As with most smart home devices, the smart Wi-Fi-controlled sprinklers industry is also dominated by tech startup companies. In our previous entries in this series, we’ve discussed smart sprinkler products made by Rochio and RainMachine, which are the examples of said startup companies. Today, however, we will discuss a product made by a veteran in the irrigation industry, Orbit, with the Orbit B-Hyve as their first entry to the smart sprinkler market.
Mass manufactured by a giant company, one of the key values of the Orbit B-Hyve is its affordability. The B-Hyve is simply one of the cheapest smart, Wi-Fi enabled sprinkler systems around. However, affordability is not everything, and we always stress the importance of balance between value and price.
At first glance, the Orbit B-Hyve looks flimsy and is definitely not as well designed as the Rachio 2nd Gen Smart Sprinkler or RainMachine Touch HD. It does feature an onboard monitor and control, but with a simple monochrome LCD that seems outdated by today’s standard. So, what about features? Can the Orbit B-Hyve stand up to other similar, yet more modern-looking products available today?
First, let us take a look at its key features.
The Orbit B-Hyve features a very decent, 12-zone feature on the Orbit B-Hyve 12-station version. For those with smaller landscapes, there is also the Orbit B Hyve 6 Station which is slightly cheaper. 12 stations are more than enough for a mid to large sized garden, and if necessary, you can expand it with another Orbit B-Hyve.
Orbit B-Hyde App
Of course, being a smart Wi-Fi sprinkler, there is a smartphone app to accompany it. The app is nothing groundbreaking but is pretty decent, and has all the basic functionality to control and monitor the sprinklers. However, you can also use the built-in rotary control to operate the sprinkler system, which is handy when your phone is not available, or when the Wi-Fi is offline.
Orbit B-Hyve installation process is extremely easy, and there is a comprehensive Orbit B-Hyve manual to help you. However, even following the step-by-step instruction provided in the smartphone app is enough for a successful installation.
Catch Cup Technology
Unique to the Orbit B-Hyve is Orbit’s own Catch Cup technology, which allows an accurate measurement of how much water your lawn actually needs. The Catch Cup is sold separately, and the app is able to do catch cup test. So, in theory, Orbit B-Hyve can save more water compared to its competitors.
Besides being very precise in using water with the Catch Cup technology, the Orbit B-Hyve uses WeatherSense forecast to save even more water when it rains. As with Rochio Smart Sprinkler and RainMachine Touch HD-12, the Orbit B-Hyve is pretty accurate in using the weather forecast technology.
Being a very affordable device, it is very nice to see the Orbit B-Hyve can integrate really well with Amazon Alexa. Although the third-party integration is fairly limited, being not open-API with no IFTTT support, Alexa is a very popular smart home system nowadays, and the Orbit B-Hyve is a very decent choice to pair with your existing Amazon Echo. Another smart sprinkler system that can integrate with Alexa includes the Rachio 2nd Gen, so it’s one thing to keep in mind for an orbit B-Hyve vs Rachio comparison.
As mentioned, installing the Orbit B-Hyve is pretty easy. If you already got an existing sprinkler system, wiring your Orbit B-Hyve should only take a few minutes. There are a swing panel and conduit knockouts, so it is also very easy to access.
After you’ve setup the device, you can download the mobile app on your iOS or Android phone/tablet. There is also a web app that you can access with any browser, but you will need the mobile up to first set up the Orbit B-Hyve login.
The mobile app’s interface is jam-packed with a lot of charts and menus, but it is well-designed and is very easy to read. There is a weather icon as an indicator of the weather situation of your lawn, and in the middle part, you can see different stations/zones connected to the Orbit B-Hyve.
So, setting up your basic program is fairly simple with the Orbit B-Hyve. You can also fine-tune your program as there are many features available on the app, such as the rain delay to manually pause the watering when it rains, the stop button to stop it altogether, calendar, remote control, ZoneList, and Setting.
As mentioned, what’s special about the Orbit B-Hyve app is the Catch Cup test function. This feature allows a precise calculation of how much water is being used on your lawn, rather than only estimation used by other products.
We also tried the Alexa integration, and we can say that it is pretty seamless. With the integration, you can use voice command to control the Orbit B-Hyve, such as to run only a particular program, not watering a certain zone, stop the watering altogether, and many more. If you have an Amazon Echo, Orbit B-Hyve is one of the best smart sprinkler systems that can integrate with it.
Also, a plus point is how fast Orbit’s support handle the Orbit B-Hyve troubleshooting process. We tested calling them to ask about wiring the master valve, and it was explained really well (and fast).
Pros and Cons
Here are what we liked and disliked from Orbit B-Hyve.
- Affordability, one of the cheapest smart sprinkler controllers on the market
- Quite durable with weatherproof casing
- Onboard control and monitoring
- Very decent app with beautiful presentation
- Alexa integration
- The app is sometimes buggy
- Limited third-party integration besides Alexa
- Limited program customization compared to similar products
Being a very affordable smart sprinkler system, Orbit B-Hyve works very well, comparable to more expensive products such as Rochio 2nd Gen and RainMachine Touch HD-12. However, it does look a little flimsy and cheap and is not physically as well-designed.
The app, although very decent, is also not as good as Rochio’s or RainMachine’s. With Orbit’s Catch Cup technology, the Orbit B-Hyve might as well be the most efficient smart sprinkler controllers available on the market. A very decent overall choice.