Over the past few years, we’ve seen a surge in smart products that offer intelligent control and convenience in everything from smart cameras and thermostats, to lightbulbs and pet accessories. Smart sprinkler control systems might not be something most people initially think of when they look to build a connected home, but it’s better for the environment and better for your wallet to give them a try.
Rachio vs. Netro — About
When it comes to smart sprinkler control systems, there are more options than ever before.
Rachio is one of the largest brands on the market, and has been around long enough to push out three generations of controllers. The company has made a name for itself by providing customizable sprinkler systems that support external sensors and integrate seamlessly with smart homes. With two different models to choose from, you’ll have ample options and can pick and choose the types of features that are important to you. Regardless of your choice, you’ll enjoy smart control backed by one of the biggest names in the business.
Although Rachio has been around for quite a while, they are facing some stiff competition from the Netro Sprite. Netro just has one model, but they’ve really knocked it out of the park with a wide lineup of features that makes watering your grass convenient, cost-effective, and better for the environment. While there a number of options available on the market, what really sets the Netro apart is a database of plants it can pull from to ensure your lawn and garden are always looking their best.
Rachio vs. Netro — Things in Common
2 Year Warranty – While smart sprinklers are more affordable than ever before, it’s understandable to want your system backed up by some sort of guarantee. It would be a major annoyance to have your sprinkler control break down right after you buy it, so you can rest assured that both the Rachio and Netro setups are backed by a 2-year warranty. Buy with confidence knowing your purchase is protected.
Indoor & Outdoor Use – When it comes to installation, it’s understandable that you’d want as wide a choice as possible. While installing the sprinkler system inside may be possible for most people, what about those of us who need to stick it outside? Fortunately, the Rachio Gen 2 and Gen 3 support an optional outdoor enclosure that really affords you more options when it comes time to get things set up.
The Netro doesn’t have its own enclosure, but it works with generic, non-brand enclosure. We recommend taking a look at this outdoor enclosure if you’re looking to set your Sprite up outside.
Amazon Alexa & Google Assistant – As smart products, you’ll usually control either system through a smartphone app. But what if you don’t have your phone on hand and want to adjust the settings or schedule? With support for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, both the Rachio and Netro Sprite offer the convenience of hands-free control. Take charge of your sprinklers with simple commands that really puts control in your hands (or voice!).
Weather Intelligence — When most people think of smart sprinkler systems, chances are they are looking for a model with easily programmable schedules and sensors. However, both the Rachio and Netro products extend far beyond that basic functionality — offering pinpoint weather detection that ensures you’re only watering your lawn when it needs it. Save water and money by letting your Rachio or Netro take the wheel and make intelligent decisions that keep your lawn green while being “green.”
Watering Reports & Statistics – Wouldn’t it be great to get solid feedback about how your system is saving water and leaving you with more cash in your pocket?Tying in with the section above, both the Rachio and Netro systems will give you real data about the watering process and the schedule and amount of resources being used. If you’re investing in a smart sprinkler, chances are that you’re concerned about cost or consumption and want to do your best to minimize it. Either choice gives you the information you need to really get a comprehensive look at your sprinkler setup.
Rachio vs. Netro — Differences
Difference #1: Zone Control – Chances are that if you’re looking to invest in these control systems, you’re interested in your lawn health and ensuring that each section gets the attention it needs. One of the main benefits of either controller is its ability to break things down into zones for greater control over the watering process.
Both the Rachio and Netro support zone control, but they differ in the quantity of zones that they support. Either device will offer two different models for two different needs, but the Rachio comes in 8 and 16 zone variants while the Netro comes in 6 and 12.
Ultimately, neither device has a clear advantage in this category when comparing singular devices. Do you have a smaller or mid-sized home? Take a look at the Netro Sprite. Mid to large? The Rachio is our top pick.
However, where the Sprite does pull ahead is in its support for multiple controllers. You can buy multiple systems and combine them for convenient control from one place, and you’ll have pretty extensive choice when it comes to zones if you’re willing to pay the extra costs.
The Netro is pretty unique when it comes to this extendability, but it can quickly get pretty expensive. For a simpler expandable system, consider taking a look at the Skydrop Halo which can be upgraded to more zones with an optional accessory.
Difference #2: Sensors – One of the primary benefits of the later Rachio models is their ability to support rain sensors. While the weather tracking with both models is pretty good about adjusting your watering schedule based on the current conditions, it’s nice to have a backup that can turn things off when the sensor detects a certain rain level. The Rachio product family works with all sorts of third-party sensors. We recommend taking a look at the Hunter Rain-Clik Wireless Rain Sensor, RAIN BIRD WR2 Wireless Rain Sensor, and Orbit Wireless Rain Sensor.
Netro doesn’t offer support for rain sensors because of their faith in their forecasting system. Although their weather tracking really is quite good, the lack of sensor support is a pretty notable drawback. With that said, you can add on the Netro Whisperer to take advantage of a soil moisture sensor.
Difference #3: Wi-Fi Connection – When it comes time to make a purchase, the last thing you’ll want to do is purchase a model that doesn’t work with your router. Both systems use WiFi in order to provide your sprinklers with the data they need to water efficiently, so purchasing controller that doesn’t work with your home’s wireless frequency can kill the dream of being green before it even gets off the ground.
The Rachio 3rd Gen is the more flexible of the two systems, with support for 2.4 or 5 GHz 802.11 b/g/n connections vs. the Netro which only supports 2.4.
Difference #4: Wired Flow Sensors & Flow Meter – Any cost savings you’re getting from your smart sprinkler system can be quickly erased if there happens to be a leak in the system. We just finished discussing the rain sensors that make Rachio so great, but another way that it comes out ahead is through it’s leak detection — made possible with support for wired flow sensors and a flow meter.
Unfortunately, the Netro Sprite doesn’t have any support for flow sensors or meters. In an ideal world, everything would function as designed. But for those situations where your system has sprung a leak, the Rachio’s flow meter can prove invaluable.
Difference #5: Watering Regulation Detection – One of the main benefits of smart sprinkler systems are their ability to detect weather and adjust watering schedules accordingly, but what if you had a setup that makes sure you stick to watering regulations, hassle-free?
Some states are pretty strict about water usage for lawns, and one of the coolest features with the Netro Sprite is its ability to detect regulations that apply to your address and make sure you stay in line legally. When you invest in one of these systems, one of your primary concerns is probably convenience — and it doesn’t get much more convenient than that!
Difference #6: Manual Control – Since the Rachio has three different generations, there is some variance in the type of features that they support — and one of the primary examples of this comes in the way they handle manual control.
With the first generation Rachio model, you won’t be able to adjust watering settings on the device itself. The Gen 2 system has control buttons hidden under the cover, and the Gen 3 improves upon that formula yet again with full on-device manual control.
With the Netro, there is no on-unit manual control. Unfortunately, you’ll be stuck controlling settings through the app or with popular voice controllers. This isn’t the end of the world, but being able to adjust settings with the press of a physical button can be a real life saver in a pinch.
Difference #7: Third-party IoT Platform Support – One of the best parts of owning a Rachio system comes in its support for third-party integration. The system works seamlessly with SmartThings, Nest, Wink, and IFTTT — giving you the ability to sync your sprinklers up with pretty much any smart product you can imagine.
The IFTTT integration is particularly powerful, and the opportunities for customization under that system are nearly endless. Thinking of ordering a pizza for dinner? Set up your sprinkler system to turn off automatically when your Dominos delivery is on the way so you don’t end up with a soaked delivery driver!
Third-party support for the Netro is notably lacking. It does not support SmartThings, Nest, or Wink, but they are hoping to add IFTTT by late 2018.
When it comes to integration with the rest of your connected home, it’s clear that Rachio is king.
Difference #8: Android & iOS Version Support – Not all of us have the latest and greatest when it comes to smartphones. After all, we’re spending our hard-earned cash on smart technology, right? If you’re running an older device, it’s important that you check to make sure that the Rachio and Netro apps will work on your phone.
Netro is a little better when it comes to iPhone and iPad, with support for iOS 8.3+ vs. the Rachio’s 10.3+. For Android, you might be better off with Rachio’s 4.4+ support instead of Netro which only works with Android 5.0+.
Ultimately, both devices should work with the majority of iOS and Android smartphones. If you haven’t yet made the choice to upgrade from an older device, however, it’s important to check compatibility!
Difference #9: Plant Library – This battle may be seeming to swing in Rachio’s favor, but that doesn’t mean that the Netro is without its own perks!
Not everyone is watering a traditional lawn, and sprinklers can be great to add to your garden as well, one of the most unique and useful features that the Netro Sprite has to offer is the Plant Library feature that helps you water correctly based off of the type of flora you’re watering. Different plants have different watering needs, and the Netro system truly understands that. No Rachio generation offers an equivalent.
The utility of this feature may be lost on those who are just watering their front or back yards, but for the amateur gardeners among us, it’s an invaluable feature you really won’t find anywhere else!
Difference #10: Rebates – Having a smart sprinkler system that only waters your lawn when it needs it can save a significant amount of money over time, but wouldn’t it be nice to be rewarded for making the decision to upgrade? The smart technology industry is notable for providing rebates for upgrading to more efficient technology, and this practice is perhaps most apparent with smart thermostats like the ecobee or smart lighting such as the Philips Hue. The Rachio product family has gotten in on that action with a selection of rebates that reward you for being green.
Difference #11: Dimensions & Design – Last (and probably least) of these differences are the dimensions and design. Both models are pretty compact and will fit in somewhere in most any home (especially when you consider the outdoor enclosures), but the Rachio is significantly larger than the Netro. With dimensions of 9.1” x 5.5” x 1.4” and weighing in at 1.05 lbs, it’s a little bulkier than the Netro’s 5.7” x 5.7” x 1.2” and 0.5.
With that said, it’s easy to see from the dimensions and weight that neither system is particularly unwieldy — just keep the size disparity in mind in case you were planning to squeeze it in somewhere particularly cramped.
Rachio vs. Netro — Comparison Chart
|Rachio Gen 1||Rachio Gen 2||Rachio Gen 3||Netro|
|Wired Flow Sensors||No||Supported||Supported||No|
|Wireless Rachio Flow Meter||No||No||Supported||No|
|App||iOS 10.3+ and Android 4.4+||iOS 10.3+ and Android 4.4+||iOS 10.3+ and Android 4.4+||iOS 8.3+ or Android 5.0+|
|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||2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n|
|Temperature Range||-4°F to 140°F||-4°F to 140°F||-4°F to 140°F||-4° to 122°F|
|Outdoor Enclosure||Not Available||Available||Available||Non-brand|
|Dimensions||2.165” x 7.25” x 7.25”||9.25″ L x 5.625″ H x 1.625″ W||9.1” x 5.5” x 1.4”||5.7″ x 5.7″ x 1.2″|
|Weight||2.7 Lbs.||1.2 Lbs.||1.05 Lbs.||0.5 Lbs.|
|Warranty||2 years||2 years||2 years||2 years|
Rachio vs. Netro — Accessories
When it comes to accessories, there are a few products worth mentioning that extend the functionality of your new smart sprinkler system. The Weatherproof Outdoor Enclosure is worth the buy if you want to stick your Rachio outside. We’d also recommend looking into the Wireless Rain and Freeze Sensor for Rachio Gen 2 and 3 as well as the Wireless Flow Meter that works exclusively with the third generation. With these enclosures and sensors, your sprinklers will be set up with backups and redundancies that ensure that your grass will stay green and your water bill will stay low.
The most notable accessory with the Netro Sprite is the Netro Whisperer. This handy soil sensor keeps the system updated with the real-time status of your garden by measuring water capacity as well as how fast water passes through your soil. We feel it’s definitely worth a purchase as it really enhances the excellent features that the smart sprinkler has by default.
Rachio vs. Netro — Our Thoughts
There are pros and cons to either system, and which one is the “best” will really depend on what you’re looking for.
For a simple system with powerful smart features, the Netro Sprite takes the cake. The ability to detect watering regulations and its impressive Plant Library add a lot of convenience and essentially allow you to set up your system and let it do its thing. It definitely falls behind in terms of smart integration, however, so it’s worth keeping that in mind if you were looking for a sprinkler control system that can be easily integrated with the rest of your home.
The Rachio product family is our top choice for integration, as it works with the majority of the popular smart home control systems. Its sensor support is also very impressive, and provides the peace of mind that everything will continue to work seamlessly even if the weather prediction fails. The lack of expandability is a definite drawback, however, and it’s lacking a few of the smart features that we love about the Netro Sprite.
Long story short, the Netro Sprite is simpler while being smarter in a lot of ways, while the Rachio is definitely more robust when it comes time to hook things in to the rest of your home.
Let us know what you think!
Have you noticed other differences between Rachio vs. Netro? 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 2019-04-18 at 15:10 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API