Those who are interested in only the best smart sprinkler controllers for their irrigation system often end up comparing the Rachio and Skydrop. These two brands offer controllers with a wealth of rich features that make it easy to manage complex landscapes from your smart phone or computer perfectly. Both systems are on the high end of expense, but for homeowners who want a truly seamless and intuitive sprinkler experience, the money is worth it. But, which of these two sprinkler controllers should you choose?
There are differences between the two that will matter to many homeowners. So, let’s compare the Rachio vs Skydrop and their features and weaknesses to help you make the best decision for your landscape.
Skydrop Smart Sprinkler Controller
Design and Ease of Use
There’s no doubt that Skydrop is one of the most beautiful smart sprinkler controllers out there. Its attractive, glowing blue circle might make you feel like you’ve travelled to the future. Unfortunately, trying to use that beautiful interface is significantly more challenging.
The Skydrop manual leaves something to be desired, spending much more time on installation than on how to use it. Mostly, it relies on you inputting the plants, sprinkler type, slope and shade of each zone and utilizing the sprinkler schedule that the Skydrop automatically generates for those conditions. If you want to change that schedule, you may need to ask a pro or watch some Youtube videos.
The Skydrop Smart Sprinkler controller has every feature you might want in a sprinkler controller. It calibrates an ideal watering schedule and adjusts that schedule based on the weather. The company cares about the quality of weather information and has invested in local weather data.
If you connect your Skydrop over Wi-Fi to the mobile or desktop app, you can control the schedule from there and see how much water the system has used. You can also manually run zones from the Skydrop itself and see all of this information, including the water restrictions you’ve programmed in.
Those who have more than eight zones in their system will need to purchase the Skydrop expansion kit, which is simple to install and connect. The system is also simple to connect to many smart home systems, especially Alexa.
The main weakness of the Skydrop System is that the company has moved to a subscription-based model, in order to afford its advanced weather data and cloud storage for your usage history. This change applied retroactively even for those customers who purchased the Skydrop outright before the subscription model was announced.
Unless you pay a few dollars a month, you won’t get be able to change your water restrictions or schedule. You won’t get full notifications, weather data, or even be able to run a zone manually if you don’t maintain the subscription. This change has left a sour taste in many customer’s mouths. It has also increased the overall cost for the controller.
A more minor concern is that the Skydrop does not offer very a very detailed manual, so making changes to the schedule may be frustrating.
Rachio Smart Sprinker Controller
Design and Ease of Use
When it comes to ease of use and design, the Rachio is the opposite of the Skydrop. It’s all white case is not nearly as appealing as the sleek Skydrop, but it is so simple to use. The Rachio manual has several more pages than the Skydrop manual on specific buttons and what they do. It also explains how to add a rain sensor to the system and offers troubleshooting for common problems.
Plus, the manual controls and the mobile and desktop apps are simple to understand. Overall, the Rachio is a breeze to use, whether you only want to follow the schedule it generated for you, or whether you’re interested in making some customizations.
The Rachio matches all of the features of the Skydrop and offers some bonuses. It, of course, creates a schedule for your sprinkler system based on the information you input about the type of soil, plants, and exposure to the sun in each zone. It will change the schedule based on your local weather, saving you water and money on days that it rains or on overcast days.
Through it’s Wi-Fi connection, the Rachio will send you push notifications. It also offers you a history of water usage and can detect leaks in the system. It’s a very precise system that, unlike the Skydrop, hasn’t received criticism for watering during rain.
The Rachio smart sprinkler controller integrates with several smart home systems. However, it is a bit clunky when connecting to Alexa. Plus, the system can be expanded for more than eight zones.
This smart sprinkler controller is more affordable than the Skydrop, partly because it does not rely on a subscription model, and partly because it is SWAT-approved. A SWAT approval means that the system meets standards for water-use efficiency and is also entitled to a rebate in many areas.
The Rachio relies on your Wi-Fi to change the schedule. You cannot manually run all zones, although you can manually run a few zones.