High Tech

The Amazing Rachio 3 Sprinkler Controller Is Deeply

Let me cut to the chase: If you have an in-ground sprinkler system, do yourself a favor and get the Rachio 3 Sprinkler Controller. It’s currently on sale for Prime Day starting at $110 — that’s 27% off, which appears to be the lowest price to date. (I paid a bit more when I bought mine during last summer’s Prime Day.)

Here’s the backstory on why I love this thing so much. My recent move out to the suburbs meant inheriting an in-ground sprinkler system, which was great — except for the ancient controller to which it was connected. Despite religiously following the instruction manual and “programming” it through a variety of tiny buttons — not unlike a vintage 1980s VCR — the thing would still fire the sprinkler heads at completely random times. I couldn’t figure it out — the clock was correct, the watering times were correct, but the actual sprinklers would turn on three or four hours later. I was resigned to running it manually during the day and losing some of the water to the sun’s evaporation.

This story is part of Amazon Prime Day, CNET’s guide to everything you need to know and how to find the best deals.

Enter the Rachio 3. As noted above, I purchased it during last summer’s Prime Day, and it’s far and away the best smart home experience I’ve had in years. It took less than an hour to install — connecting to all the wiring of the previous controller — but oh, what a difference. Instead of punching an endless series of buttons and knobs, I now just use the Rachio app on my phone or iPad. The sprinklers now correctly run in the pre-dawn hours, and the system even uses local weather reports to suggest skipping sessions on those days when it’s recently rained. (It’s compatible with hardwired water sensors too.) If and when I want to change the schedule or do a manual run, I just whip out my phone and touch the screen. It’s also Alexa and Google Assistant compatible, if you want to go the voice-control route. 

The Rachio 3 comes in three versions: four-zone, eight-zone and 16-zone. All three are currently discounted for Prime Day at what appears to be their lowest prices to date. There’s no subscription to worry about either — just make sure the installation site has Wi-Fi coverage. But if you have an integrated sprinkler system, this is an easy recommendation. Need a second opinion? My former CNET colleague Jared DiPane loves his too. 

This story was published earlier and has been updated with the latest pricing for Prime Day 2023.

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