FAQ – Commercial Smart Irrigation Controller Rebate

Learn how a smart controller can save your commercial property cash by saving water through our rebate program.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is a smart irrigation controller?

A smart irrigation controller is a device that operates an automatic in-ground irrigation system from a smartphone-based app. Typically, these services offer automatic weather-based settings that will decrease or skip irrigation when it has rained recently, or it is anticipated that it will rain. Smart controllers offer increased convenience compared to standard controllers, making it easier for property owners to monitor their irrigation water use.

What is the difference between a smart controller and a plug-in?

Plug-ins are specialized components that can be plugged in to compatible controllers to make them Wi-Fi enabled. These would be purchased if you had an existing controller that could accept a plug-in, e.g., if you already had a Rain Bird ME3 controller, you could purchase the LNK Wi-Fi plug-in, which would then allow you to control your irrigation from your phone.

If you do not have a controller that is smart-enabled or compatible with a plug-in, you will need to purchase a smart controller. With some brands, you will need to purchase both the controller AND the plug-in (though you can only receive one rebate).

Check your irrigation controller manual or the manufacturer’s website to see if your model has plug-in capabilities. Your irrigator can also assist you.

Can I purchase a device that is not on SAWS eligible products list and still receive a rebate?

Devices can be added to our eligible products list for a rebate if they meet the following criteria:

  1. The controller should have the ability to reduce water consumption based on weather data. For example, if the weather becomes cooler or wetter, the controller should have a setting selection customers can choose that would automatically reduce or eliminate runtimes.
  2. The controller should use current local weather data to help prevent irrigation during and immediately after significant rain events.
  3. The controller must accept connections from commonly used rain sensor devices and use this data to prevent irrigation cycles and implement rain delay requests from the sensor.
  4. Customers must be able to choose to accept email and/or text and app messages alerting them to any changes in the runtimes. Any time the runtime is increased due to weather data, customers must get a notification if they have authorized this in the settings.
  5. Many customers normally water less than the smart controller might recommend. Customers should be able to program the controller to override any pre-programmed settings to prevent increases in water consumption. This may include the ability to:
    • Set a fixed schedule that only allows for rain sensor interruptions.
    • Program a maximum runtime or water use amount that the controller will not exceed.
    • SAWS Conservation staff will review any other proposals.
  6. Wall-mounted controller must be accessible and allow for system operation and configuration on the controller.

SAWS makes no guarantees regarding the continued functioning of the device or company.

What are the Annual Irrigation Checkup and Annual Backflow Testing requirements?

Per City of San Antonio Ordinance, residential and commercial properties five (5) acres or larger and properties that used over 1 million gallons of water for irrigation in the prior calendar year with in-ground irrigation systems submit an annual irrigation checkup to the SAWS Conservation department by May 1 each year. Annual testing of backflow prevention assemblies is required by Chapter 24 of the City of San Antonio’s Plumbing and Fuel Gas Code, Chapter 34 of the City of San Antonio Code of Ordinances, and the SAWS Cross-Connection and Backflow Prevention Control Program.

How long does it take to receive a rebate?

After you submit your application, we will begin processing your rebate. You will receive an email when your application has been approved. You can expect your rebate to appear as a check in the mail, usually 6-8 weeks after approval. Limit one rebate per account.

How long do I have to get my rebate?

The SAWS-approved device must have been purchased from the vendor or retail store within the last 12 months of the application submission date. Program funds are limited, and applications will be processed on a first come first served basis. Applications will be accepted year-round.

Do I need to send in an invoice or receipt once I purchase my smart irrigation controller?

Yes, you will need to submit an invoice/receipt with the item(s) purchased on it along with a temporary, read-only access code and photos of your new controller on the wall and your old controller.

Who do I contact if I am having trouble installing my device?

You will need to contact the device vendor in order to troubleshoot any technical or installation difficulties. SAWS does not offer installation assistance for smart irrigation controllers.

Will SAWS come install my device?

SAWS does not conduct installations of app-based irrigation controllers.

Am I required to maintain a contract with the same irrigator for the required three years?

As part of the rebate agreement, you will be required to maintain internet connectivity (via Wi-Fi, cell service or other medium) and a contract with a licensed irrigator for at least 3 years.

Can SAWS recommend a licensed irrigator to install my device?

SAWS cannot recommend any irrigation companies. The San Antonio Irrigation Association maintains a list of licensed irrigators on their website, or you may check with the vendor as they may offer recommendations for local irrigators. SAWS does not endorse any irrigation companies, so make sure to research any companies and ask for proof of their irrigation license before hiring them.

I’ve contacted the device vendor for technical help to no avail, can you help?

If you have attempted to contact the device vendor multiple times and have had no response, please let us know at 210-704-SAVE (7283).

Do I need to have an existing irrigation system to apply for a smart irrigation controller?

Yes, you must have an existing in-ground automatic irrigation system to apply for this rebate.

What technology is required for me to install the device?

You must have a smartphone (Apple or Android) and strong Wi-Fi signal. You will need to install a smartphone app to control and access your irrigation system.

Where can I purchase a smart irrigation controller?

You can purchase a new smart controller from any retailer. Purchases must have been made within 12 months prior to submitting your application.

I have two irrigation controllers. Can I get two rebates?

Our Smart Irrigation Controller Rebate is limited to one rebate per account. If you have more than one controller, our Smart Irrigation System Rebate may be right for you.

Will the weather-based irrigation controls lower my water bill?

Weather-based controllers often help save water during spring and fall, but you may need to adjust the settings to a fixed schedule during summer months, or when rain is less frequent, to avoid over-watering.

Many smart irrigation controllers offer weather-based controls that will change your irrigation settings depending on how much rain we have or may receive. Pre-programmed recommendations are typically based on averages for the entire country, and consequently may not be suited to our region. We always recommend referring to Garden Style San Antonio for our current local watering advice and consider using a fixed schedule to limit watering to once a week during the summer months in the absence of rain.

Does SAWS support/recommend other products by these vendors?

No, SAWS does not endorse any companies or products or services these companies offer. Rebates are offered on specific products with features that we believe will be helpful to customers seeking to save water. We strongly advise that you conduct your own research before purchasing other gardening services or products.

I have more questions. Is there someone I can talk to at SAWS?

Yes, give us a call at 210-704-SAVE (7283).

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