Best Smart Sprinklers

Review & Comparison, Last Update June 2, 2017
If you need to make your lawn nourished — bring smart sprinklers to your household and root your troubles out, getting the technology you can rely upon! We have reviewed 5 best smart sprinklers to help you make an adequate choice. ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
Number of stations
Number of programs
Display
Control
Use
Features
Operating temperature
Size
 
PROS
A large touchscreen display facilitates maintenance. The freeze control and heat wave protection allow stopping the irrigation when the temperature drops and activating watering when it rises.
CONS
The system can't be installed outdoors.
OUR VERDICT

This is a great smart sprinkler controller that will water your lawn using the NOAA weather forecast. This system is able to wisely service 16 stations, saving water and your money.

detailed parameters
Number of stations

16 (12-station model is available)

Number of programs
Unlimited
Display
Color
Control
Sensor control, PC: Web browser, Smartphones: Android, iOS
Use
Indoor only
Features
EPA WaterSense Certified, Easy setup, NOAA, Enhanced security, Freeze control & heat wave protection, Precision forecast
Operating temperature
-4°F - 120°F
Size
4" x 6" x 1"
PROS
Being extremely convenient to use, this smart sprinkler has also very attractive design to decorate any interior. Backlit, easy-to-install and easy-to-operate, all in one unit!
CONS
The viewing angle of the display is mediocre, so it's better to install controller at the eye level.
OUR VERDICT
Featuring unlimited amount of programs, this water sprinkler system will let you customize the irrigation of each station to sprinkle your lawn really precisely.
detailed parameters
Number of stations
8 (16-station model is available)
Number of programs
Unlimited
Display
Color
Control
Electronic control, PC: Web browser, Smartphones: Android, iOS
Use
Indoor / Outdoor (with outdoor enclosure)
Features
Water Restrictions, Expansion Module, Auto Zone Detection, Fault Detection, Push Notifications, Self-Regulating
Operating temperature
-4°F - 185°F
Size
3.1" x 9.7" x 1.9"
PROS
This Wi-Fi sprinkler controller is able to withstand very low temperatures, so it will perform same well in warm and cold regions. It easily connects to home automation systems either.
CONS
No display available.
OUR VERDICT
A reasonable price and exquisite minimalistic design of this Wi-Fi irrigation controller will be appreciated by sophisticated families. The system can be controlled in two ways: via PC and smartphone.
detailed parameters
Number of stations
8 (16-station model is available)
Number of programs
2
Display
No
Control
Electronic control, PC: Web browser, Smartphones: Android, iOS
Use
Indoor / Outdoor (with outdoor enclosure)
Features
Customized for Each Zone, Eliminate Runoff, EPA WaterSense Certified and Tested, Never Water in the Rain, Cold Weather Delays, Weather Intelligence™
Operating temperature
-31°F - 140°F
Size
9.2" x 5.6" x 1.6"
PROS
The fault detection feature will help you diagnose all units and will suggest possible solutions.
CONS
Too bulky size of the controller may somewhat deteriorate exterior look.
OUR VERDICT
This simple and user-friendly sprinkler controller is designed to provide the best watering conditions for your lawn. Moreover, it can be installed both indoors and outdoors.
detailed parameters
Number of stations
12 (6-station model is available)
Number of programs
3
Display
Monochrome
Control
Electronic control, PC: Web browser, Smartphones: Android, iOS
Use
Indoor / Outdoor
Features
WeatherSense Technology, Fault detection and surge protection function
Operating temperature
32°F - 158°F
Size
11.3" x 10" x 4"
PROS
A compatible device provided, the controller allows adjusting the light in the areas to be watered.
CONS
No lock on the cover.
OUR VERDICT
This Hunter irrigation controller is a winning combination of simplicity and functionality with no online mess. Hence, it will be great for house owners who need a reliable and inexpensive irrigation controller.
detailed parameters
Number of stations
12 (6-station model is available)
Number of programs
3
Display
Monochrome
Control
Mechanical
Use
Indoor / Outdoor
Features
WaterSense®, Easy Retrieve™ Memory, Quick Check™, Non-Water Days
Operating temperature
0°F - 140°F
Size
9" x 8.4" x 3.9"

What is a Smart Sprinkler

We can see groomed lawns not just in the parks or at the stadiums, but near buildings like hotels, banks, shops, filling stations, and country houses. Many of us like spending time in the backyard, drinking sprightly beverages and enjoying the view of the lawn. But then, what should we do to keep our lawns beautiful and alive, and prevent their drying? Basically, there are two common ways to water the lawn - manual and using irrigation controllers (smart sprinklers). Manual watering requires fussing with buckets and hoses, which takes a lot of time and effort. Contrarily, irrigation controllers make watering easy and automatic. They pick the data from ground humidity sensors and/or weather forecast centers and provide the needed amount of water not to dry out and not to overwater the lawn. Most sophisticated sprinklers can be controlled via smartphone from any corner of the world and may cover up to 48 watering stations. We have considered smart sprinklers and their key features to help you choose the right model.

You should also mow your lawn to keep it nice. Our best lawn mowers review will help you pick a proper lawn mower for your needs. Also, you might need a good leaf blower for keeping your pathways clean.

What Features to Compare

Performance

Performance is the first thing that deserves your attention when you choose an irrigation controller. In particular, the number of stations is the key feature of any controller. Thus, the number of stations is normally equal to the number of sprinklers controlled. An irrigation controller may maintain up to 48 stations, so you should consider the area of your lawn for accurate irrigation. Some models may be connected to additional modules to increase the number of serviced areas and enhance the sprinkling capabilities. The number of programs is the next important parameter to consider. The programs may be automatic or manual and provide accurate, correct irrigation. Some controllers allow you to set the programs yourself according to your lawn conditions. The performance of a controller may be affected by operating temperature range. Thus, if the summer in your region is hot, you should pick the controller capable of working at high temperatures. Otherwise, the controller will fail and your lawn will not be watered properly.

Control

You should pay attention to control that allows you to comfortably set the controller for managing the stations effectively. The irrigation controllers commonly have electronic or mechanical controls. The most sophisticated models are equipped with touchscreen displays that provide full control over irrigation process. Yet, this is not the whole story. Most of the irrigation controllers can be controlled wirelessly via smartphones based on Android or iOS. The control is performed through the built-in Wi-Fi modules that synchronize with smartphones through the web. You just need to download the official app to control the irrigation from anywhere around the world. This way, you can set the parameters of a controller as well as program the irrigation modes while being on vacation or business trip.

Features

The irrigation controllers usually come with additional features. For a start, decide on the type of a controller as controllers are available for indoor or outdoor use. Indoor controllers are convenient in use as you can activate irrigation, staying in your house. The downside of these models is a complex mounting and the need to pull the wiring into your house. Outdoor irrigation controllers are usually mounted outside the buildings, near lawns. They are waterproof and feature lockable doors that forbid unauthorized use. However, it should be noted that the indoor models may be also mounted outdoors; they just need special outdoor housings for protection. Other features of an irrigation controller may include automatic diagnostics of all system units and connection of additional modules to expand the irrigation capabilities. Some irrigation controllers may serve as such modules and can be integrated into home automation systems. Hence, you can control not just your house but also the lawn watering with a single system. Furthermore, you can equip an irrigation controller with moisture and weather sensors to let the system determine the right amount of water and the duration of sprinkling.

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Review of RainMachine HD-16 Irrigation Controller

RainMachine HD-16

RainMachine HD-16

Your Carte Blanche

Today we will review the RainMachine controller made by Green Electronics. It maintains up to 16 watering stations on your lawn and can operate them all either simultaneously, sequentially, or in parallel, thus enhancing the functionality and providing you with a freedom of choice. If your lawn is a big one, you may purchase a model for 12 stations offered by the same manufacturer. In this case, we recommend calculating in advance how many watering zones should be covered by a smart sprinkler and buy a controller with the excessive capacity. We liked the option of separate programming for each station depending on the lawn location and conditions. There is an unlimited quantity of available programs for every watering station, i.e. you can set parameters taking into account the specifics of each zone. We have noticed that the sprinkler works in a wide range of temperatures. Whether it is a cold winter or a hot summer this controller will continue performing perfectly! We believe that the major advantage of the RainMachine sprinkler is its touchscreen display, which is almost the size of a tablet. The display does not only reflect all relevant information but also allows controlling all watering stations. It is very convenient. That is why currently sensor displays are used worldwide to control various devices. The built-in Wi-Fi adapter provides you with a comprehensive control over the smart sprinkler from any PC using a browser or a smartphone if you downloaded a special application. You can find a lid under the screen covering additional mechanical controls. If you feel unsatisfied with pre-programmed functions, you might adjust or fine-tune any program you like.

Review of RainMachine HD-16 Irrigation Controller

Lawn Watered, Cash Saved

Once again, why is this controller called “a smart sprinkler”? The answer lies in its specific features. And the main feature is the Internet access. You got it right, the data downloaded from the Internet helps organize a proper irrigation of the lawn, i.e. based on this information the controller will adjust the sprinkling schedule. The source of weather forecasts is the NOAA service. Those who have not heard about this service - we assure you that it is considered to be the most trustworthy weather forecast in the world. Nevertheless, we have found out that to ensure the ultimate accuracy of forecasting the controller collects information from other sources too. We would also like to draw your attention to the Precision Forecast function that determines the exact location allowing the controller to forecast the weather even more accurately. Having studied the manual we discovered that your location data is stored in the controller itself instead of Internet servers. It is an evidence of the manufacturer’s care about safety and confidentiality of your information. You also should not worry about an excessive water spending. The RainMachine is EPA WaterSense certified for the efficient and effective saving of the water resources. This means the smart controller saves you money every time it sprinkles over your lawn. Our overall conclusion is that this model would be a perfect choice for the people wishing to have the full discretion and control over every inch of their lawn. This controller takes care of your property as you would do it yourself.

RainMachine HD-16 Irrigation Controller in the use

More Products to Consider

Apps:

RainMachine for Android

RainMachine for iOS

Accessories:

Consider a Granite Rock Sprinkler System Valve Cover Boxfor additional protection of the irrigation system.

To achieve more diverse watering options, you can purchase a Brass Impact Sprinkler and increase sprinkling radius from 20 to 41 feet long.

Detailed review of RainMachine HD-16 Irrigation Controller

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


RainMachine HD-16
RainMachine HD-16
 
Review of SkyDrop 8 Zone Wifi-Enabled

SkyDrop 8 Zone

SkyDrop 8 Zone

Move the Jog

Let’s take a careful look at the SkyDrop controller for an automatic irrigation system. This model maintains up to 8 watering stations, though the 16-station version for larger lawns is also available. It is worth mentioning that the controller allows programming each watering station separately. Why do we single out this feature? Let’s assume that there are trees or other barriers to sun rays, in this case, some part of a lawn should be watered seldom as it is less affected by the direct sunlight and the soil is less dry there. Additionally, you may develop your own programs to fine-tune irrigation conditions. This function will be appreciated by the most scrupulous landlords. Initially, this model was designed for indoor installation, but you can buy a protection housing to place it outdoors, the range of working temperatures of this smart controller allows that. By the way, the upper limit of this range allows using the controller in tropical countries or under the direct exposure to the sun. We also liked a simple and easy-to-understand interface with extra comfortable jog dial assuring a straightforward control over the irrigation process. In the XXI century, a smartphone became an integral part of our daily routine. Why do we remind you this? We would like to inform you about a simple and convenient application for this smart sprinkler, developed by the manufacturer. You can adjust all settings using your smartphone and not get back to the controller to do every change. The device will notify you with a message about any event related to the irrigation system. All these options are featured by the Skydrop app for Android and iOS that you can download following the links below.

Review of SkyDrop 8 Zone Wifi-Enabled

Seeks and Finds

Concise tests of the controller brought to our attention the function of Auto Zone Detection. The first controller start initiates testing of all its units for their performance. If a failure is found the Fault Detection function displays its cause and potential solutions. This self-test is one more reason to call this controller “a smart device”. In the course of our work we became curious, if this watering system is cost-saving at all? And we can reassure you that it is a real miracle. The pre-set Water Restrictions feature tracks the water consumption regulations in your community and adjusts the irrigation schedule to maintain the necessary soil humidity without exceeding the watering limits. If you care about the environment and your family budget you should consider buying this smart controller. One more plus is the Expansion Module feature of the smart sprinkler that allows adding an extra sprinkler module and expanding the watering zones any time. We believe this controller would perfectly satisfy owners of small lawns or the persons planning to expand their meadows. The option of expansion provides the possibility to add new watering zones constantly and rids you of the necessity to buy a more powerful sprinkler system in that case.

SkyDrop 8 Zone Wifi-Enabled in the use

More Products to Consider

Apps:

Skydrop Mobile for Android

Skydrop Mobile for iOS

Accessories:

Consider buying a wireless lighting control On/Off switch, another smart gadget to keep in household and control lightning in the backyard from smartphone.

A motion activated sprinkler will let you keep different pests away from your home by sprinkling water without its excess waste.

Detailed review of SkyDrop 8 Zone Wifi-Enabled

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Skydrop Smart Sprinkler Controller - Unboxing, Installation, & Review
SkyDrop 8 Zone
SkyDrop 8 Zone
 
Review of Rachio 8ZULW-B Automatically adapts for weather

Rachio 8ZULW-B

Rachio 8ZULW-B

Smartphone. That's All You Need

This time, we review the Rachio smart sprinkler. This particular model supports 8 watering stations though you might buy a version maintaining 16 sprinklers. We have immediately distinguished its easy control and simple design. There are two optional operating modes of this controller: a fixed schedule for watering in set moments of time, and a flexible schedule for irrigation when needed. You may install additional rain and soil humidity sensors to adjust the watering controller’s work precisely. By the way, you can install this device both indoors and outdoors, if you equip it with an outdoor protection casing. We would also like to mention that the manufacturer has made it possible to utilize the smart sprinkler under high and low temperatures, so it will work regardless of weather changes. Possibly, the main difference of this controller from its competitors is the absence of a display and controls. The users are divided on this issue. One group considers this to be not very convenient arguing about a potential lack of skills among users of the smartphone apps. Others opposed pointing at the available benefits as the absence of controls enables access to the smart sprinkler only to those who installed the application. Furthermore, the app itself proved to be foolproof and functional. The remote access, messaging, and information on a current status and water consumption are constantly accessible anytime and from any place. The links for downloading the applications are provided below separately for Android and iOS devices.

Review of Rachio 8ZULW-B Automatically adapts for weather

First Step to Smart Home

We were impressed particularly by one of the controller’s features, namely the Eliminate Runoff function. It allows the smart sprinkler to schedule shorter irrigation cycles with the objective to increase the intensity of water absorption by the soil. This way the soil will not be overwatered and its upper layer will be protected from the erosion. Same as any other watering controller with the Wi-Fi connection this smart system receives weather forecasts from the Internet: it will not work shortly before the rain, while it is raining, and immediately afterward; also, no watering is performed when it is cold. We have also liked the Weather Intelligence™ function that monitors weather changes for a certain period of time. And we would like to reassure you that you should not worry about adjusting the sprinkling schedule. Your controller will do that for you. The Rachio controller is EPA WaterSense certified and SWAT tested. It helps save the water resources, decrease the environmental footprint, and reduce your expenses.

Finally, you may benefit if the controller is included into a “smart home” system. Considering versatility of its functions, this solution sounds reasonable. Moreover, this smart controller is compatible with accessories and home appliances made by Nexia, Crestron, Control4, Wink, and Nest.

Rachio 8ZULW-B Automatically adapts for weather in the use

More Products to Consider

Apps:

Rachio for Android

Rachio for iOS

Accessories:

Use a Wired rain sensor to collect precise data on humidity and atmospheric pressure and come up with the right weather forecast each time when needed.

A Spray Head Pull-Up tool will come in handy if you need to lift up a sprinkling head.

Detailed review of Rachio 8ZULW-B Automatically adapts for weather

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Rachio Generation 2 Smart Sprinkler Controller review
Rachio 8ZULW-B
Rachio 8ZULW-B
 
Review of Orbit 57950 Indoor/Outdoor

Orbit 57950

Orbit 57950

Three in One

It's high time to get acquainted with the Orbit smart sprinkler. It maintains up to 12 irrigation zones though if your lawn is not that large you might stick to the model servicing 6 zones only, offered by the same manufacturer. Observing the test performed on this controller, we enjoyed an innovative approach to its software package. There are 3 options for different irrigation plans: for example, program A monitors your lawn, program B keeps your flowerbeds wet, and program C waters your garden. This sprinkler system also allows selecting from two alternative control methods: a mechanical control with buttons on the control panel and a remote control from a smart device. It should be mentioned that the working temperatures of the controller range from 32°F to 158°F. We would recommend its use exclusively in a warm climate.

Review of Orbit 57950 Indoor/Outdoor

Water Resistancy

We would like to put particular emphasis on the B-hyve technology developed by the manufacturer. It allows you to easily set a wide range of functions. In case you are confused with this technology the package includes a detailed training video on the set-up process. One more feature we particularly liked is a possibility to label individual irrigation zones and even to assign photos to them. Every time you select a watering zone you can see which plants are sprinkled at the moment. The smart sprinkler collects information from various Internet sites to make the watering process as precise and efficient as possible. It is also necessary to mention that you have a free choice to install the Orbit system indoors or outdoors right out-of-the-box. It is equipped with a weatherproof casing resistant to the moisture and can be mounted nearby the lawn. So, you do not need to enter your house to switch the sprinkler. The swing panel lock prevents an unauthorized access to the controller.

In conclusion, it should be said that this device is most appropriate in case you are not able to install the watering controller indoors. An additional advantage is a possibility to connect controller directly to the power switchboard by-passing the wall outlets. You only need to take off the plug.

Orbit 57950 Indoor/Outdoor in the use

Some Facts About Orbit

The Orbit Company is the world leader in manufacturing and selling irrigation systems, misting systems and home appliances. It is present in 40 countries from 5 continents. Its production capacities encompass national and international R&D, design works, and cutting-edge technologies for casting and injection molding.

The company management has a clear vision of the production targets striving to exceed client expectations and ensure the ultimate quality of its products at the most favorable price. Orbit does not stop to progress and move forward, they constantly seek perfection and introduce new goods that help their clients save time, water, and money.

The company's objective is to deliver products that would satisfy the pickiest clients and guarantee functionality, long useful life and simplicity.

Detailed review of Orbit 57950 Indoor/Outdoor

Useful Links

Apps:

b-hyve for Android

b-hyve for iOS

Accessories:

A rain and freeze sensor can sense rain and frosts and inform you of a weather change in time.

You may want to use 1- or 2-horsepower pump start telay to automatically start the pump while watering the lawn.

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


VIDEO
Orbit B-hyve Wifi Timer How To Setup and Program
Orbit 57950
Orbit 57950
 
Review of Hunter Sprinkler PCC1200I Irrigation Controller

Hunter Sprinkler PCC1200I

Hunter Sprinkler PCC1200I

Turn On and Forget

The Hunter Sprinkler PCC1200I controller can easily handle 12 watering stations on your large lawn. Is your garden not so big? It is not a problem, you may acquire the 6-station model! But let’s start from the very beginning. The system features three pre-programmed options to maintain three different irrigation plans: a lawn, a garden, and a flowerbed. It is a common approach. The controller allows setting specific days of the week, odd and even dates, target zones for watering and no watering days. We would like to draw your attention to the fact that the system works under temperatures in the range of 0°F through 140°F making it appropriate for use in the mild climate states. Although this controller is called “a smart sprinkler” it can be managed by anyone. It features a classical control technology based on the mechanical switches and buttons. There are no touchscreen displays and Wi-Fi modems, and you do not have to install any smartphone apps or to set Internet connections. Just turn it on and select a program, and the smart sprinkler will start working. Actually, there is a monochrome display on the front panel reflecting all relevant information.

Review of Hunter Sprinkler PCC1200I Irrigation Controller

Lawn and Light Control

Speaking about peculiarities we should mention a possibility to install this controller both inside the house and outside it, since it has a waterproof body. The system can be extended by adding the Solar Sync® set. The set includes three sensors for rain, low temperatures, and total evaporation rate (ET). These sensors monitor the local weather conditions, the intensity of water consumption by plants and the soil, and can stop the watering in case it rains or the ground freezes. We will provide a link to this sensor system below. It may help you save water and your money. Another pleasant feature for us to discover was controller’s ability to adjust surrounding illumination. Its transformers are controlled by the PXSync interface allowing you to manage all functions from a single point.

After all the research done, we asked ourselves: “Who would appreciate this device?” And our conclusion was that it might be the best choice for champions of simple tools without any frills like extra electronics or the Internet access, for the people learning about the weather from TV and radio broadcasts, and for individuals demanding only the reliability and simplicity of their house appliances.

 

Hunter Sprinkler PCC1200I Irrigation Controller in the use

Useful Links

Solar Sync Kit is an additional weather forecast module with built-in rain and frost sensors for switching the sprinkler system off when necessary.

ROAM-KIT Controller Remote Complete Kit is an extremely powerful remote for controlling this smart sprinkler at a distance of up to 1,000 feet.

Detailed review of Hunter Sprinkler PCC1200I Irrigation Controller

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


VIDEO
Reset a Hunter Controller - Quick Tip
Hunter Sprinkler PCC1200I
Hunter Sprinkler PCC1200I
 

Sources:

1. Cabe Atwell Smart Sprinkler Systems Save Water and Save Houses, Sensors. December 2, 2015.

2. William Finucane Create a Smart Sprinkler System to Water Your Garden When the Soil Dries Up, Mad Science.

3. Klint Finley Smart Sprinkler Checks the Weather to Avoid Wasting Water, WIRED. November 24, 2015.

4. Tips for Selecting an Irrigation Controller, Chandler.

5. Selecting a Smart Irrigation Controller, University of California. June 29, 2010.

6. Irrigation Controller, Wikipedia. May 29, 2015.

7. Irrigation Controllers for the Homeowner, Department of Water Resources.

8. Smart Irrigation Controllers, SRP.