As those of us without an irrigation system know all too well, keeping seed moist during a seeding project with hoses and sprinklers can be challenging, especially if the area is large. The Orbit 4 zone watering system aims to make the process easier by automating the task of watering for up to 4 zones. Since the standard hose bib doesn’t have enough water pressure to run more than one sprinkler, the controller turns on each of the zones one at a time. But how does it perform in the real world?
The system consists of a battery powered controller (2 x AA), a 4 port manifold and 2 valves. The system can control up to 4 valves, but only 2 are provided in the box. Two additional valves can be purchased separately if needed. The setup process is straightforward: attach the valves to the manifold, connect the valves to the controller, insert batteries and, after a 3o second period in which the controller tests each valve, the system is ready to be programmed.
The Orbit controller supports up to 3 start times, and each start time can be configured to activate between 1 and 4 valves. The valves are activated sequentially from 1 to 4, with only one valve open at any given time. Turning the programming dial to the “How Long” section allows you to configure how long each zone will be watered – this setting applies globally to all starting times configured. Finally turning the dial to “How Often” allow you to select on what days the program will be activated – either by selecting between 1 and 7 days of the week or by selecting the every 1 day option. Once configured, setting the dial to Auto will instruct the controller to turn on and off based on the configuration entered.
Having used the controller for two weeks to water ~6,500 square feet of lawn during fall renovation, I have found it to be a huge time saver. I have configured all 4 zones to turn on at 9:00AM, 12:00PM and 3:00PM watering each zone for 30 minutes. So far, it has worked flawlessly. The valves feel sturdy and open/close with a loud thump, with no leaking. At the same time, this system has a few annoyances which unnecessarily cripple what could be a fantastic product.
- Sturdy construction.
- Works flawlessly.
- Good battery life – no sign of batteries needing to be changed after 2 weeks of continuous use.
- Huge time saver for keeping areas moist during seeding.
- Manual cycles can be initiated with the push of a button.
- Clear on-screen indication of how long until the next starting time and how much longer left of the current watering cycle.
- Only comes with 2 valves. Additional valves have to be purchased
- Only 3 configurable starting times. This can be made to work, especially since a manual cycle can be started anytime with the push of a button , but having up to 7 starting times would have been more suitable for the light frequent watering needed during seeding.
- The electronic controller features a bracket in the back which allows it to mount onto one of the valves. The bracket is too loose and the controller just falls off, making this mounting system somewhat useless.
- The clock consistently falls behind by about 2 minutes each day. Not a huge deal, unless you need to synchronize starting time with another device like say a pump.
Overall, the Orbit 4-zone watering system has proved to be a huge time and labor saver and has helped me achieve more even germination with far less effort than in previous years. It is a must-have for anyone considering a renovation project without an irrigation system.