On our most recent IoT Podcast, Dwight called in with an interesting question: He’s looking for a way to use some type of motion detection to automatically enable smart water sprinklers to deter deer, rabbits and other animals from feasting on his plants and flowers. We have some options for Dwight, that should help make his lawn a little less desirable for the wildlife.
There are a few really good smart sprinkler or smart faucet systems to make this happen, with the easiest and cheapest automation method IFTTT. All of our recommendations work with IFTTT, for that reason.
Our first recommendation to consider is from Netro. This company makes a small product line of smart irrigation products and we’d suggest either the $119 Netro Pixie Smart Hose Faucet Timer (shown) or, if you’re OK with renting a device, paying $29 a year for the Netro Sprite device and service, which makes traditional, non-connected sprinkler systems smart.
Yes, you may pay more for the Sprite over time but if the company releases an upgraded version or your current hardware is faulty, you’ll get a replacement as part of the subscription.
Comparable to the Netro Sprite is the RainMachine Mini 8, which costs $159. It may be overkill for this particular use case as it adds nice features that local wildlife won’t care about: weather information from up to four sources are fed to the Mini 8 to help optimize watering times, for example. If you want HomeKit support, you’ll need to upgrade to the RainMachine Pro-8 for $189.
Rachio also makes smart sprinkler systems that work with IFFT, and its $149.99 Rachio 3E Smart Sprinkler Controller should fit the bill here.
Like the RainMachine, this adds smarts to existing sprinkler systems. And along with IFTTT support, Rachio has integrations with Amazon, Google, Nest, Wink, Control4, and Nexia products to name a few. That could be useful down the line if you add other smart home products or hubs.
Whichever system you choose for the water dispersion, you’ll also need some type of outdoor camera that also works with IFTTT, such as the Arlo product line that starts at $299. Once you have your outdoor camera(s), you’ll need to create two IFTTT recipes: One to turn the water on when motion is detected and one to turn the water off after a time you configure.
After our podcast, we received another option from one of our readers that may be the least expensive but a little more complicated.
Kiril says that if you have a sprinkler system already, it likely uses 24V power to open and close the water valves. And if it does, the purchase of a 110V to 24V power converter like this one for $15 would work. Since the end of the wire is specific for Orbit sprinkler systems, Kiril suggests cutting the connector off and directly attaching the wires to your existing sprinkler system. He says he’s used this type of system before with an inexpensive smart plug for automation. If you go this route, just make sure the plug works with IFTTT or can be controlled by a digital assistant or hub that you already have.
To hear Dwight’s question in full, as well as our discussion on the topic, tune in to the IoT Podcast below.