As a homeowner, I’ve embraced smart home technology by adding numerous devices designed to reduce energy consumption and use natural resources wisely. The smart devices have helped with the regulation of the lighting and the air and heating in my home. Now, I am looking at ways to adjust to how I use water. The Rachio 3: a smart yard sprinkler controlling water consumption.
One of the biggest water wasters is the yard sprinklers. Since I travel for work, the yard sprinkler control system runs on the same schedule. Even if it was raining — I couldn’t shut the system off if I was on the road.
But I’ve found the Rachio 3 smart yard sprinkler control system. As a connected device, it could be a solution to controlling water usage from whatever part of the globe I’m traveling. Here’s what I found after using it in my yard.
How the Rachio 3 Works: Features and Technology
The recipient of the EPA WaterSense Certification, the water-wise Rachio 3 connects to your home WiFi. The connection runs through a dual-band WiFi connection as well as through a single-band router. The sprinkler control device can cover eight to 16 zones within your yard. The system also includes the Rachio app to control the system for on-the-go connection from a mobile device.
An Intuitive Watering System
The system comes with Weather Intelligence Plus, which helps determine weather conditions so it can adjust watering based on that data. The technology leverages artificial intelligence to read thousands of weather reports from the national weather service, radar, satellites, and personal weather stations. The system then combs this hyper-local data to track weather changes that might impact your watering schedule.
The intuitive yard watering system offers numerous skip and shift features to address weather changes on the fly. The options include rain skip, seasonal shift, saturation skip, and freeze skip. I found these features to be particularly useful when I was away from home for work or on vacation.
Installation and Set-Up
To install the Rachio 3, it took me less than a half-hour. Plus, I didn’t need to be a whiz at technical installations or have any specialized tools to get it done. I removed the old controller quickly and then connected the existing wires in the same way they were connected to the former controller.
Set-up on the app only took a couple of minutes to create a log-in and link it to my smart sprinkler control system. The app offers easy navigation, so it also didn’t take very long to create a calendar and schedule for watering my lawn and yard. The app also contains resources about how the system works and access to tips on optimizing water use.
The Rachio 3 controllers are compatible with most sprinkler valves, including those with 24V AC solenoid valves. These valves tend to be standard across the country. If you don’t have that type of valve for some reason, you can look into updating them to the standard valve type.
The Rachio 3 works with the Rachio Wireless Flow Meter. It also integrates with Alexa, Apple Home Kit, and Google Assistant as well as connected devices from Nest, IFTTT, and SmartThings.
What Works Well and What Needs Improvement
The best aspects of the Rachio 3 include its Better Water Intelligence features, which vastly reduced how much water I was using without turning my lawn and yard brown. Other positives are fast set-up, and easy access to manual sprinkler runs through the onboard controls.
The only issue I could find is the price. It’s still somewhat expensive considering all the other smart home devices I’m continuing to add throughout my home. However, since first looking at the Rubio 3 — the current price is down a little making it somewhat lower than when the smart sprinkler control system was first introduced. Also, the product may qualify for local rebate programs.
What’s in the Box?
The Rachio 3 arrives in the box as one unit with a cover and is ready to be wired up. The WiFi sprinkler control system also comes with a two-year warranty.
The Rachio 3 is available on the company’s website. There is an eight-zone option for $229.99 or a 16-zone option for $279.99. The company currently offers free two-day shipping. Other places where you can buy this WiFi sprinkler control system include Amazon, Best Buy, Apple, and Home Depot.
The Rachio 3 has been integral in reducing water consumption, helping me not to overwater the yard whether I am at home or on the road. The device is highly customizable to match the watering needs of my yard and the impact of the changing weather conditions on a day-to-day basis.
Although it was initially more money than I had intended on paying for a sprinkler control system, it has already paid for itself and more in terms of close to a fifty percent reduction on my water bill.
One piece of advice I want to share is that since my sprinkler controller is vulnerable to the elements — I bought a weather-proof enclosure to fit over the Rachio 3. Also, I added Rachio’s water flow meter, which helps detect any leaks in the irrigation system that might otherwise use more water than I want, and that piece of equipment cost me more money.