Smart sprinkler controller saves water and money

Posted at 11:00 PM, May 17, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-18 01:23:34-04

A Colorado startup wants to change the way you water your lawn, creating a WiFi enabled "smart" sprinkler controller that allows users to save water and money.

We went to see how it is working in a real Denver yard.

"How I de-stress in life is gardening," said Shaun Bainbridge, a Denver contractor whose front yard is his pride and joy, but he is also pretty proud of how he waters it -- with a swipe of his smart phone.

"Here's the Rachio app," Bainbridge said while demonstrating how it seamlessly communicates through WiFi with the sprinklers in his yard, wherever he is. "Pick how much time we want, and it will run. Boom."

Bainbridge installed the system last May, and said it has saved him time, water and money.

The company is headquartered in Denver, and the product is made in Colorado.

"It was in 2012, and Denver Water had its 'Use only what your need' campaign," said Chris Klein, Rachio's CEO and Co-Founder, who noticed how much water sprinklers were wasting during a drought. "And that was a problem we felt like we could jump in and solve. "

The controller works with your existing sprinkler system, simply replacing the older controller. 

Here is where the "smart" part comes in: You can control your sprinkler system yourself through your phone (even putting in a "Rain Delay"), but Rachio also uses hyper-local weather forecasts to automatically turn off sprinklers when rain is anticipated and to adjust the watering schedule depending on the season.

"You don't need to water as often in May as you do in July, but a lot of people just leave it on the same schedule the entire watering season," said Klein.

Rachio takes care of that for you, and the device also lets you customize watering to your yard by plant type, soil, sun exposure and slope.

"It could save you 20-30 percent of your water bill," said Klein.

Bainbridge said the device has been simple to use and customize for his complicated yard.

"Saving time, effort and water is a big reason I went with Rachio," said Bainbridge. "Also, the fact that I can control my vegetable gardens and water them a certain way, versus the way I water my different bushes and my grass."

Bainbridge said he needed a strong WiFi signal for Rachio to work well.

The second generation just came out this year and costs $199 for the eight-zone and $249 for the 16-zone. 

It's available at Home Depot, Amazon, and more.