Keeping your lawn healthy and happy has never been easier than ever before. The past couple years have seen a huge surge in smart sprinkler control systems that take the guesswork out of watering.
Comparing the Spruce vs. Rachio is a tall order since they’re both so excellent, but it really comes down to how much you value smart home integration. Either system offers a significant amount of control over your watering while simultaneously making your life more convenient and stress free, and both cover pretty much all the bases when it comes to your lawn’s health. Combine your sprinkler system with a smart mower like the Husqvarna 315, and you’ll have a yard that essentially takes are of itself.
Let’s cover what these controllers do right and where they fall short so you can make the decision that’s right for you and your home.
Spruce vs. Rachio — About
While both brands have their benefits and drawbacks, both Spruce and Rachio have made a name for themselves in the smart sprinkler controller arena as quality products with tons of useful features.
Rachio is one of the biggest brands in the industry, and has been around long enough to produce three different generations of controller — all of which offer a varying level of features and remain current to this day. Part of the appeal of a Rachio product line is the high level of integration with other smart products. When you buy a Rachio smart sprinkler, you can rest assured that it will integrate seamlessly into your connected home; this makes it one of the best brands on the market for smart home enthusiasts.
However, while Rachio certainly makes excellent products, they face some stiff competition from Spruce. The system includes everything you need to water your lawn efficiently, and it’s easy and quick to get things up and running due to the simple installation process. With a single button, you’ll be able to adjust the watering schedule based on the time of year. Add to this the hyper-local weather prediction that can anticipate and respond to rain storms, and the ability to pair the system to Spruce Sensors for real-time moisture feedback, and it becomes clear that Spruce represents a completely viable alternative to Rachio.
Spruce vs. Rachio — Things in Common
We’ll go deep into the differences between Spruce and Rachio, but they actually have a lot in common. As quality sprinkler control systems in their own right, you’ll enjoy a premium and convenient watering experience regardless of choice.
Controlling your sprinklers should be easy to do wherever you happen to be. With the Spruce or Rachio app, you’ll be able to control your system from wherever you can get online. Start and stop sprinklers, monitor the watering process, and adjust schedules as needed whether you’re at home or on the go. This flexible control scheme makes it easy to keep tabs on your watering as long as you have your phone handy.
However, what happens when we find ourselves without our phones? Fortunately, manual control is an option on the Gen 2 and Gen 3 Rachio and the Spruce controller. Start a preset schedule with the touch of a button on the Spruce, and control all major settings of the Rachio right from the device itself.
Another key control option with both sprinkler systems is their ability to interface seamlessly with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant. Ask your Spruce about recent watering schedules, or tell Alexa to turn your Rachio system on for a specified amount of time. While the control options aren’t quite as robust as you’d see with the app, the hands-free control really makes these controllers feel truly “smart.” There are actually a surprising amount of commands available through voice activation, which allows you to do everything from adjust schedules to getting detailed watering information from your Amazon Echo or Google Home.
Part of the main appeal of both the Spruce and Rachio systems are the weather-based watering features. While setting up a schedule can go a long way toward ensuring your lawn is watered on a regular basis, a simple schedule can’t anticipate a rainfall or drought. Avoid variances in watering that can negatively impact your lawn with the hyper-local prediction available with either model. Both systems will then take these predictions to build a smart schedule that is tailored specifically to your home’s needs.
The Spruce takes its weather data through darksky.net, and is checked every time a schedule starts to ensure that the watering plan is suited perfectly to your lawn. The system will even keep an eye on previously recorded precipitation in order to intelligently anticipate how much water your grass will need moving forward. Climate-based monitoring can also keep your sprinklers safe by disabling watering when it gets too cold, which can take the guesswork out of deciding when to shut your watering down for the season.
Rachio offers similar features with its premium weather intelligence. Your controller will take weather data from a wide variety of sources and combine them to provide extremely accurate predictions that are tailored to your home. With more than a quarter million sources to pull from, you can rest assured that your system will never be watering in the rain, severe wind, or snow.
Weather prediction is a key part of what makes these systems great, but what happens if the weather data were to fail? Even the best services go down from time to time, so it’s always nice to have a backup in place to ensure that your grass stays in optimal conditions. Both the Spruce and Rachio support soil moisture sensors that measure conditions below the surface; this provides accurate data to the controller 24/7, and will ensure that your sprinklers adjust according to your lawn’s current needs regardless of the occasional weather tracking hiccup.
Speaking of soil, both the Spruce and the Rachio have the ability to adjust watering based on soil type. Different soils have different rates of water absorption, and your smart sprinkler controller will be able to adjust watering periods in order to ensure that the water penetrates to your lawn’s roots, providing the perfect level of moisture.
The intelligent adjustments of each system doesn’t end there. Regardless of your choice in brand, your sprinklers will adjust to suit different types of slopes. Different inclines can affect the way that water affects your lawn, and watering times will be adjusted to shorter cycles on steeper ground to allow for absorption rather than runoff.
Homes in different areas have different forms of vegetation, and a prolific home gardener’s watering needs will vary significantly from someone who is just trying to keep their front lawn looking green. With the Spruce or Rachio, you’ll be able to choose the type of vegetation you’re watering; your sprinklers will adjust to suit the appropriate plant life and provide a personalized level of moisture to your landscape.
Part of the reason many people opt for a smart sprinkler controller is to keep an eye on their water usage. Using fewer resources is better for the environment and better for your wallet, but wouldn’t it be nice to have some clear data over just how much water is being used? The Spruce and Rachio both offer their own take on the Wired Flow meter, which provides real-time measurements regarding the consumption of your system. As an added perk, both brands’ flow meters will detect leaks in the system and alert you immediately — potentially staving off serious damage to your lawn. For the peace of mind alone, we highly recommend investing in a flow meter.
It’s always nice to have options when it comes to installation of new smart systems, and both the Spruce and Rachio are available for setup indoor or out with an operating temperature range of -5 to 140 F and -4 to 140 F respectively. Just make sure you purchase an outdoor enclosure, as neither device is weatherproof by default!
Both sprinkler systems include a master valve that controls the flow of water from the main source. When you turn off the master valve, you can be confident that the flow is stopped to your system, which allows you to stop any leaks easily and immediately. This immediate recourse is another way for you to take control and take advantage of both systems’ incredible water savings. Stopping leaks can save your lawn and save you money, and the master valve combined with intelligent watering based on weather and sensor info can allow your smart controller to pay for itself surprisingly quickly. To take the savings even further, both the Spruce and Rachio offer rebate savings that can put cash back in your pocket for being green.
Spruce vs. Rachio — Differences
Difference #1: Zone Control – Zone control is an excellent way to adjust watering levels based on different areas of your property. However, different homes have different needs, and Rachio comes out on top when it comes to zone options. While the Spruce offers the ability to program between 8 different zones, each of the three Rachio models is available in 8 and 16 zone model options. While the three generations are similar in the number of zones they offer, they have a number of details that differ from one model to the next. Check our or Gen 1 vs. Gen 2 and Gen 2 vs. Gen 3 comparison to get up-close and personal with each of the three Rachio sprinkler systems.
Difference #2: Wireless Flow Meter – Since both the Spruce and Rachio support wired flow meters, you’ll be able to get a sense of your water usage with either device. However, only the Rachio Gen 3 supports a Wireless Flow Meter.
The Rachio flow meter is an advanced piece of equipment that uses Vortex technology in order to instantly alert you at the first sign of a leak. As soon as Rachio detects a leak through this meter, it will remove that specific zone from the queue and continue the rest of the watering as usual. This particular feature is quite useful, as it ensures you don’t lose the use of your entire system for a problem in one specific area.
In addition to the leak detection, in-app calibration meters can measure each watering zone individually in order to establish a baseline flow. This allows the meter to optimize its reporting accuracy, and ensures that you water usage data is extremely accurate while alerting you of any potential anomalies or issues with flow. Sometimes a clogged sprinkler head or excessive root growth can constrict your pipes, and having a meter that can detect those issues and give you the info you need to rectify it makes this particular meter more than worth the investment.
Overall, the wireless flow meter from Rachio is one of the most advanced on the market, and we feel that this gives it a slight edge over Spruce when it comes to water tracking.
Difference #3: Technology and Smart Home Integration – There are some differences between the Spruce and Rachio when it comes to the technology that they use to communicate. The Spruce, Rachio Gen 1, and Rachio Gen 2 all use 2.4GHz 802.11 b/g/n WiFi to transmit and receive data. The Spruce also offers support for ZigBee which is a popular frequency for smart systems.
The Rachio Gen 3, on the other hand, also supports 5 GHz frequencies, allowing homeowners more options for their home networks.
There are also some pretty significant disparities in the amount of smart home integration that either brand has. Spruce falls behind with support for SmartThings only, which makes it an intelligent and capable smart controller in and of itself, but not one that fits in well with the greater connected home.
Rachio has built a reputation as one of the most compatible smart sprinkler controllers on the market, and it works with a wide variety of smart systems and products. In addition to voice controllers like Amazon Alexa and Google Home, you’ll have plenty of options when it comes to expanding your smart product lineup.
Rachio supports SmartThings, Wink, and Nest, which together cover a significant lineup of smart systems. You can take things one step further, however, with support for IFTTT — adding in the ability to do everything from syncing your sprinklers to your outdoor lighting, to ensuring you never get wet while walking up your driveway after work. The conditional trigger system is extremely powerful, and therefore makes the Rachio an extremely powerful system itself.
Difference #4: Warranty – Last but not least, there’s a difference in the length of coverage that each smart sprinkler offers. The Spruce is backed by a one year warranty which is passable but a little underwhelming considering the price of entry. The Rachio’s 2 years is literally twice as good, and really gives you the assurance that you’re receiving a quality product that will be supported as needed for the early part of its life.
Spruce vs. Rachio — Comparison Chart
|Rachio Gen 1||Rachio Gen 2||Rachio Gen 3||Spruce|
|Wired Flow Sensors||No||Supported||Supported||Supported|
|Wireless Rachio Flow Meter||No||No||Supported||No|
|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 GHz 802.11b/g/n|
802.15.4 (Zigbee HA compatible)
|Temperature Range||-4°F to 140°F||-4°F to 140°F||-4°F to 140°F||-5°F to 140°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”||6.5” x 6.5” x 1.4”|
|Weight||2.7 Lbs.||1.2 Lbs.||1.05 Lbs.||0.75 Lbs.|
|Warranty||2 years||2 years||2 years||1 year|
Spruce vs. Rachio — Accessories
While accessories are optional and both systems work as standalone setups, there are some add-ons that can expand the functionality of your sprinklers and really ensure you’re getting the best experience possible.
The Spruce Soil Moisture Sensor penetrates the perfect distance below the surface, and can keep an eye on the ground and grass roots to ensure that water distribution is as optimal as possible. This leads to a heartier and healthier lawn overall, and is more than worth the investment in our opinion. The FlowPro 104 Meter is also pretty handy, as it provides real-time water measurements so you can keep an eye on your usage while keeping you apprised of any leaks in the system.
With the Rachio, we recommend looking into an Outdoor Enclosure for Gen 1 or Gen 2 / 3 if you’re planning to install the system outside. Also worth mentioning is the Wireless Flow Meter we discussed above, as well as a Wireless Rain and Freeze Sensor that ensures your grass doesn’t receive too much water and your sprinklers turn off when it’s too cold.
Spruce vs. Rachio — Our Thoughts
At the end of the day, these two brands are extremely close in terms of their features. It’s easy to see from the commonalities that both systems cover all the basics — and even a lot of the premium features that other controllers on the market seem to be lacking.
Ultimately, however, we feel the Rachio pulls ahead. Because the devices are so similar, it really comes down to the few differences — all of which push the Rachio ahead. 8 / 16 zone control options, additional WiFi frequency support, sophisticated wireless flow meters, and most notably, the greater support for smart home integration make it clear that it has a number of advantages.
While Spruce is an excellent product in its own right, it does fall behind — specifically in its lack of support for any smart products or controllers outside of SmartThings.
If smart integration isn’t a concern, the comparison is essentially a toss-up. We do feel, however, that the Rachio is the superior brand when you take a look at the big picture.
Last update on 2020-07-03 at 09:19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API