Using automatic weather information, local weather forecasts, shutdown timers, and more, smart sprinkler controllers help you comply with local water restrictions and prevent overwatering. Since we also love gardens and green lawns, we compiled some of the best smart sprinkler systems available.
What to look for in a smart sprinkler controller
Not all smart sprinkler controllers are the same. However, certain key requirements must be considered before clicking the buy button. These include the following:
- Ease of installation: While all smart sprinkler controllers will require some configuration or installation, which involves (re)wiring, the best sprinkler controllers make it easy. Some provide DIY tutorial videos or instructions. Here are essential DIY tools to get you started.
- area of use: Smart Sprinkler Controllers can be used (or mounted) indoors or outdoors. However, only weatherproof controllers can be used outdoors. (Some indoor sprinkler controllers can be mounted outside if you purchase a compatible weatherproof housing.)
- irrigation zones: Different smart sprinkler controllers support different numbers of irrigation zones. Be sure to purchase a controller with matching irrigation zones, especially if you are upgrading an existing irrigation system. (You can also buy one with additional irrigation zones in case you move.)
- WaterSense Compliance: This is by far the most important feature to consider in a smart irrigation controller. According to the EPA, a WaterSense-certified irrigation controller can save the US up to 15,000 gallons per household per year.
- operating voltage: Smart Sprinkler Controllers come with different VAC ratings. Buy only one that matches your region’s power supply standard to avoid the risk of explosion or fire. Alternatively, buy a plug adapter or power converter. (All of the products linked in this article are suitable for US energy standards. That being said, they are also available in non-US markets.)
Best Overall: Rachio 8ZULW-C 3rd Gen Smart Sprinkler Controller
- ✓ Eight different irrigation zones to choose from
- ✓ Easy to set up and install. Easily replace older irrigation controllers
- ✓ Remote access with support for mobile applications and self-programming
- ✗ Not for outdoor use without weather resistant outer casing (sold separately)
The Rachio 8ZULW-C 3rd Generation Intelligent Sprinkler Controller is by far one of the best intelligent sprinkler controllers on the market. This eight-zone irrigation controller is the third generation of Rachio smart sprinklers and it has come a long way. It’s easy to install with the in-app video tutorial and can replace 99% of existing sprinkler controllers. It works with Alexa and can automatically create watering schedules that comply with local water restrictions.
With its WeatherSense-compatible Weather Intelligence Plus technology, the Rachio 8ZULW-C uses hyperlocal weather data to automatically bypass watering on rainy, windy, and snowy days. With the mobile app, you can also set up custom zones and remotely access, control and monitor your irrigation schedules and water usage. This 1-pound indoor controller measures 9.1 x 1.4 x 5.6 inches and is also available in four-zone and 16-zone variants.
Best Premium: Rain Bird ESP-TM2 Smart Irrigation Controller
- ✓ Supports 12 different irrigation zones
- ✓ Easily configure, install and manage via the accompanying mobile app
- ✓ It works indoors or outdoors thanks to its weather resistant casing.
- ✗ Really expensive
- ✗ Compatible LNK Wi-Fi module is sold separately
If your yard has more than eight zones and you can afford it, get the Rain Bird ESP-TNZ Irrigation Controller. This premium irrigation controller controls up to 12 irrigation zones. Like the Rachio 8ZULW-C Smart Irrigation Controller, it’s also easy to set up and can easily serve as a replacement irrigation controller for your outdated or damaged unit. It has a modern user interface that is quite easy to program and operate, thanks to its extra simple programming feature.
WeatherSense certified, the 3.5-pound Rain Bird ESP-TM2 Smart Sprinkler Controller features three programs and four start times per program. These allow you to conveniently manage your irrigation schedule and water usage in accordance with local water restrictions. Unlike the Rachio 8ZULW-C, and thanks to its custom weatherproof housing, this unit can be used indoors and outdoors. It can also be upgraded to a Wi-Fi controller with the purchase of an LNK Wi-Fi module. However, it must be used with 120 VAC only.
Best Budget: WYZE WSPRK1 Smart Sprinkler Controller
- ✓ WaterSense certified with support for up to 8 irrigation zones
- ✓ Affordable and easy to install in minutes with video tutorial
- ✓ Wi-Fi compatible with remote access via mobile app
- ✗ Both software and support can be problematic
While the Rain Bird ESP-TM2 Smart Irrigation Controller costs hundreds of dollars, the WYZE WSPRK1 Smart Irrigation Controller is one of the best budget irrigation controllers around. For less than $60, this simple yet powerful 8-zone Wi-Fi compatible and WeatherSense compatible sprinkler controller can give more expensive controllers a run for their money while still meeting local water restrictions. It measures 9.1 x 1.5 x 3.3 inches and weighs 7.6 ounces.
This indoor controller is also easy to configure and install, but requires additional configuration instructions (available on request) if you have rain or soil sensors installed. Its intelligent weather-based algorithm uses hyperlocal weather data to determine if, when, and how much to water your lawns and gardens. It has a simple layout with buttons and LED lights for ease of use and can be remotely accessed, controlled and managed via the accompanying mobile app.
Best for Indoors: Netro Sprite-6 Smart Sprinkler Controller
- ✓ Supports six irrigation zones and is WeatherSense certified
- ✓ Easy to install in minutes and simple to program
- ✓ Wi-Fi compatible with free Netro Cloud service
- ✗ Designed for indoor use, requires separate weatherproof housing for outdoor mounting
If you prefer to mount your irrigation controller system indoors, the Netro Sprite-6 Smart Sprinkler Controller is one of your best options. This Wi-Fi compatible six-zone eco-friendly sprinkler controller is easy to set up and can easily replace your old or outdated setup. It is also compatible with Alexa and its mobile app allows you to remotely access, control and manage your irrigation system.
Its integrated Weather-Aware technology (compatible with WeatherSense) and Restrictions Aware automatically pulls local weather forecasts and automatically complies with local irrigation regulations. With its free Netro Cloud service and extensive soil/plant library, you can enable Smart Zone to automatically program custom irrigation zones and it works with all irrigation systems. Measuring 5.7 x 5.7 x 1.2 inches and weighing 8.2 ounces, this AI-powered fully automatic watering system is super lightweight and portable.
Best Weatherproof: Orbit 57985 B-hyve XR Smart Sprinkler Controller
- ✓ CES Innovation Award Winner, WaterSense Certified, and 8-Zone Irrigation Compatible
- ✓ Easy to install and program
- ✓ Wi-Fi and Bluetooth supported with remote access via mobile app
Unlike the Netro Sprite-6 Sprinkler Controller, the Orbit 57985 B-hyve XR Smart Sprinkler Controller is designed to mount both indoors and outdoors, without the need for a separate weatherproof housing. This 8-zone smart irrigation controller is also a CES Innovation Award winner. As you’d expect, it’s WeatherSense compatible, Wi-Fi compatible, very easy to install (in minutes), and easily replaces other sprinkler controllers.
Also compatible with Alexa, the 4-pound Orbit 57985 is easily programmable. With the B-hyve app, you can create custom watering schedules, set durations, receive alerts, and manage your entire irrigation system. Automatically skip watering on rainy, windy and snowy days. On dry days, it automatically adjusts to deliver as much water as needed. It features multi-color LED light rings and buttons, including a manual override button. However, this is to be used with 110 VAC only.