What’s the BEST Sprinkler Controller? Rachio vs Orbit

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Rachio Vs. Orbit Sprinkler Controller: A Comprehensive Battle for Your Lawn

In the world of smart sprinkler controllers, Rachio and Orbit are two of the leading brands that stand out for their innovative technology and user-friendly interfaces. Both brands offer smart sprinkler controllers that optimize and customize yard watering schedules to save money and conserve water. As a homeowner, you may find yourself considering which brand can cater to your lawn care needs and deliver the best in overall performance and customer satisfaction.

Rachio boasts impressive features and integrations with a variety of smart home devices, making it an excellent choice for those who already have a smart home ecosystem or are seeking a sprinkler controller that provides precise control over watering schedules. On the other hand, Orbit’s B-Hyve controllers are designed for easy setup and use, making them suitable for those who are new to smart watering systems or have basic lawn care needs. Weighing the pros and cons of each brand will help you determine which smart sprinkler controller is ideal for your garden’s specific requirements.

Key Takeaways

  • Rachio and Orbit are top contenders in the smart sprinkler controller market.
  • Rachio excels in precise control and smart home integrations, while Orbit B-Hyve is designed for ease of use.
  • Factors to consider when choosing a controller include brand features, compatibility with smart home devices, and user interfaces.

Rachio Vs. Orbit: Understanding the Brands

Rachio Vs. Orbit Understanding the Brands

Rachio: A Brief History

Rachio A Brief History

Rachio started in 2013 and quickly made a name for itself in the smart home industry. The company’s mission is to make watering your landscape easier, more efficient, and environmentally friendly. Rachio’s smart sprinkler controllers have built-in Wi-Fi, allowing you to control your sprinklers from anywhere using a smartphone app. This convenience, coupled with its ability to save water and money, makes Rachio a popular choice among homeowners.

One significant aspect of Rachio is its commitment to sustainability. The company aims to save more than 60 billion gallons of water by 2025. The Rachio 3, their latest model, offers advanced water-saving features and customization options, helping you achieve the perfect balance between a healthy yard and water conservation.

Orbit: Company Overview

Orbit Company Overview

Established in 1986, Orbit has been a leader in irrigation products for over 35 years. With a focus on providing high-quality, water-saving solutions, the company introduced the B-hyve line of smart sprinkler controllers to compete with other brands like Rachio.

Orbit’s B-hyve controllers offer a user-friendly experience, making it easy to set up and control your sprinklers. The B-hyve app provides weather-based adjustments to your watering schedule, ensuring your landscape gets just the right amount of water. Moreover, the company offers affordable pricing, making their smart sprinkler controllers an attractive option for those looking for a balance between cost and functionality.

Comparing the two brands, Rachio offers a more advanced and versatile smart sprinkler controller. However, Orbit’s B-hyve controllers provide a better value for money due to their lower cost. Your choice ultimately depends on your watering needs and budget.

Key Features and Specifications

Key Features and Specifications

Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller

Rachio 3 is a popular choice among smart sprinkler controllers, offering easy customization and efficient watering for your lawn or garden. With options for 4, 8, or 16 zones, you have flexibility to accommodate various plant types and sizes.

A standout feature is its Weather Intelligence™ Plus technology, which automatically adjusts watering schedules based on hyperlocal forecasts and saves you water. Additionally, Rachio 3 supports various smart home integrations, making it a convenient option for those with connected home ecosystems.

Some pros of the Rachio 3 include:

  • Weather-based scheduling
  • Integrates with popular smart home platforms
  • Flexible zone management

However, there are some cons to consider as well:

  • Higher price compared to other controllers
  • May have more features than needed for smaller gardens

Orbit B-Hyve Smart Sprinkler Controller

On the other hand, Orbit B-Hyve is another well-regarded smart sprinkler controller that offers a good value for your money. This controller also provides a focus on water preservation and efficient watering for your garden.

Orbit B-Hyve can handle a similar number of zones as Rachio 3, but factoring in one more piece of information for each zone, offering even more precise control over your watering schedules. Additionally, the Orbit B-Hyve app allows for user-friendly and convenient customization of your watering schedules and monitoring of your zones.

Some pros of the Orbit B-Hyve include:

  • More affordable
  • Linear design for easy installation
  • Detailed control over each watering zone

Some possible cons to keep in mind include:

  • Less integration with smart home platforms
  • Limited weather adjustment features compared to Rachio 3

With these features and specifications in mind, you can carefully consider which smart sprinkler controller will best meet your needs and preferences for your lawn or garden.

Installation and Setup

Installation and Setup

Rachio 3 Installation Process

Installing the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller is quite simple. First, you’ll need to remove your old sprinkler controller, if you have one. Once you’ve done that, you can begin the Rachio 3 installation. Start by mounting the Rachio 3 on your preferred location, using the included hardware. Make sure it’s within reach of your sprinkler controller wires.

Next, connect your sprinkler wires to the Rachio 3 using the easy-press wire connectors provided. It’s essential to label your wires accordingly, so you don’t mix them up. After connecting the wires, just plug the Rachio 3 into a power outlet, and you’re done with the physical installation.

Lastly, download the Rachio app on your smartphone and follow the in-app instructions to set up your sprinkler zones, schedules, and preferences.

Orbit B-Hyve Installation Steps

When it comes to installing the Orbit B-Hyve Smart Sprinkler, the process is quite similar to the Rachio 3. First, remove your existing sprinker controller, if necessary. Then, install the Orbit B-Hyve controller with the provided screws. Ensure it’s close enough to your sprinkler system’s wires for a seamless connection.

Just like with the Rachio 3, label your sprinkler system wires before connecting them to the Orbit B-Hyve controller. This step helps prevent any confusion during setup. With all the wires connected, plug your Orbit B-Hyve into an electrical outlet.

The final step in setting up your Orbit B-Hyve controller is downloading the B-Hyve app on your smartphone. The app will walk you through the setup process, guiding you in creating watering zones, schedules, and customizing your preferences.

By following these simple steps, you’ll have your Rachio 3 or Orbit B-Hyve smart sprinkler controller up and running in no time, allowing you to save water, maintain a healthy lawn, and take control of your irrigation system with ease.

Smartphone App and User Interface

Smartphone App and User Interface

Rachio App Experience

When using the Rachio app, you’ll find it to be user-friendly with an intuitive design that caters to both beginners and expert gardeners. The app is compatible with both Android and iOS devices, allowing you to control your sprinkler system from your mobile phone.

With the Rachio app, you can:

  • Set up watering schedules for optimal plant growth.
  • Monitor water usage and track savings.
  • Receive real-time updates on your zone’s activity.
  • Access helpful information like weather forecasts, local water regulations, and plant data.

The app can be customized to your specific landscape needs, including different types of plants, soil types, and watering restrictions.

However, on the downside, some users have reported connectivity issues and slow load times. It’s important to ensure your Wi-Fi network is strong and consistent for optimal app performance.

Orbit B-Hyve App

On the other hand, the Orbit B-Hyve app also offers compatibility with both Android and iOS devices, giving you the convenience of controlling your sprinkler from your phone.

The Orbit B-Hyve app provides features like:

  • Customizable watering plans for each zone.
  • Weather-based adjustments for watering schedules.
  • Informative alerts and notifications.
  • Easy integration with other Orbit B-Hyve products.

While the Orbit B-Hyve app is functional, some users find it to be less intuitive and user-friendly compared to the Rachio app. The mobile app’s interface may take some time getting used to, and it can be a bit overwhelming initially.

In conclusion, both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve offer smartphone apps that allow you to manage and monitor your sprinkler systems conveniently. While Rachio has a smoother and more user-friendly app experience, Orbit B-Hyve is not far behind in terms of features and functionality. You should choose the controller that best suits your preferences and requirements.

Smart Home Integrations

Smart Home Integrations

Compatibility with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa

Both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve sprinkler controllers are compatible with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. This means you can easily use voice commands to control your sprinkler system with either of these smart home assistants. For example, you can ask Google or Alexa to start or stop watering schedules, check the current status, or make changes to your controller settings.

Some possible pros and cons of this integration include:

  • Pros:
    • Convenient hands-free control of your sprinklers
    • Integration with other smart home devices for seamless automation
  • Cons:
    • Voice commands may not always be accurate or understood
    • Potential privacy concerns with smart home assistants

Integration with Apple HomeKit

While Rachio supports Apple HomeKit integration, Orbit B-Hyve does not. This means that if you’re an iPhone user and want to control your sprinkler system through the Apple ecosystem, Rachio is the better choice for you. With HomeKit integration, you can use Siri to manage your sprinklers, automate tasks, and include your smart sprinkler controller in HomeKit scenes.

Possible pros and cons of Apple HomeKit integration are:

  • Pros:
    • Easier control and automation for Apple users
    • Consistency with other Apple HomeKit-enabled devices
  • Cons:
    • Limited option as only Rachio supports HomeKit
    • Requires strong Apple ecosystem commitment

IFTTT and Other Smart Home Devices

Both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve offer integration with IFTTT (If This, Then That) service, allowing you to create custom automations and connect your sprinkler system with other smart home devices. For example, you can set up a rule to adjust watering schedules based on weather reports or turn off your sprinklers when your smart home security system detects someone on your property.

In addition to IFTTT, both devices can also be integrated with other popular smart home systems like Nest and SmartThings. This allows you to customize your home automation setup and enjoy a more connected and unified smart home experience.

Some pros and cons of IFTTT and other smart home device integrations include:

  • Pros:
    • Personalized and automated smart home setup
    • Wide range of supported smart home devices and platforms
  • Cons:
    • May require technical knowledge to set up custom automations
    • Potential challenges with troubleshooting and compatibility

Watering Schedules and Weather Data

Custom Watering Schedules

Both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve offer custom watering schedules for your smart sprinkler controller. You can easily create your own schedules based on specific days of the week, intervals, or even specific start times. This allows you to have more control over your watering needs, ensuring that your lawn and garden receive the right amount of water at the right time.

Weather-Based Watering

Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve both use weather data to adjust your watering schedules. This means that your smart sprinkler controller will adjust its watering times and durations based on the current and forecasted weather conditions, helping you conserve water and prevent overwatering.

For instance, both controllers offer rain delay features, which allow you to automatically pause or delay watering when rain is detected or forecasted. This ensures that you don’t waste water during rainy weather. Additionally, both systems have freeze skip functionality, which prevents watering when temperatures are below a certain threshold to protect your plants and pipes from freezing.

Rachio’s WeatherSense technology and Orbit B-Hyve’s WeatherSense feature enable you to take advantage of these weather-based adjustments, making your watering much more efficient.

Weather Data Sources

When it comes to weather data sources, Rachio pulls real-time weather data from multiple sources, including national weather stations and personal weather stations located in your area. This gives Rachio a more accurate and localized weather forecast, helping it to make better watering decisions based on your specific conditions.

Orbit B-Hyve also uses weather data to make watering decisions, but it primarily relies on data from public weather stations, which might not be as localized or accurate as Rachio’s data sources.

In summary, both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve offer custom watering schedules and weather-based watering adjustments. Rachio has an edge when it comes to weather data sources, which can potentially lead to more accurate watering decisions for your lawn and garden.

Environmental and Budget Considerations

Water Bill and Water Use Reduction

Saving money on your water bill is definitely a priority, and both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve can help with that. Thanks to their smart scheduling and weather-based adjustments, they prevent overwatering and can reduce your overall water usage. This not only lowers your water bill, but also contributes positively to the environment.

Rachio takes it a step further by offering a Water as Needed feature that adjusts watering schedules based on your specific location, weather patterns, and evapotranspiration rates. With this feature, you can save even more water and money.

Environmental Impact

Overwatering and general wasteful use of water is detrimental to the environment. Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve smart sprinkler controllers bring environmental benefits by reducing the amount of water you use for lawn care.

Furthermore, these controllers can help minimize fertilizer and pesticide runoff, which is a significant environmental issue. By providing targeted and accurate irrigation, these smart sprinkler controllers ensure that the soil absorbs water, as well as the fertilizers and pesticides, effectively.


The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) WaterSense Program is worth considering when comparing Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve. This program aims to reduce water waste by promoting the adoption of water-efficient products and practices.

It’s important to note that Rachio is WaterSense-certified, meaning it meets the EPA’s criteria for water efficiency and performance. Using a WaterSense-certified product can give you peace of mind, knowing that your sprinkler controller is contributing to environmental conservation.

On the other hand, Orbit B-Hyve is not WaterSense-certified. However, its budget-friendly pricing and smart features still make it an environmentally conscious and cost-effective choice for many homeowners.

In conclusion, both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve smart sprinkler controllers offer benefits in terms of water bill reduction, water use reduction, and environmental impact. Rachio has an edge with its WaterSense certification, but both options are worth considering depending on your specific needs and budget.

Comparing Design and Durability

Rachio 3 Design Elements

Rachio 3 has a sleek, compact design making it an attractive addition to your home’s outdoor space. The controller comes with an easy-to-use LCD screen which clearly displays helpful information. In terms of durability, Rachio 3 is built to withstand various weather conditions. However, if you want additional protection, a weatherproof enclosure is available for purchase separately.

With Rachio’s software, you’ll benefit from a well-designed, user-friendly app that makes it simple to set up and manage your sprinkler system. Your Rachio 3 controller also comes with a 2-year warranty, giving you peace of mind knowing that the company stands behind its product.

Orbit B-Hyve Design Features

On the other hand, Orbit B-Hyve offers a slightly bulkier design, but its construction is solid and built to last. The controller has a swing panel which provides access to the controls and wiring, making it easy to install and maintain. Orbit B-Hyve’s LCD screen is larger than Rachio 3’s which some users might find useful when navigating through menus.

The Orbit B-Hyve system is weatherproof out of the box, meaning you won’t need to invest in an additional enclosure for protection from the elements. Its software provides a user-friendly interface, making it simple for you to manage your watering schedules. Additionally, Orbit B-Hyve also has a 2-year warranty, demonstrating the company’s commitment to their product’s quality.

To summarize, both sprinkler controllers have their own unique design elements and offer a degree of durability in various aspects.

  • Rachio 3:
    • Sleek and compact design
    • Easy-to-use LCD screen
    • Requires a separate weatherproof enclosure
    • User-friendly software
    • 2-year warranty
  • Orbit B-Hyve:
    • Solid and bulkier design
    • Swing panel for easy access
    • Larger LCD screen
    • Weatherproof without the need for an enclosure
    • User-friendly software
    • 2-year warranty

Testimonials and Reviews

Customer Reviews and Ratings

Orbit B-Hyve users commend its affordability and easy setup process. Customers find it to be a cost-effective solution for their lawn irrigation needs. Some users, however, have mentioned encountering occasional connectivity issues with the B-Hyve app.

On the other hand, Rachio users appreciate its robust automation abilities and fine-tuned scheduling options. They also mention liking the easy integration with home automation systems like Google Home and Alexa. A few customers expressed that the device is slightly more expensive, but most of them believe it’s worth the investment.

Expert Opinions and Testing

Experts give the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller a high rating. In their review, PCMag rated it 4.5/5 stars, calling it “outstanding” and praising its capabilities. They appreciated the easy connection to Wi-Fi and the highly responsive local weather forecast integration.

Consumer Reports stated that the Rachio 3 8ZULW-C is a solid sprinkler controller that receives a very good rating for its ability to adapt to local forecasts. They’ve found the device easy to connect to Wi-Fi.

According to The New York Times, Rachio offers straightforward plug-and-play functionality for beginner gardeners as well as advanced features for more experienced users. They’ve noted that the Rachio 3 comes in several variants catering to different needs.

When it comes to Orbit B-Hyve, experts agree that it provides a good value for the price. In their comparison article, a source states that if you’re looking for an affordable option with similar features, the Orbit B-Hyve has the edge. They acknowledge that Rachio comes with a few extra features that could make it a better option if you’re willing to invest more.

In conclusion, both the Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve sprinkler controllers have their pros and cons. While Rachio offers a more comprehensive set of features and excellent integration with smart home systems, the Orbit B-Hyve provides a more affordable option with a decent set of features for those with a tighter budget. As a smart sprinkler controller user, you’ll want to consider your specific needs and budget before making your decision.

Similarities and Differences

Shared Features and Benefits

Both Rachio and Orbit sprinkler controllers allow you to manage your sprinklers through a mobile app, making it convenient for you to control your irrigation system. These controllers are capable of adjusting water usage based on local weather data, which helps you conserve water and save money on your water bill.

For compatibility, both controllers are available in multiple zone options to suit your garden’s needs. Additionally, they both support integration with popular smart home platforms and devices, making it easy to incorporate them into your existing smart home setup.

Key Differences Between Rachio and Orbit

While there are similarities between the two controllers, there are also essential differences that set them apart:

  • Zones: Orbit B-Hyve is available in 6 or 12 zones, whereas Rachio offers options with 8 or 16 zones. This provides you with more flexibility in managing a larger number and variety of plants in your garden.
  • User Interface: Orbit B-Hyve features an LCD screen, giving you on-device control and easy viewing of your settings. On the other hand, Rachio 3 lacks an LCD screen, relying more on the mobile app.
  • Water Conservation: Orbit B-Hyve has a more detailed system to factor in an additional piece of information for each zone, while Rachio 3 gives a more general approach. However, keep in mind that both systems aim to conserve water and save you money on your water bill.

Overall, both Rachio and Orbit offer smart sprinkler controllers with valuable features. Consider the individual needs and preferences for your garden when deciding which one may be the most fitting choice for your irrigation system.

Final Thoughts and Recommendations

Rachio and Orbit are both popular options when it comes to smart sprinkler controllers. Each one has its own unique features and benefits, but deciding on the right one depends on your needs and budget.

Pros of Rachio:

  • Rachio offers straightforward plug-and-play functionality, perfect for beginner gardeners.
  • This controller is available in multiple zone options (4, 8, or 16).
  • Rachio has a few extra features that some users may find desirable.

Cons of Rachio:

  • Rachio is considerably more expensive than Orbit B-Hyve, often doubling the cost.

Pros of Orbit B-Hyve:

  • Orbit B-Hyve provides excellent value due to its lower cost.
  • As with Rachio, Orbit B-Hyve is EPA-approved and smartly regulates water usage.
  • Orbit B-Hyve controllers can also be attached to home water and soil sensors for added precision.

Cons of Orbit B-Hyve:

  • Although many shared features, Rachio has slightly more advanced capabilities.

When it comes down to choosing between the two, it depends on what you’re looking for in a smart sprinkler controller. If your decision is money-based and you’re seeking the best value, Orbit B-Hyve may be a more suitable choice on that ground. On the other hand, if you’re willing to invest more for additional features and a well-known brand, you might lean towards the Rachio controller.

Remember to weigh the pros and cons of each system and think about your specific watering needs when making your decision. By doing so, you’ll end up selecting a smart sprinkler controller that best suits your lawn and garden, giving you greener results and a more efficient water management system.

Rachio & Orbit Price Watcher

  • All prices mentioned above are in United States dollar.
  • This product is available at Amazon.com.
  • At amazon.com you can purchase Orbit 57950 B-hyve Smart 12-Zone Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Controller, Compatible with Alexa Gray for only $123.70
  • The lowest price of Rachio 3 Smart Bundle: Includes Rachio 3rd Generation-8 Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller (Alexa Compatible w/ Hyperlocal Weather Intelligence Plus & Rain Skip) & Rachio Weatherproof Outdoor Enclosure was obtained on September 21, 2023 11:48 pm.

Frequently Asked Questions

Which controller is more user-friendly?

Rachio controllers are generally considered more user-friendly due to their straightforward plug-and-play functionality. Orbit B-Hyve controllers are also easy to use, but Rachio might offer a simpler experience for beginner gardeners.

Which has better smart features?

Both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve offer a variety of smart features, but Rachio seems to have the edge in this category. Rachio controllers provide more customization options and better integration with various smart home systems. Orbit B-Hyve also has some useful smart features, but may not have the same level of compatibility and personalization as Rachio.

Which controller saves more water?

Both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve controllers are designed to help conserve water. Orbit B-Hyve has a water preservation feature that actively saves water when it’s not needed. Rachio controllers also analyze local weather data to adjust watering schedules. It’s difficult to say which one saves more water, but both brands are committed to helping you reduce water consumption in your garden.

Are installation processes similar?

Yes, the installation processes for both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve controllers are generally quite similar. They both require you to replace your existing sprinkler controller with the new, smart device, and follow the setup instructions provided. Both brands offer step-by-step guides to make the process as easy as possible.

Which one works with more devices?

Rachio controllers typically work with a wider range of devices, as they offer better integration with various smart home systems. Orbit B-Hyve also works with multiple devices, but may not be compatible with as many brands or platforms. Be sure to check the compatibility of the sprinkler controller with your existing smart home ecosystem before purchasing.

Which has better customer support?

Both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve generally have good customer support, but your experience may vary depending on factors like response time and issue resolution. It might be helpful to read user reviews and see what other customers have experienced in terms of support from both companies, so you can make an informed decision.

Rachio 3 Smart Bundle: Includes Rachio 3rd Generation-8 Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller (Alexa Compatible w/ Hyperlocal Weather Intelligence Plus & Rain Skip) & Rachio Weatherproof Outdoor Enclosure

 in stock
as of September 21, 2023 11:48 pm


  • Bundle Includes our Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller (Alexa and Apple HomeKit Compatible with Hyperlocal Weather Intelligence) & our Rachio Weatherproof Outdoor Enclosure (custom designed and fully weatherproofed for outdoor use to protect your Rachio controller).
  • Avoid watering in the rain. Exclusive weather intelligence plus automatically skips unnecessary watering with features like rain skip, wind skip, freeze skip, and more.
  • Control from anywhere with the easy-to-use app. Run sprinklers, view upcoming schedules, and observe your estimated outdoor water usage.
  • Experience fast DIY installation. Rachio Smart sprinkler controllers replace 99% of existing sprinkler controllers. Install in 30 minutes or less with no special tools needed. Our in-app installation tutorial helps you get online and watering in no time!
  • Deliver all the water your plants need; no more, No less. Rachio creates tailored Smart schedules based on the specific needs of your lawn, including plant type, soil type, sun exposure, and more.

Orbit 57950 B-hyve Smart 12-Zone Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Controller, Compatible with Alexa Gray

$123.70  in stock
21 new from $114.05
5 used from $100.93
Free shipping
as of September 21, 2023 11:48 pm


  • WELCOME TO B-HYVE: Looking to get a smart sprinkler controller? If this is out of stock, or if you want the best, check out the CES Innovation Award-winning B-hyve XR smart controller.Bluetooth : Version 4.2, Wifi Bandwidth 2.4Ghz
  • CONTROL FROM ANYWHERE: The B-hyve app is fully functional for android, iOS or web devices and gives you control wherever you need it program your timer on the app, at the timer, or let the weather-based software create a program for you
  • SMART WATERING: WeatherSense technology provides watering based on site conditions such as slope, soil type, sun/shade, historical et and live weather feeds, it automatically adjusts your controller to deliver the right amount of water to your plants
  • EASY TO INSTALL AND USE: Utilize the swing panel for easy access to the angled wiring terminals, which makes wiring simple and convenient and the plug-and-go line cord that can also be cut for hardwired applications
  • CERTIFIED TO SAVE WATER AND MONEY: B-hyve is EPA WaterSense approved and certified, ensuring it will save you water and energy; this can also make your B-hyve timer eligible for local rebates, which can save up to 100% of the cost on your timer
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