The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller Review: All You Need to Know

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.

Two models

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.

Integrations

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.

Mobile app

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 
8-zone model  Yes  Yes 
16-zone model  Yes  Yes 
Optional enclosure  Yes  Yes 
Easy-press connectors  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.

Final say

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.