If you have an automatic sprinkler system at your home, you probably already know the hassle of making adjustments to the sprinkler timers. The Rachio promises to make the process easier by adjusting your watering schedule with local weather forecasts. But does it live up to the promise?
With the Rachio (check price on Amazon here) you can monitor or make changes to the operation of your sprinkler system from your computer or mobile device regardless of where you are.
The Rachio works like any other smart device in that it takes a traditional appliance you rely on and adds internet connectivity and monitoring to it. Usually, this means slight improvement in its function.
When it comes to sprinkler controllers, however, this upgrade means a huge improvement to the way your garden is watered. Just check out the level of detail it goes into when calculating how much water to spray on your plants:
- What type of soil are you using
- The amount of sun exposure you get
- The slope of the ground
- The type of sprinkler nozzles
And this is customizable down to the tiniest detail, for each zone.
It then records all the data and presents it in a chart showing you how much water was used and when and if your sprinklers went on today.
It also uses some pretty sophisticated algorithms that track where every segment of your yard is, what plants are located there, and how much water they need.
What Does It Actually Do Well?
- Uses local weather data from the internet, watering only when needed.
- Turns the sprinkler off and on at your command. (Something you hopefully won’t ever have to use because the whole point of getting this is to forget about your sprinkler system entirely)
- Allows you to make special adjustments when you think they are necessary, such as being able to turn individual sprinkler zones off and on.
- Shows watering logs and historical data – showing you how many gallons you saved
- Works with Amazon Alexa, google Assistant, Nest, Samsung SmartThings, IFTTT, among others.
What’s this I hear about a rebate?
The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller is EPA WaterSense Certified. You may be able to get a rebate from your utility company, negating the price of your purchase. This varies depending on your location, of course. For more information on the rebate, check out this rebate lookup page here.
Does it come with an enclosure?
No, you have to pay for the enclosure separately. This was probably done to make the base unit as affordable as possible. Still stings a bit though because unless most people would opt to protect their fancy high tech smart sprinkler controller, and it’ll cost extra to do so.
Rachio Gen 1 vs Gen 2 – What’s the Difference?
All the improvements of Rachio Gen 2 over Gen 1 are minor, “quality of life” improvements that make the Rachio slightly easier to use. These include:
- Onboard manual controls so you or someone else can turn on the sprinklers physically if need be
- A bigger wiring bay so you have more room for the wiring that has to be shoved into the controller
- Slightly easier setup when trying to connect to your home Wi-Fi by making the Rachio discoverable through your smartphone app
- Expanded ports for connecting flow and rain sensors.
Things We Liked
- Saves a ton of water without having to pay attention if you live in an area that rains regularly, requiring you to turn off the sprinklers when it rains.
- Control over the entire system is precise. The amount of granularity they built into the app is mind-boggling. There’s basically nothing that you don’t have control over.
- Intuitive to set up. The process takes about 30 minutes.
- Monitor or adjust the control of your sprinkler system without being home.
- Compatible with almost every existing sprinkler system on the market today.
- Water usage reports are a great feature. I’m a data addict and looking at the watering charts is so satisfying.
Things We Didn’t Like
Lack of manual controls.This is included in Gen 2 Rachios.
- The waterproof enclosure has to be bought separately, this should really be included.
If you are in the market for a new sprinkler controller, the Rachio is a no brainer. With how expensive water is today, the money you will save on overwatering will pay for the device in no time. See more customer reviews on the Rachio on Amazon here.