The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller is the third iteration of this smart water system. If you loved Rachio before, then you would have more reasons to love the third-generation Rachio as it brings together the old smart sprinkler control system, plus the Weather Intelligence Plus technology and an optional wireless leak detector.
With Rachio, you no longer have to guess how often you should water your yard, or how much water it needs.
Rachio 3 works with your current sprinklers and can be installed in less than an hour. You do not have to use special tools, nor do you need to be an expert in installing sprinkler systems.
You can monitor and control your smart water system through the Rachio mobile app or right on the controller itself. Rachio connects to your Wi-Fi network on the 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz bands. This means that your Rachio 3 will not be competing with other devices just to water your lawn.
Features and specifications
The Rachio 3 is very easy to install. It uses several technologies to help keep your lawns watered, leaving the grass healthier.
Adjusts watering depending on the weather
The Rachio 3 uses the new Premium Weather Intelligence Plus. This new technology will access and download weather data from at least 300,000 weather stations, radar, and satellite sources.
The Rachio 3 is able to postpone or delay watering your lawns depending on your local weather conditions. For instance, it will not wet your grass if it has already rained. It will also change your set schedules if it is too cold or too windy.
The Rachio 3 can connect to both 2.4 GHz and 5.0 GHz networks. This feature enables you to operate your Rachio 3 using the companion app. You can also use voice commands to start your Rachio watering with either Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant.
The Rachio 3 also works with IFTTT recipes, allowing it to coordinate with other connected devices and services. With IFTTT recipes, you can have Rachio 3 send you an e-mail when it finishes watering your garden. The Rachio 3 also works with SmartThings, Wink, Nest, and other smart home platforms.
You can always set schedules for your watering, but you can also let Rachio 3 decide for you. Input the type of plants you have in your garden and other relevant information, such as how much sun each zone is getting. Rachio 3 will take these data into consideration and come up with a watering schedule that gives your lawns the exact amount of water it needs.
Measuring 9.1 by 5.5 by 1.4 inches, the Rachio 3 controller looks like the second generation device. It has a plastic enclosure that protects it from the elements. On its face, you will see a circular button and a LED light bar to let you know what zones are being watered. The light bar will also alert if there is a problem with your watering system or with your connectivity by flashing continuously.
Open the cover and you will find the wiring terminal for eight or 16 zones. It also has a pair of common connectors, two sensor inputs, and two output outlets.
The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller comes in 8-zone and 16-zone models. The 8-zone model sells for $199.99 and the 16-zone model sells for $249.99. Note, however, that both of these are pre-sale prices and the list prices for both are $50 more. You can pre-order now from Rachio’s online store.
Weather Intelligence Plus
In previous models, Rachio’s standard Weather Intelligence feature allows you to skip watering if:
- It rains more than the set level.
- The wind is stronger than the set level.
- The temperature falls below the set level.
You can tell the Rachio smart sprinkler system to skip watering if it rains 0.130 inches or more, if the wind is blowing at 12 miles per hour, or if the temperature falls below 4° C. This means your Rachio will not water in the wind, rain, or snow.
Weather Intelligence Plus does all that, but instead of relying on just the weather forecast, it takes a wider set of data using satellite, weather station, and radar technologies to know the weather conditions at your location, within a radius of 36 feet.
In short, Rachio 3 uses hyperlocal data, where it also takes into consideration different types of data collected near where you are, aside from your city’s weather conditions, in order to determine how much watering your lawn requires. With more data and information to work with, the Rachio 3 is even more accurate and gives you more savings than its predecessors.
The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller plays well with other platforms and devices. In fact, you can have it work with Amazon Alexa speakers, Google Assistant, and Nest thermostats.
You can operate your Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller using its companion mobile app. You can also use the app to monitor watering.
The mobile app is very easy to use and is very intuitive. You can use the app to schedule the watering sessions. You can set up different schedules for every zone you have. You can manually tell Rachio to start watering, to pause any ongoing watering, or to skip watering altogether.
One screen shows you the forecast for the next few days, as well as for the next 12 hours. You can choose to skip the upcoming scheduled watering.
The mobile app is free to download and use. You do not have to worry about subscription fees even when you get access to some of the best weather data in the world.
Works with the optional Rachio Wireless Flow Meter
The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller has a wireless radio that allows it to work with wireless accessories such as the Rachio Wireless Flow Meter. The flow meter will monitor the amount of water flowing throughout the system so it can alert you when there are leaks you need to take care of. It will also give you insights on how you are using water for your yard.
This accessory can let you know if there are broken heads, broken pipes, and other leaks and blockages. It can even shut off the water in zones where leaks are detected.
If this is something you would be interested in, you can order it together with the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller for a special bundled price of $280 for the 8-zone model and $330 for the 16-zone model on the company’s online store.
What you would like about the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
Not only does the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller adjust its watering based on weather data, it also takes into consideration watering restriction in your area. If you are not allowed to water your yard on certain days, or if you are not allowed to use too much water, just let Rachio 3 know about it and it will adjust accordingly.
Also, it is very easy to install the Rachio 3: you just snap the wires in! This takes care of the problem that some people had with Rachio 2, wherein the wires were difficult to connect. You also do not need to buy a separate soil and moisture sensors, as Rachio 3 can function rather well without them.
More than that, the Rachio 3 really does its job rather well. It keeps your grass, plants, and basically your entire garden healthy and thriving without you needing to do so much. It will water your yard when necessary and give it the right amount of water every time.
What’s the difference between Rachio 3 and Rachio 2?
Rachio 3 is a definite improvement over the second-generation Rachio, but the changes are few. For instance, Rachio 3 is dual band while Rachio 2 only works on the 2.4 GHz. Rachio 3 also has easy-press connectors that help support 14 and 18 gauge wires. It also has run, skip, and pause buttons right on the unit itself.
Moreover, the Rachio 3 has a 900 MHz radio that allows it to support wireless add-ons, such as the Rachio FlowMeter.
|Model||Generation 2||Generation 3|
|Compatible with most sprinkler systems||Yes||Yes|
|Easy and fast installation||Yes||Yes|
|With smartphone app||Yes||Yes|
|Control directly from controller||Yes||Yes|
|Works with Nest||Yes||Yes|
|Works with Amazon Alexa||Yes||Yes|
|Works with Google Assistant||Yes||Yes|
|Standard Weather Intelligence||Yes||No|
|Weather Intelligence Plus||No||Yes|
|2.4 GHz Wi-Fi||Yes||Yes|
|5.0 GHz Wi-Fi||No||Yes|
|Run, skip, and pause buttons on the unit itself||No||Yes|
|Compatible with Rachio Wireless Flow Meter||No||Yes|
What could be better
The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller needs an outdoor enclosure to make it waterproof. This is somewhat ironic because the Rachio controller works with water. If you prefer to have the controller installed outside, the additional accessory for that would cost you $29.99 from Rachio’s online store.
Rachio 3 can only connect to the Internet via Wi-Fi. You cannot use an Ethernet cable for the purpose. There is no way to hardwire it to get a more reliable Internet connection. But this is not a problem because the Rachio 3 will continue to water your yard even if it is not connected to Wi-Fi.
When the Wi-Fi goes out, the Rachio 3 will attempt to reconnect to the Internet every 30 seconds for the entire day. But if your Wi-Fi is out for more than 24 hours, you will have to unplug the Rachio and then plug it in again. This means that when you go on a vacation and turn off your Wi-Fi, your Rachio 3 will still be watering your lawn, but you will not be able to monitor it from wherever you are.
One instance where the Rachio 3 will not be able to continue watering your yard is when it loses power, like when you have an outage in your area. The unit’s battery is only enough to power the Rachio 3’s memory, which will store information of the time. This means that in case of a power outage, the Rachio 3 will stop watering, but it will remember when it was interrupted. Once the power is back on, the Rachio will continue watering where it left off.
A rechargeable battery would have been a lot of help in making sure that your Rachio 3 continues to water even when the power goes out.
Furthermore, if you live outside the United States, then you are in for a disappointment as Rachio does not ship the smart watering system abroad.
Amazon ratings and reviews for the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller has an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon.
Verified buyers love how smoothly the Rachio 3 works and how smart it is. They say that they no longer have to worry about watering their lawns as this product does it automatically and reliably. They also like how the company designed everything, as well as the connectivity features, including voice compatibility and the IFTTT recipes.
However, there are a few complaints. Some reviewers note that the moisture levels indicated in the app are inaccurate, sometimes posting small percentages when it has just rained hard. Others also doubt if the hyperlocal weather forecasting works as advertised. Then there are also people who say that the smart features are not reliable, while a few say that they cannot get it to stay connected to their Wi-Fi network.
Pricing for the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller
Prices for the Rachio 3 vary depending on the number of zones you have. An eight-zone Rachio will set you back anywhere from $200 to $230, while the 16-zone version will cost you anywhere from $250 to $280.
How does the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller compare with its fiercest competitors such as the Netro Smart Sprinkler Controller, the Orbit B-hyve Sprinkler Controller, and the LinkTap Wireless Water Timer?
Netro Smart Sprinkler Controller
The Netro Smart Sprinkler Controller has two versions: the six-zone and the 12-zone variants. It allows you to fully automate watering your lawn or garden. It helps you save up to 50 per cent of your water bill and it also allows you to access your sprinkler system remotely.
This product gets an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5.0 on Amazon. Most people like how this smart sprinkler controller works, the easy and fast installation, and its connectivity. Others also love the quick and helpful response from the company’s customer service personnel.
Some people, however, complain that its connection to Wi-Fi networks is unreliable. It often disconnects. Others warn interested buyers that this might not be ideal for low flow sprinklers.
Pricing for this product ranges from $80 to $100 for the six-zone model, and from $110 to $140 for the 12-zone version.
Orbit B-hyve Sprinkler Controller
The Orbit B-hyve Sprinkler Controller helps you decide when and how much to water your lawns using different factors. Not only that, but you can also manually control your watering from your phone. It works with iOS, Android, and other devices.
This smart sprinkler controller can compute how often and how much watering your plants need. It takes note of soil type, slope, weather conditions, the amount of sun the area gets, as well as your watering history, to adjust the watering job.
This device is also an EPA Water Sense-certified device, so you are guaranteed to save money. The Orbit B-hyve is very easy to use and install. It comes in a weather-resistant case and works with voice commands. It comes in two zone variants: the six-station B-hyve, which is priced at around $90 to $100; and the 12-station version, which sells for $100 to $110.
On Amazon, the Orbit B-hyve Sprinkler Controller gets an average rating of 4.2 out of 5.0 stars from more than 1,400 reviewers. Verified reviewers like this product because it only takes them minutes to install the box, test the different zones that they have, and hook it up to their Wi-Fi network. They also love the fact that you can use this as an ordinary sprinkler box if you have problems with Wi-Fi. Others also say that they save time using the B-hyve because they can control it with their phones. For example, if you need to fix a sprinkler, you do not have to run from the sprinkler to the box and back to shut it off.
However, there are some complaints about how difficult it was to connect to your Wi-Fi network. There are also people who warn interested buyers that the Orbit B-hyve does not do an excellent job of deciding how much to water your lawns on its own. Then there are those who are unhappy with the company’s customer service, describing them as unhelpful and unresponsive. Others report that it took them a long time waiting on the phone for a live person to answer their calls, only to be disappointed at how unwilling they were to help resolve issues.
LinkTap Wireless Water Timer
Like other devices here, the LinkTap Wireless Water Timer allows you to connect your sprinkler system to your Zigbee network. You can then water your plants from anywhere in the world, aside from having an easy way to schedule your watering. You can set up schedules using different modes, include odd-even, month, interval, and seven-day modes. You can also make use of a maximum of 100 daily cycles that will last anywhere from a minute to 24 hours.
The LinkTap Wireless Water Timer is compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. If you need to water your lawns, all you have to do is ask. This product can also help you save water with its rain skip feature that tells your sprinklers not to turn on when it has already rained.
On Amazon, the LinkTap Wireless Water Timer gets an average of 4.3 stars out of 5.0. Verified buyers are saying that they are satisfied with the product because of its durable and high-quality materials, how easy it was to install and connect. They also recommend it for high water pressure areas. However, there are those who complain that the connection might be buggy and unreliable. Others did not like the mobile app that came with this device.
The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller is a great way to keep your plants and your garden healthy and well-watered. It also saves you money because not only does it keep you from overwatering your yard, it also skips watering altogether when it just rained.
Rachio 3 takes everything you love from previous Rachio models, and then adds more localized weather data as well as information from different sources. This helps the system become more accurate when it calculates just how much water your plants need.
The best thing about Rachio 3, though, is that you basically just buy it, set it up, and then promptly forget about it. It is not difficult to recommend the Rachio 3. It is very easy to use, it is moderately priced, and its features are something that you can find only on more expensive competing devices.
Read more about other Rachio products here: