Today, with the internet and and connected devices encroaching on nearly all aspects of our daily lives, you might think of your lawn and garden as one of the last refuges where low tech reigns supreme. But even your grass can now benefit from the wifi revolution and there are some significant advantages to going this route. In this article we’ll talk about a particular innovation, the wifi sprinkler controller, that is far more than technology for technology’s sake: instead, it stands to save you significant time and money while keeping your yard healthy and in top shape.
So what exactly is a wifi sprinkler and why would you ever need one? A sprinkler or irrigation system connected to your wifi network provides unprecedented convenience and customization, far ahead of what you’d get from a conventional automatic sprinkler controller. The major benefit, as with all wifi home devices, is that you can control them from your smartphone, so you can tweak the settings no matter where you are. Often, you start by following a step-by-step process telling your controller about your yard (often separating it into zones and specifying the types of plants, soil, sunlight levels, etc.) so that it can calculate an optimal watering schedule with as little wasted water as possible. Another “smart” feature is for your controller to receive data from local weather forecasts so you don’t water on days where there will be rain (a major drawback of traditional sprinkler timers).
The best wifi controllers also provide copious amounts of data for you to track patterns over time as well as analyze how much water and money you are saving. Frequently this takes the form of an easy to use dashboard. Top companies claim that their product can cut water use from 30-40%, and with much of the United States, particularly the West Coast, facing debilitating droughts in recent years, devices like this can make a major difference. So which brands and models should you look at?
Top Wifi Sprinkler Controllers
This is widely considered the industry standard for smart sprinkler controllers, and it’s currently the best seller and highest rated moddel on Amazon. It has all the essential features you’ll need, including local weather forecast optimization, quick and easy setup, precision yard zone scheduling, and easy controlling via the web or phone/tablet. It claims to save users 50% of outdoor water use, a fact that’s confirmed by many of its happy customers. All in all, this is a great choice for your wifi sprinkler controller.
Another big player in the industry is RainMachine, One of the benefits of RainMachine is that the controller itself features a 6.5″ color touch screen display, given you complete access to tweak and monitor right there. It strives for redundancy in its weather forecast optimization by tapping multiple sources including NOAA, METNO and Wunderground. With its open API RainMachine also seamlessly integrates into all major home automation systems including Nest, Amazon’s Echo/Alexa, WINK and SmartThings.
Beyond these two popular options, there are several other models on the market, some of which come at a lower price point like the Lono Irrigation System and the Blossom Smart Watering Controller. But these products, some of which were conceived as Kickstarters, have known issues such as difficult setup, less than intuitive apps, connectivity problems, and lack of helpful support. On the other hand, some users have found these models to be perfectly adequate so feel free to investigate for yourself, but from our experience we rate the RainMachine and Rachio the highest. Let us know if you have a different experience using the comments below.
Finally, some municipalities incentivize the use of water conservation devices like wifi sprinklers, so take a look at your local water company’s web site to see if they offer any rebates for your purchase. The top options explored above qualify for these rebates. Best of luck on your journey towards harnessing the power of the wifi to ensure a healthy green lawn.