Best Smart Sprinkler Controller: Blossom vs SkyDrop vs Rachio vs RainMachine vs Hunter & More

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Have you soaked a ton of money and effort into your home’s lawn, flower beds and gardens only to have them dry up due to irregular watering? If you work all day and are on-the-go, how do you keep up with your yard’s irrigation needs? It’s especially daunting if you live in an area where you’re under strict watering restrictions.

Thanks to modern technology and these best smart sprinkler systems you can stay on top of your yard from anywhere and anytime. A smart sprinkler control and system could be the answer to your watering woes.

Article Overview

How Does A Smart Sprinkler System Work?

Person drinking wine with sprinkler in yard (Caption: Best Wifi Sprinkler Controller Review)A smart sprinkler system involves a WiFi-enabled smart controller that syncs with your existing sprinkler system (any standard 24V AC valve will do). The sprinkler control allows you to remotely program the watering cycle of certain zones in your yard and garden. You can even set your controller to do the programming for you.

Once you install and program your smart sprinkler controller either from the base unit or via your smartphone (or another web-enabled device), you can get real-time updates on your smartphone. As with most high-tech devices, some controllers work better, have more features and more customization capability than others.

5 Factors To Consider In Sprinkler Control

  1. Smart Technology: Many smart sprinkler systems can self-program watering needs based on live weather feeds, site conditions, such as soil and plant types, sun exposure, yard slope and historical weather data. Look for details about how advanced each product’s algorithm is, depending on the level of functionality you desire.
  2. Controller Location: Do you want your wireless sprinkler controller mounted indoors our outside? If you don’t want an eyesore in your home, there are several outdoor units available.
  3. Cost: WiFi irrigation controller prices vary by brand and the number of sprinkler zones. You should expect to pay at least $100 for a basic smart controller. Prices can run as high as $500-plus.
  4. EPA WaterSense Certification: Device certification is a huge plus, depending on where you live (and how much money you want to save on your water bill). Look for Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense certification first and foremost. EPA WaterSense products meet the EPA’s specifications for water efficiency and performance — and qualify you for product rebates by many local municipalities (up to 100%).
  5. SWAT Certification: SmartWater Application Technologies (SWAT) is another well-recognized certification that could make you eligible for rebates. SWAT is the top independent lab that tests performance and water-use efficiency in irrigation products.

Best Smart Sprinkler Controllers

We’ve based our smart sprinkler control reviews on 5 factors:

  1. Ease of installation and use
  2. Certification
  3. Customization ability
  4. App performance
  5. Price

Winner: Rachio 3 ReviewRachio Smart Sprinkler Controller 3

View on Amazon

Our top pick for the best smart sprinkler controller is the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller. It has all the features you’ll want with simple installation and seamless programming. It gets overall excellent reviews from hundreds of customers and is EPA WaterSense and SWAT certified, making this controller worthy of a rebate (up to 100%) in many local municipalities. Rachio (pronounced rah-chee-oh) can also save you up to 50% on your watering bill.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy DIY installation
  • Up to 16 zones
  • Automatically adapts to weather forecasts and rainfall amounts
  • Customizable programming is better than competitors
  • WaterSense and SWAT certified
  • Integrates with Nest, Wink, Amazon Alexa and more
  • Excellent customer service
  • On the expensive side
  • Outdoor waterproof enclosure is an extra fee

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • 8-Zone: $199.99
  • 16-Zone:  $249.00
  • Enclosure:  $29.99
  • Supports iOS 10.3+ and Android 4.4+
  • Temperature Range: -4F to 140F
  • Supports dedicated 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Transformer Power Input: 120V AC / 60Hz
  • Transformer Power Output: 24V AC

Video: What And Who’s Behind Rachio?

Check out how Rachio works and how the CEO conceived his product in this local Denver news station coverage below. Rachio is a Colorado-based “start-up” that’s taken the smart sprinkler controller industry by storm.

Read Our In-Depth Rachio Sprinkler Review

Runner-Up: RainMachine ReviewRainMachine Smart WiFi Irrigation Controller

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RainMachine gives our number one choice a run for its money — the major differences come down to the fact that you can only install this one indoors.

RainMachine gets local weather stats from more sources than its competitors, and it features an open API system, which allows you more integration flexibility. RainMachine is an excellent choice if you don’t mind paying a bit more and want your controller mounted indoors.

Pros

Cons

  • Simple indoor wall-mounted installation
  • Up to 16 zones
  • Automatically adapts current and future weather conditions
  • Customizable programming
  • EPA WaterSense certified
  • Syncs with Nest, Amazon Echo, Wink, IFTTT and more
  • Good customer support by phone and online
  • Expensive
  • Indoor use only
  • Several consumer complaints that the apps don’t work much of the time (especially the iOS app)

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • 12-Zone:  Check Amazon for availability
  • Temperature Range: -4F to 120F
  • Supports 2.4GHz WiFi
  • 1-year limited warranty
  • AC Input: 24V AC, 50/60Hz, 750mA (adapter included)

3rd Place: Orbit ReviewOrbit 57985 B-hyve XR Smart 8-Zone Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Controller

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The Orbit 57985 B-hyve Smart Sprinkler System Controller comes at a good price point, is easy to install and has a ton of great features, but it lacks the level of customization and home automation integration capabilities that you get with our top two picks.

Orbit has the certifications you’ll want, but some consumers report that you may need to integrate your sprinkler system with Orbit’s catch cup technology to reach the highest level of water efficiency.

Pros

Cons

  • Simple installation indoors or out (includes weatherproof lockbox)
  • Affordable
  • WeatherSense technology adjusts for local weather conditions/forecasts
  • B-hyve apps for Android, iOS, most PCs
  • Easy to set and customize programming
  • WaterSense & SWAT certified
  • Good customer service
  • Need to integrate with Orbit’s catch cup technology to equal Rachio’s savings (sold separately)
  • No home automation integrations
  • Several customer complaints about poor app performance

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • 8-Zone: $141.61
  • 16-Zone:  $191.37
  • Supports iOS 8.0+ and Android 4.3+
  • Supports 2.4GHz WiFi
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Transformer Power Input: 120V AC / 60Hz
  • Transformer Power Output: 24V AC

Blossom, Hunter, Rain Bird, And Skydrop Reviewed

The following smart sprinkler controllers didn’t make our top three list, but you may want to read our reviews for these products. You may find a good fit for your needs.

Blossom | Hunter Hydrawise | Rain Bird

Blossom Review

Blossom 12 Zone Smart Watering ControllerView on Amazon

The Blossom 12-Zone Smart Watering Controller is a budget-friendly smart sprinkler controller, but saving money means you’ll sacrifice a lot of the functionality you’d get with other smart controllers. While our top three picks are EPA certified and can save you up to 50% on your water bill, Blossom doesn’t have the same muster.

You can still save up to 30%, but you won’t be eligible for a local rebate. You also lose out on the level of customizable programming, i.e., you can’t set your system to water at specific times twice a day. If you don’t need much sophistication or feedback about when your system is watering, Blossom could be a good choice to save you some cash.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to install and set up indoors or out
  • Affordable
  • Adapts to current and future weather conditions/forecasts
  • Decent customer service
  • Only up to 12 zones available
  • Not as customizable as many other controllers
  • Not EPA or SWAT certified
  • No home automation integrations
  • Minimal reporting, feedback or system notifications
  • Several customer complaints that Blossom stops working after several months

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • 12-Zone:  $179.10
  • Compatible with iOS 8.0+ and Android 4.3+
  • Supports 2.4GHz WiFi
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Temperature Range: 0F to 130F
  • Transformer Power Input: 120V AC
  • Transformer Power Output: 24V AC

Hunter Hydrawise Review

Hunter HydrawiseView on Amazon

One of the top selling points of the Hunter HC-1200i Hydrawise Smart Wifi Enabled 12-Zone Sprinkler Controller is that you can expand it up to 36 zones (far more than other WiFi irrigation controllers we’ve reviewed here).

The Hunter Hydrawise sprinkler control is an excellent product, but be forewarned — it will cost you big bucks! The 6-zone WiFi controller runs  Check Amazon for availability , and the 12-zone model costs  $189.45 . With extensions to 36 zones, the controller will run you close to $400!

Does it outperform similar systems that are much less expensive? Unfortunately, no. Its smart technology and customization are on par with our top two picks, Rachio and RainMachine, but it’s missing features they both have, namely EPA WaterSense certification and home automation integration.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy to set up and program
  • Can expand up to 36 zones
  • Excellent customization and reporting
  • Advanced smart technology
  • iOS, Android and web-based apps
  • Good customer service
  • Wiring doesn’t fit well into the controller box
  • Indoor use only
  • No EPA WaterSense certification
  • Doesn’t integrate with home automation platforms
  • Some consumer complaints about spotty app performance

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • 6-Zone:  Check Amazon for availability
  • 12-Zone:  $189.45
  • Expansion Module: 
  • Comes with 2 sensor ports
  • Compatible with iOS 8.0+ and Android 4.3+
  • Supports 2.4GHz WiFi
  • 2-year limited warranty
  • Temperature Range: 0F to 140F (indoor only)

Rain Bird ARC8 App-Based Smart Irrigation Controller Review

Rain Bird ST8I-Wifi Smart Irrigation ControllerView on Amazon

The Rain Bird ARC8 Controller series is a reliable, affordable and easy-to-use system if you have a smaller yard. One of its standout features is its app (for both iOS and Android) that gets excellent customer reviews for its functionality — unlike some of our top picks.

This controller also gives you good programming options and system feedback. Some of its drawbacks include an 8-zone limit, no home automation integration, no listed warranty and the lack of EPA or SWAT certification. But if those features don’t matter to you, Rain Bird is a solid choice. And it gets a majority of positive reviews from users on Amazon.

Pros

Cons

  • Easy installation and programming
  • Competitive price for indoor unit (external option is a bit pricey)
  • Automatic adjustments for local weather forecast
  • Good customizable programming
  • Very reliable app performance
  • Great feedback and system notifications
  • Only up to 8 zones
  • Must purchase wired rain sensor separately
  • No home automation integrations
  • Not EPA or SWAT certified
  • No warranty (but can return within 90 days)
  • No tech support phone number, email or live chat listed on website for homeowners

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • $115.00
  • Supports 2.4GHz WiFi
  • No warranty listed
  • No temperature range listed for outdoor unit
  • Transformer Power Input: 120V AC
  • Transformer Power Output: 24V AC

Are Smart Smart Sprinkler Systems Worth It?

If you’ve ever kept up a lawn and garden before, you know all too well that building and maintaining a thriving yard is a costly and time-consuming investment. Don’t let all your past work and money go down the drain. The cost of a smart sprinkler controller is a fraction of what you’d likely pay to have to replace dried up grass, beds and gardens (or paying too much on your water bill). In the end, it’s worth the investment.

Smart Lawn Mower Robots

Now that you’ve read our smart sprinkler controller comparison, check out these smart lawn mower robots that will mow your lawn for you too. And learn about other smart home technologies to automate other aspects of your home.

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The information provided through this website should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease; it is not intended to offer any legal opinion or advice or a substitute for professional safety advice or professional care. Please consult your health care provider, attorney, or product manual for professional advice. Products and services reviewed are provided by third parties; we are not responsible in any way for them, nor do we guarantee their functionality, utility, safety, or reliability. Our content is for educational purposes only.

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