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Choosing Between FlowCom and FlowConnect: A Handy Guide for Irrigators

Since McCrometer offers two products with similar-sounding names and functions, it can be confusing to compare your choices of propeller meter registers.

Left: FlowConnect™, McCrometer’s telemetry option.  Right: FlowCom™, McCrometer’s digital register option.

It’s fairly simple to differentiate – however, deciding which option works for you and your metering project may seem more daunting. Let’s break it down.

Existing System Integration

Ask yourself – what do you already have systematically in place, and what do you need? When implementing a new flow meter into existing irrigation operations, agriculture staples like a pump control system or a center pivot may already be in place, meaning a telemetry option might exist. If that’s the case, a FlowCom atop one of McCrometer’s Mc®Propellers might be the right fit. The meter would be another sensor in the existing system, and the FlowCom would be able to send a 4-20mA or pulse to the telemetry unit. The flow meter and digital register would then provide you with data on flow rate and totalization.

If there is no existing telemetry in place, or you’d prefer an independent telemetry solution apart from an existing system, then FlowConnect may be the right choice for you!

Data Reporting and Management

For irrigators who need to report more frequent water use, FlowConnect can greatly benefit day to day data management. If weekly, daily, or even hourly flow data is desired, FlowConnect will report that data automatically, allowing you to collect data at the frequency that works for your needs.

For irrigators with an allocated water amount, FlowConnect provides real-time water usage data which can be correlated to crop water use. This allows more controlled management of irrigation water and can assist in stretching that allocated water amount over the total period.

Although data management can be achieved using FlowCom with an existing telemetry unit, the real differentiator is ExactRead™, the technology within FlowConnect that ensures the totalizer reading reflects precisely what has flowed through the pipe. ExactRead technology transmits the exact totalizer number from the meter rather than pulses to calculate totalization.

If you’re transmitting FlowCom pulses to another system, like your center pivot telemetry unit, you’ll need to ensure that you have the correct pulse ratio to ensure you’re reporting the correct totalizer amount. Since center pivot systems are focused on controlling water flow and not measuring it, doing your due diligence in calibrating that pulse ratio is key to proper flow measurement. In addition, if your pulses are dependent on a secondary telemetry system, you run the risk of missing pulses should your telemetry system unexpectedly shut down – which means unrecorded data.

Added Benefits

In selecting FlowConnect, you’re working with one system created specifically for integrating with additional sensors. One major benefit is the ability to add up to two additional sensors to the telemetry unit, like a tipping bucket rain gauge and/or a pipeline-pressure sensor. With this one system, you can capture all this data! While you’re able to add a variety of additional signals to your FlowConnect telemetry unit, these two examples are popular with McCrometer customers and allow them to use their FlowConnect as a diagnostic tool. Growers can navigate to the website or app to see their flow data as well as rainfall and pipeline pressure, should they choose to integrate those sensors.

Back to the Basics

Deciding between the digital FlowCom and the telemetry unit FlowConnect is all about deciding upon your needs as an irrigator. If you have an existing telemetry setup or are fine with the intermittent pulses for less frequent flow data, FlowCom is a fantastic, long lasting option to accompany your propeller meter. If you find yourself needing more flow data and more automated reporting, FlowConnect is an effective and efficient tool to help you manage your irrigation – and quite possibly other data points on your farm.

And if you prefer to take a look at the dial face for yourself? Invest in a classic mechanical register, popular with American farmers since 1955!

 


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