Product Idea for an Entrepreneur...Foundation Soil Moisture Monitor/Manager

I think someone could make some money with this and it isn’t all that complicated in my eyes since it is similar to the gardening projects already out there. I live in Texas and most of Texas residential property is on “expansive soils” and that leads to foundation issues and much more. The product goal would be manage the moisture level around the home (18 inches from the foundation is recommended) during the summer/dry months. You can’t do much about upheaval during the spring but if a homeowner isn’t diligent they could cause major damage to their home in a single summer. It gets so dry and the soil then contracts, pulls away from the home which allows the foundation to flex or drift.

The challenge is simple, monitor soil moisture levels around the home at a reasonable interval and report/correct the issue. Most homes have sprinkler systems with Zone 2 purposefully left open for foundation watering system (which are excluded from water restrictions as long as they aren’t running off into the street) or open a valve on a soaker hose until the moisture level is appropriate. There is not magic moisture level target, the name of the game is to stop variance. In the northern areas where basements are prevalent a moisture level monitor that warns of excess water has value as well. All I ask is that I get a couple for me and my family and that you integrate with Rachio so I can use my open Zone 2 that your product would trigger.
I believe it is a good idea, fairly simple in systems terms and fills a real need.


So what is stopping you from making it ;)?

I have another project I am working on…

Hey Luke, this is a great idea! It seems like the use case you’re suggesting is residential, which I don’t have much knowledge of. But one tangential application that I know would benefit from a product like this would be sustainable landscaping—often times projects that include rain gardens or bioswales project a certain capacity for absorbing water with 0% stormwater runoff, but the current methods for measuring soil mosture are expensive and usually fall on the contractor to foot the bill. Since contractors have little vested interest in the long-term measurement of a landscaping installation, most projects go un-monitored.

In places like Philadelphia, where I live, the city will actually give you tax credits for limiting stormwater runoff. Here’s an application that allows you to project your tax savings ( If companies can demonstrate that they actually reduce stormwater more than the generic model predicts, they get more money off their water tax each month. There’s your market!

Good luck!

I was using moisture sensors from these when I was doing green infrastructure research. Not the most battery efficient but no corrosion (this is important and often overlooked), and relatively accurate:
Simple analog in and tada, done. There are also similar ones from decagon that are more well tested. Don’t use the moisture sensors you see generally marketed for the arduino. They won’t last long. Look for fdr or tdr

1 Like

Has anyone played with the soil moisture/temperature sensor from Adafruit?

I looked at that one but the “don’t submerge it for more than an hour” line pretty much killed it for me…especially at that price.

And there’s the rub…in the use case I outlined (residential on expansive soils) I think the upper limit for something like this is in the $200-$300 range. With soil moisture probes in the range of $40 you could only use a few and be profitable but with perimeters ranging in hundreds of linear feet I am sure it would require more than 4-5. This is what happens when you aren’t diligent about keeping the soil around your home watered (not my home and it can be much worse). This space allows the slab foundation to shift and thus incur damage. I think you’d need one every 20ft or so, the source of water should be 18in from the home and overwatering is just as bad. A home that looks like below should have water slowly added to ensure you don’t swell the ground quickly and cause a sudden “push back”.

1 Like

I’ve used these sensors for large potted plants that have irrigation control. Nice and expensive, a serious sensor.

Is there an integration for the RainMachine Sprinkler controller?


I built this project over the summer and it maintained a relatively constant soil moisture using water from an outside tap. I went with a capacitive sensor (as opposed to the Adafruit resistive sensor which corrodes) and it had proven to be very reliable.

Does this look like it would fill the bill?


I’ve built a Soil Moisture Monitoring System for an Industrial Application with Highly Expansive “Fat Clay”, known as CH material.
It uses a Xbee Mesh Network and a Particle Gateway.
Each Battery Powered Xbee reads the Soil Sensor via Direct I/O sampling, and relays that data to the Electron/Photon Gateway to publish.

The Out-of-Pocket cost is $50-$60 per location, plus (1) Particle Gateway.
There are a few ways to reduce the cost, but a retail price would still be $200 or more (per Sensor location).

It’s a great value for an Industrial or Commercial Customer, but I feel it’s not viable in the Residential Market at that price.

1 Like