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What is an Automatic Lawn Sprinkler?

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  • Written By: R. Anacan
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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An automatic lawn sprinkler is an irrigation system that provides programmable capability. This enables the user to predetermine and set when the automatic lawn sprinkler turns on and off and the duration of operation. Automatic sprinkler systems help conserve water and are often more effective and convenient than manually watering a lawn or using garden hose-based irrigation.

An automatic lawn sprinkler system generally consists of four main parts. The first part of the system is the water line that provides the water to the sprinklers. The water supply for an irrigation system generally branches off from the main water supply for a home or building. This enables the user to turn off the water to the irrigation system when not needed, without affecting the flow of water to the building.

The second part of automatic lawn sprinkler systems are the valves that control the flow of water to the sprinklers. Many automatic sprinkler systems are divided into separate irrigation zones and each zone has a valve. As water flows from the main water line to the irrigation system, the valves start and stop the flow of water to individual irrigation areas or zones. The use of separate watering zones allow for greater control and customization during irrigation.

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The third part of the system consists of the sprinklers themselves. The sprinklers are the component that distributes water to the lawn or garden. When not in use, sprinkler heads are generally flush with the ground. While in use, water pressure forces the sprinkler heads up above ground level.

The fourth part of an automatic sprinkler system is the control panel, which functions as the brain of the sprinkler system. This is where the user sets the start and stop times and the duration that the sprinklers are to operate. When a particular zone is programmed to run, the control panel sends a signal to the valve controlling water into that specific zone. When the valve is open, water flows to the sprinkler heads and the sprinklers turn on.

When the irrigation period for a zone is over the control panel sends a signal to the valve that tells it to close, which turns the sprinklers off. This process is carried out for all of the irrigation zones in an automatic sprinkler system. While an automatic lawn sprinkler system may be installed as a “do-it-yourself” project, many recommend that the design and installation of a full system be performed by a professional contractor.

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