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The best smart sprinkler systems for every scenario

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What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear “smart sprinkler system”? Is it automated scheduling, or the ability to control your home’s sprinklers from afar? While those are certainly two good reasons to consider a smart sprinkler system, they aren’t the best reasons. Smart sprinkler systems can also help save water by intelligently water your yard, garden, or flower beds with individual settings to cater to the types of plants, soil, and even real-time weather in your area. Our favorite is the Yardian, which does most of these things, but there are some other options.

Best Overall: Yardian

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When it comes to price and capability, there is no other smart sprinkler system that offers quite as much as the Yardian. The Yardian already offers a great bang-for-your-buck, but on top of that, the outdoor-grade weatherproof controller features a security camera built into it, which adds further value to this home automation system.

With 720p resolution video, an ultrawide 115-degree field-of-view, and night vision, this is a great addition to any yard or garage. You can even use Yardian’s Repellant feature to automatically turn on sprinkler zones if motion is detected, keeping any unwanted human or animal off your lawn.

Yardian doesn’t just rest on value laurels though, it also offers the most capable watering system you’ll find. On top of the expected scheduling feature, Yardian can adjust the scheduling based on realtime weather tracking and knowing the water restrictions in your area. You can also customize each zone with different plant types, soil types, slope, sun exposure, square footage and, of course, sprinkler head type, so you can get the most efficient watering possible per zone.

Even installation is a breeze, with a push-in wiring system that keeps you from having to screw in every single zone wire, and a power transformer included in the box. Weatherproof casing ensures you don’t have to worry about it getting wet.

The Yardian app’s layout is fantastic. It’s easy-to-understand layout and well-marked features. Zones can be labeled and you can even take your own pictures of each zone, which can help you identify what you want to water. It even keeps track of your water usage and provides detailed history, seasonal usage, and even automatically qualifies you for any local EPA WaterSense rebates. Watering can be done with just your voice via your favorite virtual assistant too.

The biggest complaint with Yardian is the inability to add more cameras to the system. Sure, you can pair multiple Yardians with one another, but that’s not as easy as it could be (and probably more expensive)

Pros:

  • Built-in security camera
  • Animal repellant feature
  • Live video with free 24-hour cloud storage
  • Automatic scheduling
  • EPA WaterSense approved
  • App offers immense customization for optimal watering

Cons:

  • No external sensor support
  • No way to add additonal cameras
  • No controls on the unit (have to control from the app)

Best Overall

Yardian

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  • From $130 at Amazon
  • $160 at Walmart
  • $130 at Yardian

It’s everything you want, and more

Yardian isn’t just an excellent smart watering system, it’s also a great addition to your home security system thanks to a built-in camera.

Upgrade Pick: Rachio 3

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Rachio is one of the biggest names in the smart sprinkler business, and for good reason. Rachio’s excellent automated water algorithm learns and adapts over time, changing the watering patterns up for different temperatures, seasons, and weather types. It can help keep your irrigation pipes from freezing by not watering before a freeze, and it’ll help keep your lawn and garden greener with intelligent watering schedules that work based off of calculated soil saturation levels.

Rachio prides itself on the accuracy of its weather network, which is made up of over 300,000 sensors throughout the U.S. This both helps ensure that you’re not wasting water and that your lawn is healthy. Aside from watering intelligently, Rachio offers a program called Rachio Thrive that, for an additional cost, will deliver eco-friendly lawn feed to your door that works in conjunction with Rachio’s smart watering schedule and controller. While it’ll cost you more, you’re likely to have a greener, healthier lawn because of it.

Rachio’s app is not only super easy to use, but it’s also highly customizable. Many of the systems on this list will only notify you when water is finished, or maybe not at all. Rachio allows users to receive notifications when each zone begins and ends watering, and will keep track of historical data and help you understand your usage. Rachio has great support for third-party sensors and weather stations, as well as excellent integration into existing smart home platforms like Nest.

The Rachio 3 isn’t perfect, as its higher price doesn’t automatically mean you’re getting more features. There’s only a simple set of buttons on the unit itself for watering single zones manually; you’ll need to use the app to get the most out of it. It also doesn’t feature extras like integration into your smart home security system or additional external sensors for soil moisture level monitoring.

Pros:

  • User-friendly app
  • Realtime weather tracking
  • Rachio Thrive program
  • Up to 16-zone support
  • Works with third-party weather sensors
  • EPA WaterSense approved

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Smart algorithm isn’t the best
  • Limited watering controls on the unit itself
  • Requires waterproof enclosure (sold separately)

Upgrade Pick

Rachio 3

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  • From $230 at Amazon
  • From $230 at Best Buy
  • $280 at Walmart

A trusted name in the industry

The Rachio 3 combines accurate weather forecasting with a smart watering algorithm, along with other features.

Best Value: Orbit B-hyve WiFi indoor/outdoor

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Orbit is a name you’re probably familiar with, and that’s because it makes a lot of different home irrigation products. The standard B-hyve indoor/outdoor smart spinkler controller offers a surprisingly large number of features despite its conspicuously low price. At less than half the cost of most smart sprinkler systems, you might be surprised to find out that the Orbit H-hyve indoor/outdoor controller might actually pack in more important features for some situations.

At under $100, you get a smart spinkler controller that controls up to six zones, offers an LCD screen and physical controls on the box, and even packs in a waterproof outdoor casing for ultimate versatility. It can pair with the Orbit app to significantly increase functionality and offer remote control of your system, as well as intelligent programming of your sprinkler system. That even includes automatic watering adjustments based on the weather outside.

While Orbit’s app is powerful and can offer lots of additional features, it’s not quite as user-friendly as some other smart sprinkler system’s apps. It also only offers interconnectivity with Orbit’s own brand of weather sensors, so you’ll need to stay in-house in order to get the most of a full system.

Pros:

  • Controls, LCD screen built right into the controller
  • Budget-friendly price
  • Includes waterproof case
  • Powerful app
  • EPA WaterSense approved

Cons:

  • Limited number of zones
  • Limited compatibility with third-party sensors
  • Design isn’t great

Best Value

Orbit B-hyve WiFi

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  • $84 at Amazon
  • $85 at Walmart
  • $88 at Home Depot

Unbelievable value

With a packed-in waterproof enclosure, manual controls on the unit, and a smart app, this is one amazing smart sprinkler controller.

Best for Big Yards: Sprinkl Control

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Sprinkl Control supports up to a whopping 16 zones for each controller, but that’s not why it’s the best pick for big yards. To understand that, you’ll first need to know about Sprinkl Sense, an in-ground moisture sensor that Sprinkl sells for $45 a piece. They can be placed around your property and will monitor individual zones for moisture, helping reduce over or underwatering. That completely eliminates the need for any kind of scheduling at all; it’ll only water when your lawn actually needs water.

If you’ve got a big property, it’s likely that you’ve got some areas that are in full sun and may need more irrigation over time, while areas that are shaded don’t require as much water. Instead of trying to figure out scheduling for each zone, Sprinkl can do the work for you. Better yet, the battery on each Sprinkle Sense is designed to last up to six years before needing to be replaced, further reducing the maintenance on your yard.

Like other irrigation systems on this list, Sprinkl Control taps into a network of hundreds of thousands of weather stations around the country to get an accurate forecast. Forecasting helps Sprinkl understand when it needs to water and when mother nature is handling that for you. It also qualifies for the EPA WaterSense program for rebates on water usage, as well as being aware if there are watering restrictions in your area. A handy smartphone app controls everything and even delivers advanced water usage statistics and monitors your irrigation system for electrical and water flow issues.

Pros:

  • Sprinkl Sense sensors
  • Great interconnection with smart home systems
  • 16 zones supported
  • App includes customization features
  • EPA WaterSense approved

Cons:

  • Can get expensive with sensors
  • Controller isn’t weatherproof
  • No manual controls on the controller

Best for Big Yards

Sprinkl Control

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  • $225 at Amazon
  • $225 at Sprinkl

Efficiency is key

Sprinkl Control and Sprinkl Sense will only water when your lawn actually needs it, making it the most efficient system you can buy.

Best for Small Yards: Orbit B-hyve Indoor Timer

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While Orbit’s larger model is great for homes with a decent sized yard, not every home has a lot of yard space. If you only need to water four zones or less, the Orbit B-hyve Indoor Timer is for you. At under $60, this smart timer sports essentially every feature of the bigger model with only a few key differences.

First and foremost is the support for only four zones at maximum. Second is the design, which is a twofold downgrade from the more expensive B-hyve, as it’s only rated for indoor use (not weatherproof), and it doesn’t feature any physical controls on the unit. Outside of these key features, you’re getting the same great smart watering features, the same great app with remote connectivity and water usage stats, and the same piece of mind knowing that B-hyve will only water your lawn or garden when it makes sense.

Pros:

  • Incredible price
  • Small footprint
  • All the features of the Orbit B-hyve
  • EPA WaterSense approved

Cons:

  • Limited number of supported watering zones
  • Controller isn’t weatherproof
  • No manual controls on the controller

Best for Small Yards

Orbit B-hyve Indoor Timer

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  • $59 at Amazon
  • $56 at Walmart
  • $74 at Home Depot

Tiny unit, tiny price

If you’ve got a smaller yard, there’s no need to spend a lot. This tiny system will do everything you want for a price you can agree with.

Best for Homes with Gardens: Netro Sprite

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The Sprite is Netro’s most popular smart spinkler controller, and for good reason since it’s affordable and competitive in terms of features. However, there’s one area where it truly excels at: gardens. That’s because Netro makes a companion device called the Netro Whisperer.

Like the Sprinkl Sense, the Netro Whisperer detects soil moisture levels and can be used to water your garden or lawn only when it actually needs water. It can also detect temperatures and sunlight levels, which can be paramount to planning your Spring garden, in particular. Some plants can only be put in the ground when it reaches a certain temperature, otherwise they simply won’t grow well (or at all). It’s wireless and even solar-powered, so there’s no need to worry about batteries, either.

The Netro Sprite offers all the usual smart sprinkler system tricks. It can tap into a database of weather stations to get an accurate forecast of your area and adjust watering as needed, and will automatically adjust the schedule to comply with any regulations or watering restrictions in your area. It can be controlled remotely via a handy smartphone app and can be programmed to water on a set schedule. Netro Sprite will even cut off watering if it detects that freezing conditions might occur.

You can even customize each zone to water for different soil types, sprinkler head types, various plant varieties, and even elevation. Netro goes so far as to provide a database with over 1,000 common species of plants with very specific watering schedules, and the system will adjust watering times and volume depending on the needs of these plants. Netro utilizes an AI-based algorithm that’s said to save up to 50% by watering only when evaporation is minimal and by preventing runoffs caused by long watering cycles, which also helps penetrate deeper into your plants’ roots.

Pros:

  • Netro Whisperer sensors
  • Base unit is very affordable
  • App includes a lot of customization features
  • IFTTT compatible
  • EPA WaterSense approved

Cons:

  • Additional sensors are expensive
  • Controller isn’t weatherproof
  • No manual controls on the controller

Best for homes with gardens

Netro Sprite

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  • $120 at Amazon
  • $120 at Newegg

The garden companion

Looking for a way to more efficiently water your garden or lawn when it actually needs it? Netro is the answer.

For When You Only Have a Hose: Netro Pixie

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While some homes might have intricate in-ground irrigations systems, some folks don’t have the means (or the desire) to install something like that. Sometimes a yard or garden simply isn’t big enough to invest that kind of money into a full-scale irrigation system. For those situations, you’ll want to get the Netro Pixie Smart Hose Faucet Timer, which can intelligently control water flow to a hose-end sprinkler or drip irrigation system.

The Netro Pixie is powered by a removable rechargeable battery that charges via the on-board solar panel, and even features a USB port in case there’s too much shade. Pixie hooks right up to one of your home’s water spigots, and the opposite end has a standard garden hose thread for your hose. Netro Pixie taps into a network of weather stations and automatically adjusts the watering schedule based on your area’s weather forecast.

Unlike competing hose timers on the market, Netro Pixie doesn’t require a Wi-Fi hub to connect to your home’s Wi-Fi network. Netro Pixie can be set to water on a schedule, automatically adjust for weather conditions, and even help you control your water usage by giving detailed statistics. You can even pair the Netro Pixie with Netro Whisperer sensors, which retail for $70 at Netro. Netro Whisperers monitor soil moisture level, the amount of sunlight plants get, and can even tell the temperature, ensuring your garden only gets watered when it actually needs it.

This particular model is only made for North America, so be sure to purchase one of the international versions if you live elsewhere.

Pros:

  • Wi-Fi support without a hub
  • Easy manual override switch
  • Will schedule based around forecast
  • EPA WaterSense approved
  • Built-in solar panel
  • Weatherproof

Cons:

  • More expensive
  • Additional sensors are expensive

For When You Only Have a Hose

Netro Pixie

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  • $120 at Amazon
  • $120 at Newegg
  • $120 at Netro

Simple gets it done

Hose-end sprinklers might sound limiting, but this smart timer turns your hose into an automated watering machine.

Bottom line

Everything considered, Yardian is the best smart sprinkler system for most people. It’s not only more affordable than many other options on the market, but it offers additional security capabilities and a few quiality-of-life features as well. That camera isn’t just used for detecting would-be intruders though, as it can also be used to keep deer and other garden pests out by turning on a specific zone when the camera detects animals.

Yardian’s app can be used to not only name your zones, but also to assign a picture to them that you’ve taken, helping you better identify each zone that needs to be watered. It will automatically adjust any schedules based on weather reports, and will even adjust your schedule to fit within any local mandates or watering restrictions without need for user intervention. Lastly, you’ll not only save on your water bill because of Yardian’s intelligent algorithm and it’s even a part of the EPA WaterSense program, which qualifies you for additional money back every year.

Credits — The team that worked on this guide

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Nick Sutrich Nick is a news writer and contributor to Android Central. He’s been writing about tech since 2011 and loves robot vacuums, home automation, virtual reality, and any kind of gadget that’s connected to the Internet. Find him on Twitter at @Gwanatu.

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