Their software algorithms use this data, combined with predicted and actual rainfall and information you input about your yard (soil type, vegetation type, slope, shade, types of sprinkler heads) to create and adjust watering schedules tailored to your garden’s needs. 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. You can even set different schedules for each of your system’s zones. Intelligent Wireless Irrigation Controller , Irrigation Program Wireless Sprinkler Controller. The Pro model has a separate master valve terminal, so it is a better fit if you need 16 zones. Rain-Bird ESP-TM2 Indoor Outdoor Irrigation WiFi Zone Controller Timer Box and Link Lnk WiFi Mobile Wireless Smartphone Upgrade Module Sprinkler System (12 Zone) 4.4 out of 5 stars 88 $288.35 $ 288 . The Tailwind iQ3 is our pick for most everyone. Soil moisture sensors, flow meters, catch cups, and other add-ons commonly offered with a smart controller can all help fine-tune how the system reacts, but they are not essential to the core functionality of the controllers (see Soil-moisture sensors). The Rachio 3 doesn’t automatically detect wiring in the unit; only the Gro Controller and Sprinkl Control models do. It adjusts the length of watering time based on the weather and has a nice app that’s fine for simple operation. You can share access through the app, with or without time restrictions, so a landscaper could maintain the system via their smartphone without you having to be there. We also collect controller data (e.g., water usage, zone starting/stopping, schedule starting/stopping). In addition, the RainMachine’s app won’t automatically create a custom schedule for you, as the Rachio 3’s can. 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. And though the Sprinkl Sense soil-moisture sensor we tested worked far more reliably, all WaterSense-certified controllers are required to function without the need for rain or soil-moisture sensors. Orbit also has a 12-zone smart controller that is weatherproof and has full on-device controls. “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. You can, however, find compatible enclosures, and Orbit offers a model that comes with one (see the Competition). But it should be HomeKit-compatible and have basic on-device controls, as well as the option of Ethernet or 4G connectivity. Control your irrigation schedule and programming with your phone, tablet or PC from home or from any where on the internet. 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). However, if you don’t need more than eight zones, HomeKit integration, and this type of hyperlocal forecasting (either because you already have a weather station or you live in an area with more-predictable weather patterns than those in coastal South Carolina), the Rachio 3e is a great choice, and it will save you $80. The company says HomeKit compatibility is coming soon—we’ll revisit this device when that’s available. (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.) 4.7 out of 5 stars 4,229. If you have local watering restrictions, you can tell the device about them and it will work around them. Installing the Rachio 3 was straightforward using our system’s existing wires and three mounting screws. Whether you need a mechanical tap timer, a bluetooth tap timer, a wifi-controlled irrigation system, a wall mounted irrigation controller or a big commercial control box, you'll find it in our range. Some on-device controls, so you or your landscaper can still operate the system without a smartphone. Number of zones: In irrigation parlance, a zone is an area controlled by a valve and its connected irrigation tubing. We ran each controller for a minimum of three days and up to one week, evaluating each one based on ease of installation, setup, and how clearly the controller’s software explained its features and walked us through managing our yard. We tried to enable this recipe with each device that was compatible with IFTTT, but it worked reliably only with the Rachio 3. Unlike the dials and buttons that you use to control traditional irrigation controllers, you control BlueSpray from your computer or smartphone. It also tested that each zone was working—a useful feature for people who aren’t experts at programming sprinkler systems. $229.00 $ 229. Netro has a new model, the Spark, and it is offering the Sprite for a $29.99 annual subscription option, which we do not recommend. From a conservation perspective—and saving money on your water bills—smart controllers are critical. Accurately predicting and responding to weather in your immediate area. 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. An excellent web portal lets you tinker with your system’s settings from the comfort of a larger screen. 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. 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. All the manufacturers are making their wireless irrigation controllers as user-friendly as possible. The Orbit 6 Station Indoor Irrigation Control system is a smart sprinkler controller that is straightforward and does a great job of combining simplicity and efficiency. It has no on-device controls. RainMachine also offers an excellent web interface, which makes managing your device easier. If Rachio were to go out of business, as other sprinkler controller companies have, your device would eventually stop working. 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. 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. There is the option to choose your own weather station and view basic watering history, but there are no water-use reports. RainMachine API can be accessed by third parties if the owner/user of RainMachine gives permission (for example IFTTT, Google Home, Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit). SUSTAINABLE VALUE . 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. The RainMachine is not weatherproof. Smart sprinkler controllers determine when and for how long to water your yard by applying local weather conditions—ideally rainfall accumulation, solar radiation, wind, relative humidity, and temperature—to a science called evapotranspiration (ET), which is the sum of evaporation and plant water use. If every home in the US that had a sprinkler system followed suit, that could save 120 billion gallons each year, not to mention $435 million in water costs. Certain models might have an internal temperature sensor. Netro’s Spark is a new model, with full touchscreen controls and support for 16 zones. 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. BlueSpray is a web-enabled irrigation controller. The app is missing a few alerts, too, including that there’s no warning when watering is about to begin. This information comes from the weather data service the controller uses, so that source is key to getting the best results. 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. © 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. 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