Home Watering System Rundown – Rachio vs RainMachine

Introduction – a foreword about home watering systems

Home watering systems are, basically, handy tools that help you organize any chores that include watering – taking care of your lawn, backyard, plants, seeds, and any other vegetation will be much easier once you’ve started using one.

Most people get the notion that simply owning a set of sprinklers will be sufficient. The fact of the matter is – most sprinklers aren’t “smart”, per se, whereas home watering systems are.

Now, by saying “smart”, I imply that sprinklers require manual instructions which will be followed to the letter, regardless of how the situation could’ve changed. For instance, you could set your sprinklers to start at the specific time, and they’ll still continue to operate even if it began raining. To counter this, you’d have to invest quite a lot of time and effort.

That’s the reason why home watering systems piqued my interest, so I’ve decided to find the best models on the market, and these are what I’ve found:

Rachio vs RainMachine – Clash of the titans

We could easily agree on the fact that the market is brimming with smart sprinklers nowadays, but what’s so special about Rachio and RainMachine that they come on top so easily? Well, there are numerous factors that should be taken into account if we’re to pass on an objective verdict.

In a nutshell – Rachio is slightly less versatile than RainMachine, but it costs less to make up for it. Both models excel in performance, but there are undoubtedly built with different ideas in mind. All you need to know about these two giants, though, is that you can’t make a mistake regardless of which one you choose.

Rachio key features

Rachio-Smart-Sprinkler-ControllerRachio smart irrigation system is outfitted with a bunch of top-shelf features. First of all, it features easy setup and installation – you won’t need more than half an hour to get it up and running, and you certainly won’t need any special forms of tools other than the plainest ones you already own.

Furthermore, Rachio can easily replace nearly any controller your sprinkler system might have, up to sixteen zones which you can run directly from the controller (note – use Manual access for easy local control).

Right out of the box, you’ll get the Rachio Smart Sprinkler Controller, a 6-ft power supply cord, a full set of mounting hardware, and the quick start manual which will explain every feature in detail. The Rachio sprinkler control is compatible with iOS 9.0 (and higher), as well as Android 4.0 platforms, although you’ll need a corresponding application to run it (different for both platforms).

As far as the integrations are concerned, this sprinkler control system wokrs well with Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Wink, control 4, Nest, Control 4, and Nexia. Overall, the features of Rachio sprinkler control are quite amazing.

RainMachine key features

RainMachine-Touch-HD-12Now, the RainMachine comes in three variations, and that’s if we isolate the 2nd generation alone. There’s the RainMachine Mini, the Touch HD-12, and the Touch HD-16. For reference, I’ve used the RainMachine Touch HD-12, so I’ll be telling you about its performance and features further in text, as I can’t vouch for the other two.

Much like Rachio, the RainMachine features 12 zones of weather-aware smart irrigation spriknkler controllers (note, you’ll only be able to use 11 when you use the Master Valve). It features a 6.5” backlit display, and location-based weather forecast.

Should you choose this model, you’ll be able to benefit from the aforementioned features of the RainMachine – it goes without saying that this outfit of settings and hardware is impeccable and high in quality, but personally, I liked the Rachio better.

Rachio vs. RainMachine Evaluation

Knowing that both of these marvellous sprinkler controllers boast a tremendous value for the buck, it’s only fitting that we pit them against each other in a fair contest of performance. Without any further ado, let’s begin:

Round 1 – Installation

No one can dispute the fact that we’re living in a technological era, so most people would feel dissuaded by do-it-yourself products, which is only normal. Now, one of the most common motivations that could drive you to buy a “smart” sprinkler controller unit is the “smart attribute” precisely.

That’s the reason why we’re starting off with the installation process. I could’ve labelled this “round” as plainness of use, or method of operation, but “installation” seemed to fit better. Keep in mind that all of the aforementioned qualities are contained in the term “installation process” further in text.


Rachio fared well in this field – setting it up is a breeze, as the process is both straightforward and brief. Given that you won’t need any form of special expertise, tools, and whatnot, it’s safe to assume that no one will face any significant problems. For detailed explanation, consult the user’s manual or this link.


Just like Rachio, installing the RainMachine will pose no problems for you. The process is fairly simple and quick, even though I’ve felt like installing Rachio was even simpler. Again, use the user’s manual as a guide or consult this link for detailed explanation. This round is, apparently, a draw, as both units are very easy to install.

Round 2 – Price

The price is one of the key factors that determine the overall value of any given product, and sprinkler controller units are not an exception. All you need to know is that both Rachio and RainMachine belong to a higher price point category when compared to budget models and units, but they’re well worth the cash.


Rachio belongs to the “medium” price point category, but it’s slightly less expensive than the RainMachine. Even though both models boast a massive value for the cash, Rachio won this round by a hair.


The RainMachine, just like Rachio, belongs to the “medium” price range, which virtually translates to “doesn’t cost a fortune, but it’s not cheap either”. This sprinkler controller unit is just a bit more costly when compared to Rachio, which is why the latter is superior in this field.

Round 3 – Performance

Performance is the crowning point of any product, as it describes how it works, its method of operation. Understanding the “performance” of a sprinkler unit will give us a clear perception regarding how good it can be in both theory and practice, which is the reason why this “round” is among the most important ones.


Suffice to say, Rachio’s tests in field proved to be a success. The schedule feature seldom experienced glitches, and the results it provided were beyond satisfactory. The Alexa integration went off smooth, and the same goes for the pair-up process. What’s more, the addition of GoogleHome support further contributed to its outstanding performance.

Unlike most sprinkler controller units, the Rachio is a “smart” unit – it’s capable of determining the time when the water should be sprinkled and in what amounts with pinpoint accuracy and precision. Furthermore, this controller automatically updates the weather forecast on an hourly basis.


The RainMachine is one of the finest irrigation systems out there, as well as one of the best-selling products in this line of work. Much like Rachio, the RainMachine collects information from numerous weather forecast platforms, analyses the gathered data, and comes up with a smart sprinkling plan in mere moments.

One of the best things about the RainMachine is that it’s very easy to use it – most of the features can be used via touchscreen (with effortless navigation, to top it all), and you could control your sprinkling system from any location.

Personally, I liked the numerous integrations the RainMachine is capable of – you can go with Neatmo, SmartThings, Amazon Echo, and IFTTT, all of which are famous for high quality and reliability.

The cloud-storage independency was perfect for my liking – most “smart” sprinkler controller systems are virtually useless if your internet connection is down, but that’s not the case here.

One of the main differences between Rachio and the RainMachine is the scheduling program. Namely, Rachio can set up schedules on its own while the RainMachine prompts you to do it yourself. Even though this is not a major flaw, it certainly puts Rachio on a better position.

Round 4 – Pros & Cons

This is the “quick roundup” section – the one where you can quickly find the information you need regarding the things you could potentially benefit from and the things you should be aware of.



  • Superb manual control
  • Numerous effective zones
  • Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and other integration platforms
  • Flexible application use
  • Accurate weather forecast
  • Push notifications for optimal feedback


  • Costs quite a bit
  • Potential problems with Alexa integration
  • Can’t run more than a couple of zones simultaneously



  • Outstanding hardware outfit
  • Touchscreen controls
  • Impeccable mobile software
  • Open API
  • Cloud-storage independency
  • Rain & Wind sensitive


  • Manual scheduling required
  • Costs quite a lot (more expensive than Rachio)
  • Mediocre flexibility

Final Verdict

Both Rachio and the RainMachine are excellent sprinkler controller units, and passing on an objective verdict would be very hard. Subjectively speaking, I’m more inclined towards giving the prime spot to Rachio, as it fit my needs better. That might not be the case for you, but I can guarantee that you won’t be disappointed if you choose any of the two.

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