Which smart irrigation system is best?
Properly maintaining your yard and keeping it lush and green year-round is a time-, money- and water-consuming process. That’s why a smart irrigation system — despite its sometimes high initial cost — is a wise investment. Using one will decrease your water consumption and save you plenty of money over time, plus you can spend more time enjoying your yard rather than toiling over it.
The best smart irrigation system is the Orbit B-Hyve Smart Sprinkler Controller. It balances its range of features and its cost to become an excellent value.
What to know before you buy a smart irrigation system
Soil moisture-based smart irrigation systems
These smart irrigation systems use one of two sensor types to track the moisture content of your soil and adjust your water usage as needed.
- Suspended cycle systems are similar to timed controllers. You set schedules, durations and start and stop times, but the system will stop once it detects enough moisture in your soil.
- Water-on-demand systems have start times and days when they are active, but they use upper and lower moisture thresholds to only trigger during active times when water is needed.
Weather-based smart irrigation systems
Also known as evapotranspiration or ET-based systems, these track local weather patterns such as temperature and rainfall to adjust your irrigation. They use one or more of the following technologies.
- Historic controllers take historic water use on the property as a base value and adjust your water usage from there.
- Signal-based controllers receive publicly available weather data through a Wi-Fi connection to adjust your watering pattern.
- Onsite controllers use the weather data obtained directly from your property to constantly fine-tune your watering.
Most smart irrigation systems have a physical control system and a smartphone-integrated control system. The smartphone-integrated systems are either controlled via an app or through logging into a mobile website. Low-cost systems often save money by cutting out a physical control system and relying only on smartphone control.
What to look for in a quality smart irrigation system
Zones let you set different requirements for different areas of your yard. For example, you can have one zone for your grass and another for your flowerbeds so that each zone gets only the water it needs. Some smart irrigation systems can program 16 zones or more, but this increases cost. Chart how many zones you need before shopping and grab a system with that or a slightly higher number of zones.
AI assistant integration
The best smart irrigation systems integrate artificial intelligence assistants so you can control your watering using only your voice. Many systems are directly integrated for use with Amazon Alexa, while others can connect to almost any AI assistant, including Google Assistant.
How much you can expect to spend on a smart irrigation system
Smart irrigation systems typically cost $100-$200 or more. Most cost $150 or less, but these are simple devices with limited features. Spending $150-plus gets you more advanced systems with better features.
Smart irrigation system FAQ
How much water can I save with a smart irrigation system?
A. That varies on your needs and your system, but according to the Environmental Protection Agency, an average system can save up to 15,000 gallons of water each year. Those who need to water more frequently will see the biggest savings.
Does yard size matter when shopping for a smart irrigation system?
A. A little. It doesn’t matter if you have a huge yard or a tiny one as long as your system is set up correctly and has the zone programming functions to oversee your yard. In other words, it’s best to focus on how many zones you need overseen rather than the overall size of your yard.
Should a professional install a smart irrigation system?
A. Maybe. Some of the more complex systems need basic electric work done or your yard may need major lawncare changes such as having new sprinkler systems installed. You can do both of these on your own with some research, but hiring professionals may be simpler.
What’s the best smart irrigation system to buy?
Top smart irrigation system
What you need to know: It offers many excellent features without increasing its cost too high.
What you’ll love: It can oversee up to 12 zones and can be controlled from your smartphone with an included app. It’s also compatible with Amazon Alexa. It uses WeatherSense technology to alter water usage based on several variables, including soil type and the amount of sun received.
What you should consider: Some consumers reported that it can be inconsistent at times. Others had issues with the included software, particularly that it doesn’t alert you when watering starts.
Top smart irrigation system for the money
What you need to know: It’s basic but an excellent gadget for small yards and trial runs.
What you’ll love: It comes in single-, double- and four-zone sizes. It’s controlled directly from your smartphone and uses WeatherSense technology to optimize your water usage. It has a built-in flow meter so you can track exactly how much water you use in terms of gallons or time.
What you should consider: As with Orbit’s Smart Sprinkler Controller, some customers had issues using the included software. Others reported receiving used units rather than new ones.
Worth checking out
What you need to know: It’s feature-rich and covers many zones.
What you’ll love: It’s available in eight- or 16-zone systems, both controllable via an included smartphone app or through voice commands with most AI assistants, including Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. It can track weather conditions to cancel unneeded watering.
What you should consider: It’s among the priciest systems. Several purchasers reported bad customer service when issues arose, such as communication errors between your phone and the system.
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Jordan C. Woika writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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