Rachio Sprinkler Review: Is It The Best Smart Lawn Irrigation Solution?

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Rachio Sprinkler system in useEver see sprinklers going off in the middle of a rain storm? With Rachio, you can forget about that. Rachio will water your lawn at the most efficient times and you can adjust its watering schedule to local weather so there is no more wasted water.

The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller (pronounced rah-chee-oh) lets you water your lawn while you’re away from home using the app. Now you’ll be able to control your sprinklers from the office or while you’re on vacation. Rachio logo

View Rachio on Amazon

Article Overview

Rachio

4.4 / 5
Rachio
Customer Service & Reputation 4.5
Price 3.5
Scheduling 5.0
Run-Time 4.0
Mobile App 5.0

Pros

  • 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, Google Home, Amazon Echo (Alexa) and more
  • Excellent customer service

Cons

  • On the expensive side
  • Outdoor waterproof enclosure is an additional cost

Key FeaturesRachio 3

  • Can save you up to 50% on your watering bill
  • EPA WaterSense and SWAT certified (worthy of a rebate up to 100% in many local municipalities)
  • Control your sprinklers from anywhere using your smartphone, tablet or laptop
  • Automatically adapts to local weather by skipping scheduled watering cycles when rain is predicted and by adjusting watering times as the seasons change
  • You can input zone details like soil type, plant type and sun exposure to let Rachio automatically set up the best watering schedules for your lawn
  • Works with Amazon Echo, Google Home, Nest, IFTTT and other top-tier home automation systems

Pricing & Tech Specs

  • Rachio 3 8-Zone:  Check Amazon for availability
  • Rachio 3 16-Zone:  $240.99
  • 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

Rachio 1st vs 2nd vs 3rd Generations

If you have a 1st or 2nd generation Rachio, you may be wondering if it’s worth upgrading to Rachio 3.

 1st Generation2nd Generation3rd Generation
Work with almost any existing sprinkler systemCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Installation in under 30 minutesCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Weather Intelligence with rain, freeze, wind, saturation skips and moreCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
Available in 8 or 16-zone modelsCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
2.4GHzCheckmarkCheckmarkCheckmark
5GHzCheckmarkCheckmark
Optional waterproof outdoor enclosureCheckmarkCheckmark
Premium Weather Intelligence Plus (hyperlocal accuracy)CheckmarkCheckmark
On-unit run, pause and skip buttonsCheckmarkCheckmark
Leak detection and blockage notificationsCheckmark
Instant zone shut-off triggered by leak detectionCheckmark
Precise outdoor water usage monitoringCheckmark

Do Users Think Rachio Is A Smart Choice?

As part of our Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller review, we dug around the web to find out what users had to say about their Rachio purchases. We found an overwhelmingly positive response — thousands of five-star reviews. But we always like to give our readers a balanced sampling.

Positive Reviews

Our house had a rainbird sprinkler controller and it was OK, but we often forgot to shut it off when it rained. That meant a muddy and nasty yard, especially during the rainy season. Also, since the schedule needs to be adjusted seasonally, I would have to go into the garage and remember how to tweak the schedule to get it to be where it should be. I love this Rachio system and how it integrates with my smart home. A excellent product! – RyanG., Lowes.com 12/8/2018

Rachio 3 (16-zones) is an outstanding sprinkler controller. Replaced +20year old sprinkle controller. For me challenge relocating from outdoor to within garage; establishing new outdoor weatherproof electrical box-receptacle. Home Depot On-line purchased, shipped free, UPS arrived on-time good shape. Rachio company provides free recycling old controller unit, but uses FedEx; work w/ Rachio Support getting return FedEx shipping label. Recommend installing Rachio 3 “Smart home system”: easy connectivity to NOAA weather predictions controlling sprinkling accurately and allowing my cellphone intervening when needed, I now fine-tuning watering of each separate zone. – Warren, HomeDepot.com 12/27/2018

Negative Reviews

Better hope it works out od the box, took me two days to get through to a live person at Rachio. My unit was dead out of the box and they refused to replace the unit and wanted to ship a new power adapter in hopes that would fix the problem. When i asked not to be a gunea pig i was told sorry this is their process and they would have to elevate it to a manager and wait for them to make a decision and call me back?? Needless to say i returned the unit and purchased another brand. Terribile service. – Paul2, Lowes.com 3/31/2018

Bad product. Brand new unit and failed right out of the box. First it would not connect to my router (that has 7 other smart home devices connected). Then the power supply failed within 24 hours. Wasted half a day on what should have taken 30 minutes. Took it back and exchanged for older R2 unit which has no issues (so far). Rachio should do better quality / reliability checks before releasing new products. – UtahEngineer, HomeDepot.com 8/26/2018

How Easy Is It To Install?

Check out this brief video by Rachio to see how easy this smart sprinkler controller is to install.

Looking For Other Smart Home Gadgets?

View Rachio on Amazon

We highly recommend Rachio as the best smart sprinkler controller, but we also encourage you to see how Rachio stacks up against its competitors in our WiFi sprinkler controller reviews.

And if you’re ready to go all in on the smart home bandwagon, be sure to check out our comprehensive guide to smart home living, which includes information about all the ways you can smarten up your home as well as tons of other smart product reviews.

Why are you considering a smart sprinkler system?

About The Author:

While attending the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s graduate school for journalism and public relations, Sally began a long career researching and writing about hard-to-understand topics, such as insurance and finance.

Her additional experience in marketing, fundraising, public relations and financial planning at various foundations and nonprofit organizations over the years has given her the practical tools to inform consumers about making the smartest business and personal financial decisions. Her work has appeared in many notable media outlets, including The Washington Post, Entrepreneur, People, Forbes, Huffington Post, and more.

Speaking of smart living — growing up in the (at-the-time) per-capita murder capital of the U.S. (Richmond, VA) taught her a thing or two about the need for personal and home safety. Sally stays on top of all the latest gadgets and services to protect her and her teenage daughters from potential predators and thieves. And she brings this knowledge to every article she writes.

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Lukanator
May 23, 2019 2:32 pm

What are the major differences between Rachio Gen 2 vs Gen 1? I like that I can pickup the first generation for around $50 less than generation 2, but I don’t want to miss out on any cool features.

(Admin)
Alex Schenker
May 23, 2019 5:49 pm
Reply to  Lukanator

The major differences are that Generation 2 has 2 rain sensors (instead of 1) and you can manually operate with physical buttons besides just using the app. Now, that’s the nuts and bolts answer, if you ask Rachio they will say that they greatly improved Generation 2 based on feedback from Generation 1 including making it easier to install, connect and physically mount. Whether that’s worth it is up to you, but I’d always recommend going with the most recent version for updates. Checkout our Rachio Review to learn more about Rachio.

Addy
December 11, 2017 3:44 pm

One question (and kind of important thing to note here) this is for the control system only correct? Not the actual irrigation system itself? Just wanted to clarify as “easy to install” would apply just to the system control (not installing in your yard).