With droughts and crazy weather patterns hitting many parts of the world, being in control of garden watering is now legislated in some places and a very good idea in any smart home environment.
Providing the appropriate amount of water for the right type of plants, saving water when there is plenty of the stuff falling from the skies and keeping your lawn or vegetables in top condition all make sense.
In this comparison, we take a look at the Rachio IRO Smart Sprinkler Controller and Blossom Smart Watering Controller. Both products primarily rely on local weather forecasts to provide the right amount of water and drive existing sprinkler systems with various levels of zoning and scheduling to cater for the wide variety of gardens and environments.
This comparison takes into account the features, and the pros and cons of both devices and services to see which could be best for you, and assume you have an existing sprinkler set up in place.
Key Features to Compare
The Rachio Smart Sprinkler controller is a small white box that requires an extra waterproof enclosure if you want to install it outside. The base model supports up to eight zones, while a higher-rated edition supports up to 16 zones.
- What it Actually Does: Once physically installed, all the action is handled by the app, allowing the user to enter a host of variables including soil type, vegetation in each zone, slope angle, amount of sun exposure, and nozzle types in the sprinklers.
- Geo Control: Users can select national or local weather stations to get the most accurate weather data available, which makes for a highly customizable environment. The app provides feedback in the form of Rachio Water Reports that show how much water is used and saved.
- Savings Realized: Those with meter water usage can find themselves uncovering savings that will help the Rachio pay for itself with claimed savings of up to 30% on outdoor water use. Of course, a lot will vary depending on usage patterns and geography. Everyone is likely to see some savings benefits, however, regardless of location.
- EPA Rebates: The product is EPA WaterSense Certified and may come with a rebate depending on your area.
Additional Features of the Blossom
The Blossom is provided as a waterproof unit, that is cold and heat resistant for indoor or outdoor installation.
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- Capabilities: Once up and running, it is easy to manage from an iOS or Android device, supporting up to 12 zones to help manage water usage and the health of your garden in each area, providing the right volume of water.
- Cloud Data: Blossom’s cloud service to access local weather data. It collates current local weather and forecasts from multiple weather sources to create a watering plan for your plants and garden.
Pros and Cons to Consider When Comparing
- Pro – Integration: The Rachio IRO is designed to work in a connected home environment, it can integrate with Nest, Wink, Control4, IFTTT and other smart home systems for extra control. Working with other devices is a big plus for the Rachio.
- Pro – Easily Replaces Older Systems: It can easily replace an older 24V sprinkler controller and can work with a rain sensor to pause operation when there’s no need for the sprinklers to running.
- Pro – Supports Ample Zones: Up to 16 zones are supported for the premium device, 4 more than the Blossom supports. However, the base model supports 8 zones. This is generally more than enough for most needs, but it’s nice to have the added flexibility if needed.
- Pro – Soak Mode: It also benefits from a soak mode, so you can wet hard ground in short bursts to prevent run off.
- Con – Base Model Not Weatherproof: On the negative side, this box should be weatherproof from the off, and not have an extra case, since most sprinkler controls do live outside.
- Con – Depends on Rachio’s Servers: It is also dependent on Rachio’s servers for data, and will default to a previous schedule if it can’t access them.
- Pro – Flexible Modes: Blossom’s major benefit is that it can use both powerline and WiFi connectivity to ensure a smooth flow of data to the unit, and a conservation friendly flow of water to your lawn or plants.
- Pro – Ample Zones: Support for 12 zones, should be enough for most properties with the app helping provide the correct level of water.
- Pro – Helpful Test Feature: It provides a test feature so you can check everything is in order.
- Con – Also Relies on Company Servers: However, the Blossom unit requires access to the company’s servers to manage and deliver scheduling information. If those servers, or your Internet is out, then there’s a backup schedule, but that will be increasingly inaccurate as the weather changes, if the company ever changes models or goes out of business.
- Con – Infrequent Updates: We also note that app is in a poor state of development and rarely updated, which suggests the team is struggling to improve the product.
- Con – No Soak Option and Some Run Errors: There’s no quick soak option to deal with hard ground and we also notice that users have reported the system running during heavy rain, which means it isn’t as smart as it likes to think it is.
- Con – Lack of Historical Data: There’s also a lack of feedback and customization and none of the historical data that the Rachio provides.
Comparison – Rachio vs Blossom
|Zones||Up to 16
|Up to 12|
|OS support||iOS, Android, Browser
|iOS, Android, Browser|
|Price||8-zone (check here)
16-zone (check here)
waterproof enclosure (check here)
Final Recommendation – Which to Choose?
Both of these garden assistants can help benefit your lawns, rockeries and other areas, with smart watering programs and management. In hardware terms, the Blossom (read my full review here!) is the less expensive and better option being waterproof out of the box (check listing here)
However, the Rachio has the better software and seems more flexible when it comes to sensing and water management. It will take some extensive testing to find out which is truly the better value, so check back for an update next summer.
Otherwise they will both do the job, but users will have to check the software meets their specific needs, which will vary by user.
We suspect the Rachio IRO will be the most likely winner for most, but there is time for Blossom to catch up with their app, and the company is making lots of noise about its 2016 plans, but for now the Rachio seems the better bet.