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Smart sprinkler controllers are a type of irrigation system that’s popular nowadays due to their convenience and ease of use.
These devices are like smart thermostats for your yard or garden since they optimize your in-ground irrigation system by monitoring the weather, evaporation, soil conditions and plant water usage. Then, they automatically adjust the watering schedule according to the conditions of your garden.
As a result, you get a healthy landscape while significantly cutting down on the time you spend watering your garden, conserving water and cutting down on utility bills. In this in-depth reviews and guide, we’ve covered the 8 best smart sprinkler controllers on the market. In the second section, we’ve covered all the main information you need to choose the best smart controller, including their pros and cons and what to consider when purchasing.
Smart Sprinkler Controller Reviews
Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
3 used from $142.59
The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller is one of the best systems on the market right now with its new and improved design. This model is easy to install and features dual-band Wi-Fi and an expressive light bar. It conserves water, lowering your water bill by 30-50% while still helping you to maintain a beautiful yard.
You can easily manage your sprinkler system from anywhere with the user-friendly mobile app and add voice control by combining it with any Alexa device. Not only can you run sprinklers with the system, but you can also observe the estimated outdoor water usage and view any upcoming schedules.
This smart sprinkler controller boasts exclusive weather intelligence that automatically skips unnecessary watering in rainy weather, making sure that your plants get just the right amount of water that they need and that you don’t under- or over-water them.
- Saves from 30-50% on your water bill
- Exclusive weather intelligence
- Fast DIY installation
- In-app installation tutorial available
- An expensive product
Rain Bird ST80-2.0 Smart Indoor/Outdoor WiFi Sprinkler Controller
1 used from $208.34
This smart sprinkler controller from Rain Bird is an excellent product that’s designed to give you full control of your sprinkler system. The model comes with several unique features including faster app speed, custom manual watering options, enhanced water usage reporting and an automatic shut-off during rainy weather.
This controller is EPA WaterSense certified to save at least 20% of water in comparison to other non-certified timers and is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple iOS 8 or greater. It also works with Android 4.4 or any later model. It’s so easy to program and allows you to access its timer function from literally anywhere in the world.
With this smart sprinkler controller, your daily watering schedule will be automatically adjusted depending on the local weather, humidity, temperature and the season to give your plants just what they need. A major plus point of this product is that the mobile app includes an ‘enable notifications’ feature that informs you of what’s happening in your garden or yard even when you’re not at home.
- Includes transformer with 6’ cord
- Designed for use in weather-resistant locations
- EPA WaterSense certified to save 20% of water
- Highly convenient
- 8 sprinkler zones
- LED display
RainMachine Touch HD-12 Cloud Independent Smart Wi-Fi Irrigation Controller
Looking for a reliable smart sprinkler controller with the capacity to handle up to 12 zones? You might want to give this product a try.
The RainMachine Smart WiFi Irrigation Controller is convenient to use and automatically adjusts the watering amount by reducing it on colder or rainy days and increasing it on hotter days. The best thing about this system is that it not only saves water but also protects your plants from being watered too much or too little.
Although this product is quite pricey, it comes with many features such as the color touch screen and the PC browser access with dashboard stats that make taking care of your plants a simple task, no matter where you are. It also integrates with Alexa, Nest, Google Home, WINK and SmartThings via IFTTT which is perfect since it doesn’t limit your options.
- EPA WaterSense Certified
- Free weather data
- Cloud independent – works even when your WiFi’s down
- Designed to handle possible conflicts
- Not a weatherproof model
Netro Smart Sprinkler Controller
Designed for effortless use in residential irrigation, this Smart Sprinkler Controller from Netro helps to reduce any unnecessary water usage and keep your garden thriving. This controller has the impressive ability to schedule itself completely, knowing exactly how much water your plants need and the best method of watering them.
The Netro water sprinkler controller is fully compatible with Google Home Voice Assistant and works on tablets or phones which you can use to control it from anywhere. Its advanced watering technologies allow for watering your garden when there’s minimal evaporation and preventing runoffs by breaking down long watering cycles into smaller ones.
You’ll find this controller is extremely easy to install and use, with the capacity to water up to 6 zones. It even keeps track of sunlight, moisture level and temperatures so you can expect your garden to be beautiful and healthy as a result.
- Wireless and solar powered
- Monitors water usage
- Includes a plant library to customize the needs of your yard
- Creates accurate schedules for a lusher landscape
- Reasonable price point
Orbit B-hyve 12-Zone Smart Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Controller
2 used from $96.29
The Orbit B-hyve Sprinkler Controller is an affordable but top-quality option when it comes to choosing a controller for your irrigation system. Although the design of this product may be bulky and industrial, it makes up for it with its excellent performance.
This controller can handle from 6-12 zones and features an LCD control panel covered by an outdoor-friendly chassis but if you’re someone who prefers high-tech gadgets, then this might not work for you. It’s quite low-tech when compared to the other sprinkler controllers on our list but this also makes it perfect for first-time users.
The B-hyve controller uses a smart watering algorithm that analyzes the data you enter regarding the type of plants you have, the soil and how much sun each zone receives to generate an accurate water plan to keep your plants healthy.
Overall, it’s a very useful product that offers almost the same functionality as the other controllers at a much lesser price.
- Supports 6-12 zones
- Smart watering algorithm
- Easy DIY installation
- Bulky design
- EPA WaterSense approved
- Works with Amazon Alexa for Voice Control
Aeon Matrix Yardian Smart Sprinkler Controller
The Yardian Smart Sprinkler Controller from Aeon Matrix is one of the most efficient and user-friendly models out there. This controller offers flexibility since you can install it either indoors or outdoors, depending on your preference and create a custom watering schedule for your garden.
The Yardian controller doesn’t come with a touch screen so you’ll need to program it via the app. Although it can be a little confusing to set up this way, once it’s done it connects easily and performs brilliantly.
What we loved about this sprinkler controller was that it features a security camera with a motion sensor so you can even see what’s going on in your garden when you’re away.
With the Yardian sprinkler controller, you can have the luxury of saving up to 50% of water that would normally be wasted when doing manual watering, without negatively affecting your plants.
- Real time weather monitoring
- Works with Amazon Alexa and Google Home
- Built-in HD camera
- 15 minute installation
- Can be installed indoors or out
BlueSpray BSC08i-UE 8 Zone WiFi Pro Sprinkler/Irrigation Controller
BlueSpray is a web-based irrigation controller with built-in WiFi and can be easily accessed from any smart phone, computer or tablet without an app. The advantage of this controller is its versatility and the extremely flexible scheduling algorithm.
We’d call this one a ‘heavy duty’ sprinkler controller since it can be used even for the most demanding irrigation purposes.
The BlueSpray user interface can be quite confusing to understand but once you’ve figured it out, you’ll find it’s a really useful controller. However, it can be difficult to set up since you’d need to lock in the wires using a screw driver.
It also doesn’t include an easy-to-plug AC adapter so it’s not exactly DIY installation. It works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa and includes a rain sensor that will freeze the irrigation system on rainy days that will prevent ponding in your garden.
- No mobile app
- Automatic delay after rain
- Rain sensor supported
- Flow sensor with leak detection
- Automatic shut off
NxEco HWN12-200 Smart Sprinkler Timer
The NxEco Smart Sprinkler Timer uses weather-based adjustment to reduce water usage by 50%. It has impressive expandability and can be extended to 36 zones. You can control your irrigation system easily with the device controls as well as the mobile app. It even includes a Rain Sensor Port and USB power supply.
The device is EPA WaterSense Labeled, ensuring water savings. It’s also eligible for any local rebates offered by water suppliers. The system is compatible with both Alexa and Google Home.
Although this controller performs well, it can be rather complicated to set up and navigate. The web interface is quite advanced and seems to have been made with commercial applications in mind.
It shows a lot of detail which is far more than what most homeowners would care to access so you might find that slightly annoying.
- EPA WaterSense certified
- Real-time Remove Operation
- Individual smart watering on each zone
- Can handle up to 36 zones
Why Choose a Smart Sprinkler Controller?
Smart sprinkler controllers allow you to automate your water irrigation system, saving time and effort on your part when it comes to keeping your garden and lawn hydrated and lush.
These systems are not like older controllers, which use timers and dials to customize the settings. They come with mobile apps, offer zoning and help you to save water. While some people tend to shy away from smart products, smart sprinkler controllers are easy to use and offer a lot of convenience overall.
Many smart sprinkler controllers are WaterSense certified, which means that they comply with regulations in terms of water conservation and are among the most water efficient devices in their category. This also means that you may be eligible for rebates for using a water efficient sprinkler system.
What Makes a Sprinkler Controller ‘Smart’?
There’s some confusion about the difference between ‘smart’ sprinkler controllers and older ‘non-smart’ models.
It’s important to note that smart controllers don’t actually control how the water flows to your garden and lawn. Instead, they automate the system of opening and closing the water valves as per the customized settings, just like traditional sprinkler controllers.
The ‘smart’ part comes in because these modern sprinkler controllers can connect to the internet to keep track of the weather forecast, send you notifications and reminders and customize watering schedules based on the current conditions. It’s like having an assistant to monitor your irrigation system and keep you informed when required.
How to Choose a Smart Sprinkler Controller
Before you go ahead and purchase a smart sprinkler controller, there are some important factors to take into consideration to ensure you get the best product that suits all your watering needs.
- Indoor/outdoor mounting
When choosing your controller, consider whether you’ll be mounting the unit inside or outside. If it’s going to be outside, ensure that the system is of durable construction and can take weathering. Some models come with a covering that ensure the system is protected from insects and animals. Don’t forget that the system should be within the WiFi range of your home for optimal performance.
- Number of zones that need watering
A zone is an area that’s controlled by a valve and the irrigation tubing that’s connected to it. If you have five valves, you’ve got five zones. The controller you choose should have sufficient capacity to support every zone in your system. While the most common number is 8 zones, there are many units that support as few as 6 zones or as many as 16 zones.
Being notified when your watering system is running is a useful feature to look for in a controller. The most common notifications are push notifications, but these can be limited and may only notify you once the watering has been completed instead of when it starts. Also, look for a system that will give you information about water usage so that you will be able to keep track with what’s going on in your garden even when you’re away.
- Scheduling flexibility
It’s important to pay extra attention to the scheduling flexibility of the smart sprinkler controller before you purchase it since some controllers can’t handle complex schedules. It all depends on how often you need to water your plants. Some plants need more watering than others so if you have picky plants, you’ll want to go for a controller with more options.
- ‘Smart’ scheduling
This is one of the best features you could look for in a smart sprinkler controller. The ‘Smart’ scheduling feature takes your local weather and environment into account to optimize the delivery of water.
Make sure that the sprinkler controller system is compatible with the software on your smart phone, laptop or iPad.
- WaterSense certification
We’ve already mentioned the benefits of having WaterSense certification, as it indicates that the product is highly water efficient, and is compliant with EPA regulations. This certification may also make you eligible for water rebates in your area, which means more savings in the long run.
- Backup option
While smart sprinkler controllers are impressive devices, they are reliant on the internet. This means that if and when your internet goes down, the system goes down with it. This is why the device should offer a backup option in case of this scenario.
Pros and Cons of a Smart Sprinkler Controller
Smart sprinkler controllers come with more benefits than drawbacks which is why they’re becoming an increasingly popular choice for irrigation purposes.
If you’re not sure about whether you should go for one of these controllers, weighing the pros might help make it a little easier to decide.
Smart Sprinkler System Pros
- Easy to use
- Can save you money on your utility bills
- Offers you access when you’re away from home
- Creates dynamic watering schedules that adjust according to the weather and seasonal changes
- Reduces water wastage
- Accurate weather data
Smart Sprinkler System Cons
- A top-quality smart sprinkler controller which includes all the features you want can be quite expensive
- May require additional service fees for weather and climate information packages
- Can be very complicated to figure out and install
The Bottom Line
Smart sprinkler controllers are an upgrade to traditional controllers, offering you automation when it comes to controlling your irrigation system. They ensure that your irrigation system is optimized, and that water use is kept to a minimum without compromising the health of your plants.
These systems keep you in the loop, allowing you to monitor your irrigation system even when you’re away. While they are expensive at the start, the right system can save you money in the long run, by conserving water, reducing your utility bills and even putting rebates into your pocket.
If you’re looking for a lawn sprinkler system to go with your smart sprinkler controller, check out our detailed article covering best lawn sprinklers. Some other related articles include types of irrigation systems and how to water your lawn.