Your Buying Guide for the Top 4: Best Smart Irrigation Systems

If you’re serious about the health of your lawn, a smart irrigation system may be right for you. Smart irrigation systems use a combination of advanced sprinklers and intelligent irrigation controllers to automatically adjust the watering of your lawn to optimal levels. These controllers can regulate when and for how long your sprinklers run. When programmed correctly, smart irrigation systems for lawns can be much more efficient than manual sprinklers.

How exactly are these systems more efficient? For one thing, you can save tons of money. With a smart system, water output automatically adjusts and adapts itself based on weather and soil conditions. In turn, this can minimize your water bill. You can even save time with a smart irrigation system. Once the system is set up, you don’t have to spend a lot of time tending to your lawn’s irrigation.

A smart irrigation system is extremely convenient, as it can adapt to seasonal weather changes with little reprogramming. It’s perfect for complying with any local watering restrictions, and it’s a nice-to-have for people who travel regularly. Read on to learn more about how to select the best smart irrigation system for your property.

Frequently check your sprinklers to ensure everything is working properly. Torn lines, faulty nozzles, and clogged heads can spoil your landscape and increase your water bill before you know it.

The top 4 best smart irrigation systems are:

  1. Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller 2-generation
  2. Orbit 57950 B-hyve Smart System Controller
  3. RainMachine Pro 8 Irrigation Controller
  4. Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller

Read the features and the extended reviews below.

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Top 4 Best Smart irrigation systems

Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller 2-generationOrbit 57950 B-hyve Smart System ControllerRainMachine Pro 8 Irrigation ControllerRachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
Pros
Works with Alexa and Google Home

Works with most irrigation systems

Easy DIY installation

Automatic weather adjustments

Available in 8 zone and 16 zone

Start, Stop, Pause or Skip individual zones - even create a Custom Run schedule

2 year warranty
Pros
Works with Alexa

Easy DIY installation

Available in 6 zone and 12 zone

WaterSense Technology (asks your zipcode for weather forecasting)

Lower price (in comparison to other 3 options)

Turn on/off specific zones

1 year warranty
Pros
Works with Alexa, Google Home, Nest, WINK, SmartThings via IFTTT

Available in 12 and 16 zon

Use National or Personal Weather Stations for pinpoint accuracy

Still works when WIFI is down

Turn on/off specific zones

1 year warranty

Pros
Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, apple HomeKit️, nest, and more!

Easy DIY installation

Available in 8 zone and 16 zone

Also supports 5-GHz Wi-Fi

Start, Stop, Pause or Skip individual zones - even create a Custom Run schedule

With Hyperlocal Weather Intelligence™ Plus

2 year warranty

Cons
Limited instructions for specific programs

When WIFI is down, so are your sprinklers

Controlling the system directly from the device is very difficult because it has no screen.

Cannot operate on 5 GHz only networks
Cons
Compatible and compliant only with North American electrical outlets. 110V

Works only with 2.4 GHz WiFi router

When WIFI is down, the system doesn't work
Cons
Customer service might not always be great

Attaching the wires can be a challenge

Cons
Customer service sometimes difficult to reach

Outdoor enclosure is not included

There is no power cord included
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Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller

The Rachio smart sprinkler is available in an 8-zone and 16-zone option. The smart irrigation system works with Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest and works on WIFI with your phone, tablet, laptop or connected home system. The system helps you save up to 50% of water while keeping your lawn healthy and green. It is EPA WaterSense certified. The system works with intuitive schedules and local weather intelligence. You can work with customized zones so you can use the system for your lawn, but also your flower beds.

The brand Rachio was started by Chris Klein, from Colorado. Chris felt like the time to water smarter was long overdue. So he put his experience as a software engineer to work in designing the foundation for a more intelligent sprinkler controller. At Rachio, innovation is key. This way, people can have a sustainable, beautiful, resilient lawn and healthy water and soil for generations to come.

Pros:

  • Works with Alexa and Google Home
  • Works with most irrigation systems
  • Easy DIY installation
  • Automatic weather adjustments
  • Available in 8-zone and 16-zone
  • Start, Stop, Pause or Skip individual zones – even create a Custom Run schedule
  • 2-year warranty

Cons:

  • Limited instructions for specific programs
  • When WIFI is down, so are your sprinklers
  • Controlling the system directly from the device is very difficult because it has no screen.
  • Cannot operate on 5 GHz only networks

 

Orbit 57950 B-hyve Smart System Controller

 

The Orbit B-hyve Smart System controller helps you save up to 50% of water. Program your timer on the app, at the timer, or let the weather-based software create a program for you. The system is EPA WaterSense approved and certified. It works with Amazon Alexa voice control and WIFI on an Android or iOS smart device.

This system works with timers control and WeatherSense Technology, so the system looks ahead at the weather forecast, shuts off water during rain, then recalculates your watering schedule. Orbit supports Custom schedules for your landscape, so you can set a specific schedule for your lawn, as well as your flower beds.

Pros:

  • Works with Alexa
  • Easy DIY installation
  • Available in 6-zone and 12-zone option
  • WaterSense Technology (asks your zip code for weather forecasting)
  • Lower price (in comparison to other 3 options)
  • Turn on/off specific zones
  • 1-year warranty

Cons:

  • Compatible and compliant only with North American electrical outlets. 110V
  • Works only with 2.4 GHz WiFi router
  • When WIFI is down, the system doesn’t work

 

RainMachine Pro-8 Irrigation Controller

 

The RainMachinen system is available in an 8-zone and 16-zone option. The system works on WIFI with Android and iOS and with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest, SmartThings and IFTTT. It works with National or Personal Weather Stations for pinpoint accuracy.

RainMachine claims that you can safe up to 80% of water with their system. That is a lot! The Irrigation controller has WaterSense Certification.

The brand is relatively new, it was formed in Silicon Valley in 2010 and introduced its first RainMachine system in 2013. The product was designed from the ground up to be a powerful tool that empowers people to conserve the most precious resource on this planet: Water.

Pros:

  • Works with Alexa, Google Home, Nest, WINK, SmartThings via IFTTT
  • Available in 8 and 16 zone
  • Use National or Personal Weather Stations for pinpoint accuracy
  • Still works when WIFI is down
  • Turn on/off specific zones
  • 1-year warranty

Cons:

  • Customer support might not always be great
  • Attaching the wires can be a challenge

 

Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler

The Rachio 3 smart sprinkler looks a lot like their Generation 2 sprinkler and has a lot of the same features. Like the 8-zone and 16-zone option. The device also works with WIFI on iOS and Android, with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest, SmartThings and IFTTT. It works with different zones and rain and soil sensors.

So what is the difference? This system is one of the few systems that work with 5-GHz WiFi. It also works with Hyperlocal Weather Intelligence™ Plus, a unique technology that references comprehensive satellite, radar and weather station data to provide schedule adjustments for rain, wind or snow. So it should be insanely precise!

Pros:

  • Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple HomeKit️, Nest, SmartThings, IFTTT and more!
  • Easy DIY installation
  • Available in 8 zone and 16 zone
  • Also supports 5-GHz Wi-Fi
  • Start, Stop, Pause or Skip individual zones
  • Create a custom run schedule
  • With Hyperlocal Weather Intelligence™ Plus, so it should be extremely precise!
  • 2-year warranty

 

Types of smart irrigation systems for lawns

There are generally two main types of smart irrigation systems: weather-based systems and soil moisture-based systems. The type that’s right for you depends on numerous factors, including the weather patterns in your area and the landscape of your property.

Weather-based smart irrigation systems

Weather-based smart irrigation systems, also called ET-based systems, typically relies on outside data or local weather patterns to make adjustments. These systems include weather sensors that oversee conditions such as temperature, rainfall, and solar radiation. This data may be accumulated on your property or from a remote site.

These systems utilize three different types of technology: signal-based controllers, historic ET controllers, and on-site weather measurement controllers.

  • Signal-based controllers utilize publicly available meteorological data to dictate watering patterns. The data can be sent via a wireless WiFi connection.
  • Historic ET controllers utilize pre-programmed data as a base value or curve. The information is based on historic water use in various parts of the property. The curve can also be adjusted to meet specific requirements.
  • On-site weather measurement controllers utilize weather data collected on the property to calculate measurements and adjust watering constantly.

 

Soil moisture-based smart irrigation systems

Soil moisture systems utilize sensors to monitor moisture content in the soil; watering is adjusted accordingly. Many of these sensors can also be added to an existing traditional controller. There are two key types of soil sensor-based irrigation systems: suspended cycle irrigation systems as well as water-on-demand irrigation systems.

  • Suspended cycle irrigation systems function pretty much like the traditional timer controllers. They have watering schedules, start and stop times, as well as set durations. The primary difference is that the system is designed to stop when there is enough moisture in the soil.
  • Water-on-demand irrigation doesn’t use duration data. It functions based on start times and which days to water. All that is required is basic upper and lower threshold data, which regulates watering when moisture levels fall outside of those values.

 

A note about other components and zoning

Sensors and controllers are the key parts of a smart irrigation system, but other factors should also be considered to make the most out of their benefits. Utilizing water-efficient sprinkler heads and nozzles ensures that the landscape is being treated evenly and there isn’t any additional waste.

It’s also essential to consider that not all areas of your property will require the same amount of water. Establishing landscape beds in areas separate from your grass helps to properly section your area for efficient watering. Experts will agree that zoning is a crucial aspect to consider for smart irrigation efficiency.

 

EXPERT TIP

It’s a great idea to begin watering early in the morning, especially in hot climates. This is usually when temperatures are cool and the wind is calm.

 

Features

Mobile control systems

Many modern smart irrigation systems can be controlled remotely from a mobile device and you can download an app for your Android or Apple device or access control via a web browser. These features can be used alongside other systems (like video monitoring) for additional convenience.

 

Voice control systems

With the growing popularity of voice-activated devices like Amazon Alexa, it’s no surprise that several companies have integrated it into their smart irrigation systems. These advanced voice-activated systems not only use smart adjustments based on weather, but they also enable users to control their sprinkler systems with easy commands such as “Alexa, turn on my lawn.”

 

Touchscreen systems

While basic smart systems make use of mobile devices for a more detailed view of settings and data, there are touchscreen controllers that put information directly on the controller screen. These devices work extremely well in dark spaces like garages and sheds.

 

DID YOU KNOW?

Drip irrigation applies water straight to the roots at low volume. This is a great way to minimize evaporation or runoff and keep weeds from growing.

 

Smart irrigation system prices

Inexpensive

The least-expense smart systems cost approximately $100 to $150. These systems feature the basic elements of any smart irrigation system, such as WiFi and mobile phone connectivity. The main factor that keeps costs relatively low for these systems is a simplistic controller interface. These devices don’t generally have touchscreens, and users will possibly need an external device to access detailed information.

Mid-level

Mid-level irrigation systems merge basic smart technology, like weather monitoring and wireless connectivity, with advanced technologies like touch screens and voice control. They tend to pull weather data from more locations to provide more precise information. These systems may range anywhere from $150 to $200.

Expensive

The most costly smart irrigation systems cost $200 or more. These systems typically supply the most compatibility with other applications. They may be installed on top of current systems to form a modern touch to traditional systems.

 

EXPERT TIP

To optimize your irrigation setup, ensure your sprinkler heads are adjusted properly to avoid watering sidewalks and driveways.

 

Tips

  • It’s highly recommended that users pair their smart irrigation systems with water-efficient sprinkler heads or nozzles. Many of these nozzles feature thicker water streams that are wind resistant and supply a more uniform distribution of water.
  • Keep your home technology updated in order to increase the efficiency of your smart irrigation system. Usually, these updates happen automatically, but it’s still a great idea to keep track of software and system updates every month.
  • Outside of watering, try to control foot traffic in relevant and specific areas and keep pests at bay. Although your smart system will automatically make adjustments, the goal is to be efficient and minimize costs.

 

Other products we considered

We came across various systems that didn’t quite make our final list but are still top-notch and worth a look. The RainMachine Pro-8 creates a smart irrigation system that can be connected via WiFi and Ethernet. The great part about this controller is that its cloud independent, so personal irrigation data is stored locally. If the WiFi goes down, stored data still enables the system to work. Like other advanced controllers from RainMachine, it has a touchscreen interface and is compatible with Amazon Alexa for voice-activated control.

The Rachio 3 is an advanced sprinkler controller that we appreciate for its Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant compatibility. It’s also excellent for users who want to add a modern advanced controller to their current sprinkler system. You can program and control your sprinklers from a Smartphone or tablet and also utilize the system’s Rachio Weather Intelligence Plus integration, which automatically adjusts the irrigation schedule based on weather forecasts in your location.

Zone your lawn intelligently. This generally means that you should grow plants with similar water requirements in the same area.

 

FAQ

Q. How much water can a smart irrigation system save?

A. Studies have suggested that most smart controller consumers conserve up to 20%, and sometimes even 30%, of the water that they would have utilized with a traditional controller. This can be significant, especially in regions where 70% of household water use takes place outdoors.

Q. Is it best to hire a professional to install my system?

A. Smart irrigation systems differ in complexity. Depending on the setup, the installation might require some basic electrical or lawn care knowledge. If you choose to hire someone, ensure that they are licensed.

Q. Can a lawn be too big or too small for a smart irrigation system?

A. Not precisely. Keep in mind that zoning is crucial. Your smart irrigation system will adjust to the requirements of your property, so as long as you organize and zone your property correctly, an irrigation system should adjust accordingly and take care of the rest.

 

Wayne

I'm Wayne, owner of Bestgarbagedisposalunits.com. I'm a father of 2. I love reviewing products and showcasing the very best in my best of review lists. I want people to make an informative decision by going through these reviews before purchasing their selected products.

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