Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 — What’s the Difference?

Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2

When it comes to watering your lawn, there are more options than ever before that can save you time and money. Smart sprinkler systems have become more and more advanced over the past few years, and two excellent options come from Rachio.

If we take a look at the Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2, is the newer model really worth the extra cost? What sort of features does each model have that can help you save on your water bill and make keeping your lawn green as easy and convenient as possible?

We get into these details and more in our comprehensive comparison. Read on below!

Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 — About

The Rachio brand is a top seller for people looking to save money on their water bills, control their sprinklers via an app, and customize and automate their watering schedule.

But what are the differences between the Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2? Is it worth making the upgrade to the newer model if you’re already an owner of Gen 1? Below we go into the similarities and differences between the two models so you know exactly what sets each model apart from the other.

Regardless of the model you choose, you’ll no longer have to mess with confusing dials or buttons of a traditional sprinkler controller — instead being able to control your system via smartphone app or voice command. You can even let your Rachio plan when to turn on your sprinklers for you based on the weather, and save money on your monthly bill when your lawn doesn’t need to be watered.

Additional add-ons like the Rain and Freeze sensors can also expand the functionality of your sprinkler system, and there are even rebates available that further incentivize upgrading to a Rachio control system and saving a significant amount of water over time.

Let’s get into the similarities and differences between these two smart sprinkler controllers to make your choice a little bit easier.


Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 — Things in Common

Rachio 2 - Extra - 02

While there are a few key aspects that set the Rachio Gen 1 and Gen 2 apart from one another, at their core they are very similar sprinkler control models.

Both the Gen 1 and Gen 2 are available in either 8-zone or 16-zone models. This allows you to heavily customize your sprinkler setup to provide water where it is needed the most, with options for both small and large houses alike.

Additionally, as smart sprinkler control systems, you’ll have access to a number of features that makes controlling the watering of your lawn a breeze. Both generations support rain and soil sensors, which give you detailed data over your lawn and allow you to adjust your smart sprinkler settings as needed to best suit the current conditions.

Support for Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant covers some of the most major voice controllers, and support for smart home automation systems like SmartThings, Wink, Nest, and IFTTT make it easy to exercise control over every minute detail of your system and integrate it seamlessly with your connected home.

Speaking of controlling your system, both devices offer app support for iOS 10.3+ and Android 4.4+ that will allow you to easily program your sprinklers to suit the needs of your lawn, and both function over 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n WiFi connections when it comes to programming and adjusting settings.

In terms of durability, both the Rachio Gen 1 and Gen 2 work well both inside or out (provided you have an outdoor enclosure), and operate in a range from -4 F to 140 F — ensuring they should work well in all but the coldest environments. The two year warranty also means that your purchase is protected should the device malfunction or show any other defect during the first couple years of ownership.


Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 — Differences

  • Difference #1: Sensors – When it comes to smart irrigation systems, you’ll want to purchase a system that has comprehensive sensing capabilities. With the Rachio Gen 1, you’ll have access to a rain sensor and soil sensor which may be more than enough for most users. For those who are looking for detailed readings on the amount of water being used by their sprinklers, however, the Rachio Gen 2 has support for both wired and wireless flow sensors which should give you a detailed readout on consumption.

  • Difference #2: Manual Control – While both the Rachio Gen 1 and Gen 2 are built with automation in mind, the Gen 2 has an advantage over its predecessor in that you can activate manual controls as well. With on-unit Run, pause, and skip buttons, you’ll be able to water your lawn whenever you please rather than just when your system decides it’s time to turn on. Part of the appeal of these smart sprinklers is their ability to take all of the hassle out of your hands, but it’s always nice to have the option to take advantage of some extra watering when you feel your grass needs it.

  • Difference #3: Size – There’s a pretty significant difference in size and shape, and while that might not be a deal breaker in and of itself, it may make all the difference for those who have limited space. The Rachio Gen 1’s dimensions of 2.165” x 7.25” x 7.25” are a good amount bulkier than the 9.25″ x 5.625″ x 1.625″ of the second generation, and it’s also significantly heavier at 2.7 lbs vs 1.2 lbs. Both systems are relatively small and either should work for most situations, but it’s worth keeping size in mind when you’re figuring out where you’d like to install your new smart controller.

  • Difference #4: Installation – While the Rachio Gen 1 may be bulkier in profile, there’s actually more room for wires inside the Rachio Gen 2 which makes installation significantly easier. Installation is still a relatively involved process with either model, but for those looking for an easier time it’s possible to add on professional installation when you purchase your system on Amazon.

  • Difference #5: Outdoor Enclosure – Both the Rachio Gen 1 and Gen 2 support outdoor enclosures for those who would like to install their systems on the outside of their house, but they do differ in the type of enclosure that they work with. Regardless of your choice, the Gen 1 enclosure or Gen 2 enclosure should keep your investment protected from the elements — just make sure you choose the one that is compatible with your Rachio choice!


Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 — Comparison Chart

Rachio Gen 1Rachio Gen 2
8-zone modelYesYes
16-zone modelYesYes
Rain SensorSupportedSupported
Soil SensorSupportedSupported
Wired Flow SensorsNoSupported
Wireless Rachio Flow MeterNoNo
Manual ControlNoIn-unit
Weather IntelligenceStandardStandard
Amazon AlexaYesYes
Google AssistantYesYes
SmartThingsYesYes
WinkYesYes
NestYesYes
IFTTTYesYes
AppiOS 10.3+ and Android 4.4+iOS 10.3+ and Android 4.4+
Wi-Fi Connection2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n
Temperature Range-4°F to 140°F-4°F to 140°F
Indoor UseYesYes
Outdoor UseWith EnclosureWith Enclosure
Dimensions2.165″ x 7.25″ x 7.25″9.25″ x 5.625″ x 1.625″
Weight2.7 Lbs1.2 Lbs
Warranty2 years2 years

Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 — FAQs

Rachio Gen 2

Below we cover a couple of the most commonly asked questions, so you can make your decision knowing you have all the details you need regarding the way these two systems function.

What will happen if WiFi goes down?
With either the Rachio Gen 1 or Gen 2, you can rest assured that your system will continue to function even if the WiFI happens to cut out. It will continue to work using onboard memory that stores the last saved schedule, and will maintain that schedule until WiFi is resumed.

This means that your lawn should stay green even if you lose your internet connection for a few days, and as soon as you get back online you can make adjustments to the schedule and customize your sprinkler system to your heart’s content.

Should I upgrade my Gen 1 to Gen 2?
The benefits of Rachio WiFi sprinkler control are obvious, and it may be tempting to pass your system off to your neighbor and upgrade from Gen 1 to Gen 2. However, is it really worth the extra cost to upgrade if you already have the first generation? We’re not so sure.

If you’ve already installed and set up your original Rachio system, much of the benefits of the newer model will be lost on you. While the ability to precisely monitor water flow using compatible sensors and manually activate sprinklers may seem useful, we don’t feel that it’s worth the extra cost to upgrade if you already have a schedule set up that works for you. The lower profile and easier installation of the Rachio Gen 2 is also less useful if you’ve already gone through the process to install the first, so those benefits are lost as well.

However, if you find yourself in need of more sensors or you really wish you could just press a button to manually activate the system, the Rachio Gen 2 does have its advantages — you’ll just have to weigh whether those two main benefits warrant spending your hard-earned cash!


Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 — Accessories

Rachio 2 - Accessories - 01

As mentioned above, you may want to look into a weatherproof outdoor enclosure for your Rachio Gen 1 or Gen 2.

One other recommendation we have for both Rachio generations is the Wireless Rain and Freeze Sensor. Having the ability to detect when Mother Nature is taking care of watering your lawn may lead to some significant extra savings, and having knowledge of when it’s getting too cold to activate your sprinklers may help avoid the cost and hassle of having to repair a frozen sprinkler system.


Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 — Our Thoughts

Rachio 2 - Extra - 02

When making the decision between the Gen 1 and Gen 2, we feel that the Gen 2 is the superior choice. With extra sensors, manual control, and an easier installation process, we feel that it’s the superior choice in most any situation.

However, while both the Rachio Gen 1 and Gen 2 are excellent options, Rachio has recently released the Gen 3 model which offers even more intelligent options for smart watering control. WIth advanced Weather Intelligence, On-unit Control, and more, it’s definitely difficult to beat. Check out our rundown on Rachio Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 for a closer look at what makes the Rachio Gen 3 so special.

Sale
Rachio 3 WiFi Smart Lawn Sprinkler Controller, Works with Alexa, 8-Zone
419 Reviews
Our Score:
  • Rachio Gen 1
  • Rachio Gen 2
4.5

Let us know what you think!

Have you noticed other differences between Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2? Feel free to add them or share your experience with the products in the comments section below. Your input can help other people make the right choice!


Last update on 2018-12-09 at 12:11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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