I live in a climate that is sufficiently variable that it doesn't lend itself to programmed irrigation. At present I use simple mechanical timers. Put a sprinker in place, turn the timer on, and go do something else for 1-2 hours.

However this means I can't leave for more than 2 hours.

What I would like is a timer that has 2 controls: One is a delay, one is the run time. With such a system, and a timer for each hosebib (I have 9 hosebibs)

  • Go to area 3. Turn on water manually, adjust sprinkler, turn off water, set delay of 4 hours, run time of 2 hours.

  • Go to area 2. Turn on water manually, adjust sprinkler, turn off water, set delay of 2 hours, run time of 1.5 hours.

  • Go to area 1. Turn on water manually, adjust sprinkler, set run time of 1:45

So far all of the timers I've found are either simple mechanical ones that allow you to set a time to turn off, or they are programmed timers that have to repeat start at a given time and run time.

Some have a manual 'start watering now' feature, but this does not have a delay.

Additional requirements:

The unit cannot require access to 110v. It's 1200 feet from the nearest plugin.

For similar reasons using a PC based controller is not an option.

It seems to me that this would be a useful device for people who water their lawns at night.

Additional clarification: (Added because of answer #1) The application will require a different use EVERY DAY. (sometimes twice a day.)
A timer that: * Repeats today at any time in the future is NOT wht I want. * Has a manual mode that only waters NOW is NOT what I want. * Requires more than 15 seconds to set for the day is NOT what I want.

I need: * Settable delay * Settable runtime. * Run. It will run ONCE and never run again until I come and hit the run button.

Desireable * Remembers last used parameters, so, if today is similar to yesterday, I may only have to change one parameter.

I need the functionality of a 2 clock mechanical timer where I twist one dial to set delay and another dial to set run time. The functionality can be emboddied in an electronic timer, but it has to be easy to set.

Does anyone know of a timer that allows to quickly set a delay and a run time, and it runs once and stops.

2 Answers 2


As I had been researching my own system set up, after I’ve read this question I started to try to note any timer with the delay feature, and had found that it is indeed a feature that is often absent. However, I did find couple products that have it.

Timers with delay feature

  • Dig 9001EZ 3/4" FHT Hose End Timer (which seems to be provided by Galcon, and could be available under that marque worldwide). It has two simple dials and a start button, which simplifies its operation, but also limits it, as the run times are preset in 2, 5, 10, 15, 30 or 45 minutes to 1, 3, 5 or 9 hours (so no 2.5 hours etc.). It runs off of 9V battery.

    Dig 9001EZ

    It may not be ideal, as it is limited to 5 U.S. gallons per minute (19 L/min) flow (which would be enough for drip irrigation or a single or couple manual sprinklers), there are limited run time options, and without using it I am not sure that re-programming the timer is easy, judging by the manual.

    Here’s the example of using the delay feature as quoted from the manual:

    For example: a 3 Hr irrigation, once every 3 days program, programmed to start 6 Hr later.

    1. Set the irrigation time selector to 3 Hr.
    2. Set the irrigation cycle time selector to “Delay”.
    3. Press and hold the “START” switch until you hear 6 clicks, including the first click. (The number of clicks corresponds to the number of delay hours before the controller opens the faucet/tap for the first time.)
    4. Set the irrigation cycle time selector to “3 Days”.

      When you set an odd number of delay hours you will hear an additional click a few seconds after releasing the switch. This click keeps the faucet/tap closed until its first opening.

      To change the opening hour, remove the batteries for 3 minutes. Program the controller from the start after replacing the batteries.

    The last part baffles me, because I do not see why cannot I just reset the program by setting new one, as you described in your question, every time. Maybe one can, but it is not clear from the manual. I would call the manufacturer, or at least try the timer and return it to the retailer if it didn’t work as needed.

  • Gardena Water Timer T 1030 plus (Art. 1860). This one is on the pricey side, and only limited at two hours duration, but it has easy reset setting, and a separate “+1 hour” delay button (older models do not have that, specific newer article is 01860-29) that lets you to delay set time in one-hour increments. German quality is a plus.

    For your application you would need to set some arbitrary frequency (say, seven days), then press “+1 hour” button so many times, then set the required duration, and program is started. To reset the program, set the duration knob to “Reset” position, wait two seconds, and the program start time would reset itself to the current time when the new duration is selected.

    Water Timer T 1030 plus

    Also runs off 9V battery, and has low battery indicator. Has Gardena rain or moisture sensor connection. Also options include adapter for their older sensors, and a metal bracket that allows chaining the timer to prevent theft.


While the above timer may alleviate some of your problems, I would seriously consider automation. First of all, with nine hose bibs you’d run the bill up to $300 on timers alone. Not to say that automated system of this size would come cheap, but it would introduce tremendous labour savings, and much greater water efficiency, and unless you are getting paid by the hour running around with hoses and sprinklers, I would invest into some combination of drip and above-ground (if digging is out of the question) sprinkler irrigation. I’ve even seen several timers that can use hose-end electric valves so you could make do with, say, two timers and four valves for each timer, given that your water supply is not spread over the wide area.

And I would not shy away from advanced controllers and solenoid-operated valves, because many of those, even running off of AC electricity, are still using transformers, and there is a wide variety of components that run off 9, 18 or 24 VDC, so one could even set up simple solar system to supply power without inverter.

And I doubt your climate situation is so unique, that it cannot be tackled with available sensing technologies. There are simple devices available, such as rain (and corresponding rain delay feature of the controller) and moisture sensors that would shut off the water delivery once the proper level of moisture is achieved. There are also more advanced weather sensors for advanced controllers that take into account wind, temperature, and amount of unobstructed sunlight received (full sun and wind, obviously, increase evaporation rates), and help adjust watering durations and intervals accordingly.

The more advanced the solution the more expensive it gets, but even the simplest of suggested would increase quality of life, if anything, by saving ample amount of time, and water savings can pay off as well. And even if you do not pay your water utility by the amount used, features such as sensors or drip irrigation may reduce or eliminate the drought restrictions.

  • I've checked out automation. It's not just expensive, it's horrendously expensive. Tens of thousands of dollars. 1. I don't have power at the site. This means valves with latching solenoids, and a solar powered controller station. 2. It means a LOT more pipe. 3. It means I have to have sprinklers for each zone. Right now I move Aquazoom oscillating sprinklers as needed. I can adjust the position to compensate for wind. 4. It's inflexible. With fixed sprinklers, a spot that gets less water gets less water every time. It's time consuming to reprogram. Aug 9, 2013 at 13:41
  • At present I do use drip irrigation. I have 12 zones of drip. 7 of those are on the weekly cycle, the other 5 every two weeks. They account for about 5000 trees. *** I have 4 zones of overhead sprinklers. Non-uniformity is an issue, even with sprinklers on 4 foot spacing. One zone runs each night on an automated timer. *** I have one area 30 x 200 feet that gets watered with an oscillating sprinkler. It takes 12 moves. Aug 9, 2013 at 13:45

There are a lot of water timers and many of them are cheap and liable to break or leak or under or over water. I had a similar problem with adding water to my pond:

  • no outside electrical input
  • need multiple schedules
  • option for manual over ride
  • rugged housing that resists UV and the physical force of attaching and detaching hoses
  • needs to work with very low pressure to tap water pressures

I found the Claber product line met all these requirements but they are not cheap and must be brought indoors during the winter.

  • Unless I missed something, the manual override runs NOW. I need an easy way to say run for 2 hours, 4 hours from now. Once. I've looked at this line before. They are all PROGRAMMABLE timers. For this purpose, I cannot have something that repeats, or it has to have a mode that doesn't repeat. Let me reiterate: * Set delay Either with 1 twist of a dial, or one press per hour. * Set run time with 1 twist of dial or one press per half hour. * Execute. I've given you a downcheck because you didn't answer the question. Apr 19, 2013 at 14:08

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