Main menu


The Best Smart Sprinkler Controller Worth buying in 2022

 Best smart sprinkler controller 2022

A smart irrigation controller will satisfy that itch, whether you're motivated by water conservation, cost savings, a desire to make every element of your house smart, or all of the above.

Watering our lawns and gardens is a thankless task, and it's much more wasteful when done with a hose and a drink in one hand. Irrigation systems have made home watering easier and more efficient, and while the majority of sprinkler systems are made up of plastic pipes (hoses and drippers with a drip irrigation system) and a set of motorised valves connected to the water supply, the controller has always been the brains of the operation.

Sprinkler controls haven't been particularly attractive for decades. A rotary dial, a few switches, and possibly a rudimentary monochrome LCD are typical components. As smart sprinkler controllers join the market, this is fast changing. Startups trying to disrupt the industry with brand-new technologies, and old-guard irrigation businesses that have modernised their equipment with smart innards, have both contributed. To date, both techniques have shown some promise. Here are our recommendations for the greatest gear on the market right now.

What are smart sprinkler controllers and how do they work? 

Smart sprinkler controllers calculate evapotranspiration, or ET, which is the sum of evaporation and plant water use, by analysing local weather conditions—ideally, rainfall accumulation, solar radiation, wind, relative humidity, and temperature—and applying them to estimate evapotranspiration, or ET. Their software algorithms integrate this information with expected and actual rainfall as well as information you provide about your yard (soil type, vegetation kind, slope, shade, and sprinkler head types) to build and change watering schedules that are personalised to your garden's needs.

Smart controllers also utilise their internet connection to perform things like cease watering if it's about to freeze or if there's a chance of wasting water due to severe winds. Soil moisture sensors, flow metres, catch cups, and other smart controller add-ons can all help fine-tune how the system behaves, but they are not required for the controllers' primary functions.

Is it true that smart controllers work? Although we appreciate the convenience and benefits of smart controllers, we turned to Guy Fipps and Charles Swanson of the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service for a scientific viewpoint, as they have been testing and developing weather-based irrigation controllers for more than a decade.

Fipps and Swanson both said they wouldn't use a smart controller in their own yards, but they would recommend them to someone who hasn't spent their entire career studying irrigation. "If you compare this technology to a homeowner who adjusts their thermostat once and forgets about it for the rest of the year," Swanson said, "we can see where these controllers actually make adjustments." "Do they conserve as much water as possible?" "Perhaps, maybe not."

Fipps, on the other hand, believes that if you don't utilise a smart controller, you'll need another technique of determining how much water to apply to maintain your garden healthy. In a number of cities across Texas, the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service's WaterMyYard initiative sends out weekly emails and text messages that instruct people how long to operate their irrigation systems. If your town or city has a programme like this, it might be a better alternative than a smart controller—assuming you only want a smart controller for water savings and not for the added convenience and smart-home integrations these devices provide.

While our top option works with third-party wired soil-moisture sensors, several of the other models we evaluated had wireless soil-moisture sensors that are compatible. When these sensors identify that the plants do not require water, they override the watering schedule, reducing water waste. Is a soil moisture sensor required? The verdict is still out on that, and it's an area we're keeping an eye on.

We've previously tested wireless soil-moisture sensors, and they've proven to be unreliable and pricey, frequently slipping off the network and rendering them unusable. And, while the Sprinkl Sense soil-moisture sensor we tested performed far better, all WaterSense-certified controllers are supposed to work without rain or soil-moisture sensors, so you don't need them in theory.

These sensors are particularly ineffective in a domestic situation, according to specialists we spoke with, because topsoil isn't deep enough for accurate readings. However, the Environmental Protection Agency has released criteria for soil-moisture-based irrigation controllers, describing this category as "one alternative to assist homes and businesses in achieving water-efficient irrigation scheduling." One issue with soil-moisture sensors is their cost, especially since each zone requires one. They will, however, be able to qualify for subsidies as a result of the EPA certification, and perhaps will become more inexpensive as a result. We'll keep an eye on this topic and update this guide if we come across a soil-moisture-sensor controller that performs as well as weather-based controllers while being less expensive.

What are you looking for when buying?

Connection to the cloud 

These gadgets rely on internet access to acquire weather forecasts, and if your service goes down, some of them will stop working or only work in a limited capacity.


 Make sure the model you select supports the amount of zones your irrigation system requires, which is usually 8, 12, or 16.


These gadgets use weather forecasts to optimise watering, but they may also use the types of plants, flowers, and vegetables in your garden.


If you have or plan to install a wired, underground irrigation system, this is the only option. Hose timers and battery-powered systems are ineffective. 

What to look for when shopping for a smart sprinkler controller 

Do you already have a sprinkler system in place?

While some smart irrigation controllers will function with garden hoses or other off-the-shelf equipment, the vast majority are designed to work with real irrigation controllers that connect to their own water supply and include motorised valves and dedicated tubing to control water flow. Installing a true sprinkler system, especially if you have a large yard or garden, is a significant job that requires professional help, but updating from a "dumb" controller to a smart controller isn't difficult. If you're starting from scratch with a sprinkler system, go to a landscaping professional first to map out your zones.

Controls available on the device

The most important decision you'll have to make with a controller is whether you want one with onboard controls, which are buttons and a readout on the controller itself that allow you to use it without an app. This is useful if you have numerous users on the system or, more importantly, if you want to give a gardener access to the controller without having to set him up on the app. Without on-device controls, systems typically lack any kind of display other than a status light to indicate whether or not they're operating, so keep in mind that you'll need the app on your smartphone or tablet to accomplish anything with them.

Mounting options include inside and outdoor.

Is the device going to be installed inside or outside? If you want to use the system outside, you'll need a weatherproof enclosure. Some vendors sell controllers in both indoor and outdoor versions. Others offer an outdoor enclosure as an optional extra.

Zones available

A zone is an area controlled by a valve and associated irrigation tubing in irrigation terms. You have four zones if you have four valves. Your controller must be capable of supporting all of the zones in your system. Although eight zones is the most frequent configuration, units with as little as six zones and as many as 16 zones are already available.

Flexibility in scheduling

How frequently do you want to water your plants? Is it every day? Every other day, perhaps? On certain days of the week, for example? Because not every controller can manage complex schedules, you should carefully consider your options before making a purchase. A few controllers can even integrate your zip code's legal watering limitations information, ensuring you don't water on restricted days.


It's convenient to be notified when your irrigation system is activated, but different products handle the mechanics in different ways. Although push notifications are prevalent, many just alert you when the watering is finished, not when it begins (which is arguably more useful). Other types of notification (email, text) aren't as prevalent, so if you want to get fancy with notifications, look for a device that supports IFTTT.

Smart scheduling

One of the great promises of smart watering systems is that they can improve your water delivery by taking into account your local weather and environment. We've discovered that they aren't very effective (they have a propensity to over-water), while the ability to forego watering when it rains is a nice plus. Aside from that, there's no reason to place a premium on so-called "smart" scheduling capabilities.

Support for smart-home hubs

Would you like to integrate your sprinkler system with your smart-home hub? While this sounds nice, the truth is that most smart sprinklers are now isolated: Only a few are connected to anything, though Amazon's Alexa does have some support. As these goods mature, expect this to alter.

Our picks for the Best smart sprinkler controller

Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller

best smart sprinkler controller


This is the most adaptable and user-friendly smart controller for your irrigation system in the yard or garden.

There's no contest this time: the Rachio 3 has surpassed the Rachio 2 as the best smart sprinkler controller on the market.

The new model is considerably easier to set up, and the firm has made a number of enhancements to its already excellent software. It comes in both 8- and 16-zone versions, and an external enclosure is included if the gadget can't be installed indoors.

The Rachio 3 (available in eight or 16 zone variants, as well as a 12-zone version special to Costco) is simple to set up for a novice gardener, but it also has enough fine-tuning and complex options to please a master horticultural. Its Weather Intelligence Plus technology enables hyperlocal forecasting, resulting in more efficient irrigation. We like that the controller connects with Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, and Google Assistant, among other smart-home platforms, and that we can utilise the basic (though not complete) internal controls for a quick watering.



Amazon Alexa, Apple HomeKit, Google Assistant, IFTTT, Samsung SmartThings

Get from Amazon

You can read a full review of Rachio 3 here

Orbit B-hyve XR

best smart sprinkler controller


For larger yards with smaller expenditures, better coverage is available. 

The B-hyve XR is a tough gadget with on-device and local control that can manage larger yards for less money than our other recommendations, but its app isn't as user-friendly.

Orbit may be a slug in the irrigation industry, but in the smart home market, it's giving Rachio a run for its money. Orbit's second-generation B-hyve smart sprinkler controller is packed with features, and it can even be put outside without the use of an adapter (albeit it isn't totally waterproof).

The Orbit B-hyve XR is designed to be put outside without a case and uses its clever WeatherSense algorithms to effectively manage your yard. It also features three small, full-color displays for considerable (but not comprehensive) on-device control. It has a long-range Bluetooth radio that can link to and operate as a hub for other B-hyve devices (such as hose timers and flood sensors); it also allows you to control the system with your phone even if the internet is unavailable. The B-hyve XR is WaterSense-certified and allows you to select your weather station, but it misses several features we like, and its app isn't as nice as the Rachio 3.



Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant


Get from Amazon