Blossom Smart Watering Controller Reviewby Ganesh T S on August 28, 2015 8:10 AM EST
Setup and Usage Impressions
The Blossom Smart Watering Controller comes neatly packaged with the main unit in two parts. The top plate with the power cord includes the 110V to 24V AC transformer as well as the powerline communication chip. The logic board wall base sports the connectors for the wires coming from the valves of each irrigation zone. Note that there are two 'COM' (common) ports and a 'PSR' (Pump Start Relay) port. Some setups (such as the one used for this review) don't need the PSR port at all. Other package components include the powerline adapter and an Ethernet wire (for connection to a power outlet near the router), screws and drywall anchors, as well as a quick start guide. A set of labels is also provided to paste on to the wires in order to identify the zone to which each of them belongs.
The installation process is as simple as removing the connectors from the old irrigation controller (taking out the associated wall wart and other miscellaneous sensors in the process), dropping in the four drywall anchors, screwing in the wall base and reconnecting the old connectors and affixing the top plate. The whole process was done in less than 15 minutes. The gallery below presents some 'before' and 'after' pictures.
Following the installation process, we have the software setup that needs to be done via the mobile app. We used the Android version for this purpose. An e-mail address is necessary to create an account on Blossom's website. Users with multiple Blossom units will need to go with distinct e-mail addresses, as there is currently no way to associate multiple Blossom units with the same account (acceptable, since this is a rare use-case). After activating the account, the app attempts to recognize the address for which the unit is getting configured. Once the correct address is chosen, the app attempts to connect to the Blossom unit via the powerline bridge. In our case, we had left that unconnected. The next step was to connect the mobile device to an ad-hoc Wi-Fi network created by the unit. This allows the Blossom unit to be configured with the password for the Wi-Fi network to get access to the Internet.
Once the connection with the Blossom servers are established, a pairing code needs to be entered into the app to associate the particular unit with the account created before. After this process, we proceed to the configuration of various zones. The first interface presents a way to completely turn off certain zones, if needed. Each zone can be set up with a particular name and a camera icon allows for photos to be taken and associated with that particular zone. A 'Test' button ensures that the Blossom unit sends a signal to turn on the sprinklers. This can be used to quickly rule out wiring issues.
Adjustable aspects of each zone in the setup process include:
- Smart Watering (allows Blossom to decide how long to keep the zone on based on various factors)
- Water amount
- Plant type (shrubs, flower beds, grass, trees, succulents)
- Emitter type (sprinklers, bubblers, drip, rotor - different emitters have different flow rates)
- Rainfall exposure (on or off)
The schedule can also be adjusted after all the zones are set up. Configurable parameters include the days on which each zone can be active as well as the time at which the irrigation controller can start the watering process.
My city currently has a watering restriction in place. Operation is allowed only two days a week, and the days are allotted based on the house number. In addition, watering between 8 AM and 8 PM is not allowed. It was easy to set up the Blossom unit to obey these restrictions. I let the unit work its magic uninterrupted. Owing to the drought conditions in our area, I had been manually watering the garden on and off since the middle of last year. After the Blossom unit was put in operation, the garden is showing better signs of life. My water bill is a wee bit higher than before, but nothing outrageous.
I logged into the app recently (after a few months) and was surprised to find an alert about a malfunctioning zone (an email would have surely helped here, given the cloud connection). The new app version also shows the next scheduled cycle and the last completed cycle. The Smart Watering option allows for adjustment of the watering duration decided upon by the unit.
Blossom sets the watering duration in an opaque manner (though it is possible to configure after the process is done). It would be nice if users were to get an email with the detailed schedule / watering durations once the unit gets configured by the intelligence in the cloud.
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ddriver - Friday, August 28, 2015 - linkMoney for nothing... That product has a profit margin that will make apple jealous.
Amandtec - Friday, August 28, 2015 - linkWell, profit margin should include the design cost - not just the parts costs - otherwise you are not in business.
ddriver - Friday, August 28, 2015 - linkThere is nothing about this product a newbie cannot design in a few hours. You can get a ESP8266 derivative and a bunch of relays for 10 bucks, and it will take about an hour to design and implement the circuit and program the MC.
Oh well, there is the case too, I have no doubt that was an engineering challenge on its own.
ganeshts - Friday, August 28, 2015 - linkTime, effort, convenience, IP 54 rating?, powerline communicator? (AFAIK, it is not trivial to integrate PLC into a DIY system.. Wi-Fi, yes, very easy with pre-existing modules, but not PLC).
I mentioned in the review that DIY approach is also there with a link to instructables.
Have to give credit where it is due :) Also, pricing is decided by market demand - Blossom's competitors are also in the same range - so, I think they are justified in pricing at 199 - customary 20% off that seems to be available all the time.
ddriver - Friday, August 28, 2015 - linkThey use a ready solution for PLC, so it is just as easy as the wifi. Also, pretty much needless.
Pricing is dictated by the level of chump-ness. In a world where many people buy completely useless garbage, such as "solar charger apps" or "lose weight hypnosis apps" or an app, whose sole purpose is proving you paid good money for nothing... You can buy a golden computer mouse with some diamonds for 20k, is that price dictated by market demand?
I would never recommend the purchase of any product, that easy and cheap enough to DIY. There are two ways to go, buy it and be a chump, or DIY - it will cost a tiny fraction, will give you full control over the device, and doing that will make you a tad smarter. It is a win-win-win situation. But nah, let's be model consumers and buy shamelessly overpriced stuff, just because ;)
close - Friday, August 28, 2015 - linkSo basically what you're saying is that you're a chump for not being able to build 75% of things you may need in your lifetime. Because yes, you can build your own furniture for a fraction of the cost of store bought furniture. You can also do almost any home repair without an electrician, plumber, painters, maybe even some building jobs (how hard is it to lay some bricks and some plywood?). And the list can continue.
You can even make your own spoons and forks from leftover piping you may have lying around after your plumbing job is done, because only chumps buy them. And this concludes your 48 hour day.
So after you do all these by yourself come back and tell us what's a chump. I know you think you're l'ombelico del mondo (don't be a chump, translate it by yourself) because you may be technically inclined to build a watering controller but you're still a chump for anything else that you're not so good at. And that's not to say that you could actually build this anyway.
maniac5999 - Tuesday, September 1, 2015 - linkIt's been almost 10 years since I did lawnsprinklers (It put me thru college) but the rule of thumb was around $100 installed per head, and normally 4-8 heads per zone on city water. Even with a small install of 5 zones and 6 heads per zone is looking at $3k. How much difference is $200 on that cost if it makes the whole thing 10X easier to interface with?
ganeshts - Friday, August 28, 2015 - linkCan you link me to this 'ready solution for PLC'? I would love to see the PLC connectivity option for DIY consumers.
ganeshts - Friday, August 28, 2015 - linkoh, and btw, PLC is definitely not 'pretty much needless' - there are plenty of situations where Wi-Fi reach is just not there. It all depends on the customer's installation setting
V900 - Friday, August 28, 2015 - linkOr maybe we could learn to water a garden ourselves, and leave technology to do the hard things instead?
Computers and technology were supposed to make our lives easier and more meaningful. Having a gadget water your garden for you, so you have an extra five minutes to spend on YouTube isn't easier and more meaningful, it's just lazy and senseless.
If you're trying to squeeze a gadget and software into every task imaginable, no matter if it makes sense or not, you're doing it wrong.