Now midway through Spring, homeowners everywhere start the annual ritual of migrating back outdoors to fix the list of improvements that have piled up over the winter. With the weather warming up, lawn and garden care is generally at the top of that list, with one of the updates being to reset the sprinkler watering cycle from the Winter slumber. For the savvy homeowners building a Smart Home though, this and more can be automated with the GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub, their smart irrigation controller that seeks to conquer more than just sprinklers.
There are plenty of smart irrigation controllers on the market, and I’ve had my hands on almost all of them. As surprising as it is to say, the smart sprinkler controller game is getting crowded, and GreenIQ isn’t the cheapest on the market. In fact others from Netro Sprite, Orbit B-hyve, RainMachine, and even the Blossom are all less expensive than their counterpart from GreenIQ, so what makes this one so special?
Smart Irrigation Control
GreenIQ hails from Israel, and their Smart Garden Hub is actually the third generation of this product line. Their third-gen hub is actually just that, an outdoor hub and not simply a sprinkler controller, but we’ll get into the really unique characteristics later. First, the basics.
The GreenIQ models come in either an eight-zone or 16-zone model, which should cover most residential operations. The controller works with the GreenIQ app to allow for remote control of the watering, scheduling, and reporting of water use via Android or iOS. Of course, the smart scheduling works based off the current and forecast weather for the specific zip code it is set up in, and actually pings the nearest local weather station for up-to-the-minute data.
Users can set up to four programs per zone, and even hook up an external rain sensor for precise moisture control. I myself am not much of a green thumb, so I linked up the controller itself and a single program to start out with.
If I was more adept at sustaining a garden, I would be inclined to take advantage of the expansion ecosystem that GreenIQ can support with up to three additional analog sensors. The ability to incorporate devices from other companies to create a tailored system is a leg up GreenIQ has on others in their space.
What a Smart Irrigation Controller Does Best
The prime reason anyone would get a smart irrigation controller would likely be to save on water costs and help eliminate water waste. However automating the process isn’t only easy for users, it is also beneficial from an environmental (and monetary) standpoint.
See, when smart irrigation controllers are set up, they take all the data about past and future weather predictions into account with the local region, and often soil or plant type. They work with the algorithms designed by companies to calculate the optimal water schedule, and automatically adapt to changing weather. The thing is, “set and forget” sprinkler controllers generally overwater the lawns because they don’t adapt to other variables like humidity, rainfall, soil type, or evapotranspiration. GreenIQ and other smart irrigation controllers take this into account, and optimize the water schedule appropriately.
While all of that is fine and dandy, what does it mean for your wallet? GreenIQ claims that in a typical yard their Smart Garden Hub can save up to 50% of outdoor water bills, through their algorithmic efficiency and automation process. Not just that, but their controller is WaterSense Certified, which is designated to meet EPA criteria and certified by ICC-ES above other units. Many regional utility companies offer rebates for smart irrigation controllers, and specifically ones that are WaterSense Certified.
Smart Home Compatible
Beyond the internal functionality of the Smart Garden Hub, it also plays nice with Amazon Echo, Google Home, IFTTT, Apple Watch (presumably HomeKit), Nest, Netatmo, Control4, and several other devices. This is one of the key things to check for when shopping for a Smart Home product— what other products does it work with?
Beyond sending the traditional messages for smart irrigation controllers about the rain delays, or when the program has started or stopped, the GreenIQ also sends water savings reports so you can see how much affect automating watering is having on the bill and on water savings.
That’s what really matters at the end of the day, when you can tangibly see what impact automating devices and processes is having on the environment and money out-of-pocket.
The system also has a built-in safeguard to prevent watering when temperatures dip under 37° to avoid freezing up the lawn and sprinklers, and while this doesn’t impact my Southern California lawn I can see the value for those with more drastic seasonal swings.
The Connected Lawn Ecosystem
Another unique element to GreenIQ is their connectivity options. While all the smart irrigation controllers I have seen thus far connect via Wi-Fi, GreenIQ’s Smart Garden Hub is the first that I have heard of with the option to connect via Ethernet.
This probably isn’t a huge draw to many people as Wi-Fi is definitely easier for garage connectivity, but for those who are concerned about Smart Home products opening up holes in security systems to hacking, this is a solid approach to eliminate that.
The Smart Garden Hub lives up to its name when used as a command center for connectivity with other soil moisture meters like the Parrot Flower Power, Koubachi, netatmo Weather Stations, and other flow meters to incorporate advanced measurement and scheduling by targeted yard region. Not only that, the GreenIQ flow meter gives immediate alerts about broken pipes and water leakage, which can be incorporated alongside smart water valve shutoffs for a complete smart water solution outdoors.
Again, if you have temperamental plants or take gardening seriously, this is a huge plus for targeted data. I also dig that GreenIQ realizes there are other companies doing things right, and makes it easy for users to expand an ecosystem they might already have in place.
For the serious gardener, the smart irrigation controller also has an additional master channel for a water pump or fertilizer tank, so all lawn care activities (aside from actually mowing) can be handled through the app.
Probably one of the most interesting integrations that GreenIQ has with their hub is with the Nest Protect Smoke Alarm. When the Nest Protect detects a fire in the house, the full irrigation system will run for 20 minutes on all stations, ensuring that the surrounding vegetation is dampened to help prevent a fire from spreading. Automated processes like this are truly the future of the connected home, and very exciting.
Beyond Smart Watering
The GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub can also control garden lighting based on sunrise and sunset times, which is something unique to this brand from what I have seen thus far. It works with the localized times from sunrise-sunset.org, which provides accurate daylight data for any location in the world.
The smart outdoor lighting area of Home Automation is not nearly as popular yet, both from a product availability perspective and what the awareness is within the customer market. This is going to be a huge growth area for the future though, and I can see this being a really cool aspect for those who have landscape lighting.
The GreenIQ Interface
A distinguishing characteristic of GreenIQ is their web interface, in conjunction with their app for smartphones and tablets. Strangely enough, many smart devices on the market stick to only app control, which can be a bit limiting. Spending over eight hours a day at work on the computer, it’s easier for me to use my computer to access data and update schedules over stopping to access it on my phone. Of course while I’m out in the yard making updates to the sprinkler system or on the go, it’s great to be able to test it with the app.
The actual app itself is really well put together, and navigating through all the options is not only simple, but really attractive. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it is the most aesthetically pleasing smart irrigation controller app I’ve seen, and I especially like the main dashboard with all the pertinent yard information on it.
Going through the app to adjust schedules, check weather, evapotranspiration levels, and especially water savings reports is straightforward and clean. The sensors that are compatible with the Smart Garden Hub are already pre-programmed in the app, so the process to add it to the ecosystem is quite simple.
The Best Smart Irrigation Controller for the Future
While there are plenty of smart irrigation controllers on the market, I found that GreenIQ’s Smart Garden Hub managed to create some unique value for itself. True, it isn’t the cheapest available so those looking for a basic smart sprinkler controller can find something less expensive, however the value with GreenIQ is the ecosystem and true “hub” it serves as.
If homeowners are looking to not just have a smart sprinkler controller, but to also automate their yard lighting and take the garden monitoring to the next level, the GreenIQ is a standout performer. Incorporating water flow monitors with fire alert sensors expands beyond the commonplace irrigation duties, and helps protect what matters. With a slew of partnerships that one can only expect will grow stronger, the GreenIQ ecosystem really provides the connected home of the future in outdoor automation.
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