The business and culture of our digital lives,
from the L.A. Times

« Previous Post | Technology Home | Next Post »

Water-saving gadget does Cyber-Rain dance

July 4, 2008 |  9:00 am
Cyber-Rain, a weather-based water saving device

CORRECTION: A previous version of this post said that, for homeowners who have more than an acre, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California offers a $630 rebate for each acre. The $630 rebate is for each water-saving device.


It's another hot summer, and California is officially in a drought, according to the Governator. A Los Angeles company has come out with a water-saving solution.

The doodad, called Cyber-Rain XCI, attaches to sprinkler systems and wirelessly looks up online weather forecasts to determine how much to water the lawn. Hot, humid days will see Cyber-Rain doling out more water. Cool, cloudy days would result in less watering. And, of course, the gadget lays off the drink entirely on rainy days. Since it's a connected device, you can control the schedule and monitor the water use on a PC.

About 70% of household water consumption comes from outdoor watering, according to the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. That includes water used in pools, power-hosing driveways and washing cars, as well as to keep the garden green.

One study by the Irvine Ranch Water District found that weather-based irrigation gadgets saved households more than 40 gallons of water a day, skimming roughly 10% off their total water use, according to Lynn Lipinski, spokeswoman for the MWD.

Cyber-Rain is made by a company of the same name founded by Los Angeles entrepreneur Reza Pourzia and funded by Funk Ventures in Santa Monica and Momentum Venture Management in Pasadena. It sells the gadget for about $350 on its website, as well as at Smart Home.

Price too much to swallow? Water districts around the country offer rebates on qualifying products. The MWD, which covers most of Los Angeles, gives an $80 rebate to homeowners who buy Cyber-Rain or one of a dozen other sprinkler controllers that qualify, if the landscape being watered is less than an acre. For those who have more than an acre, the district rebates $630 for each device. The district has put up a website where consumers can look up rebate information, apply for rebates and learn how to conserve water.

We haven't played with the device yet. Once we have, we'll post a follow-up on how things went and, if we're really good, how much green we were able to save while still keeping our garden green.

-- Alex Pham

Photo courtesy of Cyber-Rain