Using Rain Shut-Off Devices For Florida Sprinkler Systems

Florida has a sub-tropical climate which has a rainy season (summer) and a dry season (winter). In order to conserve its very limited fresh water supply and protect its aquifers from pollution, Florida Statute 373.62 requires that sprinkler systems must have either a rain sensor or soil moisture sensor system which prevents the system from turning on when there is already sufficient moisture. There are two main types of shut-off devices available.

Rain Sensors

Rain sensors, or rain shut-off devices, stop sprinklers from turning on during rainy weather by interrupting the automatic system controller. There are several types of rain sensors available, and your irrigation professional can help you decide which is best for you. Most newer systems have a connection for installing the sensors, but they can be hard-wired into older system controllers.

 Soil Moisture Sensors

Soil moisture sensors, or SMS, are buried in the active root zone of the plants and wired into the timer or a nearby valve. There are two types of SMS devices.

  • Interrupt - stops the sprinkler system in that zone when sufficient moisture level is reached
  • Bypass - keeps the system from operating in that zone when there is already sufficient soil moisture

Advantages of Shut-Off Devices

While the main reason for the Florida statute is water conservation, there are other advantages to these devices.

  • Saves Money - Even if you have an irrigation well and aren't paying for city water, your sprinkler system uses electricity, so a shut-off will lower your utility bills.
  • Prolongs Your System Life - By reducing unnecessary system use, it reduces wear on the system, which means less maintenance and longer life.
  • Reduces Plant Disease - The most common cause of plant death is overwatering. Root rot is caused by soggy soil and leaf fungus is spread from plant to plant by splashing water. A shut-off device gives roots and foliage time to dry out so it's harder for disease to take hold.
  • Protects Surface and Groundwater - Overwatering causes unnecessary runoff into storm drains and also carries pollutants and chemicals deep into soil, contaminating the ground water.

Rain shut-off devices are required by law in the state of Florida. Since installation of shut-off devices is complicated and they need proper calibration, it is best to have a professional install and maintain them. An irrigation professional can also help you decide which type or combination of devices will best meet your needs. Talk with a business such as Boehm Landscape Inc for more information.