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Smart irrigation controller 101: What they are and why you should have one

Attendees of SRP’s Water Expo received a discount on a smart irrigation controller, so we thought now would be a good time to help you better understand the benefits of these handy water-saving devices. But first, you might be asking yourself, “What is a smart irrigation controller? Do I need one?” 

Consider a smart irrigation controller to be your landscape watering sidekick. Whether you’re growing your own food, flowers or grass, these smart irrigation devices automatically tailor watering schedules and run times on sprinklers or drip systems to meet specific landscape needs. 

These systems use local weather information and/or site conditions to determine how much water to apply and when to run. Once the smart controller is installed and programmed, little additional monitoring is required. 

How much water can a smart controller save? 

Aside from not having to worry about assessing your yard’s water needs from day to day, studies show that most smart controllers will save up to 20% of the water applied by a traditional controller. 

This is a significant water savings because up to 70% of household water use is outdoors in the Valley. You get peace of mind that your yard is properly watered and that you’re doing it efficiently.  

Can I install it myself or do I need a landscape professional? 

Smart irrigation controllers vary in their complexity. Installation requires some basic electrical knowledge and can be accomplished by most homeowners in approximately three hours. If you choose to hire someone to install the controller, please check to make sure they are licensed, insured and bonded. 

A list of smart irrigation controller installers has been provided by Hunter, Rachio and Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply. SRP has not independently evaluated these installers and neither recommends nor guarantees their work. 

For more guidance and information on installation, the Rachio and Hunter websites contain some training videos for the controllers. 

Hydrawise vs. Rachio smart irrigation controllers 


The Pro-HC smart irrigation controller with Hydrawise® cloud management software from Hunter Industries maximizes water savings, protects outdoor living spaces and ensures healthy plants in any environment. The controller has been tested by the Irrigation Association’s Smart Water Application Technologies (SWAT) team. 

Hydrawise, a six-station outdoor controller, automatically adjusts watering schedules based on local, real-time weather data while giving users 24/7 irrigation system access from anywhere in the world via smartphone, tablet or the web. 

The software is also compatible with Amazon Alexa™ for convenient voice-activated control. Learn more about the most complete Wi-Fi irrigation solution at or view the suggested advanced initial settings. 


Rachio’s Smart Sprinkler Controller is also SWAT-tested by the Irrigation Association. The companion mobile app leverages historical and real-time weather data allowing for easy configuration and control from anywhere in the world. The model featured at the expo is an eight-station indoor controller that can be adapted for the outdoors by using an enclosure box. You can also view the suggested initial settings for the Rachio controller. 

The Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller leverages a nationwide network of personal and federal weather stations for its Weather Intelligence™ feature. Weather Intelligence includes seasonal adjustments, rain skips and more. 

Additionally, the Hunter and Rachio controllers have earned the WaterSense™ label from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) WaterSense partnership program. The label certifies that the controllers have passed the EPA’s rigorous testing requirements, confirming the controller’s water efficiency and performance in landscape settings. 

Getting more help and recycling old controllers 

 If you have additional technical or programming questions about the smart irrigation controllers, you can contact the following: 

Ewing has partnered with Hunter Industries to prevent these controllers from entering landfills. You can bring your old irrigation controller to any Ewing Irrigation & Landscape Supply location to be recycled

Ewing and Hunter will send your donated controller to Blue Star Recyclers, a Colorado-based nonprofit that responsibly recycles electronics while creating jobs for people with autism and other disabilities. 

Conserve water for future generations 

Water conservation is important in an arid desert. It’s easiest to conserve water outside, as 70% of the water we use is in our yards.  

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