The Best Sprinkler Controller Reviews

Homeowners and renters everywhere seem to love that bright green, lush look of a well-manicured lawn. To ensure it stays that way, you can hire someone or do it yourself. Every lawn needs three important things: sunlight, food, and water. Watering your lawn might be a task that you’d rather shove off on someone else, but if you have the best sprinkler controller in your corner, it’s far less of a chore. Whether you’re running a top-of-the-line sprinkler system or a simple sprinkler system attached to your garden hose, a sprinkler controller, also known as an automatic irrigation controller, means you don’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. to turn the water on and wait 10 minutes while your lawn gets a long drink. To find the best sprinkler controller, it’s important to know why one would be helpful, the types available, and the features that are considered necessary. It also helps to read through the best sprinkler controller reviews to see how others feel about them.

5 BEST SPRINKLER CONTROLLER COMPARISONS

IMAGE MODEL FEATURES
Rachio Smart Sprinkler ControllerRachio Smart Sprinkler Controller
  • Type: Smart
  • Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Smart home compatible: Alexa, Google Home
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Orbit 57950Orbit 57950 B-hyve Smart
  • Type: Smart
  • Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Smart home compatible: Alexa
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Rain Bird ST8IRain Bird ST8I-WIFI Smart
  • Type: Smart
  • Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Smart home compatible: Alexa
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Hunter Sprinkler XC800 X-Core 8-Station Outdoor Controller Timer XC-800 8 ZoneHunter Sprinkler XC800 X-Core
  • Type: Standard
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • Smart home compatible: N/A
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Dig Corporation Digital Hose End Watering Timer Clamshell2Dig Corporation Digital Hose End
  • Type: Hose
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • Smart home compatible: N/A
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WHY WOULD YOU NEED A SPRINKLER CONTROLLER?

The beauty of the best irrigation controller is that it lets you automate the whole watering thing, but it can do so much more. You’re likely to save water by using an automated system, and conservation is not only important, in many places, it’s the law. One of the biggest complaints of sprinkler controllers is that they can be complicated to use. You will need to spend some time with an instructional manual and tinker a bit with whichever controller you buy, but some are simpler to program than others. Other than not having to think about a watering schedule and saving water to help the planet, there’s also a cost saving when you use a sprinkler controller. If you aren’t wasting water, then you aren’t throwing more money at your water bill. There are a variety of sprinkler controllers out there, and the best thing to do is find the right one for you. Let’s go over the different types that are available.

TYPES OF SPRINKLER CONTROLLERS

A sprinkler controller from yesteryear (and still made today) usually looks a bit bulky, has a rotary dial and switches, and you might get a digital display. And then there are the smart sprinkler controllers that hook up to your Wi-Fi and let you control everything from an app on your phone. Let’s look a little closer at the different types.

STANDARD

Hunter Sprinkler XC800 X-Core 8-Station Outdoor Controller Timer XC-800 8 Zone

The part of the standard sprinkler controller you’ll deal with most often is going to be 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, as it generally works by zones of a yard. These are electric, so if the power goes out, you may have to reprogram it, so keep that in mind. Older versions require you to manually select the section 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 10 minutes of watering for an average-sized yard, two to three times per week, rain notwithstanding. Some sprinkler controllers include sensors which will take weather into account, so if it rains a fair amount, your sprinklers may not come on. That’s a good thing.

SMART

="Rachio

What with every other appliance becoming smarter and hooking up to your home’s Wi-Fi, why wouldn’t sprinkler controllers follow? This makes your life so much easier when you’re trying to get a perfect lawn without having to monitor water and whatnot. These internet-connected devices make it possible for you to set up the 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 to your lawn, garden, trees, or other plants.

HOSE TIMER

Dig Corporation Digital Hose End Watering Timer Clamshell

Not everyone has a fancy irrigation system in their yards, but you can still get a sprinkler controller for your hose and sprinkler. Typically, these devices are affordable and easy to use. Just attach it 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 it with batteries and check it to make sure your batteries are still good.

FEATURES YOU’LL WANT OR NEED IN THE BEST SPRINKLER CONTROLLER SYSTEM

Every sprinkler controller has the ability to be a huge help in keeping your outdoors healthy and lush. Some features are must-haves, while others are just extras. Here are the ones that are most coveted or needed.

Weather-controlled

One of the best features of a newer sprinkler controller is a sensor that can tell when there’s been rain, or when rain is coming. This can help prevent you over watering your garden or lawn. Overwatering would not only be detrimental to your yard but also drive up your water bill and waste water.

Wi-Fi Connection

When a smart sprinkler controller hooks up to your Wi-Fi, that generally means you can use your smartphone app that’s related to set up programs or check the status of whatever you’re watering. Basically, your smartphone becomes a remote control.

Smart Home Compatibility

If a Wi-Fi 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 or Google Home.

Multiple Programs

The need for a controller that allows multiple programs cannot be understated. Your yard and garden have different needs, and for that, you’ll need to set up different programs. This is usually possible with smart and standard type sprinkler controllers.

Permanent Memory

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 has come back on. This can save you a lot of frustration.

Battery-powered

If you’d rather not deal with power outage issues, you could stick to the simpler sprinkler controllers that are battery-powered. The only thing is, you’ll have to make sure they have fresh batteries.

TOP 5 SPRINKLER CONTROLLER REVIEWS

RACHIO SMART SPRINKLER CONTROLLER

Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller
  • Type: Smart
  • Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Smart home compatible: Alexa, Google Home
  • No. of Zones: 8, 16
  • Pro install: No
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Among the smart sprinkler controllers available, the Rachio is one of the most popular, and for many good reasons. Obviously, this unit connects to your home Wi-Fi, which means that it has an internet connection and it can check local weather stations to “see” when rain is coming. The benefit here is that you’re going to save gallons of water because the controller can skip a watering if there’s rain or wind on the way. The smart-home compatibility means that you can control this device using Amazon’s Alexa or Google Home. So, just tell it to water or stop watering, and it will. It’s easy enough to install, as long as you understand the wiring and whatnot, but programming may be a little more complicated. If you have a smartphone, it becomes a remote control for you, which can help with troubleshooting your sprinkler system. Of course, with all the technologically advanced features of this sprinkler controller, it is a bit pricey.

PROS

  • Smart home connected
  • Connects to Wi-Fi
  • Easy to install
  • Weather-controlled
  • Doesn’t require a smartphone

CONS

  • Pricey
  • Maybe complicated to set up

PRO TIP

If you’re looking for one of the most advanced sprinkler controllers with Wi-Fi, this could be your best choice.

ORBIT 57950 B-HYVE SMART INDOOR/OUTDOOR 12-STATION WIFI SPRINKLER SYSTEM CONTROLLER

Orbit 57950 B-hyve Smart Indoor/Outdoor 12-Station WiFi Sprinkler System Controller
  • Type: Smart
  • Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Smart home compatible: Alexa
  • No. of Zones: 6, 12
  • Pro install: No
Click For The Price

When it comes to sprinkler controllers, you pretty much have one of three choices, and this smart system from Orbit is one that could easily make the top of your list. The installation is easy enough and won’t require a professional, though that is an option. After which, all you have to do is get it connected to your Wi-Fi. Sounds simple enough, but it may be tricky at times because this won’t work with 5Ghz Wi-Fi, nor will it work with WEP, but that’s getting a little technical. As far as smart sprinkler controllers go, this one is affordable. You have your choice of a six- or 12-zone controller. 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 to the plants, and the Orbit B-hyve will take it from there with its Smart Watering feature – and it’ll even delay a watering if rain is coming. However, some have mentioned that this feature can sometimes cause issues with programming.

PROS

  • Smart home connected
  • Connects to Wi-Fi
  • Easy to install
  • Rain delays
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Smart Watering can be glitchy
  • Maybe complicated to set up

PRO TIP

If you want an affordable smart sprinkler controller, this one could work well for you.

RAIN BIRD ST8I-WIFI SMART INDOOR WIFI SPRINKLER/IRRIGATION SYSTEM TIMER/CONTROLLER

Rain Bird ST8I-WIFI Smart Indoor WiFi Sprinkler/Irrigation System Timer/Controller
  • Type: Smart
  • Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Smart home compatible: Alexa
  • No. of Zones: 8
  • Pro install: No
Click For The Price

It’s nice to see Rain Bird getting into the smart sprinkler and irrigation controller game, but this model (ST8I) with Wi-Fi might have a few bugs still. After replacing your old-timer with this one (it’s indoor only), make sure you download the complementing app. From there, or the control box, you can set up schedules. The biggest issue with this unit, though, is that connecting to Wi-Fi and the app is spotty, at best. Many people reported having to reboot or reset the app and settings often. The good news is that this offers all the features you’d expect of a smart sprinkler controller. You can use it with Amazon Alexa for voice-activated controls; it will adjust water schedules based on weather, humidity, and even the season; and you can pause watering as a delay for up to 14 days. Also, this is a somewhat expensive unit for being indoor only, and will only cover up to eight zones.

PROS

  • Smart home connected
  • Connects to Wi-Fi
  • Easy to install
  • Rain delays
  • Automatic seasonal adjustments

CONS

  • Wi-Fi can be iffy
  • Expensive

PRO TIP

If you prefer this brand for your smart sprinkler controller, then you might be happy with this unit.

HUNTER SPRINKLER XC800 X-CORE 8-STATION OUTDOOR CONTROLLER TIMER XC-800 8 ZONE

Hunter Sprinkler XC800 X-Core 8-Station Outdoor Controller Timer XC-800 8 Zone
  • Type: Standard
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • Smart home compatible: N/A
  • No. of Zones: 8
  • Pro install: No
Click For The Price

Some will say “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” and for those of you who prefer to leave well enough alone and not venture into the smart sprinkler controller realm, there’s the Hunter Sprinkler XC800 X-Core 8-Station Outdoor Controller Timer. This device will not connect to Wi-Fi or any smart device, so you’ll have to do all the programming, starting, and stopping from the control box. Plus, you can only install this outside. It is easy to install and use, though, for most people. People have described this as an intuitive unit. You can control your sprinkler controller with a remote control, but it’s a separate purchase. The good news is that the X-Core allows you to run a troubleshooting program that will test your sprinklers in each zone, so you can see what’s working and what isn’t without having to run back to the box to switch zones. Also, if there’s a power outage, this unit will remember your programs, so you won’t have to enter them again later. Defects seem common with this unit, though, so be sure you test it thoroughly before committing to it.

PROS

  • Remote control optional
  • Remembers programs
  • Easy to use
  • Troubleshoot sprinkler option
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Defects seem common
  • Hard to read display

PRO TIP

If you’re looking for a standard sprinkler controller and timer, then this one could be the best for you.

DIG CORPORATION DIGITAL HOSE END WATERING TIMER CLAMSHELL

Dig Corporation Digital Hose End Watering Timer Clamshell
  • Type: Hose
  • Wi-Fi: No
  • Smart home compatible: N/A
  • No. of Zones: 1
  • Pro install: No
Click For The Price

Not every lawn is equipped with an irrigation system, and that’s where the Dig Corporation Digital Hose End Watering Timer Clamshell can shine. This simple sprinkler controller hooks up to your outside spigot, and then you just connect a water hose to the device. Add a 9V battery to the unit, and you’ll be on your way to creating a watering schedule for your yard. Of course, this doesn’t work by zones, so it’s meant for only one lawn or garden with a sprinkler. You’ll save time using this device to keep your yard watered, and it should save you money and water. That is, as long as it continues to work. There’s always the chance that yours could be a dud. Others have mentioned design flaws that prevent the scheduling from being sophisticated enough for odd or even watering days. In any case, this is an affordable option for someone who doesn’t have built-in sprinklers and just doesn’t want to get up at 5 a.m. to water their lawn every other day.

PROS

  • Battery-powered unit
  • Has “rain off” option
  • Easy to use
  • LCD display
  • Affordable

CONS

  • Quit working early
  • Scheduling may be too simple

PRO TIP

If you don’t have an irrigation system, but need a sprinkler controller for your hose-connected sprinkler, then this could work well for you.

CONCLUSION

No one wants to get up at the crack of dawn to water their lawn or garden. That’s what’s suggested, though, to give your living flora the proper drink it needs without the sun leeching all that moisture out, or to prevent mold from growing at night. The alternative is to set up a timer, and that’s what sprinkler controllers are all about. They automate your watering schedule, so all you have to do is occasionally check on it to make sure all’s well. Also, in the case of a standard or hose unit, you might have to watch the weather and turn off the programming if rain or wind is coming. And then there are the smart sprinkler controllers that do all that work for you. Weather or season change? No worries. The Wi-Fi connected unit will adjust as needed, or you can control it all from your smartphone. Plus, you have the option of controlling it all from your voice-activated command control center known as Alexa (or Google Home). At least, that’s the case for the best sprinkler controller made: Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller. Yes, it’s a bit pricey, but considering all that it can do for you and your yards, whether you have 8 or 16 zones, it could be entirely worth it to invest in this futuristic automated device that keeps your lawn looking lush and healthy.

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