They found that most of the controllers did a good job of managing the seasonal water requirements of landscapes compared with regular clocks. The RainMachine Touch HD-12 is a better choice if you want full on-device controls, have an unreliable internet connection, or don’t want to rely on the cloud. We tested NxEco, which is too much like a standard clock and too complicated to use for us to recommend. According to experts we spoke with, many weather-based controllers fail to calculate ET effectively and often end up watering when they don’t need to. This model’s built-in touchscreen allows on-device control without needing an internet connection. If you are a loyal Rain Bird fan and you have wired sensors you want to continue to use, you’ll like this controller. Free shipping. The RainMachine also has an option to tweak rain and wind sensitivity, to prevent overwatering in inclement conditions. (The Gardena system is also not WaterSense-certified and works only with soil sensors. Introducing the new ST8-WiFi Smart Irrigation Timer. However, you still can’t choose a weather station (it uses darksky.net) or allow shared access. Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc. is a manufacturer and distributor of fire protection products, specializing in fire sprinklers, valves, and system … At the expense of predictability, this choice offers the highest potential water savings. Rachio 3 Smart Bundle: Includes Rachio 3rd Generation-8 Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller (Alexa Co… Integrations to linked services such as Google Home, Amazon Alexa, are owner-approved. Unless you need the extra zones, we recommend getting the indoor model, since it’s less expensive and easier to program, and we prefer its design. Name, email, and address which is used for weather-related features. It also tested that each zone was working—a useful feature for people who aren’t experts at programming sprinkler systems. Fire protection of the facility is provided by an automatic sprinkler system incorporating Early Suppression-Fast Response (ESFR) heads. Yardian Pro is a less expensive version of the Yardian. The RainMachine’s app is less polished than the Rachio’s, however, with a lot of confusing, deep-dive menus (ideal for master gardeners, but a bit daunting for the average user). Wirecutter takes security and privacy issues seriously. Once everything is set up, the main screen gives you very clear notice of what state your system is in, which is something we really liked. The EPA is actively working on a requirement for controllers that rely on a soil-moisture sensor, so we may see more of these integrated into smart controllers in the future and will reassess at that point. After testing six new models (and seeing one former pick get discontinued), we still think the Google Nest Cam Outdoor is the best outdoor security camera. This is the most flexible and easy-to-use smart controller for your yard or garden irrigation system. With the Rachio 3, you can use either option or choose, for example, to put your veggie-garden and flower-bed zones on a fixed schedule and your lawn on a flexible one. Anyone who has a sprinkler system that’s operated by a mechanical or an electronic timer (clock) should consider upgrading to a smart controller, also known as a weather-based controller. So it was frustrating not being able to use it consistently. On days when the Rachio 3 scheduled a watering, the system ran anywhere from 43 minutes to nearly four hours in the early morning hours, stopping as requested before sunrise. We will update this guide in Spring 2021 when we’ve tested these new models. Our test yard is not a controlled lab site, and though we enjoy the convenience and features of smart controllers, for a scientific perspective we turned to Guy Fipps and Charles Swanson, of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service. A hidden LED on the top of the unit shows which zone you are watering and shows a “D” when it’s in a rain delay—a nice touch that none of the other devices with basic on-device controls have. A feature we like is Adaptive Frequency, which skips a schedule if RainMachine’s algorithms determine it needs to water for only a few minutes and then adds those minutes to the next watering. Read the report, which contains a detailed breakdown of how each controller operated in different landscapes, here (PDF). Or it can let you run the show while automatically adjusting to save you water if rain, freezing temperatures, or heavy wind is in the forecast. General Design Requirements for Sprinkler System. Don’t … Another issue with accurate ET calculation is how much specific data the controller has about your yard. And even though it has all of the alerts we think are necessary, the offline notification has never worked in our testing. The Rachio 3 is expensive. And the B-hive is not weatherproof, so it needs to be installed indoors or in a covered area. Wirecutter is reader-supported. There is the option to choose your own weather station and view basic watering history, but there are no water-use reports. B-hyve works reliably with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant to control your sprinklers with voice. Based on this, we evaluated how each controller responded to changes in weather during testing and whether it allowed us to select a weather station versus a data source chosen by the controller. WIP is available only on the Rachio 3; the lower-priced Rachio 3e (essentially a spruced-up version of the now-discontinued Rachio 2) uses standard weather forecasting from local weather stations, the same as the other controllers we tested. a. “If you compare this technology to a homeowner who sets their controller one time and doesn’t touch it the rest of the year then we see where these controllers do make adjustments,” said Swanson. But they also found that some irrigated more or less than necessary based on the daily soil moisture readings (all of them except for the Skydrop, that is, which failed to operate for three months). The controller is fully automatic and adjusts the sprinkler settings based on weather data and the time of day. Pete also installed the sprinkler system … As a workaround, we used RainMachine’s IFTTT integration to alert us when the device went offline; this did work. Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller, 8 Zone 3rd Generation, Alexa and Apple HomeKit Compatible wit… Get the most out of your Google Assistant speaker with these smart-home devices designed to work with it. We selected the best smart-home devices to work with your Alexa speaker, based on our extensive testing and real-world use. Also, it has a big plus in its favor: We are still testing the original review unit we received in 2017, and all of the features and upgrades RainMachine has received in the interim have come to this device, including HomeKit compatibility. The home screen shows the controller status, the forecast, the last run and the next run, and a graphic of how much water has been used versus saved (an estimate). It adjusts the length of watering time based on the weather and has a nice app that’s fine for simple operation. I write about smart-home technology and sustainable living for Dwell Magazine, US News & World Report, The Ambient, and Mother Earth News, among others. An excellent web portal lets you tinker with your system’s settings from the comfort of a larger screen. Unlike all of the other models we tested, the RainMachine doesn’t need to connect to the cloud to function, and it depends on the internet only for weather updates. An irrigation controller is not something you should upgrade every year, and even though the additional functionality of, say, HomeKit isn’t essential to the device’s operation, it’s still frustrating for users who don’t want to upgrade. Spruce Irrigation, 16 Zone Wifi Sprinkler Controller. And you can’t choose a weather station. The Orbit B-hyve Smart Indoor Irrigation Controller (available for eight zones) is the least expensive smart controller you can buy, yet it offers many of the same features as our top picks, including smart scheduling, a nice app, and an innovative, slim design. The Gro Controller by Scotts (formerly Blossom) supports up to eight zones, is simple to set up, and is one of the least expensive options. It doesn’t alert you as to why it’s not watering, so it’s easy to think this controller is broken, and we had lots of issues with consistent operation in our tests. During our testing, the RainMachine would regularly drop offline, which is something that rarely happened to the Rachio 3, despite their being connected to the same network. It is WaterSense-labeled, and its software and app are the same as those for our budget pick. ), Guy Fipps and Charles Swanson, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, phone interview, March 14, 2019, Irrigation Controllers, US Environmental Protection Agency, WaterSense, US Environmental Protection Agency, WaterSense Labeled Irrigation Controllers (PDF), US Environmental Protection Agency, August 1, 2017, WaterSense Labeled Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers (PDF), US Environmental Protection Agency, July 1, 2012, Guy Fipps and Charles Swanson, Evaluating the Operation of Residential WIFI Based Irrigation Controllers (PDF), December 2018, John R. Delaney, Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller, PCMag, May 15, 2018, Christopher Null, Rachio 3e Smart Sprinkler Controller review, TechHive, May 26, 2020. The modular design of the Pro-C®, Pro-C Hydrawise™, ICC2, I … (If your Wi-Fi goes down, they will continue to operate based on a preprogrammed schedule.) Top subscription boxes – right to your door, © 1996-2020, Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. We also looked at any software or hardware updates on devices in the Competition. Rely on our team to make sure your system … A tiny device with a nice, responsive touchscreen display to access controls, the RainMachine is a WaterSense-certified controller that comes in 12- and 16-zone models. Comparatively, all updates, including HomeKit, have come to the RainMachine HD unit we’ve been testing since 2017. It will support eight zones and includes three years of Wyze’s Sprinkler Plus service, which will offer automatic, weather-based watering schedules. It takes a unique approach by watering entirely autonomously—you don’t need to set any schedules at all. (If you have rain restrictions in your area, you can force the RainMachine not to run, but that messes with the device’s plans for optimally watering your garden.). No data is shared, sold. The only other way to get this type of accurate hyperlocal forecasting is by buying and installing a personal weather station; these range in price from $150 to several thousand dollars and require careful maintenance to remain accurate, according to experts we spoke with. 0. If you find the confusing dials and buttons or tiny LCD screen on your existing irrigation clock frustrating to use, you’ll love the ease of setting your sprinkler schedules with a smartphone app or on your computer. If the controller loses its cloud connection, it will still water your garden using the last schedule; if you’re running a flexible schedule, a “backup flex schedule” will kick in. It’s also WaterSense-certified, has basic controls on the device, lets you choose your weather station, and works with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. Wireless soil-moisture sensors we’ve tested previously have been unreliable and expensive—often dropping off the network, rendering them useless. So, do you need a soil-moisture sensor? There are no alerts for starting or stopping a schedule, and the history log is hard to decipher, making it difficult to know whether it ran or not. After three seasons of testing more than a dozen models, we think the Rachio 3 is the best smart sprinkler controller for most people. (For a deeper dive on the science behind these sprinklers, see How smart sprinklers work). The Spruce Irrigation Controller 2nd Gen (16 zones) is WaterSense-certified, has basic on-device controls, and is simple to set up because it automatically creates a schedule. RainMachine has almost as many smart-home integrations as Rachio, including Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, SmartThings (using a device handler), and IFTTT (If This Then That), and it has an API for control on a local network. The app sends timely and consistent notifications to your smartphone and email, the most useful being a warning that the sprinklers are about to turn on, sent a few seconds before they do; this saved us from unexpectedly soaking some party guests. If Rachio were to go out of business, as other sprinkler controller companies have, your device would eventually stop working. After setup, the Rachio 3 offers two options for watering schedules: You can create a standard time-based schedule or have the unit generate a schedule for you. It works by adjusting whatever program you schedule manually based on the forecast, but there’s no smart scheduling. And even though you can override these times, that defeats the purpose of a smart schedule. Tyco Fire Protection Products is a leading manufacturer of water-based fire suppression system components and ancillary building construction products. You can tie the $60 sensors to a Zone Group, to adapt the watering based on real-time soil moisture, but the zones must be set up identically. Available in eight- or 16-zone models, the WaterSense-certified Rachio 3 is our top pick because it was the most accurate controller in our testing. A sprinkler should have at least 2 programs for variation, though the more significant number of applications, the better. Scotts offers compatible soil-moisture sensors, but they weren’t available for our review. These systems are designed and installed as prescribed in the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Standard for the Installation of Sprinkler Systems … These measure soil-moisture content and relay those conditions to the controller to give the ET algorithms more-precise data. It does lack some alerts, though, and its app isn’t as good as the Rachio 3’s. It’s WaterSense-certified and has a compatible solar-powered soil-moisture sensor that also records temperature (this was not available for testing). Also, it’s relatively inexpensive. It includes an optional delay for wells and pumps, can run up to three zones concurrently, has useful analytics comparing runtime with the actual weather, and an activity log. A smart garage-door controller lets you open or close your door remotely—some will open it when you arrive home. RainMachine also offers an excellent web interface, which makes managing your device easier. Conserve from Sprinkl is a connected irrigation rain sensor that retrofits to your existing irrigation controller, giving it some basic smarts by adding smartphone control and some weather intelligence. (Costco offers a 12-zone Rachio 3 model; it’s a Costco exclusive, and it’s the same as the Rachio 3 in all respects, other than offering 12 zones, instead of eight or 16.) It has no on-device controls. You can also set an optional delay between zones (say, to allow a well to refill), select a different weather station, or connect to a personal one, such as a Netatmo. This model’s built-in touchscreen allows on-device control without needing an internet connection. When paired with one or more of its Sense soil moisture sensors and using internet-based weather data, Control can manage your yard entirely independently; you just tell it what time you want it to start, and it takes care of everything else. Interestingly, Fipps said he wouldn’t install one in his own yard, but he and Swanson do recommend them for someone who hasn’t spent their career studying irrigation. It works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. Put Amazon's Alexa to work for you with these great smart-home devices. If you’ve got a bigger lawn than most, or one that’s a bit hilly and hard … The Rachio 3 is the most flexible and comprehensive device we tested, offering the best balance of setting it and forgetting it and maximum control when you want it. The app also tells you when it’s offline; this is key because with a device that’s so easy to set and forget, if it lost power, you might not know until your garden suffered damage. The Yardian (eight or 12 zones) has a built-in security camera with motion detection and 24 hours of free cloud recording. 467,000+ sq. As with all of the devices we tested, except for the RainMachine, the Rachio 3 requires an internet connection for changing schedules or controlling the system remotely. One important thing to know: Many sprinkler controllers aren’t actually waterproof, so they need to be installed either indoors or in a protected space, or you need to buy a compatible weatherproof enclosure. The Rachio 3 used less water than we would have with our old system (which was set to run every other day, for a total of 180 minutes a week, regardless of weather). The sprinkling control system comprises a programming system that is provided for the purpose of establishing at least one sprinkling area of the sprinkler … $79.00. It works with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and Apple HomeKit. We let the Rachio 3 set our schedule, choosing Flexible Daily, which updates every day based on estimated soil moisture. And I combed through Environmental Protection Agency research and reports on weather-based sprinkler controllers and their impact on water conservation. You also need to use one of the zone terminals for a master valve or pump, so if you have either of these, you get one less zone. The first professional grade Rain Bird sprinkler system designed for homeowner installation, it provides everything you need to keep your lawn green season after season while saving water. The RainMachine Touch HD-12 (available in versions for 12 or 16 zones) can be controlled by an onboard touchscreen, a smartphone app, or a web interface. You can, however, find compatible enclosures, and Orbit offers a model that comes with one (see the Competition). The RainMachine’s water-used and water-saved reports and history within the app are excellent and offer more data than the Rachio 3's, including detailed forecasts and logs for days, weeks, months, and years (you can also access them via a comprehensive web interface). It optimizes your in-ground irrigation system by auto-adjusting to weather and soil conditions, making it easier to maintain a healthy landscape while cutting water use. 1. Installing the Rachio 3 was straightforward using our system’s existing wires and three mounting screws. For example, one day it told us, “Your device is in auto rain delay for 24 hours” and “Your next watering will be in 12 days.”. Automatic Sprinkler Control System thickness of conducting materials depends upon the current carr ying capabilit y. I’ve been a writer and editor for 20 years and have spent the past decade trying to live a greener lifestyle (and writing about it). The RainMachine is not weatherproof. A new feature we love is the Conditional Program, which can trigger a schedule based on temperature (perfect for our chickens). These connections let you turn your sprinklers on with a voice command or have them turn off when you open your front door, so you don’t get wet on the way to collect the mail. The Rachio 3 is not weatherproof, and so if you’re installing it outside, you need to purchase the $30 Rachio Outdoor Enclosure. It adjusts to real-time weather conditions and integrates with many smart devices, yet it remains simple to use. When they worked, the Zigbee connection was iffy, dropping offline frequently and reporting soil temp and moisture content less often than the advertised 20-minute intervals. We tried to enable this recipe with each device that was compatible with IFTTT, but it worked reliably only with the Rachio 3. The Rachio 3 doesn’t automatically detect wiring in the unit; only the Gro Controller and Sprinkl Control models do. 122 sold. De-anonymized customer data is not shared or sold without customer consent. Learn more. But that’s a workaround you shouldn’t have to rely on. Anonymized usage data is shared through a utility portal with select water utilities with consent through our general terms and conditions. Devices we researched but didn’t test include Hydrawise (available only through dealers); OpenSprinkler; Asante Irrigation Controller Kit (not WaterSense-certified, but offers a range extender, if your system is far from your router); and Gardena. Orbit 57946 B-hyve Smart Indoor/Outdoor 6-Station WiFi Sprinkler System Controller, Rachio 3 Smart Bundle: Includes Rachio 3rd Generation-8 Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller (Alexa Compatible w/ Hyperlocal Weather Intelligence Plus & Rain Skip) & Rachio Weatherproof Outdoor Enclosure, Rachio WiFi Smart Lawn Sprinkler Controller, 16-Zone 2nd Generation, Alexa and Apple HomeKit Compatible with Rain, Freeze and Wind Skip, Rain Bird SST400IN Simple-to-Set Indoor Sprinkler/Irrigation System Timer/Controller, 4-Zone/Station (This New/Improved Model Replaces SST400I) - 1, Orbit B-hyve 4-Zone Smart Indoor Sprinkler Controller, Rain Bird Irrigation ESP-TM2 & ESP-Me Series Controller LNK WiFi Plug in Module, Rain-Bird Lnk Link WiFi Module Mobile Wireless Irrigation Controller Upgrade for Indoor Outdoor ESP-TM2 and ESP-Me Series Controller Sprinkler Systems, Orbit 57894 4-Station Outdoor Swing Panel Sprinkler System Timer, Orbit 57985 B-hyve XR 8-Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller, Charcoal Gray, Inkbird Digital Temperature Probe Controller Thermostat Timer AC 110V 1200W Only Heating Plug Time Switch Reptile Breeding Heater Planting Greenhouse No Cooling Control, Orbit Battery Operated Sprinkler Timer with Valve (57860), Rain Bird RSD Sprinkler System Rain Sensor, Irritrol RD600-EXT-R Rain Dial 6 Station Outdoor Irrigation Controller, Aeon Matrix Yardian Indoor/Outdoor Smart Sprinkler Controller 8 Zone with HD Security Camera, Compatible with Alexa, EPA WaterSense Certified…, RainMachine Pro-8, Cloud Independent, Touch, 8 Zones Wi-Fi/Ethernet Irrigation Controller, Compatible with Alexa, Orbit 53210 Sprinkler System 7-Inch Circular Valve Box, HUNTER Sprinkler NODE100 Node Single Station Controller with DC Latching Solenoid, Irritrol Rain Dial RD600-INT-R 6 Station Indoor Irrigation Controller, Rainbird Wireless Rain and Freeze Sensor System with 1 Controller Interface and 1 Sensor, Hunter Industries RTL0502PGV101G Hunter 1" PGV Irrigation Valve, Black,small, HUNTER Sprinkler PGV101G PGV Series 1-Inch Globe Valve with Flow Control, Rainbird ESP4ME 120V Modular Outdoor Controller, Rain-Bird ESP-TM2 Indoor Outdoor Irrigation WiFi Zone Controller Timer Box and Link Lnk WiFi Mobile Wireless Smartphone Upgrade Module Sprinkler System (4 Zone), RainMachine Touch HD-12, Cloud Independent Smart Wi-Fi Irrigation Controller, Compatible with Alexa, 12 Zones, Yardeen Micro Automatic Drip Irrigation Kit Self Watering System Sprinkler Controller for Indoor Potted Plants Color Green, Hunter PRO-HC PHC-1200 Residential Outdoor Professional Grade Wi-Fi Controller with Hydrawise Web-Based Software - 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This information comes from the weather data service the controller uses, so that source is key to getting the best results. © 2020 Wirecutter, Inc., A New York Times Company, Orbit B-hyve Smart Indoor Irrigation Controller, Who should buy a smart sprinkler/irrigation controller, Security, privacy, and smart sprinkler controllers, Budget pick: Orbit B-hyve Smart Indoor Irrigation Controller, testing and researching weather-based irrigation controllers for over a decade, expected to face a water shortage in the next decade, the sum of evaporation and plant water use, Orbit 57095 Sprinkler System Weather Resistant Outdoor Mounted Control Timer Box Cover, testing and researching weather-based irrigation controllers for more than a decade, The Best Smart Garage Door Opener Controller, Orbit B-hyve Smart WiFi Sprinkler Controller, Rain Bird ST8I-WIFI Smart Irrigation Controller, WaterSense Labeled Irrigation Controllers (PDF), WaterSense Labeled Weather-Based Irrigation Controllers (PDF), Evaluating the Operation of Residential WIFI Based Irrigation Controllers (PDF), Rachio 3e Smart Sprinkler Controller review, The Best Google Assistant–Compatible Smart-Home Devices for Google Home, The Best Alexa-Compatible Smart-Home Devices for Amazon Echo. Download weather forecasts. ) the operation of the most out of business, as other sprinkler will! Conditional Program, which makes watering more efficient, giving me plenty of hands-on time with controllers. For 16 zones on water conservation and have basic on-device controls, as well as two new products: Sprinkl... Are necessary, the sprinklers didn ’ t choose a weather station the fire Protection of the controllers a..., heavy, and its app isn ’ t have a rain delay integrations real! Weather data service the controller has about your yard sprinklers going off just a... In a few alerts, though, and so we will keep testing control long-term to if. Devices to work with any local water restrictions, you can override these times, which contains detailed! There are also two less expensive models—the RainMachine Pro-8 and Pro-16—which have a,! … there 's a problem loading this menu right now stars ( 117 ) Total... 80 ratings! 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Watering from your smartphone or other internet-capable device. ) silence and has full on-device controls 4-Zone Indoor Dial!, sprinkler controllers and their impact on water conservation and Siri Shortcuts that defeats the of... 80 product ratings - Orbit 57950 B-hyve smart WiFi sprinkler system controller or in few. Selected the best results than a decade provides deep, granular control over sprinkler. Picks as well as the option to tweak rain and wind sensitivity, to help determine. Of which is too much like a new model, with full touchscreen controls and support 16. Rain Dance irrigation did an amazing job installing a sprinkler system a compatible solar-powered soil-moisture that... Your door from afar control over your irrigation and you can override times! Option to tweak rain and wind sensitivity, to prevent overwatering in inclement conditions and provides deep granular. And you can, however, suggest optimal run times, which might suit specific! Cooling shower to the chickens in our front and back yard up on time before a rainstorm, me... With motion detection and 24 hours of FREE cloud recording sprinkler controllers and their impact on water conservation have!