Is there anything more enjoyable than sitting around a fire with friends?
According to anthropologists, fire played a significant part in our evolutionary history and was probably central to the socialization of the human species.
Moreover, Christopher Lynn has discovered that campfires lower blood pressure
So this is official. Campfires are good for you!
Unfortunately, campfires can be a messy affair. Thankfully, we now have more civilized ways to enjoy sitting around a fire pit. Some of the modern outdoor fire pitswill give you a smokeless and hassle free experience. At the push of a button.
Isn’t progress a great thing?
A fire pit is the easiest way to add instant style to your patio but choosing the right one can be difficult. We selected the best backyard fire pits for this fall and here’s our result:
#1: Outland Fire Table
#2: Heininger 5995
#3: Landmann 26364
#4: Best Choice Stone
#5: Solo Stove Bonfire
On to the reviews…
First in our selection is this resin wicker fire pit table by Outland Living. Not surprisingly, it’s also the Amazon #1 Best Seller.
We love the beautiful design, but we also appreciate how practical it is.
The 20 lbs propane tank – which is not included – is concealed inside the table. That means you won’t have to add an awkward piece of furniture to hide the tank, saving you space and money.
The 35,000 BTU will give you 12 to 16 hours of a clean and smokeless flame.
You can light this thing effortlessly and adjust the flame height with the control button.
The usual selling price is about $600 although Amazon proposes discounts regularly. It’s not cheap, but the high-quality makes it worth it.
You can’t get any classier than this!
Our second selection is the Heininger 5995. It’s more modest than the fire table above but has plenty going for it!
For a start, it’s small and lightweight and can be carried around as needed. Which means you can take it with you when you go camping or tailgating. A carry bag will cost you around $30.
The fire bowl is from Outland, so you get the best quality at the best price.
We love that it’s easy to use and has an excellent visual appeal.
The customers’ reviews are good with 4.7 stars out of 5.
A nice small smokeless fire pit. At less than $150, it’s a great choice for anyone who is looking for something portable and hassle-free.
Another good option is the Landmann 26364.
It has an attractive design and gives an incredible ambience at night.
It has a large 23.5-in fire bowl which will provide plenty of heat.
It’s fueled by wood so ideally, you will need to keep a wood rack nearby.
It’s easy to assemble, and you should be able to do it in about 10 minutes.
This fire pit is perfect for small backyard and costs less than $100.
If you’re looking for the best bang for your buck, look no further!
Want a stone fire pit but don’t want a permanent structure?
Best Choice has released just that!
This elegant small natural stone design is fueled by gas and is ignited at the touch of a button for ultimate comfort. It’s like having a campfire in your backyard without the hassle of a campfire!
Note that the tank is not included and you will need extra space to accommodate it. Your best option is to get a hideaway table if you don’t already have one. It will come handy as it doubles as a side table.
It usually sells for about $350, but there was a massive $180 discount on Amazon at the time of writing.
It’s a great addition to a small traditional patio that will surely impress your friends!
Our last selection is the Solo Stove Bonfire.
It’s a modern stainless steel fire pit which is slowly revolutionizing campfire.
Although it looks very plain on the outside, it hides a unique airflow system on the inside.
Not only the SoloStove gives almost no smoke, but it also burns the firewood logs more efficiently.
That means you will need less wood than a traditional fire pit.
The Solo Stove Bonfire is lightweight and can be carried easily anywhere you wish. It comes with a carry case. It’s the ultimate portable fire pit.
It’s effortless to use, and the minimalistic design means it will fit in any kind of yard.
The recommended selling price is $350, so it’s a bit of an investment. If you keep in mind that this product is built to last, will save you money on firewood and comes with the carry case, you’ll see that the price is entirely justified.
We think the Solo Stove is the future of fire pits and is a great option if you want to take your campfire to the next level!
There are a lot of fire pits out there and choosing only five was not easy.
We tried our best to provide options that will fit into most people’s requirements and budget, and we hope you’ll find what you were looking for.
The prices start at $90 all the way to $600, so you can find one that fits your budget. Fire pits don’t have to be expensive.
You will have to take into consideration the size of your patio and to decide whether you prefer a gas or a wood-fueled fire pit.
A firewood pit will give you a more authentic experience but comes with some hassle. A gas fire pit will provide you with a smokeless and hassle-free experience, which, in this time and age, is the favorite option for most people.
Whichever option you choose, your fire pit will be highly appreciated by your guests. And of course, you will be able to use your patio longer, long after the end of summer.
And who doesn’t want to do that?
Let’s talk about a love/hate relationship. Yep, something that’s traumatic to many. Of course, I’m talking about a leaf blower. Everyone’s favorite tool to hate.
That is, until they use one to move a huge pile of leaves and debris and turn a 4 hour job into one that’s a little over an hour.
Then, with a big smile, it’s off to fire up the barbecue on that nice clean deck or backyard…
Quick NavigationWhy Use a Leaf Blower?Can I Complete Any Other Jobs with One?Which Leaf Blower Should I Buy?Gas Powered:Electric Powered:#1: Worx WG505 TrivacPROSCONS#2: GreenWorks 24322 G-MAX 40VPROSCONS#3: WORX 32-Volt AIR Multi-Purpose Blower/Sweeper/Cleaner with 120 MPH / 80 CFM Output, 4 lb. Weight, with 8 Attachments – WG575.1PROSCONS#4: Hitachi RB24EAP 23.9cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered 170 MPH Handheld Leaf BlowerPROSCONSWhich Electric Leaf Blower Is Best?Which Gas-Powered Leaf Blower Is Best?Top 10 Leaf Blower Buying Tips:5 Tips About Using Power Tools:Your Cordless Leaf Blower’s Battery Life
A blower is a lot easier to use than a broom or a rake when you’ve got a huge amount of leaves or debris to move. Even a lower power blower is a handy tool to use when you just need to clean off a small deck or patio area.
Or your garage…
Depending on what you buy, you can also get an all-in-one unit that allows you to do mulching and vacuuming. If you’ve got a garden, the mulching feature is something you’ll get a lot of use out of.
We review a unit that inflates and deflates toys and such as well.
You’ve got 2 power types and 2 styles each of blowers to look at. As you might expect, one will be particularly useful for one job, but another is better suited to another task.
It’s not uncommon for some people to have a lower power electric blower to use as a broom replacement working alongside a higher powered gas model for those big jobs.
The 2 types of blowers are:
The gas powered models are offered in 2 handling types as well. The more powerful units are offered in a backpack version and the slightly lower power versions come in a more compact handheld version.
Let’s briefly talk about the 2 types of blowers, and then we’ll head on into a review of our 4 top blowers.
Gas power blowers tend to be a more powerful. They generally come with variable power switches and can be dialed up to move large amounts of leaves or debris. Then, dial them down to work around areas like flower beds and gravel.
Because there’s no cord, it means you’re free to roam and can cover a large area. Gas power means you can run for as long as you want because it’s easy and quick to refuel.
There’s no need to worry about running out of battery power in 30 minutes. Or having too short an extension cord.
Gas blowers are loud, though some have much better mufflers and can keep the noise down. There are some models that say you can work without ear protection. May be so, but we don’t recommend it.
On average, gas powered units have poor mulching and vacuuming ability. Most gas units don’t have the extra attachments available to do those jobs.
Gas powered units come in 2 choices: 2-cycle or 4 stroke.
The 2-cycle models need to have the oil mixed with the gas in order to keep the engine lubricated. We recommend buying it premixed to get the ratio right. This is because it could help you with warranty service wrangling down the road.
Oil/gas pre-mixing isn’t necessary with the 4 stroke units. There’s a separate oil reservoir that you need to make sure is filled properly every time you use the unit. The 4 stroke models tend to be a little heavier yet they are more efficient when it comes to gas use and emissions.
Gas blowers can be heavier, so consider a backpack unit if your jobs are going to be a big ones. Gas powered units also have the highest speed and air output.
Jobs best suited for:
· When you have a large area and a lot of leaves or debris.
· You’re dealing with wet or heavy leaves, stubborn dirt and debris.
Though electric blowers tend to be a little less powerful than gas powered units, many models are lighter and easier to handhold. This has the advantage of being useful to a person who isn’t particularly strong.
Most upper end units also have variable power control to lower the power to work around flower and plant beds or dial it up for the really big jobs.
Electrics are easier to start; you just plug them in and turn them on. They’re more environmentally friendly than gas and are emission free.
Electric power units are quieter. Maybe not so much when you’re standing right next to them, but at 50 yards, they are much better. They should meet or exceed city noise ordinances.
One big disadvantage with a corded model is that the cord limits you to how far you can go. You want to give some thought to how easily you can access an outlet.
Upper end electric blowers have better mulching and vacuuming ability and most come with the appropriate attachments. For those that don’t, they can be easily purchased.
Corded models, in the upper ranges, have high air speeds and airflows. Some are comparable to some of the gas powered units.
Cordless models are light and portable. A disadvantage to them is that you need to keep an eye on the battery. Working time can be shorter than the job requires.
There is no good way to accurately judge working time as it all depends on how much blower power you’re using and whether you’re vacuuming, blowing, or mulching. We recommend that you consider an extra battery if a cordless is your choice.
Cordless models also tend to have lower output velocities (CFM).
A big plus: An electric engine is maintenance free, no worries about oil mixing or gas.
Jobs best suited for:
· When you need something light and easy to carry.
· When you need a quieter unit but you still need power.
· When you don’t want to bother with gas or oil.
Before we get into the reviews, let’s define a couple of terms just to make it easier to understand.
MPH is how fast the air is traveling out of the tube. This is determined by the shape of the nozzle at the end. A narrow opening equals higher MPH.
CFM is how much air is being moved through the tube. The wider the tube, the higher the CFM.
Don’t led astray by high MPH values, because that can change, as noted above, by the shape of the nozzle at the end. What’s more important is the CFM, because a higher volume of air is what really pushes the leaves and debris.
Decibel rating is how loud something is at 50 feet from the item. So, the leaf blower may sound pretty loud when you’re holding it, but it might not be so loud at 50 or more feet away.
If you’re wondering where to buy a leaf blower, we suggest Amazon for pricing, great customer service and outstanding return policy. Each review below has a link to the appropriate model on Amazon’s site.
The Worx WG505 TriVac is a light weight 120V corded electric leaf blower with a 12 amp motor. It’s an all in one design – you get a blower, mulcher and vacuum all at the flip of a switch. There are no tubes to change or tools to use so it makes moving between jobs simple and fast.
The Worx uses a heavy duty metal impeller which combines a long life with powerful 10:1 mulching ability. That means two important things
1. No need to worry about pebbles or other hard objects damaging the impeller.
2. There’s power to reduce 100 gallons of leaves to one 10 gallon bag in no time.
The Worx WG505 puts out 350 CFM of air at 210 mph. The air flow speed is regulated by a thumbwheel – down to 75 mph – making it easy to use around delicate plants and when you want to keep the dust down.
Though there should be more than enough blow to push wet leaves and debris where you want it, a few users have said they feel it’s not very powerful as a blower. But they give it high marks for working well as a vacuum and mulcher.
A collector bag comes with the WG505 that is easy to empty though it is somewhat small at 10 gallons. We suggest getting the WORX WA0030 Landscaping 26-Gallon Spring Bucket Yard Bag. You can then drag it behind you and work a longer stretch without emptying the bag so often.
Cleaning the TriVac is easy—just open the impeller housing to reach inside to clear out clogs. Make sure the unit is unplugged while doing this.
The well-made handle makes it very comfortable to use with good balance. The angled nose on the tube makes it easy to get underneath items like patio furniture or cars.
The WORX WG505 TriVac electric leaf blower gets 3.8 out of 5 Stars on Amazon. It comes with a 2 year manufacturer warranty
If you need an electric unit that gives you a little more freedom to roam, then the battery-operated GreenWorks 24322 G-MAX 40V might be the answer.
The GreenWorks is a variable speed cordless leaf blower and vacuum that uses a brushless motor. According to the manufacturer, this gives the motor an 80% longer lifespan as well as creating less noise and vibration.
It has a plastic impeller so it’s only meant for leaves and light debris. Anything like pebbles or other hard objects could damage or break the impeller.
The G-Max is powered by a 40V 4AH battery that gives it up to 60 minutes run time per charge. The manufacturer says this equals about 4.5 bags of trash or leaves. The 4 AH battery charges in about 120 minutes.
A battery’s lasting power will depend on whether you use the unit on full power, low power, or somewhere in between. Most users have gotten usage between 20 and 45 minutes.
If you figure you’re going to be moving back-and-forth between full and low power, expect your battery power to be similar. If you need more time, consider buying an extra battery.
The GreenWorks G-Max is very quick and easy to operate. Just snap in the battery, press the power button and away you go.
Note: If you find that the unit won’t turn on, check the safety switch on the gate first:
As a safety precaution, there’s a safety switch on the gate. If, for some reason, it becomes unlatched, it won’t allow the unit to turn on.
The GreenWorks 24322 has a variable speed dial that allows you to turn the airspeed and volume down when you’re working around delicate plants or shrubs. It also helps conserve the battery power when using at the lower speed. When on Turbo mode, battery life is about half as normal.
The unit can be changed from blower to vacuum in seconds via the gate on the bottom. Open the gate and insert the collection tube to enable the vacuum function.
The G-Max gives you 10 to 1 mulching capability to make short work that pile of leaves.
The GreenWorks 24322 G-MAX 40V get 3.9 stars out of 5 on Amazon. It has a four year warranty on the tool and a two year warranty on the battery. Both are covered by the manufacturer.
Looking for something a little lighter to do a little touchup or easy cleanup around the house or garage? The WORX WG 575.1 is quiet, light weight and easy to use. It comes with 8 attachments to help around the house.
Coming in at 4 pounds, the WG575.1 makes a perfect broom replacement. It’s powered by a 32V 2.0 Ah lithium ion battery that provides a relatively long run time for this size of blower.
The runtime can be up to 20 minutes or more depending on the attachment you use and it recharges in as little as three hours.
It’s not as powerful as the other units in this review, but it’s perfect for quick cleanup of small yards, patios, and sidewalks. It will easily clear grass clippings, dry leaves and light debris. Several users have said that it’s perfect for around flower pots and deck decorations.
It’s probably best to think of this unit as a broom replacement or a softer blowing second tool to accompany your more powerful blower. The large selection of accessories makes the WG575.1 flexible.
And, because it’s so light and compact, you can use it just about anywhere. Pack it in your RV, boat, or a car whenever you travel. It’ll be extremely handy when it comes to inflating rafts, mattresses, or toys. The deflator attachment will be handy when it’s time to pack up the toys and head home.
When you receive the unit, the battery pack will be uncharged or it may have a partial charge. Don’t use it until you’ve given it a full 12 hour charge. The charger unit that comes with it is matched to the battery, so don’t use a different charger. The light on the charger wall plug will turn green while the battery is charging. Once the green light goes off, the battery is fully charged.
The WORX WG 575.1 comes with a three year manufacturer warranty provided you register the tool within 30 days. If you don’t, the warranty is only for 24 months. The battery and charger are guaranteed for 12 months regardless of registration.
This is strictly a blower or inflating tool. There is no option to turn it into a vacuum tool or do any mulching. It would make a great companion to one of the other units in this review.
In the package: the blower, eight attachments, battery, and charger.
Attachments: long tube, dust brush, short tube, extension hose, dust nozzle, detail brush, wide nozzle, inflator nozzle, accessory bag and deflator cover.
Suggested additional items to purchase are a second battery and the Universal Fit Gutter Cleaning Kit.
The WORX 32-Volt WG575.1 gets 4.1 stars out of 5 on Amazon.
Need some real power to clear out heavy debris? Want to finish that huge job faster and in more comfort? The Hitachi RB24EAP 23.9cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered 170 MPH Handheld Leaf Blower throws out a whopping 441 CFM of air to push the most stubborn stuff around.
The 23.9 cc Commercial grade 2-stroke engine is comfortable and low vibration. It’s lightweight with only 8.6 lbs, making it very comfortable to work with for long periods. You can also buy a shoulder strap for added comfort of use.
The RB24EAP is a gas leaf blower running on regular unleaded gasoline. Note that it shouldn’t be used with Ethanol. It’s low emission, fuel-efficient, and is CARB compliant. It is a 2–Cycle motor meaning you have to mix oil in with your fuel. The recommended mixture is 50:1 fuel to oil using two cycle oil.
The Hitachi also features a large 2-finger throttle lever which makes it easy to use. When the unit is turned off, the stop switch will automatically reset to the on position for easier starting the next time.
You can purchase the oil separately and mix it yourself, or you can buy cans of the oil/fuel premix for convenience.
• Can be difficult to start
• Can’t be used with Ethanol
• Sometimes difficult working with warranty repair stations
• No vacuum or mulch kit option available
It comes with a seven-year manufacturer’s warranty which is the best warranty in the industry.
The Hitachi RB24EAP 23.9cc 2-Cycle Gas Powered 170 MPH Handheld Leaf Blower gets 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon. And don’t forget the gas and the oil.
We think the WORX WG505 Trivac is the best deal in an electric leaf blower because of its metal impeller and higher volume output. If you’re looking for a “broom replacement” blower, the WORX WG575.1 is a light and compact choice for small jobs and touch ups.
If you need power and a long running time, the Hitachi RB24EAP Handheld Leaf Blower is going to be your best bet. The fuel tank will last a long time and it’s sufficiently lightweight to make it comfortable to use.
And the 23.9 cc engine pumps out 441 CFM of air to move the toughest pile of leaves. You’ll get the job done, quicker.
1. Pay attention to the nozzle. A flatter nozzle makes sweeping easier while rounder, more open ones make loosening debris a lot easier. Rounder nozzles also vacuum more efficiently.
2. The heavier the leaf or debris you need to move, the more CFM you’re going to need. A rounder nozzle helps here.
3. If you need to be careful around areas like flower beds or mulch, look for blowers that let you adjust the air speeds.
4. Look for a bottom mounted air intake because the side intakes can get blocked by your clothing.
5. On gas models look for a primer bulb for easier starting. Also look for a clear gas tank so you can keep an eye on fuel consumption.
6. Try them out before buying. Check for balance in your hand as well as a second grip for additional control.
7. Look for an easy to get to shut off switch for safety.
8. Plastic impellers and blades get damaged and break if you often vacuum up pebbles or other hard objects. Look for metal impellers if you work around gravel.
9. Consider a backpack unit if the job will last longer than an hour. Check the harness for comfort and vibration damping.
10. Check local ordinances for noise standards and restrictions. Compare this to the dB rating of the blower.
1. Don’t use corded or cordless electrical tools in wet or damp conditions.
2. Keep kids and pets away from any power tool especially when they’re in use.
3. Store gas and oil in a well ventilated area away from flame or heat.
4. Wear safety equipment like safety glasses, ear protection, sturdy footwear, and gloves. Don’t forget to keep your arms and legs covered as well.
5. If you’re using an extension cord, keep these things in mind:
· Use only an outdoor use rated extension cord.
· Be sure the cord is in good condition. Check for cracks and exposed wire.
· Use a polarized plug. Don’t clip off the grounding prong.
· Plug it into a GFCI receptacle.
· Disconnect it from the outlet or remove the battery when the tool is not in use.
· Keep your feet and hands away from moving parts when the tool is running.
A couple of notes if you’re buying a battery-powered blower. Most of these units use a lithium-ion battery that will sometimes come with a partial charge. Don’t use them with this pa8tial storage charge. Instead, charge the battery for a full 12 hours before using it the first time.
Otherwise, you risk the battery failing in a very short period of time. This is a pretty common complaint on most online sites.
Don’t completely drain a lithium-ion battery and then charge it either. It’s better for the battery to still have some juice in it when you charge it.
Some batteries will have an automatic shut off that will prevent you from deep discharging the battery by continually turning it on and off to get the last little bit of juice. This is on purpose so that you don’t accidentally destroy the battery life.
Buying a leaf blower is a small upfront investment that will save you a lot of time in the long run.
If you have a lot of trees in your backyard, you shouldn’t hesitate to get one.
In any case, a leaf blower is very useful to get your yard ready for winter.
Getting tired of babysitting your water sprinkler system? It gets a little tiresome to always have to pay attention to your sprinklers, particularly in these dry times we’ve been having.
There’s an easier way to handle this while taking advantage of local weather conditions to get more accurate watering. And lower water usage bills.
In this article, we’re going to review three popular Wifi sprinkler controllers. These units will allow you to control your system over your smart phone, a tablet or even your PC.
What better way to control your system rather than having to continually head to the garage, crawl under the porch or head down into the basement?
Quick NavigationBest sprinkler Controller Ratings:What Is a Sprinkler Controller?Is It Easy to Install?Do They Work If the Power Goes Down?Why Install a Drip Irrigation System?Is the Controller All You Have to Purchase or Do You Have to Buy All New Sprinkler Head?How Strong Must the Wi-Fi Signal Be at the Controller?#1: Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller – Gen. 2 #2: RainMachine Touch HD-12#3: Orbit 57950 B-Hyve SmartWhat Unit Do We Think Is Best Sprinkler Controller?
#1: Rachio Smart
#2: RainMachine HD-12
#3: Orbit B-hyve
A sprinkler controller is a device that allows you to program and automatically run the water sprinkler system at your home. You’re able to choose particular times and areas of your yard to get watering.
On the market today are two types. The old manual style that’s been around for years and a newer model that uses Wi-Fi and your home network for remote control.
The units in this review are all easy to install. It’s just a matter of drilling the holes for the mounting screws, mounting the unit and connecting the wires.
It should be noted though that some are little easier to mount than others and some have better instructions and templates to help make a more secure mount.
You can choose an expert installation from as little as $100.
The units have a battery backup that will help keep the settings that you’ve programmed in. However, without power, your sprinkler system won’t run.
Drip irrigation gives you an easy way to control the amount of water that goes on smaller areas and avoids the problem of flooding.
A drip irrigation system is ideal if you’re watering smaller areas like gardens, flowerbeds, container plants, trees, or groundcover. It’s especially good for desert landscaping.
The wireless sprinkler controller is all you need to connect to your system. If you are mounting outside, two of the units below will need an optional outdoor box.
Strong enough to let the sprinkler controller communicate with your network. So, the closer the controller can be to the wireless source the better.
Next, take into consideration how many walls and other obstructions the signal has to pass through. The fewer the better.
How many other devices are operating on the same 2.4 GHz channel? If you have more than a couple, the interference may be too great for the outdoor mounted controller.
A Wi-Fi extender boosts the signal and will help with the above issues. They’re available at Amazon right here.
Note: these controllers all communicate on the 2.4 GHz band. If you’re running a 5 GHz home network, they won’t work.
A couple of the manufacturers have suggested setting up a guest network on an available 2.4 GHz band.
Onward with the reviews…
The Rachio unit is a good-looking unit and the body is pretty solid. It is available in both 8 zone and 16 zone configurations. Using WaterSense technology, it’s designed to help make yard watering easy and a lot less expensive.
Let’s take a closer look in this Rachio mini review.
· WaterSense technology
· Smartphone app allows you to control it from anywhere
· Works with Amazon’s Alexa giving you voice control over your watering system
· Operates with or without a WiFi signal
· Control box connections might be too small for wire gauge
· Hanger type mounting
· No API if one prefers to create their own app. No IFTTT integration
The Rachio is EPA WaterSense Certified and you could get a rebate if your county or city is eligible and the water company is participating.
It has five predrilled screw holes for mounting. One reviewer used the two center holes and felt it made for a pretty solid installation. Others used all 5 holes without problem.
The Rachio is not waterproof or water resistant but you can buy an outside enclosure. This is the one made by Rachio and it’s available on Amazon.
Installation is generally pretty quick like the two smart water controllers reviewed above. They have a lot of similarities except for one big one.
The wiring comes in from behind on the Rachio rather than the front. So make sure to take this into account when you plan out the mounting location.
Also be aware, some readers say that the wires are little tough to get attached to the connection block. It tends to be a little stiff and you need to use a screwdriver (and a little force) on the slot to get it to open.
The setup of the Rachio smart controller is pretty easy as well. It does require that you have your smart phone available with the app installed. This is so you can hook up to the smart controller then connect to the wireless network.
Once you’ve got that connectivity set up, it’s just a matter of choosing each zone and entering in the rest of the information about your yard.
It’s this information coupled with the weather information that helps make the Rachio so effective.
The Rachio also allows you to find a local personal weather station rather than relying on the NOAA. This way you can get more accurate microclimate weather conditions.
Check how to install and set it up here:
When you’re doing the initial setup of the Rachio on your smart phone, it will take you through each of the zones of your yard and ask pertinent questions for each zone.
It will ask about soil type, what you’ve got growing, slope and several other items. This customization really helps to make it more accurate when it combines with weather sensing ability.
Rachio also offers an open API that you can use to create your own watering application. Though most users find the current application to be pretty useful and loaded with good information.
You also have service integration with a system called IFTTT. This allows you to create your own mini applets which are controlled by events.
For example, if it’s a cloudy day and you don’t want your Rachio to water, you can have the weather forecast trigger IFTTT which will then communicate with the Rachio and tell it to turn off watering for the day.
Or, if the temperature happens to get too hot, you can have that condition trigger IFTTT to communicate with the Rachio and turn on watering.
Rachio listened to their customers and integrated several new and desired features into the Generation 2:
· The wiring bay is larger to allow you to fit larger gauge wires.
· The unit itself is smaller.
· The Generation 2 is moved to a single plate design that allows for multi-meter testing.
· The connection protocol is different because an app is used to control the connection to your Wi-Fi.
· The ability to do some manual adjustments has been added.
The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller Gen 2 is a great performer and easily integrates with multiple sources of weather information. It’s easy to install and set up with a responsive app.
1,186 users give the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller a 4.7 out of five star rating.
The Rachio is our number one choice because it will give you more for your money.
If you’re looking for a wifi sprinkler controller that looks as good as it works, the RainMachine Touch HD–12 is a perfect choice. Good looks and a lot of functionality are all bundled into a small package that’s easily installed and programmed.
In addition, the RainMachine is EPA WaterSense Certified which, if your city or county participates in the EPA program, can earn you a rebate on the cost of the unit. In addition, you can get more savings from the built-in smart watering that takes advantage of the weather services of the NOAA.
· Easy to install and program
· Easy to use app that allows you to connect from anywhere
· Open API if you’d like to create your own app
· EPA WaterSense Certified which may help you qualify for a rebate
· Bright 6.5 inch color touchscreen display
· Odd app uses off brand coloring
· No warning if you have overlapping schedules
The Touch HD-12 is EPA WaterSense Certified and you may be eligible for a rebate. Check with you city or county water department to see if they participate in the program.
The RainMachine comes with a small screwdriver and a handy hole template to help you with the install. As with most Wi-Fi units, it’s pretty easy to hook up to the current system wiring.
The unit can control up to 12 zones. It’s not expandable, so if you need more, you’ll want to consider a different controller.
The Touch HD-12 isn’t waterproof, but a user was able to mount it inside an Orbit lockbox. This makes it water resistant and lockable. The box can be found on Amazon by clicking here.
Installation is pretty easy, just line up your template where you want to hang the controller, mark the hole slots with a Sharpie, and then drill the screw holes. Once you get the Rain Machine mounted, it’s a simple matter to connect the wires because they connect from the front.
Once you get the mounting and wiring done, the setup and programming is pretty easy as well. Users have found the technology to be pretty intuitive. Follow the set up wizard to get it connected to your Wi-Fi network.
Since the Touch has a really responsive touchscreen, you can also do the set up and programming from the front screen. The screen is also convenient in case you’re caught outside without your phone.
Getting your watering schedule programmed was considered by most users to be a pretty easy task. If you had a zone that needed its own special schedule, you can set it up on its own program.
The Cycle and Soak selection will allow you to do multiple waterings in order to avoid water runoff. It works by taking a total number of watering minutes and dividing that up into a user-defined number of watering times.
The installation and set-up are explained here:
The smart phone app and the web app are very well-designed and deliver a lot of useful information. In addition, you’re able to control different RainMachine systems other than your own home system. This makes it pretty convenient if you’re in charge of different lawn areas.
There’s a bit of a geekiness factor to the RainMachine as well. If you’re into in technology at all, this might be of interest to you. The Rain Machine publishes a public API that a user could use to develop their own programming app.
Since some users felt the current app was dull and unappealing, they can easily create their own version.
The Rain Machine is a very attractive and well performing Wi-Fi sprinkler controller. It’s easy to install and set up with responsive apps or manually at the touchscreen.
Users find that it’s flexible too. It teams up with a drip irrigation system very well making it a great garden water timer. They give the Touch HD-12 a 4.5 out of five star rating with 615 reviews.
It only comes second because the price is higher than the Rachio but it’s a very close second.
#2: RainMachine Touch HD-12
Image Source: RainMachine.com
The Orbit 57950 B-Hyve Smart is an easily installed Wi-Fi enabled sprinkler controller. Mounted to a stud or wall, it quickly connects up to your currently installed water sprinkler system.
It comes in a locked, water resistant case which allows you to mount it outdoors as well.
It Is EPA WaterSense Certified and passes SWAT testing protocols. This helps it to qualify for rebates in participating water districts.
The Wi-Fi and timer controls allow you to access and control the timer either through your home network, your smart phone or tablet as well as be able to work with it manually at the controller.
· EPA WaterSense Certified
· Has an open API and IFTTT integrations
· Use other weather stations other than NOAA
· Ability to add rain, freeze and/or flow sensors
· Connects to Amazon Alexa, Nest and other home automation systems.
· Wiring is a little clumsy
· Flimsy plastic cover
· Not weather resistant or waterproof
EPA WaterSense and SWAT certification means if this unit qualifies for rebates in participating water districts. You might save up to 50% of the unit cost.
The Orbit water timer comes in a waterproof and lockable case for outdoor mounting. There are 3 different sized knockouts on the bottom to help with hardwiring. It comes with a small screw driver to help with attaching the wires to the control block.
It’s got a large, easy to read dial and can be controlled manually if necessary. The screen is a non-touch LCD type. The power cable is permanently connected to the power block inside.
The Orbit smart sprinkler timer integrates with what Orbit calls Catch Cup technology. This allows the timer or controller to give you much better scheduling and water control results.
It’s easy to install and hooks up to your current system pretty readily. One issue a user had was that the box used a hang screw arrangement. His concern was that it might break. But, there are two additional screw holes at the bottom of the case to use. This should help with stability.
The B-Hyve smart controller can be mounted either indoors or outdoors. To be able to close and lock the box, be sure to route the wires through one of the knockouts on the bottom of the controller box.
Setup is pretty easy and straight forward. Once the app is connected to the controller, follow the wizard to set up the zones. You can add a name and picture to each zone for easier identification. Then the wizard will ask you to enter characteristics of each zone. Once setup, you’re ready to run the program.
Make sure you enter in the correct zip code or postal code for your area. WaterSense technology uses NOAA local weather information to help forecast whether your sprinklers are going to be needing to come on are not.
Here’s how to install and set it up yourself:
The sprinkler controller can be accessed from anywhere when using the app. You can control several units at a time as well. Orbit doesn’t offer an API for personal app construction nor does it support IFTTT.
With Wi-Fi and timer control you’re able to control the Orbit irrigation system from your PC, tablet or your smart phone. You can also control this manually if you should happen to find yourself at the controller without your phone.
After some initial quirks when it first came out, Orbit has ironed out any issues with updates as needed.
This is one of the newest and least expensive Wi-Fi sprinkler controllers on the market. According to users, it does a good job. It gets an average 4.5 out of 5 stars out of 266 reviews.
#3: Orbit 57950 B-Hyve Smart
What’s really cool about the wireless Wi-Fi controllers is that you get a ton of information. You’ll get a lot of charts and graphs using the data that each of the controllers collects.
This is great for learning more about how to care for your lawn and garden. All of the units are easy to install and setup. They all get top ratings and user satisfaction.
Our choice is the Rachio Smart because it’s getting the best results for the price but the RainMachine Touch HD-12 is following very closely because of its touch screen control. This makes it easy if you need to allow someone else to change watering settings or if you don’t have your phone with you.
Ultimately, your choice will depend on your budget and whether you need a touch screen or not.