Sprinklers take a lot of the hassle out of watering your grass or garden, but you still need to keep an eye on them to ensure that you aren’t overwatering and wasting resources. Conserving water is important for the environment and for your wallet, and fortunately, keeping your lawn healthy and green has been never been easier. Smart sprinkler controllers offer an easy, hands-off way to keep your landscape happily growing by intelligently adjusting their watering schedules to match the current weather conditions.
Below we take a look at the GreenIQ vs. Rachio — two major names in the smart sprinkler scene — and break down the details to help you decide which system is the better buy. Not all systems are created equal, so read on below to get a sense of where these controllers succeed and where they fall short!
GreenIQ vs. Rachio — About
There are several notable brands on the market that all offer their own take on smart sprinkler controllers, and two major players are Rachio and GreenIQ.
Rachio has made a name for themselves in the industry, and has been around long enough to produce three separate generations of products. All three generations are current, and offer varying levels of features at varying prices. Rachio is perhaps best known for their smart home compatibility, allowing homeowners to easily integrate their sprinkler system into the rest of their connected home.The brand’s support for advanced weather prediction and backup sensors also make it an excellent option even for those without an existing smart setup.
While Rachio might be a staple in the smart sprinkler scene, that’s not to say that GreenIQ doesn’t prove a valuable product themselves. GreenIQ currently offers two series of sprinkler systems — Gen 2 and Gen 3, with the Gen 3 model being the most advanced in their product family. The GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub combines the most advanced internet, cloud, and mobile technologies in order to allow you to keep an eye on your lawn and garden from anywhere you can get online. With the ability to save you up to 50% on your outdoor water bill, it’s clear that a GreenIQ system can quickly pay for itself.
GreenIQ vs. Rachio — Things in Common
Before we break down the specific features that make each smart sprinkler controller unique, let’s first start by covering what the systems have in common. Knowing the type of benefits that you’ll get regardless of your choice in brand may make it easy to zero in on the specific types of additional features you’re looking for in a control system and make the purchasing decision just a little bit easier.
While some people may just be trying to water a single patch of grass, the best smart sprinkler control systems offer the ability to break your property down into different zones with their own specific schedules optimized to suit their needs. Both the GreenIQ and Rachio offer zone control, with all three Rachio models and the Gen 3 version of GreenIQ coming with 8 and 16 zone options. If you decide to opt for the Gen 2 GreenIQ system, however, just keep in mind that you’ll only have access to 6 zones.
Part of the convenience of having a smart sprinkler system is the easy in which you can control it, and with support for smartphone app control, both the GreenIQ and Rachio make it easy to adjust settings on a whim — wherever you happen to be. Each brand offers support for iOS, Android, and Web apps, and allow you to do everything from adjusting schedules on the Rachio to receiving notifications and water saving reports through the GreenIQ. Both systems are pretty similar in the scope of features that they offer through their smartphone app, and it’s pretty safe to say that you’ll be able to control most any setting from the palm of your hand.
One of the primary benefits of a smart sprinkler controller is its ability to make watering your lawn a hands-off and convenient process. The main way in which the GreenIQ and Rachio accomplish this is through weather-based watering.
The GreenIQ Smart Garden hub looks at data from a variety of sources such as past, current, and forecasted weather conditions. The historical data and predictions from multiple outlets is combined to allow the system’s smart algorithm to adjust your sprinkler’s schedule as needed to match the current conditions. There’s no reason that your lawn needs to be watered in a storm, and heavy winds can make your sprinklers much less effective and lead to water wastage. With the GreenIQ’s WeatherIQ system, you can rest assured that your system will take into account the weather conditions as well as temperature, humidity, wind speed, and solar radiation in order to provide the optimal water levels each and every time.
With Weather Intelligence Plus, your Rachio sprinkler controller will pull in data from more than a quarter million sources, and will automatically update watering schedules to fit the forecast in a hyper-local area around your home. With so many sources to pull from, you can be confident that your sprinklers will only be watering when your grass truly needs it, which is better for the environment and better for your wallet. The Rachio Weather Intelligence Plus system is exclusive to the Rachio 3, but the first two generations of products offer a slightly less accurate system that still manages to blow most competitors out of the water.
However, what do you do if the weather system were to fail? Both the GreenIQ and Rachio have very reliable weather monitoring, but weather can often change quickly — and with sudden severe weather, you may occasionally find your sprinklers watering during a storm! Soil Moisture sensors for the GreenIQ and Rachio make it easy for your system to get a highly-accurate readout of the water conditions on a timely basis. This ensures that your sprinklers will have a reliable backup to the weather prediction system, and allows you to truly forget about the stress associated with monitoring your yard’s irrigation. With the GreenIQ, we recommend looking into the Vegetronix, PlanLink, or TORO Precision soil moisture sensors. The Rachio supports both Wired and Wireless Normally Closed (NC) Soil sensors like the Rain Bird SMRT-Y Soil Moisture Sensor or TORO Precision soil moisture sensor.
While soil sensors are impressive in and of themselves, the Rachio and GreenIQ are actually smart enough to adjust watering based on the type of soil that your grass and garden are planted in. Geographic differences lead to different types of soil and different rates of growth, and with the ability to customize watering to your property’s specific soil type, you can relax with the knowledge that your lawn irrigation is informed from a variety of different sources.
Just as a good soil sensor can correct for any inaccuracies with weather reporting, a wired flow meter can provide either device with 24/7 monitoring that keeps you apprised of water usage and stops leaks in its tracks. With the GreenIQ Flow Meter, you’ll be able to receive accurate readouts regarding the amount of water your system is being using, and it will even alert you to any abnormalities that could potentially cause serious damage to your lawn or garden. With technology backed by machine learning capable of detecting unusual water flows, the GreenIQ Flow Meter is more than worth the additional investment.
Rachio offers an equivalent meter that does many of the same things, and the Gen 3 model even offers support for a Wireless Flow Meter which we discuss in more detail below.
Either device will save you a significant amount of money through the reduction in water consumption, and the flow meter is a great way to put an exact number to the saved resources. Knowing that you’re saving water and money is one thing, but that accurate readout of data is key when it comes to evaluating just how much value your smart sprinkler controller is providing. These monthly savings are on top of the GreenIQ and Rachio rebates that reward you for installing a more efficient system.
Ultimately, all the aspects of the sprinklers discussed above combine to support smart scheduling. You’ll be able to set the times that you’d like your lawn to be watered in each specific zone, but the scheduling will be adjusted dynamically to keep your lawn looking green without wasting any unnecessary resources.
Finally, when it comes to getting things set up, both the GreenIQ and Rachio offer installation either indoors or out. Both systems can function in climates as cold as -4 F, and also do well in warmer climates with a range of up to 131 F for GreenIQ and 140 F for Rachio. Just keep in mind that with either device, you’ll need to purchase an outdoor protective enclosure to keep the electronics protected from the elements.
GreenIQ vs. Rachio — Differences
Difference #1: Additional Lighting Control – While both the GreenIQ and Rachio are excellent options for keeping your lawn green, the GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub actually goes above and beyond with the ability to control your landscape lighting.
Your grass and garden a major part of your home’s exterior, but many people have landscape lighting to keep their home more visible once the sun goes down. Having a central “hub” for your landscape is an excellent way to consolidate your smart products into one place; your GreenIQ can manage sprinklers and lighting alike with support for IFTTT and other IoT home automation platforms. Turn on your lights and turn off the sprinklers when you get home from work — allowing you to stay dry and step confidently on your way up to your door.
Just keep in mind that if you’d like to connect your GreenIQ Smart Garden Hub to your landscape lighting, you’ll need a relay to decouple the high voltage from the Hub. Relays for landscape lighting should be wired only by an authorized professional, and incorrect installation might damage the hub and cause serious injuries or death.
Unfortunately, while the Rachio is one of the best brands on the market for integration, it isn’t capable of handling outdoor lighting from the controller itself. GreenIQ takes the cake when it comes to lighting control.
Difference #2: Wireless Flow Meter – Since both the GreenIQ and Rachio support wired flow meters, you’ll be able to get a sense of your watering with either device with a little bit of extra time spent during installation. However, Rachio also offers a Wireless Flow Meter that makes it more convenient to access high-tech features.
Using highly-accurate vortex technology, your Rachio wireless meter will detect leaks and stop them in their tracks — removing the affected zone from the queue and keeping the rest of your system functioning as normal. In-app calibration technology measures each of your watering zones individually, and uses that data to detect and alert you of any anomalies. In addition to alerting you of any leaks, the wireless meter is also capable of detecting clogged sprinkler heads and invasive root growth, keeping your system functioning optimally and keeping you informed of any potential issues before they get expensive.
While GreenIQ offers many of the same features through their wired meter, but the wireless setup of the Rachio gives it the edge.
Difference #3: Manual Control – While most of us have our smart phones on hand nearly 24/7, it’s always nice to be able to control relevant settings on the device itself. The Rachio Gen 2 and Gen 3 offer the ability to manage your sprinklers from the device themselves, although they do vary in how easy these settings are to access. With the Gen 2, you’ll have to lift up the device cover to do things like start and stop your sprinkler manually, while the Gen 3 has buttons on the top of the device for easier access.
The GreenIQ and the first generation Rachio offer no options for manual control, making Rachio a little bit more flexible when you find yourself without your phone and need to manage your controller in a pinch.
Difference #4: Technology – When it comes to the technology that the smart sprinkler controllers use to get online, the GreenIQ is actually a good amount more flexible. In addition to the WiFi support that the Rachio relies on, you can also hook your system up directly to your router with a wire. More importantly, however, is that you can buy a GreenIQ model with a cellular connection. This may be more expensive than just hooking your system up to WiFi in the long run, but if you don’t have a reliable internet connection and want to ensure your sprinklers keep working even when you can’t get online, the cellular support is an excellent perk.
The Rachio Gen 1 and Gen 2 support 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n connections only, while the Gen 3 supports 5GHz frequencies as well. The Gen 3 is probably the most flexible option of the Rachio family when it comes to getting online, but even that pales in comparison to the options offered by GreenIQ.
Difference #5: Voice Controllers – There are some pretty significant disparities between the GreenIQ and the Rachio when it comes to support for voice control. While the GreenIQ allows you to control irrigation and be informed of how much water you’ve saved through Amazon Alexa, Rachio supports both Alexa and Google Assistant. Technically, you can control GreenIQ through Google Home using IFTTT, but it’s a more complicated process and is not natively supported.
The Alexa capabilities of the Rachio also seem to be more robust, with a fully-fleshed-out voice command system with over 100 different prompts. You can turn your system on or off, run watering zones, or even set your sprinklers to skip certain schedules with the ultimate in hands-free flexibility. The Google Assistant capabilities win by default since GreenIQ doesn’t support it natively, but it also seems to be developed with commands analogous to Rachio’s Alexa.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for excellent voice control you might be better off with Rachio. While GreenIQ functions just fine with Amazon Alexa, the lack of native Google Assistant compatibility and less impressive command library really holds it back.
Difference #6: Smart Home Integration – While both systems offer an impressive lineup of compatible smart products, there are some notable differences in the types of brands that they support.
While Rachio is generally hailed as the king when it comes to integration, GreenIQ’s smart home compatibility is actually surprisingly comprehensive. Since the system works with IFTTT, your sprinklers will be able to interact with any smart product that works with that controller — making the options for customization nearly endless.
If you don’t want to deal with setting up IFTTT, however, GreenIQ still works with a pretty wide range of smart products. With support for the Nest and Google Home ecosystem, you’ll have access to integration with any of the products that fall within those families. Conrad Connect allows you to seamlessly integrate your smart sprinkler with your SMS and Email systems while offering further compatibility with systems like Nest, Innogy, and Tado. Gideon Smart Home and Muzzley also offer a way to control your smart home systems from one convenient place — combining aspects like lighting, sprinklers, and entertainment together and enabling some really cool compatibility.
One of the most notable smart integration features with the GreenIQ, however, is in its support for Apple Watch. Now you don’t even need your phone to keep your sprinklers under control, with the ability to adjust all major features on your wrist at all times.
While GreenIQ may have a lot of breadth when it comes to the number of systems they support, Rachio really knocks it out of the park with the specific systems they control. Just like the GreenIQ, you’ll be able to control your smart home through systems like IFTTT and Nest, but what really sets the Rachio apart is its support for major controllers like Wink and SmartThings. While services like Gideon Smart Home and Muzzley are useful in their own right, they don’t have nearly the same amount of reach that hugely popular hubs like Wink and SmartThings have to offer.
Overall, unless you’re heavily tied into one of the GreenIQ-compatible systems discussed above, it’s probably still a little bit safer to go with Rachio when it comes to getting the most bang for your buck for smart integration.
Difference #7: Warranty – When you make the decision to purchase a smart sprinkler controller, you’re making a significant investment in your lawn. While you’ll likely see the device pay for itself over time through water savings alone, it’s helpful to know that the up-front cost of the system won’t go to waste through equipment defects or malfunctions. GreenIQ offers a 4-year warranty on their system, which is twice as long as the 2 years offered for Rachio. However, that warranty comes with the caveat that your system will need to be set up by a GreenIQ Pro Installer. If you don’t opt for professional installation, you’ll see the same two years of coverage as you would with Rachio.
For those who were planning for professional installation anyway, it’s clear that the GreenIQ pulls ahead when it comes to coverage. For DIYers, however, the race is neck and neck.
GreenIQ vs. Rachio — Comparison Chart
|Rachio Gen 1||Rachio Gen 2||Rachio Gen 3||GreenIQ|
|Wired Flow Sensors||No||Supported||Supported||Supported|
|Wireless Rachio Flow Meter||No||No||Supported||No|
|Google Assistant||Yes||Yes||Yes||via IFTTT|
|App||iOS and Android, Web||iOS and Android, Web||iOS and Android, Web||iOS and Android, Web|
|Wi-Fi Connection||2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n||2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n||2.4 or 5 GHz 802.11 b/g/n||2.4 or 5 GHz 802.11 b/g/n|
|Temperature Range||-4°F to 140°F||-4°F to 140°F||-4°F to 140°F||-4°F to 131°F|
|Outdoor Use||With Enclosure||With Enclosure||With Enclosure||With Enclosure|
|Dimensions||2.165” x 7.25” x 7.25”||9.25″ x 5.625″ x 1.625″||9.1” x 5.5” x 1.4”||Diameter: 5.91 in (Gen 2)|
Diameter: 6.3 in (Gen 3)
|Weight||2.7 Lbs.||1.2 Lbs.||1.05 Lbs.||3.31 Lbs.(Gen 2)|
9.17 oz. (Gen 3)
|Warranty||2 years||2 years||2 years||2 years standard or 4 years with GreenIQ Pro|
GreenIQ vs. Rachio — Accessories
While either system will work well as a standalone option for keeping your lawn looking green, there are some optional add-ons that may be worth taking into consideration when you make the decision to buy.
The GreenIQ’s weather monitoring capabilities can be further expanded through external sensors like the Netatmo Weather Station or Davis Weather Monitoring. As a backup to that monitoring and a way to keep an eye on the soil conditions, we recommend investing in a TORO Precision Soil Moisture Sensor.
For the Rachio, the types of accessories you’ll want to look it will depend on the type of model you purchase. The Outdoor Enclosure has separate models for the Gen 1 and Gen 2 / 3, so make sure you purchase a compatible housing should you choose to install your controller outside. For Gen 2 and 3, the Wireless Rain and Freeze Sensor should serve as a backup to your weather monitoring while keeping your pipes safe by alerting you when conditions get too cold. If you’ve opted for the Gen 3, the Wireless Flow Meter offers a number of advantages that make it a clear upgrade over the wired model.
GreenIQ vs. Rachio — Our Thoughts
Ultimately, we feel that the Rachio is the superior product — largely due to the smart home integration and advanced location-based watering.
While the GreenIQ model has a number of benefits such as its ability to control your outdoor lighting and more flexible options for data transmission, user reviews are pretty negative overall. The GreenIQ is an excellent device on paper, but Amazon Reviews don’t lie, and there are a significant number of buyers that are unhappy with their purchase.
When you consider the generally positive reputation of the Rachio and plethora of features, as well as the long history creating smart controllers, it becomes clear that it’s the superior choice.
Last update on 2020-01-17 at 10:49 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API