When looking at smart sprinkler controllers, two of the most popular options on Amazon are Orbit B-Hyve vs Rachio. There are several similarities between the two, but also a few key differences to note when shopping for the best smart sprinkler controller.
Orbit B-Hyve vs Rachio
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Before we begin, one important factor in our comparison is that Rachio is at least twice the cost of Orbit B-Hyve. If your decision is close, you’ll want to lean towards the Orbit B-Hyve since it provides a better value. Rachio has a few extra features that may make it your choice, but otherwise they are very similar.
Even despite the price difference, both Orbit B-Hyve and Rachio have very similar features and are worth comparing. Let’s dive in.
Both Orbit B-Hyve and Rachio are easy to install by simply switching out your old controller and plugging the wires into your new one. Once they are installed, the controller syncs with the app for mobile controls. You can easily access the wires later by removing the covers of either controller. They both come with a 2 year warranty.
The number of zones in your yard is something to keep in mind. Make sure you buy a controller that is designed for the correct number of zones, since both Rachio and Orbit B-Hyve support different number of zones, as outlined below.
There are a few other important hardware differences to be aware of when shopping between Orbit B-Hyve vs Rachio.
- Buttons and turn dial for full controls
- LCD screen for easy selection
- Includes weatherproof indoor/outdoor case, which is compatible with a lock to make sure it’s secure
- Available in 6 or 12 zones
- Basic design – looks like a classic sprinkler controller
- Only a few buttons for limited physical controls: you can just select the zone and manually start/stop watering
- No screen built in, depends more on the app for advanced controls
- Weatherproof case sold separately
- Available in 8 or 16 zones
- Advanced design that looks “smart”
Winner: Orbit B-Hyve
While Rachio has a more advanced look, Orbit B-Hyve is easier to control directly on the device since it has an LCD screen and easy to use buttons. The app controls add plenty of functionality, but for added convenience and giving access to landscapers, it’s nice that B-Hyve is easily controlled directly on the device.
The included outdoor enclosure pushes B-Hyve over the edge, since Rachio customers with an outdoor controller will be forced to pay extra for a waterproof enclosure. Long story short: Rachio may look prettier, but B-Hyve works better, and that’s what really matters for this category.
Both Orbit B-Hyve and Rachio have iOS and Android apps for controlling your sprinklers on-the-go. The apps have high ratings in the Google Play and iTunes stores, indicating that most people find them user-friendly and helpful. Both also have web apps for controlling your sprinklers on the computer.
Comparing the Orbit B-hyve vs Rachio mobile apps shows that they both have similar features. You can name and take pictures of different zones to easily identify them and manually run zones for testing. The few differences are minor, but worth noting below since the app is likely the main way you will schedule and adjust your sprinklers.
- Adjusts watering based on the plant, slope, soil, sun/shade, head type, and head count.
- Easily use pre-set schedules for even/odd days, or specific intervals
- Some history and data is available about water usage
- Watering budget allows you to specify how much water you want to use with a percentage. 50% means you want less than normal, while 150% shows that you’re willing to pay money for overwatering and greener grass. This feature makes it easy to change the runtimes of all zones at once, which is ideal for the changing seasons.
- Input the types of soil, plants, grass, watering nozzle, and slope to specify the watering for your yard.
- Specify you watering schedule using a calendar in the app.
- Quickly add a watering schedule for fixed intervals, fixed days, or flexible monthly/daily watering.
- Detailed data and charts about how many gallons of water you’ve used or saved, with a counter for how many rain delays your device has initiated
- Seasonal shift automatically adjusts watering time for all sprinklers
It’s a close call since both sprinkler controllers have apps that are user friendly. In the end, Rachio pulls ahead because it has additional features like data to see how much water you’ve saved and an improved design overall.
Its watering schedule options for Fixed Intervals, Fixed Days, Flexible Monthly, and Flexible Days also allow you to customize exactly how flexible you are with your watering. B-Hyve’s watering budget is their version of setting your flexibility, but it’s a little more vague and limited in what you can specify compared to Rachio.
Again, you can’t really go wrong here since both apps are easy to use, but Rachio is slightly better.
Both sprinkler controllers use local weather data and forecasts to delay or change the watering schedule. The controllers have similar auto-watering features that automatically delay watering based on the weather.
They are also both EPA WaterSense certified, indicating that they will save you on your water bill and may also be eligible for rebates. Check with your local water utility company for details on if these are offered in your area.
Orbit B-Hyve and Rachio are also both compatible with external rain sensors, which can act as an on/off switch to turn off your sprinklers when it’s raining in your yard. Forecast data is never perfect, but these sensors help track when there is rainfall on your grass. These can change your watering pattern when unpredicted rainfall surprises your sprinkler controller.
The only difference in this category is that Rachio works with many third-party wireless or wired sensors, while the Orbit B-Hyve works with only the Orbit Wireless Rain/Freeze sensor.
- Works with Alexa
- HomeKit integration was announced at CES 2018. No updates since that time, but it should be added soon.
- No other smart home integrations or IFTTT at this time
- Works with Alexa, Google Assistant, Nest, Alarm.com, SmartThings, Wink, IFTTT, and a few others. We tested Rachio with SmartThings in our full Rachio review and found that it connected easily and added a lot of functionality.
When comparing Orbit B-Hyve and Rachio, you can quickly see that Rachio offers far more smart home integrations with other smart devices and hubs. This might seem unnecessary, but there are some interesting scenarios for using Rachio in conjunction with other smart home systems.
For example, if the Nest Protect smoke detector senses smoke, you can have Rachio drench your lawn. In the event of a fire, this would at least stop it from spreading to neighboring homes. You can also view water usage in your Nest home energy report.
The compatibility with SmartThings and Wink is also significant because it makes it possible for Orbit to work with all of the devices that work with each hub. In other words, the possibilities are almost limitless.
Both sprinkler controllers work with Alexa, which is a key integration for most smart homes. Simply say “Alexa, start Zone 1 for ten minutes” for easy watering. If you’re a HomeKit user, then Orbit B-Hyve will be the way to go since integration may be added soon, but if you prefer Google or the other smart home tech listed above, then buy Rachio.
It’s a tough call between these two smart sprinkler controllers since each offers different benefits. If you are purely looking at features of both controllers, then Rachio is the overall winner. It has an excellent app that’s slightly better than Orbit’s, plus it works with several more smart home devices for whole-home automation. Its integration with Wink and SmartThings alone may help you choose it over Orbit B-Hyve.
If you factor in price, then Orbit B-Hyve is the real winner. It offers nearly all of the same features as Rachio at a fraction of the cost. It also has a few enhancements, like working with HomeKit and having additional buttons for manual controls. If fancy looks and extra smart home integrations don’t matter to you, definitely go with B-Hyve.
Looking for more options? A few other smart sprinkler controllers to check out are the RainMachine and Skydrop.
In the end, the best sprinkler controller between Orbit B-Hyve vs Rachio depends on your preferences. I would probably buy the Orbit B-Hyve and keep the extra money… or use the money buy more smart home tech. Which would you choose? Let us know in the comments below!