When it comes to keeping your lawn green, it’s easier than ever before to let a smart sprinkler system shoulder the brunt of the work.
The Rachio Gen 2 and Gen 3 represent the two latest models from this top sprinkler system seller, but what exactly sets one apart from the other. Do you need to spend extra on the Gen 3? Or will the Gen 2 get the job done just fine?
Both models are excellent systems, but let’s dive into the differences of the Rachio Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 to really help you decide which sprinkler is the best choice for your home.
Rachio Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 — About
When it comes to smart sprinkler systems, you can’t do a lot better than Rachio. The Gen 2 and Gen 3 models represent some of the best in savings, customization, and automation of watering schedule.
What sets the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller apart from traditional controllers is its ability to streamline the watering process. While other systems have a mess of dials and buttons, you can control all aspects of the Rachio through a convenient app.
Turn on your sprinklers with your smartphone, or perhaps with a simple voice command to your Amazon Rachio or Google Home. There’s also the option to expand your system with accessories from the Rachio line like wired flow meter or outdoor enclosure — allowing you to install the system wherever you please and monitor your water for usage and any potential leaks.
One of the coolest features that sets the Rachio apart from the competition is it’s unique weather monitoring that lets your sprinkler adjust settings based on current conditions. Save water when it’s raining, and trigger your sprinklers when it’s dry to keep your lawn green and save on your monthly bill.
Speaking of the monthly bill, there are also rebates available that further incentivize making the jump to purchase a Rachio Gen 2 or Gen 3 and letting automation and convenience take care of all of your watering needs.
Rachio Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 — Things in Common
While we dive deep into the differences between the Rachio 2 vs. 3 below, we’ll first start off with some of the things that they have in common.
Basically, both the Rachio Gen 2 and Gen 3 are capable sprinkler control systems in their own right. With an 8-zone or 16-zone option for either system, you’ll have the ability to customize to your heart’s content for both small lawns and huge landscapes alike.
Both Rachio models support rain sensors, soil sensors, and wired flow sensors to help give you a better picture over the health of your lawn and water usage — although the Gen 3 model does offer a little more control over water with the Wireless Rachio Flow Meter.
As smart sprinkler systems, it’s easy to control your Rachio system via Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Additionally, support for the major smart home control systems like SmartThings, Nest, Wink, and IFTTT, allow you to tweak pretty much any option you can think of and integrate it seamlessly into your connected home. Both sprinkler systems function primarily through app control, and you’ll be able to adjust the various relevant settings from any compatible iOS 10.3+ or Android 4.4+ phone.
In terms of durability, you’ll be able to use your sprinkler systems everywhere except the coldest locales with a functional temperature range of -4 F to 140 F. Both generations also work both inside and outside with the addition of an add-on outdoor enclosure. Rachio also stands behind their products with a 2-year warranty, which should add some peace of mind that any malfunctions or defects will be covered for the first part of the system’s life.
Rachio Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 — Differences
Difference #1: Wireless Rachio Flow Meter – While the Rachio Gen 2 and Gen 3 do have a lot in common, only Gen 3 supports the Wireless Rachio Flow Meter. This meter precisely monitors water usage, and can actually stop leaks before they destroy your lawn. It doesn’t come included by default and is an extra expense, but it may be more than worth the cost when it comes to protecting your lawn from excessive watering and keeping an eye on your monthly water usage.
Difference #2: Weather Intelligence – One benefit to both sprinklers is their support for weather intelligence. With the Rachio Gen 2, your sprinkler is smart enough to avoid watering in the rain, wind or snow — ensuring that your water is used effectively to keep your lawn green and your costs low. The schedule of your sprinklers will be dynamically adjusted with updated weather data based on the locates local forecasts.
The Rachio Gen 3 has many of the same features but takes its weather monitoring to the next level with Weather Intelligence Plus. This system features hyper-local accuracy, continuous monitoring, and comprehensive data that ensures that your smart sprinkler’s watering should be as accurate and attentive to weather as possible.
Either system will get the job done, but if you want weather monitoring that is nearly zeroed-in on your home, the Gen 3 is the superior choice.
Difference #3: Wi-Fi Connection – Both sprinkler systems are controlled over WiFi, although the Gen 3 does offer wider support for different router setups.
With the Gen 2, you’ll need a 2.4GHz network or dual-band network, while the Gen 3 works with 2.4 GHz or 5GHz wireless signals. So if your wireless setup is running on a 5GHz network, your only real option is the Rachio Gen 3.
Even if you’re using a 2.4GHz network, the Gen 3 might be the better buy since it gives you the ability to upgrade to a new router should you make that choice in the future.
Difference #4: Easy-press Connectors – With the Rachio Gen 3 model, the company has made the installation process even easier than it was with the Rachio 2 by adding easy-press connectors. These connectors easily accommodate 14 and 18 gauge wire, which makes getting things set up much easier. Despite these easy-press connectors, however, installation is still a bit of an involved process. Unless you consider yourself relatively handy, it may be worth it to look into a professional installation for Rachio Gen 2 from Amazon.
Difference #5: Manual Control – Both the Rachio Gen 2 and Gen 3 offer manual controls for when you want to start and stop the sprinkler system on the controller itself. Each model offer run, pause, and skip buttons, but they are under the cover on the Gen 2 and on the device itself for the Gen 3. The latter is a little bit easier to access, so if you think you’ll be using the manual controls often it may be the better buy.
Rachio Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 — Comparison Chart
|Rachio Gen 2||Rachio Gen 3|
|Wired Flow Sensors||Supported||Supported|
|Wireless Rachio Flow Meter||No||Supported|
|App||iOS 10.3+ and Android 4.4+||iOS 10.3+ and Android 4.4+|
|Wi-Fi Connection||2.4GHz 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|
|Outdoor Use||With Enclosure||With Enclosure|
|Dimensions||9.3″ x 5.6″ x 1.6″||9.1″ x 5.5″ x 1.4″|
|Weight||1.2 Lbs||1.05 Lbs|
|Warranty||2 years||2 years|
Rachio Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 — FAQs
Below we’ve addressed some of the frequently asked questions, so you have a complete picture of how the Gen 2 and Gen 3 Rachio models work before you make a purchase.
When your WiFi goes down, you can rest assured that your sprinklers will continue to function as normal. The system will run using the latest schedule you saved to the device which is stored in the on-board memory. When you reconnect to the internet, the Rachio will download the latest schedule information and get back to functioning as normal.
This essentially means that once you get your Rachio sprinkler controller on a schedule that you’re happy with, it should continue to water your grass even if you lose your internet connection. To adjust settings you’ll need to reconnect, but for basic watering, you’ll be fine even offline.
It’s pretty clear that the Rachio Gen 3 sprinkler system is the superior product, but when it comes to deciding whether it’s worth upgrading over an existing Rachio system, the decision is pretty much tight around the wireless flow meter support.
Do you want to get leak detection and blockage notifications? With the Wireless Flow Meter for Rachio Gen 3 you won’t need to worry about over watering your yard. The flow meter will instantly shut-off the water flow the moment leak is detected. Plus, you’ll get precise outdoor water usage monitoring 24/7 at your fingertips.
So, whether it makes sense to upgrade depends on the type of features you’re looking for. The other benefit of the third generation is its more accurate weather detection, and that combined with the wireless flow meter can lead to significant water savings.
In their most basic form, both the Gen 2 and Gen 3 do an excellent job of saving water and keeping your grass green. If you’re looking for even further savings over time and some extra smart features, however, it may be worth taking another look at upgrading.
Rachio Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 — Accessories
Regardless of your choice between Rachio 2 vs. 3, there are some useful accessories that can make your Rachio sprinkler system even more functional. Perhaps most useful to everyone is the Weatherproof Outdoor Enclosure that allows you to install your system outside — just make sure you get the enclosure that works for Gen 2 and 3, as the first generation case will not work with the newer models.
Another excellent option that can both save water and protect your system is the Wireless Rain and Freeze Sensor. Knowing when there’s already water on the lawn and having an idea of when it’s too cold to operate your system can lead to significant cost savings both on your water bill and in the price of repairing a frozen sprinkler setup.
Rachio Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 — Our Thoughts
While both the Rachio Gen 2 and Gen 3 are excellent smart sprinkler systems, there are pretty much no advantages to using the Gen 2 over the Gen 3. In some cases, it may be less expensive to opt for the Gen 2, but the cost savings from the Rachio 3 and a wireless flow meter on your water bill over the course of the system’s life will more than makeup for the discrepancy.
Add to that the accurate weather tracking, more convenient installation and manual control, and more comprehensive WiFi support, and it’s easy to see that the Rachio Gen 3 is a real winner.
For more information about differences and similarities between all Rachio models, check out our Rachio Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 vs. 3e — Brief & Full Overview.
Last update on 2020-10-01 at 14:59 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API