As pollution, water wastage, drought, and climate change continuously affect the availability of water, a lot of Americans are taking action to lessen the worsening problem by looking for effective solutions.
One of the best – and smartest – solutions for this worsening problem is by performing irrigation at the right time and with just the right amount of water through a smart sprinkler controller.
But here lies the problem: there are numerous smart sprinkler controllers out in the market today, thereby making the right choice a tad bit difficult.
So, we’ve narrowed down the choices to the top two brands of smart sprinkler controllers for you: Rachio and RainMachine.
Our comparison will be based on the following criteria:
- Design and ease of use
- Weather adjustment capability
Which one will reign supreme? Let’s find out!
Rachio vs RainMachine in 2018
Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller
Design and Ease of Use
Don’t be fooled by Rachio’s minimally clean design because this smart sprinkler controller is pumped with complex features that will provide a knockout experience for any user.
Telling your in-ground irrigation system what you want done is painless with this SWAT-approved smart sprinkler controller.
Once you’ve downloaded Rachio’s intuitive app (or have integrated it to a web interface) customizing the system for water efficiency becomes super easy – this includes detecting pipe leaks or knowing your water consumption via a flow sensor.
Scheduling is versatile and a breeze to do as well. The Fixed Interval Schedule will allow you to activate the system during odd days, even days, every day, or up to an interval of 21 days.
Its zone-by-zone control feature is precise. You can configure it based on the type of soil, the amount of sunlight an area receives, or what plants are growing on that particular spot.
In other words, you’ll be able to maximize its potential when it comes to watering designated areas.
And with the addition of an onboard control to the newly improved Rachio Generation 2, turning the zones on and off has become easier.
Weather adjustment capability
Rachio’s Weather Intelligence will accurately adjust to the weather condition on a given period based on real-time weather reports.
Apart from that, the end user can program specific thresholds according to his or her preference to avoid unnecessary irrigation.
For instance, the system can forego watering the lawn if the rain depth is at 1/8” or if the temperature drops below 380F.
Rachio – specifically, Rachio Generation 2 – supports several rain sensors like Hunter Rain-Clik Wireless Rain Sensor, RAIN BIRD WR2 Wireless Rain Sensor, and Orbit Wireless Rain Sensor to name a few; hence, the risk of overwatering or water wastage will not happen even if the weather report fails. It will automatically deactivate the system if a certain rainfall threshold is reached.
The cloud-based controller enjoys multiple integrations including IFTTT and a public API. It works seamlessly with Amazon Echo, Google Assistant, Nexia, Wink, Nest, and Control4 as well.
A Rachio smart sprinkler controller delivers a solid performance every time, especially the second-gen version. But just like all things, it comes with a few cons as well.
For one, manually running a single zone or a combination of zones is possible using the remote icon; but running multiple zones all at once is not.
And in the event of a disruption in your Internet connection, you will not be able to change any schedule.
However, due to Rachio’s EEPROM, the system will still run the last schedule that you have programmed.
Rainmachine Smart WiFi Irrigation Controllers
Design and Ease of Use
Rainmachine’s local touch interface ups its advantage by a notch – something the beautiful controller shares with Skydrop. And, you’ll be able to adjust the software’s features on its ultra bright touchscreen display with nary a glitch.
Just like the Rachio, a series of commands can be relayed to the Rainmachine via an iOS or Android app. And if your Wi-Fi suddenly conks out, you’ll still be able to set your preferred watering schedule using your mobile network.
If a stand-alone smart sprinkler controller is what you’re looking for, Rainmachine will be your best bet.
Weather adjustment capability
RainMachine is dependable when it comes to pulling in weather data in order to set a watering schedule that will yield efficient and effective results.
Aside from the schedule that you have programmed, the controller will be dependent on the information that it will receive from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Forecast.io, MET.NO, Weather Underground, and NetAtmo. It can be connected to various local based IP sensors through their API network, too.
It’s also equipped with a Freeze Protect feature that will stop any watering activity when a certain temperature is reached.
The Snooze option, on the other hand, will allow you to delay your preprogrammed schedule for a couple of days.
Giving your lawn the extra soak it needs during extremely hot summer days is also possible using RainMachine’s Hot Days setting.
RainMachine works without a fuss with Wink, Amazon Alexa, and Nest. Integrating the controller with SmartThings is possible via IFTTT as well.
Several minor problems makes the cloud independent smart sprinkler controller slightly less efficient. To start with, compared with Rachio’s app, Rainmachine’s app is not as intuitive.
Setting detailed watering schedules that will specifically cater to each zone is not at all possible.
You cannot rely on the controller to do the scheduling for you either; something Rachio is really, really good at.
Unlike the Rachio Generation 2, the RainMachine is built entirely for indoor use. Don’t expect an optional waterproof outdoor case for this smart sprinkler controller.
In addition, RainMachine flow sensor is currently unreliable. You won’t be able to check how many gallons of water your irrigation system is consuming.
Both EPA WaterSense-certified controllers are some of the best smart irrigation controllers on the market, but Rachio still outperforms RainMachine given its top-notch capabilities.
Yes, it’s a bit on the pricey side, but the rebates being offered by different counties makes Rachio not only affordable, but a smart investment as well.
Through their partnership with the EPA, Denver Water, for example, will provide you with a generous, one-time $100 rebate.
All you have to do is complete the designated form on their website and upload or mail a copy of your receipt.
Several other counties and municipalities in Colorado will give you a rebate for a smart sprinkler controller upgrade as well. This includes Fort Collins, Lakewood, and Aurora among others.
Want to know if your area qualifies for a rebate? Check it out here!
Want to Get a Rachio Installed?
While Rachio says homeowners can install their own controllers, many of our clients have found that wiring one to a poorly-documented existing system can be complicated.
The good news is that we offer sprinkler installation in Lakewood, Colorado and throughout the western Denver area, and we would love to install a smart sprinkler controller for you. Give us a call any time for pricing and availability.