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Tips on How to Set an Automatic Sprinkler Timer/Controller
Overwatering your landscape can result in the runoff of fertilizers and lawn chemicals into
nearby waterbodies and cause pollution. One way to avoid overwatering is to ensure that your
irrigation system is operating properly. Setting an automatic sprinkler timer/controller can be confusing
if you are not familiar with the device or can’t locate its operating manual, but it doesn’t have to be. A
majority of timers fall into two categories, either digital or mechanical. Digital controllers, used on many
new irrigation systems, usually have an LCD and buttons to input operating information, while the
mechanical timer found on most irrigation systems usually has a yellow circular face containing times
with notches cut into it for the brass “activation” pins. This article discusses how to set a mechanical
The mechanical timer’s operation is dependent upon a
single silver pin and multiple brass pins placed in specific slots that control
the times of the day that the irrigation system is activated and the duration
of activation. The amount of brass pins you need will vary depending on the
number of irrigation zones in the yard and the desired length of the irrigation
cycle. The large yellow irrigation clock in the center represents a 24-hour
day, and right below the clock is a smaller silver and black wheel (called the
“Skipper” wheel) that represents a 14 day schedule.
Figure 2: Features of a Mechanical Timer
1. TO SET FIRST ZONE: For watering, push brass pin into slot on yellow dial at desired “ON” time. For
each 12 minutes of additional watering add one pin WITHOUT skipping a slot.
2. TO CHANGE ZONES: Leave one blank slot on yellow dial after “ON” line (brass pin), and valve will
automatically advance to the next zone.
3. TO SET ADDITIONAL ZONES: Repeat steps 1 and 2. REMEMBER to leave blank space between zones
4. TO SET TIME OF DAY: Turn yellow dial CLOCKWISE, until correct line is at end of silver time pointer.
Do NOT turn silver pointer.
5. TO SKIP DAYS: Turn black skipper wheel COUNTER-CLOCKWISE until today’s day is in front of “14”
arrow. Press pins DOWN on days of NO watering.
6. PUT SELECTOR SWITCH IN AUTO: This switch can be used to turn the system ON or OFF for manual
operation without affecting the set program.
IMPORTANT NOTICE: Use the one silver pin located at 12 Midnight on the yellow dial, it advances the
skipper wheel automatically. Do NOT use multiple silver pins.
Please note that all irrigation settings should be in accordance with current water restrictions. A link
to the most current information on water restrictions is provided below.
1. Water Restrictions in Broward County
2. Irrigation Manufacturers (Mechanical)
a. The vast majority of mechanical timers are made by Intermatic, Inc. Their website and
instruction guides can be found at : http://www.intermatic.com Go to Products, Energy
Controls, Mechanical Time Switches, Specialty Time Switches, R8800/T8800 Series
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