What Is My Favorite Smart Timer? Glad You Asked.

by Ben Bowen

Recommended Wi-Fi Sprinkler Controller

Over the years we have installed hundreds of irrigation timers. If you count my dad’s time at Bowen’s Inc in Phoenix, AZ then we have installed thousands. 90%+ have been Rainbird sprinkler controllers. They are reliable, easy to program, and easy to train a homeowner on. But guess what?

I have only installed a couple Rainbird (or Hunter, Toro, etc) irrigation controllers in the last few years. Why?

Because almost all our sprinkler systems are now getting smart irrigation controllers.

I have installed Rainbird’s entry, plus Hunter’s wifi controlled unit, looked into Hyve, managed a bunch of Hydropoint controllers, and installed a bunch of Rachios- all three generations. Guess which one I like best?

I prefer the Rachio 3 smart wi-fi sprinkler controller to all the others. Here is why:

rachio 3 review by landscaper
  • Ease of installation. Installing a Rachio is really easy, at least it is for someone who has installed hundreds of timers. But I’m convinced (and other reviewers back this up) that 98.3% of people can install one in less than an hour.

  • Ease of programming. Setting the system up is very easy. You go through your system, zone by zone, and give it some basic information. If you choose this information can be used to determine how often, and for how long, each irrigation zone should water.

  • Lack of issues. The only issue I have ever had is when I wanted to take a Rachio from one property and then move it to another. If you are going to switch accounts associated with the controller you will need to call support. Otherwise every unit I have installed has worked perfectly, and I have yet to warranty one.

Basically, Rachio is a great smart controller because the hardware is high quality and user interface is intuitive. Rainbird and Hunter make great controllers, but the apps feel like afterthoughts- because they are. Rachio was designed, from day 1, to be programmed and monitored with your device.

Is the Rachio a perfect controller? No, it does have some drawbacks:

  • Manual use. You can use the controller to run your system manually, but it is not as intuitive as a Rainbird or Hunter controller.

  • “Smart” programming. I have not had great success with letting the Rachio determine how often and for how long to run each zone. Sometimes is will want to grossly over water and, other times, it wants to water too little. Set the days and run times yourself and then let Rachio adjust for rain, temperature, and wind. It does a solid job with this.

If you are ready to buy a Rachio, Rainbird, Hunter or other smart timer feel free to head over to our Amazon page.

Have questions? Leave them in the comments and I will be happy to answer.


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