Part of the problem with lawns is the loss of water through evaporation or seepage, which stifles the ability to catch and reuse much of it. The idea behind smart irrigation or sprinkler controllers is to minimize this sort of waste, and manufacturers provide various ways to do so. For instance, the Hydrawise 12 Zone can support flow meters, rain sensors, and master valves. The user is given reports of water usage, and can monitor the flow meter as well as detect faulty wiring. The company even offers tech support for its apps. With the RainCommander RC1200, you can manually run up to 12 zones during dry seasons or pause it for a week if it's rainy. The company sends e-mail notifications of offline status in addition to troubleshooting tips.
The RainMachine Touch HD-12 is a 2nd-generation sprinkler controller, the newer model of the Rainmachine Mini-8. The main differences between the two are the HD-12's 4 extra zones and its screen. Whereas the Mini-8's 4.5-inch touchscreen is lighted by LEDs, the HD-12 has a 6.5-inch thin film transistor, or TFT, LCD, which apparently provides better image and contrast. Otherwise, they have much of the same features.
The HD-12 automatically adjusts the amount of water needed based on weather conditions. By connecting to Wi-Fi, the controller can deliver weather forecasts from NOAA and other sources, and the timer will download weather data using your street location while accounting for specific micro-climates. In the event of Internet loss, the HD-12 will switch to historical weather stats. Numerous programs, such as Even/Odd day mode, Cycle and Soak, or Station Delay, can be run one at a time, in sequence, or in parallel to each other. It's able to handle simultaneous or conflicting commands to the same valve and overlapping schedules. The RainMachine app makes accessible other RainMachines on your local network so you can remote-garden from any device. As with the Mini-8, this controller is WaterSense-certified.
Easily connected to wi-fi, simple to program with nice graphics and user interface. Only gets a little tricky opening up port on router to access remotely.
The iPhone & Android apps run a little slow and could use some tweaking & upgrading but do allow you to fully program the controller as well as activate manual watering.
Initial setup is also easy, especially if you’re replacing an existing controller. Just take the wires out of the old timer and connect them to the new one.