What to Know About Smart Sprinklers

Save money and water with a sprinkler controller that connects with an app or smart assistant.

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What to Know Before Buying a Smart Sprinkler

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), up to 50 percent of the water used each day for lawns in the United States is wasted because of poor watering systems.

Smart sprinkler controllers are an intelligent choice because they can prevent water waste and in turn save money on your water bill. Smart sprinkler controllers also make caring for your lawn much simpler.

What Are Smart Sprinkler Controllers?

Smart sprinkler controllers let you turn your sprinklers on and off remotely, through an app. The app also helps you schedule when your sprinklers water your lawn, and for how long. Some even use daily weather reports to adjust when the sprinklers turn on, and how much water is required for that particular day. For example, if rain is in the forecast, the smart sprinkler controller will halt the watering schedule for that day or adjust the watering time depending on how much rain fell.

How Do Smart Sprinkler Controllers Work?

Smart sprinkler controllers replace the timer in in-ground sprinkler systems. Once installed, the controller connects to the app through your home’s WiFi or Bluetooth. This 12-zone model ($104) has a 4.5 rating out of 5.0 on Amazon with more than 4,300 reviews.

If you’re a DIYer and can install a doorbell or a thermostat, chances are you can install a smart sprinkler controller. This is low-voltage wiring and the instructions walk you through the process.

There are also smart sprinkler controllers that can be hooked up to your garden hose if you lack an in-ground irrigation system. These controllers, such as the Orbit 21005 B-hyve Bluetooth Hose Faucet Timer ($62), screw onto your hose and can turn the flow of water on and off on a pre-set schedule or through an app.

Smart Sprinkler Controller Features to Look For

There are a few features to look for when shopping for a smart sprinkler controller.

First and foremost, choose a controller with EPA WaterSense certification. This means that the controller uses weather data and landscaping information for your area to save water and be more efficient. A sprinkler controller with a WaterSense label can save you around 7,600 gallons of water per year, according to the EPA.

Next, find a controller made for the same number of zones as your in-ground sprinkler system. Zones are basically groups of sprinklers that water at the same time. Determine the zones by counting how many different areas are watered in your yard throughout the day. The bigger the yard, the more zones you will have. Some controllers are made for eight or so zones while others can handle many more.

Also, if your timer is outside, you’ll need a smart controller that is weatherproof. Not all of them are, so be careful, or spring for a weatherproof housing to protect your controller.

Finally, be sure your new controller is compatible with your favorite home assistant. Many are compatible with Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant.

Smart Sprinkler Controller Costs

Smart sprinkler controllers run from about $100 to $300. The more zones, the higher the cost. The Rachio 3, for instance, costs $180 for an eight-zone controller and $241 for a 16-zone controller. You may also pay more for controllers that have on-board touch screens instead of an app when setting up schedules.