Keeping your garden watered can take some doing. Depending on where you live, you may have weather fluctuations that keep you glued to weather websites, constantly planning your week around when you’ll have to water your garden. For situations like these, an irrigation controller with built-in access to forecast services may be just what you need.
We’ll compare two of these machines today and try to figure out which one is right for you. Both are from the same company, but each has specific features that may or may not suit your particular irrigation needs. In either case, however, you’ll be saving lots of time and energy by switching to a system that does all your planning for you. Additionally, these devices have access to amounts of weather information that would be difficult for any one to handle, so you’ll be getting the most accurate data available.
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This model sports a handy touchscreen that gives you complete local control over your irrigation system. While it’s also possible to alter settings and find relevant information by using the RealTime Monitoring apps on your phone or computer, it’s useful to be able to simply walk up to your control box and make quick changes when you’re at home. The screen is splash-proof and also uses white LED-illuminated touch keys.
RainMachine HD Touch-12
With a color TFT touchscreen display, this device packs a couple features that its competitor lacks. The screen offers the same control as the Mini-8, but it also displays a lot more information including upcoming weather forecasts and a “Last Update” notification to tell you how recent its information is. If you use your control box at home a lot, the larger touchscreen will be a big bonus.
Verdict: Hands down, the HD Touch-12 has the better display of these two models. While both are protected with splash-proof technology and equipped with LEDs to help you see the screens in your dark garage, the Color TFT display can deliver you a lot more information at a glance.
If you mostly use your smartphone or computer to receive updates and control your watering schedule, this might not matter that much to you, but it’s important to think ahead to times when local access might be useful to you. If your smartphone runs out of batteries, you’ll need to use the box itself to make changes, and more display information means more control.
A diverse garden means diverse watering needs, and for that you’ll need zone control. Luckily, this model can control up to 8 zones at a time, providing custom-tailored irrigation that gives your plants exactly what they need when they need it. Even if you currently don’t use a highly-specialized watering plan, it’s smart to look into the benefits for your plants; if you’re missing something, you’ll be amazed at the difference.
RainMachine HD Touch-12
This device adds four more zones, allowing you to customize watering schedules for up to 12 areas in your garden. This is particularly useful for people with large gardens, but you should also take into account your plans for growth over the next few years. Irrigation systems from this company last a long time, and if you have any plans to expand, it’s wise to use a model that can grow with you as you turn your smaller plot into a beautiful botanical masterpiece.
Verdict: As we’ve mentioned, room for growth is always a plus. That’s why the HD Touch-12 comes in first with this category, as well. 8 zones will be enough for many consumers, but again, we encourage you to look ahead and plan for the future. There’s nothing worse than having to buy an entirely new irrigation system because you want to add a patch of exotic flowers that just don’t seem to conform to any of your 8 current zone settings. Or maybe a little room for growth will encourage you to get outside and create something new!
Weather Services and Connectivity
RainMachine Mini-8 and RainMachine Touch HD-12
This is one area where both models use the same technology. After connecting to WiFi, your device can aggregate weather info from five different online sources, including Weather Underground Personal Weather Station, which is great if you already have a weather forecast setup on your property. Gone are the days when you had to constantly check the forecast to make sure you weren’t over- or under-watering your garden due to natural rainfall.
An added bonus with both devices in integration with smart home technology. As technology accelerates more and more rapidly, smart home connectivity becomes an increasingly important feature with any home device. If you use Alexa, Nest, or a variety of other smart home systems, RainMachine’s offerings will fit right in. If you haven’t hopped on the smart home train yet, you’ll still have the option to control your irrigation via apps for your smartphone and computer, so you can easily receive updates and control scheduling from the office or on the road.
Verdict: Since both devices have the same weather service and connectivity features, this category is firmly a tie. If you’re comparing these devices to any others, however, you should definitely make sure that any competitors can stand up to the kind of forecasting ability offered by these two. Accuracy is of utmost importance when it comes to forecast-dependent irrigation – you want to be able to set it, forget it, and never worry about mistakes.
Both of these machines are incredibly powerful solutions for large gardens with complex watering needs. We looked at display and zone control, as well as the forecasting and connectivity features offered by both. In the end, it’s easy to see that the RainMachine Touch HD-12 is the superior model in this lineup, offering four more zones and a more vibrant, information-dense display.
As we mentioned above, take a look at your garden and really think about how it might expand over the next few years. You’ll want a home irrigation system that not only provides you with exciting features in the short term, but also can absorb any growth or changes to your garden in the future. We recommend the RainMachine Touch HD-12.