The function of the smart irrigation control is comparable to that of the smart thermostat in your home. Only instead of switching the boiler on and off at a set time, the control unit activates and deactivates your garden irrigation system at set times.
And once you’ve set it up, you don’t have to do anything else. This versatile device optimizes your irrigation system by automatically adjusting to weather and soil conditions. By doing so, it makes it easier for you to keep your green space healthy by reducing water consumption.
Watering your garden could be an activity that you would gladly delegate to someone else, but if you have an automatic irrigation controller everything becomes less tiring and boring.
Whether you’re using a top-of-the-line sprinkler system or a simple sprinkler system connected to your garden hose, you don’t have to wake up at 5 am to turn on the water and wait 10 minutes while your lawn receives one of its main vital resources.
If you’re not particularly programming savvy, don’t worry you will find the best irrigation controller for home, from the simplest to set up to the one dedicated to more experienced users.
Table of Contents
- In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top 3 Picks:
- Top 7 Best Irrigation Controller for Home 2021 – Reviews
- #1. Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller – Best Overall
- #2. Netro Smart Sprinkler Controller 6 Zone
- #3. Orbit B-hyve 12-Zone Smart Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Controller
- #4. Orbit B-hyve 8-Zone Smart Indoor Sprinkler Controller
- #5. RainMachine Pro-16 Wi-Fi/Ethernet Irrigation Controller
- #6. Aeon Matrix Smart Sprinkler Controller 8 Zone
- #7. Rain Bird ST8I-2.0 Smart Indoor
- How to Choose a Irrigation Controller?
In a Hurry? Here’s Our Top 3 Picks:
Top 7 Best Irrigation Controller for Home 2021 – Reviews
I’ve picked seven irrigation controllers for home from my experience. With the in-depth analysis, you’ll get to choose the compatible one for your need.
#1. Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller – Best Overall
- Save money and water! See up to 30-50% savings on your monthly water bill. App Compatibility-iOS 10.3+ and Android 4.4+; subject to change. Mobile app is required to connect the controller to Wi-Fi. Web app available on most browsers. The Rachio controller must be connected to the AC power adapter included. DC Transformers are not supported
- Avoid watering in the rain. Exclusive weather intelligence plus automatically skips unnecessary watering with features like rain skip, wind skip, freeze skip, and more.
- Control from anywhere with the easy-to-use app. Run sprinklers, view upcoming schedules, and observe your estimated outdoor water usage.
Our Editor’s Pick, the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller, is the best sprinkler controller overall. Although it might be on the expensive side for others, we believe that if you want superior consistency, the Rachio 3, which conveniently supports 8 zones and comes with a 2-year warranty, is the way to go.
This smart sprinkler controller, like other smart sprinkler controllers, connects to your home’s Wi-Fi quickly and effortlessly, using either the 2.4 or 5 GHz bandwidth choices. You can update your local weather station to see what the forecast is and change your sprinkler schedule on the fly thanks to the Wi-Fi connection.
You can also attach it to the sensors and configure it to water your lawn when it decides that it is necessary. It’s also compatible with your favorite smart-home apps like Amazon Alexa or Google Home, plus it comes with its own smartphone app that you can use to configure and monitor your sprinkler’s schedule.
The enclosure is not weather-resistant, so you can just leave it inside your house unless you buy a more weather-resistant enclosure for it. Overall, this is an excellent purchase that will save you a lot of money and effort in the long term.
#2. Netro Smart Sprinkler Controller 6 Zone
- Fully Automatic - EPA WaterSense certified, dynamically creates and adjusts watering schedules optimized for your plants/lawns
- Lifetime Cloud Service - Connects to WiFi(2.4G), monitors and controls your sprinkler system anywhere from iOS(8.3+), Android(5.0+) devices and Web browsers
- Eco Friendly - Save up to 50% of your outdoor water use with advanced water saving technologies including weather forecasting and historical statistics
The Netro Sprite is at the top of our list. This little gem was by far the best to set up and use. Unlike most others, the Sprite does not require you to devote one of the included six or 12 stations (control zones) to a master valve.
We enjoyed the addition of an extra station for this reason because using one of the stations for the master valve leaves you with one fewer station to use for watering.
The Sprite, like the majority of the controllers we reviewed, collects local weather data from outlets such as Weather Underground, NOAA, and The Weather Channel, and asks for details unique to your lawn (such as soil quality, plant type, and amount of sun and shade) as you go through the app setup.
The yard data, coupled with local weather data, makes it a very clever little controller that can create a personalized schedule based on recent rain and predicted precipitation.
The configuration method for the Netro Sprite was simple and intuitive. Both the Android and iOS applications performed flawlessly via WiFi and through remote control, and the app takes you through the bulk of the configuration.
It didn’t make our top choice for two reasons: it’s built for indoor installation, but if your control box is outdoors, you’ll have to transfer wiring from the previous controller inside. The Sprite is completely controlled by the app, which is the second thing. Without your phone, you won’t be able to configure it.
That may be a challenge for the less tech-savvy or the sprinkler maintenance guy, but we honestly didn’t miss it. We weren’t troubled by the lack of other control choices because we loved using the app too much.
#3. Orbit B-hyve 12-Zone Smart Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Controller
- WELCOME TO B-HYVE: Looking to get a smart sprinkler controller? If this is out of stock, or if you want the best, check out the CES Innovation Award-winning B-hyve XR smart controller
- CONTROL FROM ANYWHERE: The B-hyve app is fully functional for android, iOS or web devices and gives you control wherever you need it program your timer on the app, at the timer, or let the weather-based software create a program for you
- SMART WATERING: WeatherSense technology provides watering based on site conditions such as slope, soil type, sun/shade, historical et and live weather feeds, it automatically adjusts your controller to deliver the right amount of water to your plants
It works with WiFi and has a timer that can be operated by an app. The B-Hyve App is compatible with iOS, Android, and web-based platforms. If you don’t want to use the App, the controller can be used to configure schedules and configure the timer. If you don’t want to use the App, the controller can be used directly.
Weather sense technology helps the Orbit smart controller to water the plants depending on the daily weather forecast. This controller is extremely intelligent because it considers a variety of variables such as slope, soil condition, heat, and live weather streams.
All is very simple to install, and the swing panel provides convenient access to the wiring terminals. This is perfect for people who are unaware of their DIY ability. Orbit promises to conserve 50% more water than most brands, which is enough water to pay for itself. You have the option of controlling six or twelve regions.
Smart sprinkler controllers like the Orbit 57950 are fantastic. You can use your mobile device to monitor the water from anywhere in the world. They even let you use your Amazon Alexa system to power your sprinklers.
Since the weather sense function establishes routines for you, the smart sprinkler will miss the watering process if it has already rained. Overall, this is a fantastic irrigation controller that will help you conserve water while also allowing your plants to flourish.
#4. Orbit B-hyve 8-Zone Smart Indoor Sprinkler Controller
- WELCOME TO B-HYVE: Looking to get a smart sprinkler controller? If this is out of stock, or if you want the best, check out the CES Innovation Award-winning B-hyve XR smart controller
- WI-FI CAPABLE: Fully functional with Android, iOS or web app for total control, wherever you need it; fast and easy pairing using Bluetooth or Wi-Fi Technology
- FREE APP: Easy programming from the B-hyve App in both Android and iOS platforms; no subscription, no hidden fees
The Orbit B-hyve is a budget controller with a lot of punch, starting with its 8-zone control, which is more than enough for a traditional garden. It has a 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi link, and if the Wi-Fi is acting up and disconnecting often, you can connect to the Orbit B-hyve through Bluetooth to make changes. It also comes with its own smartphone app, which is compatible with most Android and Apple phones.
You can also use the Amazon Alexa smart home hub to run four personalized watering systems, which you can then bypass manually anytime you leave for an extended period of time. While the mobile app and controller are fairly simple, if you have any logistical problems, you’ll need to call Orbit’s customer service staff, which is only open on weekdays during working hours if you need to talk with anyone.
#5. RainMachine Pro-16 Wi-Fi/Ethernet Irrigation Controller
- CLOUD INDEPENDENT - All personal data stored locally. Rain Machine continues to work even when Wi-Fi is down.
- 16 ZONES + MASTER VALVE - Rain and flow connector. Wi-Fi & 10/100 Ethernet. 1. 77" Color touch screen.
- SMART SCHEDULE & SAVE WATER - Save water with real-time weather adjustments (Epa WaterSense certified, check for rebates).
For larger gardens, we recommend the RainMachine Pro-16. You get a huge 16-zone coverage with this controller, which can handle just about any sized garden. This controller connects to your Wi-Fi network and allows you to adjust your watering based on plant condition, soil type, slope/terrain, and sun exposure.
It uses weather forecasts from nearby weather stations to recycle water and change water schedules. In terms of tech usability, it fits most Android and Apple smartphones, and you can monitor your water schedules with Amazon Alexa and Google Home using voice commands.
It’s extremely quick to set up, but you’ll have to do it inside because the enclosure isn’t built of weather-resistant materials. Another great feature of this sprinkler is its simple user interface, which can be seen on both the mobile app and the controller.
It’s easy to configure and learn as you go thanks to the controls on the front screen. Customer service is always missing for this controller, which is one of the major drawbacks. It was difficult to contact anyone from the company to resolve any problems, according to a few users.
#6. Aeon Matrix Smart Sprinkler Controller 8 Zone
- SAVE WATER, SAVE MONEY – with our Smart Program and Rain Skips
- OUTDOOR READY - our weatherproof enclosure can be mounted indoors or outdoors.
- HD SECURITY CAMERA – multi-functional smart device capable of both smart irrigation and surveillance.
The Yardian has all of the qualities we search for in a sprinkler controller. It can be built indoors or outdoors and generates a personalized routine based on local weather reports and details unique to your lawn.
Since the controller lacks a touch screen, it must be programmed using the app. Despite a few bugs with the Android app during startup, it linked and worked consistently after that.
The Yardian has a surveillance camera with a motion sensor, which is a cool and very unusual feature. It offers free live streaming content with night vision as well as free cloud storage for 24 hours.
It’s advertised on the packaging, but there’s no mention of it in the app, so it took some digging to get it working. We discovered more detail on their website after doing some searching. Since the unit is vulnerable to light, they suggest setting the motion detector to the lowest sensitivity.
As a result, turning on your car headlights or turning on a light switch in your garage will set off the motion detector, which will give you “an unnecessary amount of warnings.” It’s inconvenient, but Yardian claims they’re trying to change it.
A built-in animal repellent is also included in the controller. “Simply set the desired zone and length, and your sprinklers will automatically activate when they sense motion,” according to the website.
This is manipulative. Motion is not detected by the sprinklers. Wherever the Yardian controller is pointing, motion is observed (in the case of our test house, inside the garage). As a result, if something moved in the Yardian’s field of view, or if the illumination changed suddenly, the animal repellent region sprayed for 10 seconds.
If you mount the Yardian controller outdoors and aim it at a place where you have issues with local wildlife, it can be used to drive varmints away from your beloved bush (or something else you don’t want them to eat). It seems to be half-baked in its present form, but it may be perfect for certain people.
#7. Rain Bird ST8I-2.0 Smart Indoor
- New and Improved model 2.0 WiFi timer; features numerous upgrades and replaces the Obsolete ST8I-WIFI
- WiFi signal conveniently places control of your timer in the palm of your hand
- Super easy to program; allows access to timer functions from anywhere in the world
The Rain Bird ST8-2.0 is another useful controller that, thanks to its compact scale, is ideal for use indoors. It can be mounted anywhere in your home and will go unnoticed due to its limited scale.
When it’s inside, it delivers powerful water blow to the lawn outside. It has an 8-zone coverage and is Wi-Fi compliant. You can connect your Android and Apple devices to the Rain Bird mobile app to simplify your watering schedule and gain access to weather updates so that you or the app can make changes.
If the software gets too difficult for you, you can still change the water settings on the controller. You’ll be able to get updates on your phone as soon as your watering is done. Unfortunately, one of the most frequent complaints about this controller is that the instructions are not explicit enough.
As a result, figuring out how to program it correctly can be challenging. Even so, once you’ve mastered the software, you’ll appreciate the range of settings it offers.
How to Choose a Irrigation Controller?
Each automatic sprinkler offers you great help in keeping your green spaces healthy and lush. Some features are indispensable, while others are just extras. Here they are in detail.
One of the most interesting features of the control unit is the presence of a sensor that detects rain and monitors adverse atmospheric agents.
This can help you prevent over-watering your garden or lawn. An excess of water is not only bad for your garden, but it also increases your water bill and impacts the environment.
An intelligent control unit that connects to your home wi-fi allows you to use a dedicated app to configure via smartphone.
This way you can also check the operation at any time, even if you are not present. Basically, your smartphone becomes a kind of remote control.
Smart Home Compatibility
If a wifi control unit is not enough for you, know that there are also some controllers that can be integrated into home automation systems.
This way you can tell the system to start or stop watering using your voice and a device like Amazon Alexa or Google Home.
The opinion of those who use these devices agrees in affirming that the potential of a control unit that offers more programs should not be underestimated. Your vegetable garden and your garden have different needs and, for this, you will have to set up different schedules. This is usually also possible with standard-type controllers.
A power outage can wreak havoc with your automated programs. However, if you have an irrigation controller that can store programs permanently, you should be able to retrieve your settings once the power returns. This can save you a lot of time.
If you prefer not to have to face the problems related to the blackout, you could opt for a battery irrigation controller. The only thing is that you have to remember is to change them before they run out.
The controller can be connected to several water irrigation points, which are also called “stations”. In this way, it is possible to autonomously control different zones. The most advanced models can manage 4 stations or even 6 stations.
#Q1 What is an irrigation control unit?
It is a device designed to operate automatic irrigation systems such as lawn sprinklers and drip irrigation systems. Most appliances of this type allow you to set the watering frequency, start time, and duration of watering.
Some have additional features such as multiple independent programs to allow for different watering frequencies based on plant types, rain delay settings, soil moisture sensors, remote operation.
There are two basic types of irrigation controllers, hydraulic and electronic. In the first case, the device and the valves are connected by means of small plastic pipes of about 4 mm in diameter.
The controller opens the tube connected to the valve, allowing the valve to open.
Most newer systems use electromechanical or electronic controllers. In this scenario, the controller is connected to an electrical circuit that operates a solenoid connected to each solenoid valve.
When the solenoid is operated, the water above the diaphragm is drained and the valve opens.
#Q2 Why install an irrigation controller?
A branded control unit allows you to automate the entire irrigation operation, but it can do much more: it allows you to optimize water consumption and saves you a lot of time. Many users are reluctant to install such a device because they consider it complicated to program.
In fact, you’ll have to spend some time reading the instruction manual and tinkering with the appliance a bit. However, be aware that some controllers are easier to program than others.
#Q3 Is it worth buying a smart sprinkler controller?
A small garden doesn’t need the same level of maintenance as a larger space, so the sprinkler controller won’t be as effective. However, if the functionality of such a device can help you save time and money in your daily life, it is the right solution for you.
#Q4 How long does an irrigation control unit last?
One of the components that may need to be replaced regularly is cables, often due to improper installation and corrosion. The valves will give you 10 to 15 years of service, while the controllers will give you 5 to 10 years.
#Q5 How much does a sprinkler timer cost?
Replacing an irrigation timer costs 30 to 150 euros, plus labor. Your professional may just need to reprogram or rewire this component instead of replacing it, at an average rate of 40 to 60 euros per hour.
#Q6 What are the benefits of a sprinkler timer?
With the irrigation control units, it is possible to set the activation and shutdown times of the irrigation system. This means you can water your lawn early in the morning while still in bed.
When life becomes hectic, bathing the garden and the vegetable garden becomes yet another task to add to the things to do during the day. An irrigation control unit frees you from all thoughts, managing the activation and deactivation of the system in complete autonomy.