Watering by WIFI isn’t just for geek gardeners. We discovered how to save time and water with Hozelock’s effortless app-controlled irrigation.
Everything you need to know
- Water your garden using your phone
- The intuitive app makes scheduling easy
- Costs around £100
- Can be finicky when connecting and requires WIFI
- Great for saving water, time and money
Have you ever returned from a summer holiday to a parched lawn and wilting plants? You’ll appreciate the importance of regular irrigation. Gardens just won’t grow without the wet stuff. One solution is to connect a mechanical timer to your hose that will release water periodically. It works, but it’s wasteful and it won’t account for the fickle British weather.
Connecting your watering widget to the web and controlling it from your smartphone, brings a whole new level of convenience and functionality. Yes, you can summon water with the swipe of a finger on a phone, while you lie on a beach in Tenerife, but there’s more. You can programme a watering schedule that best suits the soil and weather and minimise wastage. The helpful Hozelock app also checks online meteorological reports and messages you if the weather takes a turn.
What’s in the Hozelock Cloud Controller box
The Hozelock Cloud Controller is the device that screws onto the nozzle of an outdoor tap to control its output. It connects wirelessly to the Hozelock Hub unit (included), which remains indoors and connected via at cable to your router. The cable is also included, but you’ll need to rustle up a pair of AA batteries for the controller. The Hozelock app is a free download, so if you already have a WIFI network, a smartphone and a hose with a regular attachment, you’re ready to set up your smart watering system.
What we tested it with
There’s no need to keep it Hozelock for the accessories because the fittings are all of a standard size, but the brands own Easy Drip irrigation kit is a particularly well-designed way of watering your beds and borders. We also used Hozelock’s sprinkler to find out how it handled the switch from a low-pressure micro irrigation system to the high pressure of a sprinkler.
The Hozelock Cloud Controller app
The Hozelock app is a free download and it’s this smartphone interface that makes the magic happen. The Cloud Controller itself simply stops, or allows the flow of water from your tap. We used both an iPhone and an Android handset in this test, but there’s no real difference in functionality between the two camps. Both made the setup and operation of our watering device refreshingly easy.
The cheerful yellow interface presents you, on its home page, with a local weather report and a water droplet icon, that lets you dispense water right away. Another icon takes you to the schedule where you can set up a watering timetable. Further options allow you to meddle with other settings, such as when it will notify you of changes in the weather. But first, how easy was it to get set up?
Setting it up
Following the instructions to the letter, we connected the Cloud controller to an outdoor tap and plugged the Hozelock hub into a mains socket well within its 50-metre range. This we connected it to a router via the cable provided. From this point, the Hozelock app offers step-by-step instructions that’ll have everything wirelessly connected within about five minutes.
It’s strangely satisfying when you press a water droplet icon on your phone and see water gush from a tap out in the garden as a result. It doesn’t gush immediately, however. To conserve battery, the hub communicates with the controller every 20 minutes, rather than remaining in constant contact. For more instant gratification, you need to select ‘fast mode’ in the settings menu.
Connecting the irrigation system
Snaking the 15 metres of irrigation hose around the pots and flowerbeds took a little longer, but it’s worth putting some thought into where you want to water. This way you can ensure the water gets directly to the roots that need it as apposed the wasteful scattergun approach of a sprinkler.
With every dripper poised and concealed amongst the mulch and foliage, you can deliver water several times a day to ensure you lose as little as possible to run off and evaporation. Over the year, this kind of saving will show up clearly in the water bill.
You can connect up to four Cloud Controllers to one hub, so your lawn could have its own sprinkler running on a separate schedule. We tried this and found that the sprinkler worked flawlessly with the Cloud Controller.
Living with Hozelock Cloud
Real User: Clare Brewer
Lives: In a Victorian terraced house in London
Works: Full time
What are your first impressions?
I absolutely love that I don’t need to think about watering the garden any more. It took us a little while to work out a good schedule and not get carried away with the watering. Now I feel reassured that however dry it get s this summer, all of the beds will get their trickle of water right where they need it.
What didn’t work?
At first, the system would loose radio contact, until we moved the hub closer to the garden. Also, the system stopped working when our WIFI went down for a couple of days. There was also a period, during the recent heavy rain when the garden became a bit waterlogged because the system was still watering when it was actually raining pretty hard. I guess it’s not clever enough to tell.
What did work?
Overall, we love the Cloud Controller. It saves a lot of time day to day and I’m pretty sure it’s saving us a lot of money from our water bill. I don’t look at it often, but the app is really nice to use. I loved pressing the ‘water now’ button when we hit a really hot spell and I was on holiday. Yes, I’d definitely recommend it to my friends.
Words and pictures by Jim Hill