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Melnor 3015 Electronic AquaTimer

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An electronic watering timer is about as essential to personal agriculture as shovels, agro-chemicals and seeds. We use them to water our greenhouse, wherein one or two forgetful days can turn rows of potted vegetables into all the sun-dried tomatoes you can stand.

A watering timer will automatically open a valve to water whatever it’s connected to several times a day, for as many minutes as your plants need or your well can manage, as the case may be.

We got through a number of lesser timers several years back. Most of them had user interface issues – in that a watering timer shouldn’t have anything complicated enough to be described as a “user interface.” Complex timers with inscrutable controls don’t usually let on that they’ve been mis-programmed. The first hint that something’s amiss is typically a lot of brown dead stuff.

Melnor’s 3015 AquaTimer is rugged, affordable and, perhaps more to the point, dead easy to use. Choose the time of day to have the water come on, choose the duration of said watering and specify the frequency with which you’d like the foregoing to happen. Anyone who can’t make one of these things work shouldn’t be trusted with their own socks.

You can bypass the timer with a panel-mounted control, should you need water immediately. Even this function has some forethought behind it – the bypass will shut itself off after half an hour, to avoid floating your crops away if you forget to switch it off manually.

You can also plug an AquaSenty module into the timer, a device that will keep an eye on the actual water content of whatever you’re interested in watering, and disable the timer on days when the ground’s sufficiently damp.

The 3015 AquaTimer runs on a nine-volt battery, one of which will drive it for a whole season. It has an on-screen warning to complain about a low battery.

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the 3015 AquaTimers we have isn’t how well they’ve worked, but rather what happened when one of them stopped working. No matter how well technology is built, some of it jumps off a cliff without warning, as did one of our timers. The device came with a two year warrantee, and we e-mailed its manufacturer to determine how many hoops we’d have to jump through to get it replaced. Typically, warrantee replacements require a copy of the original receipt, some sort of packaging and a detailed description of what’s allegedly wrong with the putative slacker.

In the case of the AquaTimer, we got a message back five minutes later that said “get back to me with your address and we’ll send you a new timer in the mail.” One showed up two weeks later.

Imagine how sweet life would be if the government could model itself after the customer service department of a garden accessory manufacturer.

As an aside, the Melnor 3015 AquaTimer appears to be sold under a number of third-party trade names. We have some that are branded Yardworks, and the replacement we received was labeled Vigoro. They’re all the same device.

Your salad will taste grateful.

Comments (1)

Vince ParkerOctober 19th, 2009 at 6:34 am

Sounds great! I’ll see if they are available in the UK