10 Best Irrigation Controllers in 2020

What is an irrigation controller?

An irrigation controller is a timer that operates a sprinkler system. Instead of manually turning sprinklers on at different locations to water your lawns, gardens, or lovely fields of greens, you can invest in an irrigation controller to save time and promote watering efficiency. For example, you can schedule the irrigation controller in advance to water at a specific time of the day and at various lengths. Irrigation controllers can be as simple or complex varying with weather sensors to adjust schedules, Wi-Fi connection, and app technology accessibility to help you efficiently manage different zones appropriately while lessening your water bill.

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Orbit 4-Station Timer

Rain Bird Irrigation System

RainMachine Irrigation System
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Orbit Smart Indoor/Outdoor 6-Station Wi-Fi Sprinkler System Controller

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Are you looking to access your watering from anywhere in the world with the simple touch of your hand? Invest in the Orbit’s Smart Indoor/Outdoor 6-station WIFI sprinkler system. Known for its Smart features with Android, iOS, or computer, Alexa voice control integration, and WIFI signal, this irrigation system does not fall short in providing easy online access with a 10 minute or less combined product installment and zone set up. It also includes a WeatherSense technology where your B-hyve can adjust your watering schedule during rainy seasons to ensure your plants receive the right amount of water.

Pros 

  • Automatic Rain, Wind, and Freeze Delays
  • Voice Control Compatibility with Amazon Alexa
  • ‘Smart Watering’ app with Android or iOS
  • EPA Certified to Save Water

Cons 

  • Older Smartphone incompatibly
  • Difficulties connecting to WIFI

Orbit 4-Station Outdoor Swing Panel Sprinkler System Timer

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The Orbit 4-station outdoor swing panel sprinkler system can be placed in both indoor and outdoor environments. Known for easy indoor installment, affordable, and user friendly. A key feature of this irrigation system is the ‘Easy Set Logic’ timer, which is located in a weatherproof case. This product supports various intervals during the day, specific days of the week, and includes three programs you can individually or at the same time. The Orbit 4-station sprinkler system timer is the best for your outdoor environmental needs for your seasonal gardening or plant maintenance at a low cost.  

Pros 

  • Budget-Friendly Under $50
  • Available in 4, 6, 9, or 12 stations 
  • Includes 3 programs for flexible scheduling
  • Easy set-set programming 

Cons 

  • Extra steps needed to install outside
  • Allows 4 operations a day 
  • In-depth instructions not included (need to download .pdf for full instructions) 

SPW Hunter 12 Zone Indoor Residential/Professional Grade Wi-Fi Controller with 12 Station – Internet Android iPhone App 

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The Hunter 12 Station Indoor Controller with Wi-Fi is known for its easy wiring, fast connection to the internet, and limited need to read the manual for guidance. It also has an app that is user-friendly to modify, test, and adjust the zones instead of depending on manual testing. Zones and runtimes can be customizable to be as complex or simple, depending on forecast needs.  

Pros

  • Daily schedule adjustments dependent on weather data, forecasted temperatures, rainfall, humidity, and wind speed 
  • Ability to control zones from Smartphone devices
  • WiFi functionality 

Cons

  • Pricey: The cost is above $200 
  • Wi-Fi dependent 

Rachio 3 Smart 8 Zone Sprinkler Controller, Works with Alexa  

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Rachio 3 Smart 8 Zone Sprinkler Controller can be easily accessible with your Smartphone, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistance, Nest, and many more! It also is known for easy-installment and offers diversity in scheduling the needs of each zone. This controller is available in 8 zones or 16 zones.  

Pros 

  • Automatic weather adjustments (save up to 50% on monthly water bill) 
  • Easy-to-use app 
  • Customizable Smart schedules to plant type 
  • Best Compatibility 

Cons 

  • App will not always automatically adjust to new weather conditions 
  • Incompatibility with Apple Homekit 

Rain Bird Smart Indoor Wi-Fi Irrigation System Timer/Controller, 8 Station, compatible with Amazon Alexa

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The Rain Bird is simple and easy as you turning off the controller during a heavy storm while lying in bed in the late hours. This controller contains installation videos and instructions to ensure that Wi-Fi and Smart programming is smooth and efficient. Expect to invest a minimum of 1 hour for setting up your Rain Bird since each zone requires a photo recognition on your Smartphone device.  

Pros 

  • Improved 2.0 Wi-Fi timer
  • Compatible with: Amazon Alexa, Apple iOS 8 (or newer version), and Andriod 4.4 (or newer version) 
  • Daily watering schedule adjusts local forecast weather
  • EPA WaterSense (at minimum 20%) 

Cons 

  • The display system can be difficult to read
  • Difficulties with programming
  • Difficulty determining automatic ‘seasonal adjustment’ 

RainMachine Touch HD Irrigation Controller

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The RainMachine Touch HD Irrigation is aesthetically appealing, easy to install in less than 15 minutes, compatible with iOS and Android apps, and web interface quick-real-time accessibility and local weather reports.  A unique feature of this controller is the local interface that allows adjustments to start and stop a program or zone.  

Pros 

  • Best connectivity 
  • Alexa integration
  • EPA WaterSense certified 

Cons 

  • No outdoor use 
  • Pricey $200 – 300 

Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller

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With the quick access of using your iPhone, Siri, or the ‘onboard’ button, you can quickly activate your Eve Aqua smart water controller. This water controller is popular when using hose systems, and allows the variety of setting up 7 independent daily watering periods to adjust to each day. The installation period only takes minutes and offers no leaks, making this controller your go-to item for a quick control on a simple irrigation system. 

Pros 

  • Best connectivity with HomeKit 
  • Voice Control

Cons 

  • Cost above $90 
  • Scheduling choices are limited
  • Limited Bluetooth range

Orbit B-Hyve Smart Hose Faucet Timer

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The Orbit B-Hyve Smart Hose Faucet Timer best supports environments that are hose-dependent. Some of its key features are its B-hyve connection Wi-Fi, which allows you to control watering at your leisure, an app-controlled water source, and WeatherSense technology. Additionally, you can add faucet timers to expand your faucet system to run at different times with the Orbit B-Hyve app. 

Pros 

  • Bluetooth range 150 feet away
  • Monitors local weather 
  • Voice Control with Alexa and Google Assistant 

Cons 

  • Not Cloud independent 
  • App design may have some tech bugs 

Gro 7 Zone Irrigation Controller

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Sleek and subtle in its design, the Gro 7 Zone Irrigation Controller is a cost-efficient choice to organize your sprinkler system. This controller supports 7 zones, and includes water sensors to check the moisture of the soil type in each zone. Another key feature is the Gro Smart Controller’s ability to use local weather data to adjust your watering schedule.  

Pros 

  • Indoor installation only 
  • Android or iOS device compatibility 
  • EPA WaterSense certified 

Cons 

  • App dependent for controlling system
  • Water sensor data access varies depending on soil type 

Orbit Remote Control 12-Station Irrigation Controller 

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The Orbit Remote Control comes with 12 zones, a rain sensor with rain delay adjustments, easy wiring hookups, and includes 2 independent programs. If you seek a simple, cost-efficient, and little to no tech issue, this irrigation controller is for you!

Pros 

  • Cost $50 – 60
  • Easy programing of zones and times per zone
  • Easy adjustment of sprinkler and drip irrigation heads

Cons 

  • Remote control is battery powered 
  • Irrigation controller must be plugged into outlet

Conclusion

If you are looking for the best irrigation controller, you will engage with a plethora of choices, depending on your highest priority. If you want good quality at a low cost, then the Orbit 4-Station Outdoor Swing Panel would be a great choice! However, if you can budget for a more tech advanced model, search for controllers with an ‘easy-to-use app’ feature. Regardless of what irrigation controller you select, you can be more confident that a suitable controller, when programmed well, will make all the difference from a green scenery versus a brown one.

Andrew Gora

Graduated from UMASS Amherst with a computer science degree. Currently the CTO of an SEO agency, and a lover for new smart tech!

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