With summers getting hotter and water rationing becoming more common, using my sprinklers isn’t as simple as just turning on the water. With an underground sprinkler system, you do have the option to use a timer for watering but you really have to stay on top of it so you don’t waste water. That’s where the Rachio R3 Smart Sprinkler Controller comes in. It lets you stay on top of your watering schedule, helps you avoid wasting water, and your sprinkler system will become part of your smart home.
Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller features
The Rachio R3 8-Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller is a smart device that connects to your underground sprinkler system. It has quite a few cool features to give your underground sprinkler system an instant upgrade.
- Connects your sprinklers to Wi-Fi so you can control them via the Rachio app
- Lets you schedule your watering according to plant type and sun exposure
- Supports local water restrictions
- Built-in technology lets Rachio fix your watering schedule based on the long-range weather forecasts in your area
- Uses satellite, radar, and other weather data to help you plan your watering schedule
- Tracks your watering history
- Works with your voice assistant for hands-free commands
- Integrates with IFTTT, Nest, and Apple HomeKit
- Easy to set up and use with your existing sprinkler system
Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller compatibility
The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler is compatible with most underground sprinkler systems that have a master valve/pump relay. You can check compatibility using the Rachio app or website. I haven’t installed the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller at my house as I have a well and a very old pump system. To use the Rachio 3, my setup will need a pump relay. The pump relay is a switch that turns on power to the pump, so I’ll have to get an electrician to install one before I can install the Rachio 3.
My home system is a bit complicated, but the setup process for most standard systems looks very easy. There is a pamphlet in the box with the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller that walks you through every step. You can also reach out to their customer support if you’d like a bit of help. According to the manual, it should take about 1/2 hour for you to set it up on your own.
Unboxing Rachio 3 Controller
While I can’t set up the Rachio 3 yet, I did unbox it and took a good look at how it works and how it can control irrigation. Here’s what’s in the box of the Rachio 3 8-Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller.
- Rachio 3 Controller for 8 sprinkler zones
- Power cord to plug Rachio 3 into a standard outlet
- Manual to help you install the sprinkler controller
- Screws and drywall plugs
The Rachio 3 controller is made of plastic. It measures 4.13 cm (1.62 in) W x 12.7 cm (5 in) H x 23.5 cm (9.2 in) D. It weighs 540 grams so it’s very light. There is a manual dial on the front you can use to adjust your water settings. When you remove the cover of the controller you’ll see several easy-press connectors to connect to your sprinkler system wiring. The connectors will work with 14 and 18-gauge wires so there is a lot of flexibility with installation.
Once you connect your controller to your existing sprinkler wiring you can plug it in using the included power cord and download the Rachio 3 app. You’ll pair your Smart Sprinkler with your Wi-Fi network, and it can connect to a 2.4GHz or 5GHz network. There is no Ethernet port on the Rachio 3 so you can’t hardwire it.
You’ll need to mount the Rachio 3 on a wall of some kind, and there are screws and drywall plugs included if you need them. If your current sprinkler controller is outside and you’re considering installing your Rachio 3 outside you may want to pick up a weatherproof enclosure to protect the controller from rain or snow. Like many smart devices, the controller should not be exposed to rain or other wet weather.
Using Rachio 3 Wi-Fi Sprinkler Controller
The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller switches your sprinkler system from manual control or control with a timer to a completely app-based system. There are different Rachio 3 systems depending on how many zones your sprinkler system has. The system I was sent to test lets you control 8 zones at one time, but you can also choose a system with 16 zones if you have more sprinklers.
App-based control of your sprinkler system
With the Rachio 3 installed you can turn your sprinklers on, off, or pause with a tap on your phone. You can also set a schedule for watering, see the weather at a glance so you know what the conditions will be like a few days ahead of time, and see a history of your water use. If you’d like to manually turn your sprinklers off, on, or pause them you can use the button on the Rachio 3 controller.
Identifies weather conditions and adjusts your water use
While timers work well for turning sprinklers off and on, they aren’t the best for conserving water because your sprinklers will turn on even if it’s pouring rain outside. One of the best parts of the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller is how it identifies your local weather conditions and adjusts your water schedule for you.
The controller uses Rachio Weather Intelligence Plus technology to track weather forecasts for you. When it detects rain in the forecast it will automatically adjust your watering schedule. You can also look at over a quarter of a million data points from radar, weather stations, and satellites so you can make your own decisions about your watering schedule. The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller will turn the system off if it detects freezing weather.
Schedule watering according to plant type and location
Some of my flower gardens are exposed to direct sun for more than 5 hours a day. These areas tend to get a lot dryer than other areas of my yard. I also have flowers that wilt faster than some of my shrubs and perennials. With Rachio 3 I can customize my water schedule for these situations. The Rachio app will let you set your watering schedule on a zone-by-zone basis, allowing you to water some areas more than others based on location and your plant’s needs.
The app will let you pause your watering schedule if you’d like to, and you can also choose to skip watering that area if you don’t want to water it that day.
Rachio 3 integrates with your smart home
Rachio 3 is compatible with Alexa and Google Assistant so you can use voice commands to control your Rachio. You can ask it to water a specific zone and your assistant will let you know when it’s started and how long it will water. Rachio 3 is also compatible with IFTTT, Nest, and Apple HomeKit so you can set up smart home automation.
Water smarter with Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
With a Wi-Fi connection and data on your local weather, you won’t have to worry about not being home to turn off your sprinklers when an unexpected shower occurs. You can turn your sprinklers off and on from anywhere you are. According to Rachio, the Rachio 3 controller is at least 20% more efficient than using a timer for your sprinkler system.