Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with using an Intermatic timer. In fact, I own a few myself; one controls my hot water heater, but if you are looking for an Intermatic timer to control your misting system, you may want to think again.
Although mechanical timers like the Intermatic timer have been used for many years to successfully control intermittent misting systems, there have been great advancements within the last few years with digital technology that far surpasses what those mechanical timers can do.
First, lets have some comparisons:
Mechanically operated misting systems have many more components and moving parts than the newer digital ones. Below is a list of components needed for each type of system.
Mechanical misting system require the following:
- 24 hour timer
- interval timer
- 24 volt transformer
- water piping
- misting nozzles
- assorted wire (for high and low voltage)
Digital misting systems require:
- digital timer
- water piping
- misting nozzles
- length of wire (low voltage)
So right from the start the newer digital timer controlled misting system requires fewer components to purchase. Why?
The new digital misting timers replace the 24 hour and interval timer as well as the
transformer. Along with replacing these components, the entire digital misting timer
takes up much less space. Two mechanical timers along with the transformer will take up
an area about 12 inches by 18 inches, where the digital timer will take up an area 4 inches
by 8 inches and include both timers and transformer.
Two other features of the digital misting timer worth mentioning are the ability to use the
timer to control 6 entirely different misting beds separately and the battery backup.
Mechanical misting systems generally control only one misting bed (or “zone”) with only
one program. Every cutting in the bed (“zone”) gets the same amount of mist. Digital
timers increase the number of beds (“zones”) you can mist by five times as mechanical
systems. They accomplish this by being able to have 6 entirely different programs, one
for each “zone”. Each zone operates independently of each other.
The battery backup is by far the best feature of the digitally controlled misting system. In
the event of a power failure, the battery will retain the program that was set. Once power
is restored, the timer automatically knows whether it needs to mist according to the
program, or whether it needs to wait until the next day. In the event of a power failure
with mechanically controlled misting systems, YOU have to physically adjust the 24 hour
timer to get the system running again. If you are unaware that the power had gone out for
a number of hours, the mechanical systems program will be off by the same number of
hours. Your cuttings could receive mist during the evening hours, which may lead to
stress, or receive no mist at all during the hottest hours of the day, which would surely
Intermittent misting systems that use digital timers require only minimal supervision to
ensure the system is operating correctly, there are no broken pipes or leaks, and to ensure
the cuttings are getting the correct amount of mist. This can usually be accomplished in a
few minutes time, then you can walk away knowing the system is taking care of
everything all by itself.
So to recap:
- Digital misting system controllers require less space
- contains the required two timers and transformer
- is much safer because it uses low voltage
- can control many more zones
- has a battery backup that will retain the programming in the event of a power failure
- is smart enough to know if it needs to mist after the power is restored
- is much less expensive than the two timers needed for the mechanically operated misting system
Oh, did you notice that last bullet point? Yes, the newer digital misting timers are much less expensive then the Intermatic type mechanical timers. On average, a digital timer will cost less than $100. A 24 hour mechanical timer costs around $30-$40, and the 24 volt transformer can usually be purchased for about $20. Not bad actually, but the interval timer that will control the actual mist duration is extremely expensive, and that is if you can actually find the one you need. This timer alone is more than $100. Yes, you read that right, OVER $100 just for one mechanical timer.
So, for comparison:
- Digital timers include the 24 hour timer, interval timer, and transformer. You need to purchase a 24 hour timer, interval timer, and transformer for the mechanical system.
- Digital timers can control 6 individual beds/zones, all with different durations and frequencies. Mechanical timers can control 1 zone and regardless of how large it is, the bed all gets the exact same amount of mist regardless of the plant’s requirements.
- Digital timers immediately convert 110 volt household current to a much safer 24 volts. Every part of the digital misting system including the timer is low voltage, and extremely safe to work on. The 110 voltage that a mechanical misting system that uses Intermatic type timers is carried through both timers to the transformer where it is then converted to a lower and safer 24 volts.
- A digital misting timer has a battery backup that retains the timers program in the event of a power failure. When the power is restored, the timer is intelligent enough to know whether it needs to begin misting immediately or wait until the next day, resulting in little human intervention. A misting system that is controlled by mechanical timers has no feature that can determine whether it should begin to mist. Mechanical timers MUST have electricity at all times to be able to keep track of the time. When the power is interrupted , the timers clock stops working and will only resume when the power is restored. For lengthy power outages, this can be a disaster. When the power is restored, the timer will continue to run as if the power was never interrupted . Your cuttings may receive mist during the evening or other times when they should not. Using mechanical timers to control your misting system requires the human operator to frequently check to be sure the system is running correctly.
- Digital misting timers are MUCH less expensive than just ONE of the mechanical misting timers.