Did you know that you could have your yard and garden sprinklers controlled automatically? If this is the first time you’re hearing about this, it’s not too late for you, especially because you won’t make some of the mistakes that buyers have made in the past – say, buying a smart controller that’s incompatible with their smart home hub!
In this review, we’ll be sharing our insights into what we believe to be some of the best smart sprinkler controllers worth your money. These sprinkler controllers will save you time and money while turning your lawn into the neighborhood’s envy.
The best of these smart sprinkler controllers connect to the internet seamlessly, and they will tap into real-time weather data and updates, adjusting the watering frequency, meaning you won’t have to worry about the grass being overwatered during a full rainy day or an afternoon of heavy rain showers. And in the drier, hotter months, you won’t have to worry about underwatering the grass. What these mean is that these smart controllers are the real deal which will save you the big water bills while keeping your lawns healthy.
Below is a review of the best of these smart sprinkler controllers.
- 1 The Best Smart Sprinkler Controllers – Comparison Table
- 2 The Best Smart Sprinkler Controllers
- 2.1 Rachio 3 – Best Overall Smart Sprinkler Controller
- 2.2 Orbit B-Hyve 57950 Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Controller – Budget-Friendly Smart Sprinkler Controller
- 2.3 RainMachine Touch HD-12 – Best for 12-Zone Sprinkler Controller with Great Water Savings
- 2.4 Rain Bird ST8-2.0 – Best Indoor Smart Sprinkler Controller for smaller yards
- 3 Buying Guide for the Best Smart Sprinkler Controllers
- 3.1 How do Smart Sprinkler Controllers Work?
- 3.2 So, what should you look for in smart sprinkler controller systems?
- 4 FAQs
- 5 Conclusion
The Best Smart Sprinkler Controllers – Comparison Table
The Best Smart Sprinkler Controllers
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Best Overall Smart Sprinkler Controller
Orbit B-Hyve 57950
Most Budget-Friendly Smart Sprinkler Controller
RainMachine Touch HD-12
Best for 12-Zone Sprinkler Controller with Great Water Savings
Rain Bird ST8-2.0
Best Indoor Smart Sprinkler Controller for smaller yards
The Best Smart Sprinkler Controllers
Rachio 3 – Best Overall Smart Sprinkler Controller
The Rachio 3 is without a doubt one of the best smart sprinkler controllers on the market today, with the best part being its highly intuitive design that allows for real-time adjustment to changing weather conditions, as well as optimization for your inground irrigation system based on the soil conditions and the weather. As a result, it’s easier for you to manage and grow the healthiest lawn.
It promises water savings of between 30 and 50% by not watering in the rain, and its exclusive weather intelligence function- Hyperlocal Weather Intelligence, which will skip all the unnecessary watering needs/ options and times automatically. These include wind, rain, freeze, etc.
It works great thanks to its compatibility with Alexa and the Apple HomeKit, and this 3rd generation gadget offers an 8-zone watering function.
- It offers highly intuitive schedules.
- The weather intelligence function is a great add-on
- Great water savings
- Zone customization
- Easy control remotely
- Works well with Alexa and the Apple HomeKit, as well as Google Assistant, IFTTT, Nest, and Samsung SmartThings, among others
- Works with the wireless Rachio flow meter and most rain or soil sensors
- It runs on the fast, 5GHz WiFi networks
- It lacks data ports, and it cannot be hardwired
Orbit B-Hyve 57950 Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Controller – Budget-Friendly Smart Sprinkler Controller
Designed with a 12-zone system, this Orbit B-Hyve is one of the best smart sprinkler controllers on the market today, and it makes an excellent choice for anyone looking for a controller that would work great for a large lawn. Since the B-Hyve sprinkler controller offers support for 6-12 watering zones, this one is the best controller offered by the brand. It also comes with the EPA WaterSense Label, meaning you won’t have to worry about water wastage.
This smart sprinkler controller is WiFi-based, and it allows for controls in two main ways – either through the LCD display screen or through the B-Hyve App accessible via your smartphone or your tablet.
The controller is easy to install, thanks to the keyed lock, which offers protection for the control unit. These built features make the controller for indoor and outdoor installations – just plug it into the nearby power outlet, and you’ll be good to go.
The use and control of this device is enhanced by its compatibility with Amazon Alexa, which also ensures fast interpretation of the data entered about the plant types in different zones, the soil types, and also sun exposure, among others. You’ll also need to enter the ZIP code for the device to analyze the weather report with ease, hence a more accurately tailored watering scheduling.
- Voice control works great
- Allows for smart scheduling
- Sends notifications
- Manual and app controls
- WaterSense Certified
- 12 Watering zones
- Ideal for indoor and outdoor use
- App could be more intuitive
RainMachine Touch HD-12 – Best for 12-Zone Sprinkler Controller with Great Water Savings
This is the other 12-zone smart sprinkler controller that is EPA WaterSense Certified. It boasts an intelligent, high-performance system that ensures maximum water savings and perfect watering thanks to its ability to make adjustments based on real-time data about the weather – It boasts direct access to METNO, NOAA, and the OpenWeatherMap, among other weather data sources.
You also get to control the app from anywhere, and it’s compatible with Alexa. It’s also cloud-independent and connects to WiFi easily.
- Water savings up to 80%
- Real-time weather monitoring
- Excellent connectivity across devices
- Easy installation
- No Ethernet connectivity
Rain Bird ST8-2.0 – Best Indoor Smart Sprinkler Controller for smaller yards
This is the other highly weather-responsive sprinkler controller designed for indoor placement. It works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa, and its use indoors or outdoors is enhanced by the weatherproof enclosure. It features an 8-zone watering system, and it will enhance the health of your yard. It connects to your WiFi easily and also is easy to use/ program. There is also a timer function, and you may also like the daily watering schedule that is based on the weather for the day.
- Easy notification system based on the app
- Works with Alexa
- 8-Zone Watering system
- Robust and weatherproof enclosure
- Easy to use
- Rain delay and freeze warnings
- Connecting it to the internet might not be as easy
Buying Guide for the Best Smart Sprinkler Controllers
Now that you know what your options for the smart sprinkler controllers are let’s take a look at the important features to consider for shopping for the best of these smart controllers.
But before you do, you should know that the ability of the smart sprinkler controller to make all the fine-tuned adjustments in watering your lawn/ yard will depend on the robustness of the data collected by the device about the weather. This means that if you want the best sprinkler controller, you should be looking for the ones that make use of real-time and historical weather forecasting data to make an adjustment to the volume of water that’s sprinkled on the lawn.
In this section, we’ll look at the factors that determine the efficiency of the smart sprinkler controllers, but first, how do these smart sprinkler controllers work?
How do Smart Sprinkler Controllers Work?
A smart sprinkler controller is a smart device that determines when and also for how long the sprinklers will be on watering your yard. This device does this by using the local weather conditions, including solar radiation, rainfall accumulation, relative humidity, wind, and temperature. These are summed up into a science known as evapotranspiration or ET – which is pretty much the sum total of evaporation (moisture) and the amount of water used by a plant. This means that the controller must be based on an advanced software algorithm that makes use of this kind of data, along with the actual and the predicted amount of rainfall, to determine the amount of water needed for the lawn. But these aren’t the only factors that determine the amount of water your yard needs; the information about your yard is also essential. We are talking about details like the vegetation type, the type of soil, types of sprinkler heads used, shade, and slope. All these details are collected and used by the software in the controller to not only create but also to adjust the watering schedule for your lawn and the garden for the best results.
With the smart controllers, there is a need for connection to the internet – this is a prerequisite for the smart controller because it ensures that the device is well apprised about the current weather conditions in real-time. What this means is that these smart sprinklers will stop watering the lawns once it freezes or if there are strong winds that would result in wasted water. To ensure the best performance of these sprinklers, the best of the smart controllers often come with options of buying add-ons like flow meters, soil moisture sensors and catch cups, among other add-ons. Together these features allow for the fine running of the systems, ensuring optimal function for the sprinklers.
Even without these add-ons, the smart sprinklers work great in keeping your lawns well-watered at the right rates, depending on the seasons and weather conditions.
So, what should you look for in smart sprinkler controller systems?
The best smart sprinkler controller, offers the greatest range coverage to ensure that the bigger yards are watered well.
While working on your budget, you need to look beyond the sprinkler controllers’ price tags – not all expensive sprinkler controllers promise the best performance, and looking at the features that the sprinkler controller offers against the value you get from the investment must be your primary guiding factor when searching for the best sprinkler controllers.
Smart sprinkler controllers that are retrofitted with irrigation rain sensors, for example, will enhance the function of your controllers by adding extra control to the smartphone and also a level of weather intelligence.
Will you need to mount the smart sprinkler controller indoors or outdoors? If it’s for outdoor mounting, you need to choose one with a weatherproof enclosure.
Which control features does the sprinkler come with? Does it have buttons and some readout controller that allows for its use without the need or use for the app? This is a great consideration to bear in mind, especially for sprinkler systems used by multiple individuals. If your gardener is to access the sprinkler, would they have to log into the app to access the data they need?
Do you have a sprinkler system you’re already using?
This is the other consideration to bear in mind because, in as much as there are a few smart irrigation controllers that would work with ordinary garden hoses or even off-the-rack equipment, most of the sprinkler controller systems are made to work with the true irritation controllers, which connect to your home’s water supply featuring motorized valves, as well as dedicated tubing for water flow control.
So, if you will have a new sprinkler system installed, especially with a large garden or yard, you’d have to involve the professionals. But if you already have a system set up and you’re only making an upgrade, doing so will be easy. Just to be safe, always consult your landscaping expert when setting up the sprinkler system from scratch.
Number of zones
A zone in irrigation and yard parlance can be defined as the area that is controlled by one valve and connected to the irritation tubing system. Having 4 valves translates to 4 zones, and in such cases, your smart sprinkler controller should have more than enough capacity to support all the zones in your system. 8-zone systems are more common, even though the number of units supported by the zones could be as few as only 6, but in the current market, they’d be as many as 16 zones.
Your smart sprinkler system should give your notifications for when the sprinkler is running. But this isn’t always the case because sprinkler systems by different manufacturers will have different mechanics. However, the type of mechanics and controller model notwithstanding, most of these controllers work on a push notifications system – you will always receive a notification when the sprinkler is done watering rather than when it starts. For the best control and easiest monitoring approach, opt for a smart sprinkler controller that integrates with smart home ecosystems like IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings, Echo, Google Hub, etc.; check the scheduling flexibility offered by the controller too.
For a smart sprinkler controller to work effectively, the most important consideration for you to keep in mind is its compatibility. While the smaller sprinkler controls are easier to install, and they work with the existing systems easily as long as they are powered, some are complex.
For easy and fast setup and management, you need to ensure that it not only connects to your smart home WiFi system but also your smart home hub/ ecosystem, with easy access from your smartphone. Also, it must run on the same voice assistant like the one your smart home runs on.
EPA WaterSense Certification
Before you buy a smart sprinkler controller system, make sure that the controller has been certified by the EPA and it has a WaterSense Certification. What this certification means is that the certified products have been proven to be effective in conserving water, money, and energy and that this has been proven by an independent third-party body that’s tested the products. Products that pass this test receive the WaterSense label certification, with the WaterSense label sprinkler controllers being regularly monitored by the local watering ordinances, especially in areas with low precipitation. Doing this ensures that the homeowners with these certified controllers for their sprinklers don’t get fined for violation of water usage rules.
How do you determine the number of zones?
The best sprinklers and smart sprinkler controllers must offer the capacity to power a big chunk of the landscape. And if you will be adding zones later on, then the controller must have the capacity to handle all the other zones that will be introduced in the future.
To check how many zones that smart sprinkler controller has, you’ll need to first remove the control panel for your current system. This will allow you to see how many zones have been wired in. You could also run tests to determine the number of cycles running through each zone. Note that when one zone is activated, the sprinkler head for that zone is the only one that will be emitting water.
How do you install the smart sprinkler controller?
As mentioned above, the smart sprinkler controller systems can be indoor or outdoor systems. These smart-systems are rather easy to install in comparison to the wired, traditional in-ground sprinkler systems. The indoor systems, for example, often feature a plug-in cord that’s attached to an external transformer, which means that it must operate from a space sheltered from the elements. The outdoor-mounted system, on the other hand, is built robustly, and it can withstand the element easily. These models have the transformer resting in weather-resistant housing, and they are hardwired to your home’s electrical system. You’d have to use the controller’s connected system (connected to WiFi) to be able to use the controller.
Which are the best controls for the smart sprinkler controllers?
Like any other smart gadget, the best controls are through voice-controlled digital assistants, phone apps, and exuberant smart home hubs.
The best smart sprinkler controllers offer the best control of your lawn’s or garden’s watering, and it does this by use of real-time and historical data about the weather from the internet. The smart sprinkler controllers above are among your best options, and thanks to them; you can create watering schedules for when you are at work or away vacationing.