The Best Sprinkler Controller Options for Lawn Watering
When life gets busy, lawn maintenance is just one more thing on the laundry list of to-dos that we often squeeze into our day. Smart sprinkler controls take the guesswork out of watering lawns and gardens and free up time for homeowner’s more pressing matters.
You have likely seen sprinkler heads watering a lawn or garden bed in heavy rain. In the past, these irrigation systems were often controlled by old-fashioned plastic timers and dials that kept them on a schedule whatever the weather. Schedules can certainly be helpful for busy or forgetful homeowners, but today’s technology has increased efficiency and ease of use with the introduction of smarter sprinkler control systems.
With these intuitive controls, watering is as easy as pressing a button on your phone or tablet from your armchair. Modern irrigation systems allow you to water when, where and how often. The best sprinkler control options even take into account weather reports and adjust the schedule based on current or expected rainfall. With a sprinkler control you not only save time, but you can also save money by saving water, which is especially important in drought-prone areas.
If you want to simplify your routine and save water, this smart device might be for you. Start your purchase by weighing these important properties and then see which models make up our recommendation list for maintaining a well-tended and lush lawn and garden.
- BEST OVERALL: Orbit B-hyve Smart Sprinkler Control
- RUNNER UP: Netro Smart Sprinkler Control
- BEST VALUE: Blossom Wi-Fi Smart Water Controller
- BEST UPGRADE: Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Control
Compatibility with sprinkler parts
Intelligent sprinkler controls are usually easy to install and work in harmony with existing in-floor sprinkler systems as long as they are connected to an AC power supply. You will need to plug the control panel into an electrical outlet or hardwire it into your electrical system. The controllers do not work well with battery powered systems or hose clocks. Like your smartphone or smart thermostat, the smart sprinkler controller needs access to your home’s WiFi network so it can access weather reports and analyze rainfall data to determine when and how often to open the sprinkler valves.
Sprinkler controls work in zones. The larger the property, the more irrigation zones or stations there are. Most intelligent systems can control two to 16 zones. Each zone has sprinkler heads and underground plumbing with valves that open and close when triggered by the intelligent sprinkler controller. The right controller for your landscape should be able to service at least as many zones as you have on your property. If you think you’ll be adding zones in the future, choose a controller with more zones than you currently have. To determine your current number of zones, remove the control panel from your existing system to see which zones are connected to the system. You can also run a test on your system that will cycle through each zone. When a zone is activated, the sprinkler heads will only deliver water in that area. Make a rough diagram of your landscape and number each section with the appropriate zone until you have tested your entire landscape.
Smart systems are designed to replace your wired floor sprinkler system and are relatively easy to install as long as they are properly placed. Most have controllers for indoor or outdoor mounting. Indoor systems have a pluggable cable with an external transformer that must be operated from a weather-protected area, e.g. B. in a garage or shed or on a covered terrace. Outdoor sprinkler systems are built to withstand the elements. In these models, the transformer is housed in a weatherproof housing and is permanently connected to your home’s electrical system. Use the dedicated app to connect the installed system to your WiFi and you’re ready to go.
EPA WaterSense Certification
Through a partnership with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), products that have been proven to save water, energy and money from a certified independent testing agency can earn the WaterSense label. A certified WaterSense smart sprinkler system sweetens business by monitoring local irrigation regulations in areas of low rainfall to ensure homeowners avoid fines for violating water use rules. According to the EPA, consumers have saved approximately $ 32.6 billion on water and energy bills since the program was launched in 2006.
As with any smart device, a smart sprinkler control offers several ways to communicate with the system. From a voice-operated digital assistant to a phone app that lets you change and customize watering schedules with a simple swipe, the smart sprinkler controller is an intuitive device that can make any adjustments you need to your watering schedule.
Our top picks for sprinkler controls
If you’ve decided that a sprinkler control is right for you, here are some that will cut your house maintenance routine down while keeping a little extra cash in your wallet at the same time.
1. BEST OVERALL: Orbit B-hyve Smart Sprinkler Controller
The Orbit can be programmed in two ways – via its LCD screen or via the B-Hyve app for smartphone or tablet. A key lock protects the control unit and makes it safe for indoor and outdoor installation. Plug the device into a nearby electrical outlet or cut the cord for hardwired applications. The controller supports six to 12 irrigation zones and has the EPA WaterSense label. It offers voice control via Amazon Alexa and can interpret the data you enter about your soil, the plant species in each zone and the amount of sunlight. Enter your zip code so that B-Hyve can analyze local weather reports for a bespoke irrigation schedule.
2. SECOND PLACE: Netro Smart Sprinkler Controller
The fully automated, cloud-based Netro control may seem intimidating to the less tech-savvy homeowner, but this intuitive little device does it all for you and is compatible with your existing floor sprinkler system. You need a smartphone to program the system via the app. It supports six watering zones, is quick and easy to install, and requires an outdoor location. As with other intelligent controls, the Netro Sprite monitors the weather reports specific to your region to determine the most efficient water use. You can also enter more detailed information about the plants and sun exposure in each zone. The Netro has a WaterSense label.
3. BEST VALUE: Blossom Wi-Fi Smart Water Controller
The Blossom is a pretty barebone system and perfect for the person who wants to turn the sprinkler system on and off easily from a smartphone or tablet. This controller offers less customization than some others, but offers options for fixed watering schedules as well as interval schedules. From there, you can manually select the watering duration or leave it to the smart irrigation system that analyzes the weather data at your location to make those decisions through the Scotts Gro app. The app does not provide data on soil saturation and you will need to check the area around each plant to ensure proper watering. Blossom supports seven zones and is installed indoors.
4. BEST UPGRADE: Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
The Rachio is at the high end of the smart sprinkler control ecosystem, but it’s packed with options and an easy-to-use interface. It’s available in an 8-zone controller, but some gardeners may prefer the 16-zone model, which allows you to customize watering schedules for foundation plantings, the lawn, and flower and vegetable beds. Mount the device in a protected location or choose the additional weatherproof housing (sold separately) for outdoor mounting. Rachio can be paired with several smart home devices such as Amazon Alexa, Apple Homekit, Nest and Google Assistant. Note that you need to download the Rachio app in order to operate the system.