Smart Irrigation

Orbit B-Hyve Review – Does this Smart Sprinkler do Enough?

(Last Updated On: May 16, 2017)

The Orbit B-Hyve 12-Zone WiFi Sprinkler System Controller comes from an established company that has made its name delivering sprinkler systems that help homeowners keep their gardens and lawns lush and green.

 

The Orbit B-Hyve 12-Zone WiFi Sprinkler System Controller has these features:

  • Easy installation.  The Orbit B-Hyve is very easy to wire and install, and you only need a few minutes to do it.  The controller comes with a swing panel and has conduit knockouts, making it easier for you to access anytime.
  • Know just how much water your garden is getting. The Orbit B-Hyve 12-Zone WiFi Sprinkler System Controller uses a top-notch catch cup technology that helps the system accurately gauge the amount of water your lawn should get.  The system does not have to rely on guesswork.
  • Save more when it rains.  The Orbit B-Hyve 12-Zone WiFi Sprinkler System Controller works with WeatherSense and can get weather forecasts so that it could skip watering when it rains.  It will also check with the forecasts in order to come up with the best watering schedule.  In short, it will check the weather to see if you can rely on Mother Nature to save on your water bills.  Further, Weathersense takes into account the conditions of your zones, including soil type, sun and shade, live weather feeds, and slope.
  • Certified to be water efficient.  The Orbit B-Hyve 12-Zone WiFi Sprinkler System Controller is certified by the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program.  The WaterSense program certifies products that promote water efficiency.  It has also passed equally stringent SWAT testing.  Both certifications confirm the device’s water saving features as well as its energy saving claims and qualities.
  • Control it with or without your phone.  You can connect your sprinkler system to your Wi-Fi network so that you can control it using your smartphone or tablet.  But you can also use the timer’s rotary control in order to operate your sprinkler system, ensuring that you can schedule your watering, and even stop or start watering even when the Wi-Fi goes offline.
  • Other features of the Orbit B-Hyve include built-in surge protection, fault detection, and high-quality construction.  The materials may have been sourced globally, but the timer is made in the USA.

Mobile app

The B-hyve mobile app is available for both iOS and Android mobile devices.  There is also a Web-based interface that you can access using any browser.  You would, however, need the mobile app to connect your Orbit B-Hyve 12-Zone WiFi Sprinkler System Controller to your Wi-Fi network.

The mobile app has a very jam-packed interface but is very easy to read.  You can see if the timer is connected and you have the weather icon that gives you a visual indicator of the weather outside.  In the middle part of the screen, you can see the different zones that are connected to your timer.

Under the Lawn Zones section, you have three icons.  The first one is for rain delay, which allows you to manually pause the watering schedule in case of rain.  Then you have the stop icon, which allows you to manually stop any watering for that particular zone.  The third icon allows you to view the next zone.

The bottom section has five different icons.  There’s the Calendar, Programs, Remote Control, ZoneList, and Setting icons.

What sets the B-hyve mobile app apart from the competitors’ mobile apps is that it has an included audit tool that allows you to do a catch cup test.  This way, you know for sure just how much water is being used for your lawn, rather than just estimating it.

 

Alexa, control my B-Hyve!

B-Hyve is compatible with Amazon Alexa, which means that you can use your voice to control the timer, rather than constantly keep your eyes on your smartphone during the duration of the watering or, worse, go out to where the timer is just to start or stop watering.

Some of the voice commands you can try:

  • Stop watering: “Alexa, ask B-Hyve to stop sprinklers” or “Alexa, ask B-Hyve to stop watering.”
  • Don’t water a certain zone: “Alexa, tell B-Hyve to skip this current zone.”
  • Start watering: “Alexa, ask B-Hyve to water.”
  • Run only a particular program: “Alexa, ask B-Hyve to start program B” or “Alexa, ask B-Hyve to start program C.”
  • Ask about the last time you watered your lawn: “Alexa, ask B-Hyve when I last watered?”

You can also use Alexa to turn the timer off or set the timer to auto mode, to water one zone for a specific number of minutes, and to set a rain delay if you want to change it from the default of 24 hours to whatever amount of time you want, be it days or hours.  Further, you can ask Alexa to cancel rain delays, and ask when the next watering schedule would start.

Pros of the B-Hyve Controller

  • Trusted US Based Brand: It is worth mentioning that the B-Hyve comes from a trusted American brand, Orbit Irrigation Products, which is based in Utah.  That is definitely different from earlier Wi-Fi connected sprinkler systems that were created by startups (and it is no exaggeration to say that the connected garden market is dominated by new companies and startups.)
  • Reasonably Priced: Despite its features and the fact that it comes from a trusted brand, it is one of the more reasonably priced Wi-Fi enabled sprinkler systems out there.  The Orbit B-Hyve has a list price of less than $130 as of this writing (check here for the latest). The six-station version, meanwhile, costs a bit less here.
  • Better Prices Than Competition: Compare this against the second generation Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller, which only has eight zones and costs almost 2x, or against the SkyDrop eight-zone Wi-fi-enabled Smart Sprinkler Controller, which costs just about the same.
  • Waterproof and Durable: I also appreciated the device’s waterproof enclosure that protects it from the elements.  The cabinet can also be locked to keep your timer safe from prying hands.  This is very useful because you would need to keep the timer outdoors to make it more convenient to program and control.
  • Manual Overrides: Also, while the best-selling point of the Orbit B-Hyve 12-Zone WiFi Sprinkler System Controller is the automated scheduling and water savings, you can still enjoy manual controls.  In fact, it is very easy to use the mobile app to override the schedules.  You can tell the controller to stop watering if it begins to rain, or if it had been raining for the past few days.  You can also instruct it to water your entire lawn or just one zone if you notice that the plants in it are dying and might need more water than those in the other zones.
  • Solid Graphics and Data: The mobile app also gives you very visually engaging graphics, and its layout has been meticulously planned.  For instance, you can easily check on a particular zone and find out whether it is being watered or not.  You can also see how much time is left before the next watering.
  • Web Browser Enabled: I also loved the ability to control the Orbit B-Hyve 12-Zone WiFi Sprinkler System Controller on any Web browser.

What could be better

  • Problematic Setup Wizard: The Orbit B-Hyve 12-Zone WiFi Sprinkler System Controller is the company’s first foray into smart watering devices, so there are a lot of kinks to iron out.  For one, running the wizard to set up the timer could fail.  The good news is that you can still add your zones manually.  It may take a little longer but it is doable.  Still, having the setup wizard do what it is supposed to do could have been better.
  • App Still a Bit Buggy: The mobile app can also be a bit buggy.  Sometimes, when you check on your lawn zones, you do not see anything.  There are also times when it fails to water your garden, but these instances are few and far between.
  • Needs More Product Documentation and Support: Further, the company’s documentation may be a bit lacking.  While the product manual does have instructions on how to install the timer and connect your valve wires and how to connect to your Wi-Fi network, it is pretty silent on all other things.  If you run into problems, you would need to go to their Web site for a live chat with customer service agents or watch a support video.  There are toll free numbers that you can call if you live in the United States, Canada or Mexico, while there are phone support numbers for Australian and European users.  For people outside these regions, you need to rely on chat support only.

These can be dismissed as ordinary growing pains, in the same way that earlier versions of Rachio and other smart sprinkler system brands have had rocky starts.  To be clear, these are not real deal breakers.  At its core, the Orbit B-Hyve is still one of the cheapest smart watering systems available and that help you save money and water using some of the best technologies around.  Plus, the company is working to iron out these current kinks.

Final Recommendation on the Orbit B-Hyve

The Orbit B-Hyve 12-Zone WiFi Sprinkler System Controller works if you want to stop worrying about the amount of water being wasted when you water your lawn.  You can save water from being able to enter a watering budget and allowing the system to calculate the most optimal watering schedule for your lawn.

Plus, this sprinkler system will check on the weather forecasts to make sure that you save more water by foregoing any scheduled watering when it rains.

Bottom Line: The Orbit B-Hyve is not perfect, and you could buy the more reliable Rachio, but that would mean having to pay over $70 more.  For this price point, the Orbit B-Hyve 12-Zone WiFi Sprinkler System Controller delivers the convenience and water savings that you want, so even with the bugs, it is one of the highly recommended smart sprinkler system timers out there. For the best pricing, be sure to check this listing.

Summary
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Orbit B-Hyve Smart Sprinkler
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About the author

Patrick Sinclair

Patrick Sinclair is a geek; make no mistake about that. He runs All Home Robotics in his spare time so he doesn't have to think about his depressing cubicle and it gives him an excuse to buy expensive gadgets to review!

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