulb button on the remote will turn on the lighting stations. So if the owner expects guests to arrive or hears a strange noise outside at night, he can unplug the remote, wake it up by pushing a button and press the light bulb button. The landscape lighting stations will all come on for a default time of 1 hour.
Q: How does the contractor change the homeowner’s PIN? Must he use his PC or can he use the hand held remote?
A: To change the homeowner’s PIN, the contractor must know the old PIN and use his laptop and remote to change the PIN.
Q:How do I know what version software I have?
A:On the HELP menu, under the ABOUT tab, you will find the number for the GUI or software version you have.
Q: How do I know if I have the latest version of the software?
A: If you have registered with Irritrol, after having a PC Control installed, you will receive a notice when an updated version of the software is available.
Q: Will the email feature work with my email program (Outlook, etc.)?
A: Yes, as long as your computer meets the system requirements and you have the PC Control program installed.
Weather and Water-Conservation Related:
Q: What is the Scheduling Advisor™?
A: There is a Scheduling Advisor that can be activated to assist in scheduling proper irrigation based on the local weather forecast. In the Advisor tab, you select specific information for a particular zone, such as amount of exposure to direct light, type of sprinkler head, plant type, slope and soil type. Once you click on the "Use Advisor" button, the recommended schedule will appear and the schedule will automatically be adjusted based on the Advisor recommendation.
Q: What weather data comes in from weather.com for the Scheduling Advisor™ to use?
A: It is the daily average of the forecasted weather for your area based on zip code for the next 9 or 10 days. We recommend that you set your PC Control to check with weather.com every day. Within the next 9 or 10 days, there may be some days that you do not use your computer and some that you do. On the days you use your computer, the first time you turn it on, the system will ask if it’s OK to go get the weather data. You can also set it to automatically check the weather without asking. Each time you get the updated weather data, you are looking at the next 9 or 10-day average. Zones that you have set to "USE ADVISOR" can either automatically adjust themselves or ask you to "OK" the schedule change.
Q: Will the system shut off during rainfall?
A: The system is compatible with most rain sensing devices for shutting off irrigation in a downpour. We recommend the use of an Irritrol rain sensor, either hard wired or a wireless model, to prevent irrigation when it is raining. In case of a "cold snap" in the weather, Irritrol also makes a wireless rain/freeze sensor to reduce the chance of ice damage to plants or to prevent icy sidewalks from normally scheduled irrigation. The system can then start as scheduled when the sensor dries out. The user can also manually set a delay period before the system will water again.
Q: How does the "Seasonal Adjust" feature work?
A: In the SETUP menu, the Seasonal Adjust feature allows the entire system’s watering time to be set for less or more in 10% increments. If everything looks a little wet or a little dry, you can adjust the whole system at one time by a certain percentage by simply moving the arrow bar up or down. A system set at 100% represents the original setting for the zones. To reduce watering by 10%, for example, simply adjust the arrow bar downward to 90%.
Q: Can the system save water?
A: Yes, there are several ways the system can save water: 1) you can manually turn off the system during the winter months conveniently at your computer, 2) the system has rain sensor compatibility and will allow a wireless RS1000 or RFS1000 and wired RS500 to be connected to the controller to automatically disable watering during rainfall, and 3) the Scheduling Advisor™ will save water by adjusting the zones according to online weather forecasts.