In this modern age of smart homes, almost all of household appliances have transformed to their ‘smart’ versions. Security is obviously the biggest benefit from smart devices, and that is why smart doorbells and security cameras are wildly popular.
However, there is another ‘smart’ benefit besides security that is equally important: energy and utility saving.
In this category, there is the smart thermostat to save your HVAC (Heat, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning), there are smart light bulbs that also bring convenience and aesthetic purposes besides their energy saving functionalities, and there are also the smart sprinklers, which are the focus of our discussion for the next few articles.
We also compared all top models of smart irrigation controllers and reviewed them here: https://thehousetech.com/best-smart-irrigation-controllers-reviews/
Smart sprinklers will obviously save both your electricity and water utility bills, and also bring more convenience to the table with the automation and scheduling. To start this series of smart sprinkler reviews, let us discuss what’s arguably the most popular smart sprinkler products on the market today: the Rachio Smart Sprinkler.
As the name suggests, this is a successor to the 1st generation Rachio Smart Sprinkler. So, to avoid confusion, let us start the Rachio Review by understanding the differences between the two versions.
Rachio Gen 2 VS Gen 1 Differences
The Gen 1 of Rachio Smart Sprinkler is by itself a very good -and successful- product, so the Gen 2 is built on a very solid foundation. There are several issues found on the Gen 1 that are tackled with the updated Gen 2, they are:
Easier Technical Installation
The Rachio Gen 1 is already famous for its easy installation process. However, there are several downsides, such as the relatively large frame, yet a relatively small wiring bay that won’t fit a larger wire gauge. The design also prevents customers from testing the wires with multimeters, and those issues are tackled with the 2nd Gen version. The Gen 2 is overall a smaller product, and you can easily test the wiring with multimeters. The wiring bay is also much larger so it can practically fit any wire gauge out there. Overall, the 2nd Gen Rachio installation is much easier.
With the Gen 1, the Wi-Fi connection is indicated with a simple flashing light. It is a fairly reliable process, however, natural sunlight can sometimes interfere in outdoor installations. With the Gen 2, the connection process is far more intuitive. The Rachio Gen 2 is discoverable through the Rachio app, and you can use the app to connect to the Wi-Fi, without the need of Ethernet or USB connection.
Although smart, automated functionality is the core highlight of the Rachio Smart Sprinkler, sometimes manual control is necessary, a feature missing from the Gen 1. With the Gen 2 version, there is an onboard control with some basic functions such as turning on or off the zones. A very nice added convenience.
Easier Outdoor Mounting
The Gen 2 is equipped with a custom outdoor casing for waterproofing and easier hardwiring. Installing an outdoor sprinkler, the Rachio Gen 1 included, can be tricky with the complex hardwiring process, so this is a nice feature to have.
More Sensor Ports
New to the Rachio Gen 2 is the added ports for third-party sensors. Although built-in sensors would be nicer, this feature adds more versatility to the Gen 2, so you can add third-party flow sensors, freeze sensors, and rain sensors.
After we’ve understood the differences between the two versions, let us move on to discussing the key features of the Rachio 2nd Gen.
Sleek and Compact Design
As mentioned, one of the key highlights of the Rachio Smart Sprinkler is the small frame, measuring only at 5.5 x 1.5 x 9.25 inches. It is significantly smaller than the Gen 1 and the smaller frame translates into the versatility of installation.
Although it is small, it is surprisingly sturdy, among the most durable out of its competitors. The plastic cover, unfortunately, feels a little cheap, but it still looks nice overall. Unlike most smart sprinklers, or even smart hope appliances out there, the Rachio 2nd Gen is completely manufactured in Colorado, USA, so we can expect its durability.
Rachio features 8 different zone functions, which is pretty decent for a medium to large-sized gardens. Of course, for a smaller landscape, you can opt to use fewer zones. Although 8-zones are pretty common in other products, the Rachio 8 zone feature is actually pretty nice since the app and web app allows individual customization and scheduling for each of the zones with a very intuitive interface.
As mentioned, Rachio’s smartphone app is among the finest in the market, allowing us to monitor each individual zones, as well as fine-tuning it to our exact needs. The charts and graphs offered are very intuitive. More tech-savvy users can definitely benefit from the in-depth customization and overload of data. Yet, more simplistic users will appreciate the ease of use.
Rachio Smart Sprinkler uses real-time weather reports to schedule its processes. Considering weather apps are pretty reliable nowadays, this is a very decent approach. So, your Rachio for example, can decrease or stop the watering altogether when it’s raining, saving your water usage.
If necessary, you can also install additional sensors to make it even more accurate.
Our Review of Rachio Smart Sprinkler System
As mentioned, the Rachio very easy to install, among the easiest in the business. Simply download the Rachio app in your smartphone while connected to your Wi-Fi network, input the serial number on the app, and it is ready to go.
Setting up your zones is also very easy. The Rachio app will walk you through a step-by-step process where you can input the soil type, the amount of direct sunlight, your sprinkler type, slope, and what’s growing in that zone. That information, combined with the weather data mentioned above will be used to make your watering schedule.
After that, your smart scheduling is basically good to go. You can fine-tune each individual zones when necessary, or even choose different weather station for a more accurate data. However, even with a basic setup, the Rachio is already pretty decent.
Pros & Cons
- Easy installation, among the easiest in the business
- Nice third party integration especially with Amazon Alexa
- Very intuitive app
- Onboard manual control for convenience-Extensive reporting
- Relatively expensive
- Third party integration can be difficult for certain brands
The Rachio Smart Sprinkler is a complete package, offering everything you need in a smart sprinkler. The Rachio installation process is incredibly easy, and can integrate with a wide variety of smart home devices and controllers.
It is relatively expensive compared to other products available, but if you got the budget, the Rachio is definitely an excellent choice.