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Smart sprinkler systems can ensure that your yard is watered on your terms and allow you to conserve water. Factoring in smart features and ease of installation, we spoke with Lars Felber, director of PR for Eve and researched permanent installations at various price points and options that connect to a hose spigot.
Based on our considerations, the Rachio 3 8-Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller is the best option for most people because it offers user-friendly control, smart features, and broad compatibility.
Here are the best smart sprinkler controllers on the market.
Best Overall: Rachio 3 8-Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller
Excellent weather-syncing functions
Intuitive app-based controls
Limited onboard controls and no touchscreen
Not waterproof without an outside mounting kit
Could be a bit easier to install
The Rachio 3 is an ideal choice for most smart sprinkler shoppers for several reasons. First off, though it is available in a more substantial 16-zone version, this eight-zone version sits at a reasonable price point. And with that price, you get all the smart control your existing irrigation system will need without a bloated price tag.
The Rachio 3’s scheduling interface is intuitive. It builds in a seasonally tailored watering algorithm to ensure your plants and lawn are only getting the water they need for that time of year and avoiding over-watering. On top of that, the Rachio app interfaces with hundreds of thousands of local weather stations to offer rain, freeze, and wind skip functions, so you won’t need to watch your app like a hawk with the weather patterns.
There’s a wide variety of scheduling functions if you want your irrigation system watering on your specific terms. And thanks to Alexa and Google Home integration, you have many options for coordinating the system with other smart home functions.
Rachio promises a 30-minute, app-guided installation, though reviews do seem to point toward installation taking a bit longer. And because it doesn’t feature water resistance on its own, you’ll need to find a waterproof installation box if you want to place the panel outside. But once it’s in and set up with the app, it’s a dream to use.
Best Budget: Wyze WSPRK1 Smart Controller
Excellent price point
Integrates well with other Wyze products
Wyze installation can feel a bit DIY
Requires subscription for all features
Wyze is a brand built by and for DIYers and offers affordable products in several smart home categories. The Wyze Smart Sprinkler Controller provides eight zones of sprinkler control, automatic weather-based functionality, and a sleek, easy-to-use design at a reasonable price. When most sprinklers of this price point limit your use to just four zones, the added segmentation could be welcome for those with larger, more intricate lawns.
However, that automatic weather adjustment functionality requires a Wyze Sprinkler Plus subscription (though Wyze includes an entire year with your purchase of the Smart Sprinkler). And though Wyze has gotten better over the years at developing app walk-throughs, wiring this up to your existing sprinkler controller will take some patience—think of it like wiring a smart thermostat. Overall, the Wyze ecosystem is a great choice if you want to dip your toes into the smart sprinkler landscape without dropping a few hundred bucks.
Best Indoor/Outdoor: Orbit B-hyve XR Smart 8-Zone Sprinkler Controller
Indoor/outdoor mounting options
Excellent smart features
LED control wheel and external display
The app isn’t the most intuitive
Mounting outside may require rerouting wires
While many top controllers require you to purchase a separate outdoor mounting box to install your controller outside, the Orbit B-hyve XR gives you that weather-safe operation right out of the box. The sleek, honeycomb-patterned device will be just at home inside your garage or mounted near your electric meter, making it one of the most versatile options on the list from an installation standpoint. Though it’s important to note that Orbit promises easy installation if your existing sprinkler controller is inside, you’ll need to route those wires outdoors if that’s where you want it installed.
The B-hyve XR comes with top-tier specs, including smart app functionality and automatic weather adjustments (without the need for a subscription). This model also has dual-band (2.4GHz and 5GHz) Wi-Fi connectivity, which means it works with both standard-speed and faster Wi-Fi channels. The controller is a bit pricey, and while the app is solid, it’s not quite as modern and intuitive as some other options on the market.
Best Hose-Based: Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller
Apple Thread or Bluetooth connectivity
IPX4 weather resistance
Limited smart options beyond Apple HomeKit
No weather integration
No zone options
A smart hose spigot is an excellent option if you want some smart control for watering your lawn but don’t have a yard or a budget to install a full-on irrigation system. The Eve Aqua is an impressive option, especially for those in the Apple ecosystem, because it’s HomeKit enabled—meaning you can connect to the device via Apple’s HomePod-controlled Thread network to fold the sprinkler into your existing Apple smart home.
There’s also Bluetooth connectivity to control with a simple app locally, but to unlock the full scheduling and smart functionality, Apple’s Thread network usage is advised. Of course, a hose-based smart sprinkler controller comes with its own set of limitations—there’s no zone control, and there aren’t any fancy Eve-specific smart functions like weather integration. But you do get a fairly plug-and-play option that’ll likely work with the existing hose sprinkler setup you’ve already got.
Best Compatibility: Rachio 3 16-Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller
16 zones of control
Amazon, Google, and Apple compatibility
Excellent smart features
Requires existing irrigation system
Limited physical controls
The Rachio 3 8-Zone controller earned our Best Overall slot for price-to-feature ratio. However, if you want to go all-in with ultimate compatibility for any situation, the 16-Zone version is the epitome of control. You get all the features of the Rachio 3 8-Zone—including automatic weather adjustment, excellent app infrastructure, and easy installation with an existing system—plus a total of 16 zones of control. Even those with the most complex yard on the block will have customization on tap.
The Rachio 3 offers compatibility with all major smart home providers, including Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest, Samsung’s SmartThings, and Apple HomeKit. This integration is crucial for those who want the most robust control with the setup they’re currently loving. All of this control will come at a price, and because it’s a system that requires an existing irrigation setup, it’s not the most plug-and-play model. But if compatibility is your top priority, this is a great option.
Best Smart Features: Netro Sprite Smart Watering Controller
Sleek, unassuming design
Compatibility with personal weather sensors
No onboard controls
Not weather resistant
App looks a little dated
Netro, another big name in the smart sprinkler space, offers a unique take on the smart functionality of this product category. The Netro 12-zone controller looks limited without onboard controls and no weather resistance. Installation is also simple: just mount the slim white box on your wall and use the companion app to set it up. But when you pair it with a Netro Whisperer remote weather sensor, the smart functions get hyper-specific to your needs.
While the Whisperer sensor requires a separate purchase, it offers more targeted monitoring of your outdoor space. Sprite gives you the option to interface with the Netro Whisperer in your specific yard to measure sunlight, moisture, and temperature and tailor your sprinkler system output to your needs. This connection to a personalized sensor can be helpful if you're too far from a local weather station, but it’s also a way to get very specific about the schedules and smart triggers you prefer. There’s also Alexa and Google compatibility, plus 12 zones of adjustment for mid-sized yards.
Best with Touchscreen: RainMachine Touch HD
Beautiful, intuitive touch display
Compatibility with smart home systems
Can sometimes be hard to find
More involved installation
While a smart sprinkler controller lends itself very seamlessly to app and smart home integration, it’s surprising just how rare it is to find one that has an intuitive touchscreen display right on board. The RainMachine Touch HD is the choice for those who want quick, at-your-fingertips adjustments without fumbling through your phone. With a 4.3-inch display that shows you schedules, weather, and a host of other options, the Touch HD is ready to go whenever you are.
There are 12 zones of control for reasonably sized yards, an onboard rain and flow sensor for extra adjustments, and local weather station integration to ensure you’re never wasting water. The Touch HD-12 is a bit more cumbersome to install than some other options due to its more significant but necessary power draw, and it’s an indoor-only controller. Still, if you want plenty of options on a display itself, this is the way to go.
Best Fast Installation: Netro Pixie Smart Hose Faucet Timer
Surprisingly robust app features
Doesn’t work with in-ground irrigation systems
Not as full-featured as permanent systems
Not the cheapest hose-based option
Most smart sprinkler controllers work with fully installed, in-ground irrigation systems. The Netro Pixie, like other hose-based systems, is designed to provide a subset of the controls you’ll find in permanent systems in a quick, easy, screw-on design. The Pixie affixes to most standard home water spigots and provides many app-based smart functions without the need to wire anything up or dig into your lawn for an underground system.
You get timer controls, water usage monitoring, and even some weather forecasting options using the Netro app. And, because the Pixie comes with a rechargeable battery that pulls its power from the built-in solar panel, you won’t even need to go out and swap the batteries actively. It’s the easiest way to install a smart sprinkler system—but it won’t work with an in-ground irrigation system and does lack some of the features of a more permanent unit.
If you’re looking for the most functionality for the price, we think the sweet spot for hardwired smart sprinkler controllers is the Rachio 3 8-zone system. If you’re looking for something that can connect to a simple hose spigot without any wiring required, go for the Eve Aqua, which offers fast installation and Apple HomeKit compatibility.
What to Look for in a Smart Sprinkler Controller
Ease of Installation
Like any smart home device, your appetite for installation will determine what to buy or even if you want to buy a smart sprinkler controller. In general, there are two categories of installation to consider: one that requires hardwiring to your existing sprinkler control system using low-voltage wires and one that connects to a hose outside. The former requires a compatibility check and an existing in-ground irrigation system. The latter is a lot more plug-and-play, meaning you can screw the controller into a hose spigot outside and then connect an existing series of above-ground sprinklers to Wi-Fi.
“If you have a large garden to water, from a time and money perspective, it’s probably best to invest in a permanent in-ground irrigation system,” says Lars Felber, director of PR for Eve. “But, if you have just a few plants, then a hose-based system will do the trick.”
Most smart sprinkler controllers from top brands like Rachio and Orbit feature their own dedicated apps. You can interact with the controller by connecting it to your home Wi-Fi network via the app. A standard feature of most of these apps is the ability to schedule your system based on a calendar or an existing smart home trigger. One important thing to consider is how many zones the sprinkler can accommodate. If you have a larger yard and want to schedule different sections for different times of day, having more zones means more flexibility and control.
Smart Home Compatibility
While most smart sprinkler controllers have an app for smart control to allow scheduling and advanced functionality, compatibility with other smart home devices is another factor entirely. Smart sprinkler controllers are specialized devices, and many brands that make them don’t make other smart home devices. So, you’ll need to rely on other apps to aggregate devices together. Many smart sprinkler systems are compatible with Google Home devices. If you prefer to stay within the Apple ecosystem with Siri control, it’s best to look for one that works with the HomeKit protocol, like Eve’s hose-based controller.
How do you install a smart sprinkler controller?
A smart sprinkler controller calls for a two-stage installation process. First, you need to ensure that you have the right existing sprinkler infrastructure for the controller. If you want a multi-zone hardwired system, be sure you have an in-ground irrigation system. If you want a hose-based controller, you need to have standard hose-connected sprinklers ready to control. To install a hardwired system, you need to either convert an existing controller installed with your irrigation system or contact an electrician or irrigation installation professional to add the wiring and functionality.
How do sprinkler controllers work?
A hardwired sprinkler controller is wired into your home similarly to a thermostat. It sends signals to your in-ground irrigation setup about when to water your lawn, what zones to water, and how much water to use. A standard sprinkler controller has controls on the panel itself, while a smart controller typically has onboard controls and an app to customize functions. Some hose-based smart controllers simply turn a standard hose spigot on and off via Wi-Fi/Bluetooth and your phone.
How do I convert to a smart sprinkler controller?
If you’ve already installed an in-ground irrigation system, it likely has a standard control panel with buttons, dials, and scheduling functions. If you want to convert that control panel into a smart controller, it’s crucial to ensure that your system is compatible. Many manufacturers have compatibility checkers on their websites to verify compatibility before purchasing.
Then turn off the power to your system, remove the panel to expose the wires, and connect those wires to the same terminals on the new smart controller system. Most smart controllers give you walkthrough instructions via the app. If you have any questions about connecting the wiring for your system or whether your system is even compatible, contact a local electrician or irrigation installation professional.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Jason Schneider has been a tech writer and smart home reviewer for a number of years, and he recently purchased his first home. For this roundup, he considered several smart sprinkler controllers from top manufacturers and hose-based systems for those who want a simpler, less permanent installation. By weighing the prices against the feature sets, he came up with choices that fit each category based on what the homeowner in that scenario would need the most.
He also sought the smart home and installation expertise of Lars Felber, director of PR for Eve, to get more insight into the implications of a hose-based system versus a permanent system for the average homeowner.