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.