Smart Irrigation

Spruce Irrigation Controller Review

(Last Updated On: May 18, 2017)

Old sprinkling systems turn on the water according to your set schedules and gives your plants the same amount of water regardless of whether they need it or not.  This can be harmful to your plants as they might need more water during the summer or less water after it rains.

It is also very wasteful.  According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 50% of the water you use outdoors or for irrigation purposes gets wasted, because of wind, runoff, or evaporation.  This amount is significant considering that up to 60% of your water usage is outdoors.

A good way to conserve water from watering your plants is to get a smart irrigation system like Spruce.

Spruce gets the latest weather forecasts and moisture data and then calculates the right amount of water to be used for each watering, helping make sure that your plants get the right amount of water in order to stay healthy.

The Spruce Controller 

 

Easy to install and set up

Spruce is so easy to use that you only have to stick the sensors into the ground and then install the sprinkler valves to the Spruce unit.  Then, download the Spruce app in SmartThings.  Spruce will then determine the best times for watering your plants and then schedule them automatically.  You do not have to do anything.  Spruce will take into consideration the solid moisture and the weather forecast for your area.  If you want it to water more or less, you can also input your personal preferences so that it can adjust its schedule.

You could also override the automatic schedules and go into manual mode where you can tell Spruce to water your plants when and for as long as you want it to.

Also, if there are local restrictions that prevent you from using your sprinkler system, Spruce will be on top of it.  For instance, if local ordinances prohibit you from watering your lawns beyond 9 p.m., Spruce will know about it and will not water your plants beyond that time.

The Spruce Sensor

 

Smart integrations

The good news with Spruce is that it has been designed to work with SmartThings from the very beginning, and that means that integrating with SmartThings will be stress-free.  Spruce connects to your SmartThings hub so it can easily control and manage other connected devices.  It also uses IFTTT recipes.

You can use several integrations to pause the sprinklers when somebody opens your front door or your gate.  This way, nobody has to run around the sprinklers or get wet.  You can also use SmartThings to turn on your Spruce irrigation system when there is a fire alert from your weather station.   Other integrations include allowing you to turn on the lights while watering your plants at night, among many others.

What’s to love about Spruce Irrigation

  • Real-Time Sensor Data: With Spruce’s sensors, you will get real time soil moisture data coupled with the weather forecast so that you only water when needed and for as long as necessary.  That saves a whole lot of water and would ensure that your plants are healthy.  The ease and convenience in scheduling is also a big plus because you do not have to figure out anything.  Spruce does it for you.
  • Seasonal Smarts: That convenience extends to changes in seasons.  Spruce adjusts the schedule and amount of water used when taking into account seasonal changes.  It will give your plants a lot of water in the summer and less water in the winter.
  • Elevation and Shape Adjustment: If you have different landscapes, you would love how Spruce adjusts its watering according to the shape and elevation of the ground it is watering.
  • Solid Water Savings: What’s more, you would love the amount of water you get to save by using Spruce.  Spruce estimates that it could save you up to 60% of water compared to traditional sprinkler systems that rely only on your schedule to water your plants.  It also pays for itself within at least one year.  Plus, you get all these savings even without having to figure out watering schedules for the rest of your life.

What could be better

  • Price: If you have a big garden or if you have to water a wide area, Spruce could prove to be more expensive.  Spruce sells its 16-zone irrigation controller for $179.99, while a Soil Moisture Sensor sells for $60.  That alone would mean an investment of $250.  The good news is that they have a 4-sensor bundle that costs $390 and a 2-sensor bundle for $290.
  • Sensors are Extra: The sensors are not required, but they would make calculations even more accurate, allowing Spruce to also take soil moisture into consideration when deciding how much and how often to water your plants.
  • Sensors Need Proper Placement: Also, you need to ensure that you have inserted the sensors all the way down into the soil and to avoid running over it with the wheels of a lawnmower if you are mowing the lawn.
  • Requires SmartThings: Also, if you didn’t have the SmartThings hub, you would not be able to use Spruce, nor can you use its sensors.  SmartThings is a required hardware, which would add another $100 to your investment.
  • No App/Desktop Control: Spruce does not have a separate Android or iOS mobile app and you cannot control it using a browser on your desktop computer.

Alternatives to Spruce

There are other smart irrigation systems you could buy instead of Spruce.  For one, there’s GreenIQ, which works without the SmartThings hub.  Unlike Spruce, GreenIQ is weatherproof so you could put it outdoors without having to buy a protective casing for it.  It connects to your Wi-Fi network and gets the weather forecast from the closest weather station and calculates the optimum amount of water and the best schedule.  You can use a mobile app or desktop computer to change the schedule according to your preferences.

You can also check out Rachio, which is also a hub that can be installed outdoors and indoors.  It also uses weather data to create a watering schedule that would keep your plants and grass healthy, or you could override the schedule with your own preferred timing.

  GreenIQ Rachio Spruce
Purchase Price Check latest Check latest Check latest
Monthly Fee No No No
Web App Yes Yes No
Works with IFTTT Yes Yes Yes
Works with Nest Protect No Yes No
Compatible Devices TORO, Flower Power, Flow Meter, Koubachi, Garden Lighting, Netatmo Rain Gauge, Netatmo Weather Station Nexia Home, Netatmo, Nest Protect, Wink, Toro, Control4, Intelligence, Muzzley, Crestron SmartThings
Weather Resistant Yes No No
Irrigation Zones 6 irrigation zones 8 or 16 irrigation zones 16 irrigation zones
Connects to Wi-Fi? Yes Yes Yes
Other communication protocols 10/100BASE-T No SmartThings

This side-by-side comparison shows you that Spruce is $70 cheaper than both Rachio and GreenIQ, but it does not have a Web app and works only with SmartThings.  If you have a small yard, Spruce only has 16 zones available.  In contrast, GreenIQ is only for small yards with 6 irrigation zones, while Rachio gives you the option to choose between a much cheaper 8-irrigation zone and a 16-zone version.  Rachio is the only one that works natively with Nest Protect, which might give added protection when Nest Protect detects smoke and then turns on your Rachio to help avoid fires.

All three rely on weather forecasts that they get from the Internet to help set up a schedule, but Spruce’s sensors allow it to get a better view of soil moisture in order to be more accurate in determining how much water your plants really need.

Spruce might have a friendlier price tag, but both GreenIQ and Rachio function as hubs.  If you do not have SmartThings, you might be better off using one of the two rather than buying Spruce.

Final words on Spruce Irrigation

Spruce Irrigation can help you save on your water use without having to worry much about it.  All you need to do is to install the controller and the sensors, and you’re done.  You can also manually schedule or tweak the automated schedule according to your preferences.

Plus it allows you to make the most out of your investment by allowing integrations with other connected devices on SmartThings.

However, if you do not have SmartThings, you might want to check out either Rachio or GreenIQ, which works on its own and have roughly the same features and water savings as Spruce.

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Spruce Irrigation Controller Review
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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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