[Update: 18.03.2015] The New Claber Hydro 4 Solenoid Valve Box is now in stock.
Today we met up with Claber sales rep Ian to discuss their latest products and for a general catch up over a tasty bacon sandwich and a cup of coffee in the cafe just around the corner from our warehouse. Sat down in the marina cafe, we had our usual chit chat, "How's business?", "Are you planning any holidays this year?" etc. etc. Soon enough we got to the nitty gritty of our meeting to discuss the much anticipated Claber Hydro 4.
We've been really excited to get our hands on Claber's latest product, the Hydro 4 Solenoid & Valve Box as it ticks so many boxes for us and our customers. It's a group of 4 solenoids and an irrigation controller all pre-assembled into a compact valve box making installation extremely simple and very fast. The unit can manage up to 4 irrigation zones for watering lawns, flower beds and vegetable patches. We've been crying out for something like this for ages! Finally Claber delivered the goods.
It's completely water tight (with an IP68 rating), and only requires two AA batteries for a whole watering season (9-12 month period) making it extremely energy efficient. Being battery powered makes installation for many users a breeze as they won't require to make a connection to their mains power supply. Brilliant!
When we first heard about the Hydro 4 last year, we were really excited to see it as we could see it having so many applications. But has the finished product matched up with our hype? We've finally gotten our hands on one, so lets get into the details.
Hands on with the Hydro 4 Solenoid Valve Box
First impressions were good. It's a compact unit and built solid for heavy wear and tear. The protective cover is tough enough to withstand a massive amount of abuse. Kids and lawn mowers won't break this, and I imagine it could even withstand a car driving over this without any damage occurring. We noticed the cover was a bit stiff to get off however, but we put this down to the high quality seal required to make it completely water tight. The internal parts (timer and valves) are also completely sealed within the unit, meaning it has double the protection from unwanted water getting into the electronics of the timer. The controller used is identical to the Claber Programmable 1" Solenoid Valve, and we already know that this has a great user experience (just 3 buttons). After having a fiddle with the programs on the water timer, it doesn't have identical functionality. Instead of having 6 watering cycles per zone, there are 4, and the length of each cycle is limited from 1 minute to 60 minutes rather than 1 minute to 23 hours and 59 minutes. For 95% of applications this is fine, but it would have been great to see it have the same functionality as the 1" solenoid valve mentioned. You can still have weekly settings, which means certain days of the week can be excluded; useful for reducing water wastage. In our eyes, this is still a goer - but lets continue.
I was under the impression that the valves would have a larger bore and a higher flow through rate. I was expecting to see 1" valves, but instead this unit comes with 3/4" valves. Not a massive drama, but this does restrict the flow to just 25 litres per minute at 2.5 bar pressure. This flow is more than ample for most residential garden watering systems and possibly some light commercial applications as well. Operating pressure is up to 12 bar, so more than enough to withstand most UK applications. We guess that the valves were shrunk down to 3/4" to reduce costs and to make it more compatible with adaptors, which is a good thing.
Overall we're still very impressed with this all in one controller, valve box and 4 solenoid package. It's not completely unique as Antelco already have the eZyvalve 4 Solenoid Valve Box. What sets this apart though and makes it innovative is the built-in controller, reducing the complexity of the installation process. This new product is a genuine innovation, a development towards a much simpler installation process allowing for any DIY installer to quickly plumb in and program an automatic watering system utilizing an underground controller, solenoids and valve box. Well done Claber, and thank you, Ian for swinging by to show us (and paying for the coffees).
Quick Summary of Notable Specs and Features:
- All in one design reduces installation time and complexity.
- Tough construction and compact design ideal for installation in lawns, borders and flower beds.
- Dimensions: 200mm diameter and height of 153mm. Seriously compact compared to traditional solenoid valve setups.
- On/off control for 4 independent zones. Can be used for pop up sprinkler systems, drip irrigation systems and other micro irrigation systems.
- 3/4" valves, suitable for most applications (and makes it easier to match fittings too).
- Flow rate of 25 litres per minute at 2.5 bar pressure. Suitable for 2-3 pop-up sprinklers per zone and most micro irrigation system installations.
- Completely sealed unit (IP68 rated). No chance of water entering electronics, preventing disruption or failure.
- Easy interface very similar to the Claber Programmable 1" Solenoid Valve, a tried and tested timer that we think is great.
- Energy efficient, requiring only two AA batteries to power the unit for an entire season (9-12 months).
- Can be used with Clabers wireless rain sensor utilising the Claber Wireless Rain Sensor Kit
This will be in stock next week (16th March 2015) and will retail for £189.99. If you want to ask us any questions, please feel free to do so. You can reach us by phone, email, via Twitter, or leave us a comment at the bottom of this page. What are your thoughts to this innovation? Worthwhile or just another gimmick? Let us know in the comments.