Confusing. Complicated. Downright scary. Sprinkler controllers have not evolved very much in the past 10 years. A company right here in Denver is working to change that. Rachio makes the Iro smart sprinkler controller. I installed it and took it for a test.
Install and setup
Installing the Iro was easy-ish. It's not complicated but you will need to know your way around a screwdriver and some color-coded wires. The most important thing you NEED to do is take a picture of your exiting wiring before you take your old sprinkler down. If you do that, it'll be a cinch. I had the Iro installed in about 30 minutes without a single swear word.
Using the app on your smartphone you connect the Iro to your wi-fi network with the light sensor on the front of the device. It's a unique way that worked well. You connect your smartphone to the correct network and then hold it up to the Iro. A series of flashes programs the Iro. The only wonky thing is that the Iro doesn't work with 5ghz networks. I had to force my phone to ignore my 5ghz wi-fi to get the Iro to properly connect to my not work. Not a big deal but it took a few extra minutes to sort it out.
Using the Iro
The app is awesome. It walks you through setup with a lot of very detailed questions about your sprinklers. Some of these questions were a bit over my head but I fudged my way through them. It asks about the water pressure, soil type, property grade among other things. Once setup is finished using the app is simple. You setup your schedule or manually control your sprinklers. You can also decide how much control you want to give Rachio. If you have setup your sprinklers correctly, Rachio can use weather and climate data to intelligently control your sprinklers. This will hold off on water or adjust your schedule based on several factors. This is designed to save you money! It will also break up your water sessions so you don't waste water that can't be absorbed. It's smart!
In the end, the Iro isn't cheap. $250 for 8 zones. If you set it up correctly you can easily save water and save money and eventually make up for the cost of the Iro. That may take a few years but in the meantime you will have a few less headaches because you won't have to deal with your existing controller.
You can also find the Iro online for $225 at Amazon.