Does it matter that my irrigation controller’s battery has gone flat? What does a retic timer need a battery for anyway? There is a lot of misunderstanding about what a retic controller’s 9 volt battery does. Retic controllers have batteries to preserve the memory of that has been programmed in the event of a mains power fail. The battery is normally only 9 volts and does not have the power to operate solenoid valves or pump start relays. Solenoid valves and most other irrigation devices operate on 24 volts. Most retic controllers are 240 volt mains powered with a transformer that steps down to 24 volt to operate the individual irrigation devices. It may seem like a minor inconvenience if you have a flat 9 volt battery in your controller as at first glance one would think it is not a big issue if you lose mains power and the controller has to be reprogrammed.
BUT it can have nasty consequences if the controller operates a bore. If mains power is lost to quite a few brands of retic controllers and there is no back up battery then when mains power is restored the controller resets all programming to factory default which is often 10 minutes per station per day. This may then turn the bore on to stations that don’t exist and the pump runs with nowhere for the water to go. This can damage the pump or pipe work of the bore. This season we attended 3 bores that had been affected like this from Ocean Reef alone. All after a power fail. These bores, incidentally should have had the unused stations ‘looped out’ to safeguard against this. Remember it is wise to change your disposable 9 volt battery at least once a year. Some newer model controllers have rechargeable batteries. You can test both types by simply turning mains power off and checking whether the display to the retic controller is still working and whether customer program’s have been retained when mains power is turned back on.
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