Take control of your lawn’s health with a sprinkler controller!
Whether you’re running a top-of-the-line sprinkler system or a simple sprinkler system attached to your garden hose, a sprinkler controller is a necessary tool to have for any smart homeowner. One of these innovative products can mean the difference between having to wake up at 5 AM every morning to water your lawn, and getting to sleep in soundly.
Every year, sprinkler controllers become more convenient and intuitively designed. This guide includes in-depth reviews on the best sprinkler controllers of 2021, along with helpful purchasing tips.
Backyard Boss Top 5 Sprinkler Controllers for 2021
|Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller||Check The Price!|
|Orbit 57950 B-Hyve Smart Sprinkler Controller||Check The Price!|
|Rain Bird ST8I-WIFI Smart Sprinkler Controller||Check The Price!|
|Hutner XC800 X-Core Sprinkler Controller||Check The Price!|
|DIG Corporation Digital Hose End Sprinkler Controller||Check The Price!|
Why You Can Trust Us
There’s no better authority on sprinklers than Backyard Boss. Sprinkled throughout our website are countless guides on the best sprinkler equipment on the market.
We covered the best lawn sprinklers for homeowners who have large areas to cover. We explained the importance of sprinkler valves along with reviewing the best options available on the market for water regulation. For people interested in conserving water for environmental reasons or to save money, we have an excellent guide on the best sprinkler pumps. And of course, not to be forgotten, we have an awesome guide on the best sprinkler heads available.
These are just a few sprinkler-related topics that we’ve covered as a team because we are passionate about everything that has to do with helping our readers have the best home, yard, and garden possible. All of our sprinkler guides are well-researched with helpful content that isn’t watered down.
Read on to learn about the absolute best sprinkler controllers available in 2021. Your yard will thank you.
Best All-Around Sprinkler Controller
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller is one of the best on the market, with smart home compatibility and loads of other convenient features.
You can control this device with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, which means you can use voice control to control it or just click some buttons on your smartphone. It connects to WiFi and can check local weather stations for weather data to “see” when rain is coming to inform its watering schedule. It’s easy enough to install, as long as you understand the wiring and whatnot, but programming might be a little more complicated.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: If you’re looking for one of the most advanced smart controllers and are willing to pay a premium price, this is a great option for you.
Best Affordable Option for a Low Budget
WHY WE LIKE IT: With all of the innovative, convenient features of a smart sprinkler controller for an affordable price, the Orbit 57950 B-Hyve Smart Sprinkler Controller is a wonderful budget option.
It’s easy to install, connects to your WiFi, and is compatible with Amazon Alexa. It offers manual controls from the timer, or you can use your smartphone or tablet with the app. Plug in all the details of your yard, from the soil type to the plants, and the Orbit B-hyve will take it from there with its Smart Watering feature. It’ll even delay watering if weather data shows rain is coming. You can choose between a 6-zone or 12-zone controller.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: This is the best smart sprinkler controller for people who want an efficient and affordable option.
Best Premium Choice
WHY WE LIKE IT: This innovative and intuitive Rain Bird ST8I-WIFI Smart Sprinkler Controller is a premium option with incredibly convenient features.
You can set up watering schedules on this system by using the app that comes with it, voice-activated controls through Alexa, or its control box. It will adjust water schedules based on weather, humidity, and even the season; and you can pause watering for up to 14 days. It covers up to eight zones, however, if you have more watering zones you may have to go with a different unit.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: If you want a premium option, and love the Rain Bird brand, this is a great choice for you.
Best for Basic Needs
WHY WE LIKE IT: For people who prefer to not venture into the smart sprinkler controller realm, there’s the Hunter XC800 X-Core Sprinkler Controller.
This standard sprinkler controller doesn’t connect to WiFi or smart devices and has no fancy features like weather-controlled functioning. You have to do all the programming, starting, and stopping from the control box. However, it’s extremely easy to use and install and has simple features like a troubleshooting program for testing your sprinklers. Also, if there’s a power outage, this unit will remember your programs, so you won’t have to enter them again later.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: If you’re looking for a standard sprinkler controller and timer, then this is an excellent option for an affordable price.
Best Hose End Timer
It doesn’t get simpler than this affordable and dependable irrigation system that you attach to your hose.
WHY WE LIKE IT: This is one of the most simple, easy-to-operate irrigation systems on the market.
This simple sprinkler controller hooks up to your outside spigot, and then you just connect a water hose to the device. It really is that simple. You’ll save time using this device to keep your yard watered, while it will save you money by regulating your water usage. This is an affordable option for someone who doesn’t have built-in sprinklers.
WHO SHOULD BUY IT: Perfect for people with one hose-connected sprinkler in their lawn or garden, this watering system is affordable and hassle-free.
Why You Need a Sprinkler Controller
There are so many reasons to get a sprinkler controller, but the biggest is that irrigation controllers allow you to automate and regulate watering your lawn, saving you money and time.
While some sprinkler controller options are expensive, in the long run, they’ll keep you from flushing money down the drain by reducing your water usage through only watering your lawn when it truly needs it. Not to mention, by reducing your water use you’ll help save the planet.
The biggest advantage of sprinkler controllers is that they help you save time by making watering your lawn an automatic process. With their advanced technology in existence, why should you have to wake up every morning at the crack of dawn to water your lawn?
Types of Sprinkler Controllers
Not all sprinkler controllers are created equal. There are numerous different types to choose from, all with distinct advantages and disadvantages.
Depending on the type you get, your experience with sprinkler controllers will be vastly different. Below are descriptions of the different types to help you decide which is right for your lawn and situation.
Standard Sprinkler Controller
The part of the standard sprinkler controller you’ll deal with most often is the control box. It looks a lot like a smaller version of a breaker box. Open the hinged door and you’ll likely see a colorful chart, an LCD display, some buttons, and switches.
If you have a ridiculously large yard, you might have more than one controller. These are electric, so if the power goes out, you may have to reprogram it which is annoying. However, some standard models now save the information you plugged into them even through a power outage.
Older versions require you to manually select the zone you’ll be watering, such as front lawn versus backyard. Then you’ll need to choose the days of the week, start time, and stop time for watering.
A good rule of thumb is about ten minutes of watering for an average-sized yard, two to three times per week, rain notwithstanding. Some standard sprinkler controllers now include sensors that will take weather into account, so if it rains a fair amount, your sprinklers won’t come on. However, this feature is more common in smart home controllers.
Standard sprinkler controllers lack most of the convenient features that come with smart home controllers, however, they are way more affordable. Because of this, if you have a small sprinkler system they are typically the better option.
Smart Sprinkler Controller
Nowadays, it seems like every other appliance has a “smart” option, so of course, sprinkler controller manufacturers capitalized on the trend. We’re grateful they did because what resulted was innovative, intuitive sprinkler controllers that make homeowner’s lives way easier.
Smart sprinkler controllers hook up to your home’s WiFi and are smart home compatible, working with Google Home, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple HomeKit, to name a few programs. You can manage them through these programs, smartphone apps, or their control boxes.
These internet-connected devices make it possible for you to set up their timers and schedules from your smartphone, which is incredibly convenient. These are also typically weather-based, so they’ll track satellite weather stations to anticipate rain in your area and adjust the lawn watering schedule accordingly.
They typically have sensors that’ll take a reading of your soil, plant types, and more to ensure you get the perfect amount of water for your lawn, garden, trees, or other plants. They are so convenient and easy to use, but they also tend to be very expensive so they’re best for homes with larger, more elaborate watering systems or people who don’t care about their premium price.
Not everyone has a fancy irrigation system in their yard. If you have a singular hose and sprinkler, then the best option for you is a hose timer.
They are extremely simple to use and very affordable. Just attach your hose timer to your spigot, and then screw your garden hose into the timer.
Often, they’re battery-powered, so you won’t have to worry about your power going out and losing your programmed schedule. However, you’ll have to supply the timer with batteries and check on it regularly to make sure they’re still good.
Hose timers don’t have any fancy features really, but if you’re only dealing with a singular sprinkler you probably don’t need them.
Sprinkler Controller System Features You’ll Definitely Want
Every sprinkler controller has the ability to be a huge help in keeping your yard healthy and lush. Some features are must-haves, while others are just extras.
Here are the best available features you’ll definitely want to consider when purchasing your sprinkler controller.
One of my favorite features that has become standard for smart sprinkler controllers is a sensor that can tell when there’s been rain, or when rain is coming. Not only does this feature save you money and water, but it can also prevent you from overwatering your garden or lawn. This feature is so important, some standard sprinkler controllers have also adopted it.
This feature is also common in smart sprinkler controllers. If a sprinkler controller has an internet connection that means you can use a smartphone app related to it to set up and adjust watering schedules or check the status of whatever you’re watering. Basically, your smartphone becomes a convenient remote control.
Smart Home Compatibility
If a WiFi connection weren’t enough, there are also some controllers that have smart home compatibility, so you can tell the system to start or stop watering by using your voice and a device like Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Apple HomeKit.
The importance of a controller allowing multiple programs cannot be understated. Your yard and garden have different watering needs so you’ll have to set up different programs if you want to meet those specific needs. This is usually possible with smart and standard sprinkler controllers.
A power outage can wreak havoc with your automated programs, but if you find a sprinkler controller that stores programs permanently, you should be able to retrieve those programs once your electricity comes back on. This can save you so much time and frustration.
If you’d rather not deal with power outage issues, stick with a simpler sprinkler controller that is battery-powered. Hose timers are typically battery-powered. The only thing you have to keep in mind with a battery-powered system is that you’ll have to check up on your controller every once in a while to make sure it has fresh batteries.
How We Picked
We weeded through all of the best sprinkler controllers on the market to find these five options to review. There is no doubt about it, these are the best of the best.
In choosing these five, we wanted to find sprinkler controllers that would fit a variety of needs. Each sprinkler controller we chose is the best in its category, including the best hose timer, the best standard sprinkler controller, the best affordable smart sprinkler controller, and the best premium smart sprinkler controller.
We kept in mind why people purchase sprinkler controllers in making our choices, only choosing options that would save users time and money. Every product reviewed on this list is a winner, but only one can be the champion.
The Best Sprinkler Controller Is…
Our favorite sprinkler controller is the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller. While it is a bit pricey, for people with large irrigation systems it’s worth every penny. This futuristic automated device has incredible, convenient features that will keep your lawn looking lush and healthy.
Of course, if you have a smaller watering system, a limited budget, or don’t feel like you need all the bells and whistles, go with a different option in this guide. Every one of them is incredible, so you’re guaranteed to be happy with your choice.