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Rachio 3 vs. Rachio Smart Hose Timer: which is better for your yard?

Rachio is one of the leading brands when it comes to smart home gadgets for your lawn. Specifically, the company is responsible for a handful of popular smart sprinklers and timers — including the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller and Rachio Smart Hose Timer.

Both products are at the top of their class and make it easy to keep your grass green without much effort. However, the two watering tools are very different from each other. Here’s a closer look at the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller and more affordable Rachio Smart Hose Timer to help you decide which is best for your backyard.


Rachio 3 sprinkler controller mounted on wall.
Rachio / Rachio

The Smart Hose Timer costs $70, although it requires a Wi-Fi Hub (which can be bundled in for a grand total of $100). The Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller is available in three formats depending on the size of your yard:

  • 4-Zone: $150
  • 8-Zone: $200
  • 16-Zone: $250

You also have the option to purchase a weatherproof enclosure for $30 if you’re mounting the controller outdoors.

Winner: Rachio Smart Hose Timer


The Rachio Smart Hose Timer installed on an outdoor spigot.

If you have a water spigot, the Rachio Smart Hose Timer is compatible with your setup. You’ll also need the Wi-Fi Hub and a 2.4GHz network. Installation of the Smart Hose Timer is simple — just install the smartphone app, connect the Smart Hose Timer to your spigot, sync it with the Wi-Fi hub and your 2.4GHz network, and you’re done.

Installing the Rachio 3 is a bit more complex, though should take no more than 30 minutes. It does, however, require that you have an older sprinkler controller already installed, as it’ll serve as a replacement for your existing system. There is a bright side, however, as Rachio is collaborating with Taskrabbit to help you get your system professionally installed if you’d rather not deal with rewiring your setup.

Of course, you’ll also need to have an in-ground sprinkler system installed, as the Rachio 3 simply acts as the brains of the operation.

Winner: Tie

Features and specs

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Both the Rachio Smart Hose Timer and Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller do a great job of automating your watering schedule, but they go about it in radically different ways.

The Smart Hose Timer is exactly what it sounds like — a smart timer that controls when your spigot turns on and off. This means that most single-family homes can make use of the device. After connecting to their water outlet, they can run a hose with any assortment of sprinkler heads they’d like and let the Smart Hose Timer turn the water on following a customizable schedule.

Using the smartphone app, you can set your watering schedule and track your usage history. The device is also compatible with any outdoor faucet and will automatically skip a watering session if rain is detected.

The Rachio 3, meanwhile, is only compatible with in-ground sprinkler systems. However, this means it has much more flexibility in its performance. Not only can you set your own watering schedules, but Rachio 3 will modify its watering pattern based on rain, wind, and other environmental factors. It can also modify its watering performance from zone to zone, giving you incredible control over how your yard is maintained.

The Rachio 3 supports SmartThings, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, and IFTTT for additional customization options.

Winner: Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller

Apps and subscriptions

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The Rachio Smart Hose Timer and Rachio 3 both use the Rachio smartphone app, which is easy to operate and allows you plenty of customization options. Better yet, there’s no monthly subscription needed for either product. That means you’ll have full access to everything they have to offer without the need for a recurring payment.

Winner: Tie

Which is better?

If you already have an in-ground sprinkler system, the Rachio 3 is the obvious choice. It’s a bit more expensive than the Smart Hose Timer, but its ability to modify its performance for different zones and enhanced smart home compatibility make it the better option.

For homes without an in-ground sprinkler system, the Smart Hose Timer is a solid alternative. It brings a bit of “smarts” to your water faucet, allowing you to automate your watering chores without much hassle. Both products are all but guaranteed to help you save water too — which could result in lower water bills at the end of the month.

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Jon Bitner
Jon Bitner is a writer covering consumer electronics, technology, and gaming. His work has been published on various websites…
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