With the rise of popularity of smart home products, now not only tech enthusiasts adopt the smart irrigation controllers, doorbells, LEDs and other products. Now, many average Joes that are not as tech-savvy are also adopting the products, giving the rise to simpler, easy-to-use smart home products.
The Spruce irrigation controller, which we will review today, is one such device. It is very simple to install and use compared to other products currently in the market and is also designed with the currently popular, modern-minimalist approach.
However, that’s not saying the Spruce controller didn’t have the quality of other similar products. The concept behind the Spruce is similar to its competitors: using weather forecasts and moisture data in conjunction with a smart scheduling system to make sure we use the right amount of water for each watering.
So, how good is it? to answer that question, let us start this Spruce irrigation controller review by discussing its key features:
Soil Moisture Sensor
One of the unique features of the Spruce is the soil moisture sensor. You can get 1 included in the offered package, or buy it separately. It is a rarity among its competitors and is working really well during our tests. Having the ability to detect the soil moisture level, in combination with the real-time weather forecast, allows the Spruce irrigation controller to automatically adjust your water usage. Spruce claims that it can save up to 60% of your water usage compared to conventional timers.
Smart Seasonal Scheduling
Seasonal changes will mean your garden require a different amount of water every time, as well as different timing and other details. Yet, it’s a surprise that very few smart sprinkler controllers offer a feature to automatically adjust your smart scheduling during seasonal changes. The Spruce offers that feature, giving your plants less water in winter and more during the summer.
Landscape Recommendation and Adjustment
It’s unusual for a garden to have different landscapes and elevation, and each will have a different watering requirement. To answer that need, Spruce can adjust the watering schedule and amount according to the shape and elevation of the ground.
Manual Scheduling and Timed Restrictions
Although a smart home product is about automation, don’t underestimate the importance of manual control. With the Spruce smart sprinkler controller, you can easily schedule watering around your required timed restrictions, such as specific days, specific time windows, and even/odd days adjustment. You can also easily start a preset schedule just with a single button, which is useful if you want to make sudden changes or want to test out a preset.
The 2017 edition of the Spruce smart irrigation controller is actually the 2nd iteration of the product. Previously, the 1st Spruce Controller relies completely on the Samsung SmartThings integration, which severely limits your options. This 2nd generation Spruce, however, can work standalone, as well as with many ZigBee devices and hubs out there. So, you can use it with many ZigBee smart hubs out there like the VeraPlus, Wink Hub, or the previously supported Samsung SmartThings.
Our Spruce Smart Sprinkler Review
We were an avid fan of the 1st generation of Spruce sprinkler controller. In fact, some of us rated it better in our previous Spruce vs Rachio comparison. However, if we have to be picky, there is a severe limitation on the Spruce 1st Gen, which is the sole reliance on the SmartThings System. Although SmartThings is obviously a popular choice for a smart home hub, the fact that the 1st Gen Spruce cannot even work without the SmartThings is a major letdown.
So, we were really excited when we tested the 2nd-Gen Spruce, which can now operate as a standalone device, as well as with various ZigBee hubs out there. Installing the 2nd-Gen Spruce is incredibly easy. We also got a Spruce Moisture Sensor in our package, so the first thing we tried is installing the sensor. Installing the moisture sensor is simply sticking it up on the ground. Now, we connect the sprinkler valves to the Spruce unit. This step is fairly easy if you have an existing sprinkler system, among the easiest of all the smart sprinkler systems we have tested. However, if you are installing a brand new system, most likely you will need a professional help.
After the unit is installed, as usual, we will need to download the iOS/Android app. Follow the step-by-step instruction to connect the Spruce unit to your Wi-Fi network, and to your ZigBee devices (if any). The process is fairly straightforward and you shouldn’t have any issues. The Spruce app will then consult the installed Moisture Sensor and will collect the soil moisture and weather forecast data for your area, which will be used to calculate the best times for watering your plants and scheduling them. You can fine tune the schedule based on your preferences, and create several presets when necessary.
Also, you can put time-based restrictions on the Spruce. For example, if you don’t want any watering above 10 PM (or there’s any local restriction in your area), you can put a restriction.
Setting up the integration to your ZigBee devices or hubs is also fairly simple. You can simply follow the on-screen instruction on the app, and the Spruce will integrate seamlessly. We tested the Samsung SmartThings and Wink Hub 2.0 with the Spruce smart sprinkler controller, and we found no significant problem with the integration.
Pros and Cons
- Easy Installation and user-friendly interface
- Seamless integration with ZigBee and other smart hubs
- User-friendly, easy to use app with rich features
- Manual control capability
- Seasonal and timed-restriction automatic scheduling
- Relatively expensive for today’s standard
- Buying additional moisture sensors can be costly
- Besides ZigBee, the third party integration is fairly limited
The main highlights of the Spruce Controller are the simple, easy-to-use design and the native Soil Moisture Sensor.
Although the Spruce is built with a minimalist concept, it is actually very rich in features and is among the most efficient smart sprinkler controllers. The Spruce Sensor in combination with the real-time weather data collection made the Spruce very accurate in calculating the exact watering needs of your garden, saving up to 60% of your watering cost as a result.
If you are looking for a simple, easy-to-use smart home controller that is also highly customizable, the Spruce irrigation controller is an excellent pick.