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In this article, I compare the RainMachine HD vs Pro vs Mini models of the leading smart wifi sprinkler controller brand. I’ll give my recommendation first and weigh in on the pros and cons of each model to help you make a better-informed purchase decision.
In this RainMachine comparison, I’ll give you the scoop on the differences between the HD-12, HD-16, Pro-8, and Pro-16 models.
It’s Raining…Machines!When you invest the time and energy in growing a garden or perfecting your lawn, one of the most important things that you can do is to make sure that everything is getting watered when it needs it.
Of course, old mother nature isn’t the most cooperative woman in the universe and stretches between rain can be far longer than your plants and grass can handle.
This is why many people have sprinklers connected to their gardens but, between the weather and everything else in your life, it can sometimes be difficult to plan when your garden or lawn needs watering. This is where a smart irrigation system can come in handy. And when it comes to smart sprinkler controllers, the RainMachine line is the best out there.
But with so many products in the line, things could feel like that old Pointer Sisters song, It’s Raining Machines (or was it Men? Wait….) It is also hard to tell the differences between the market-leading RainMachine models: HD vs Pro vs Mini. Thankfully, you have us to break it all down for you. Ready, let’s get wet!
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Recommended RainMachine: RainMachine HD-16
Many landscapers agree that the RainMachine product that will suit your needs is the RainMachine HD-16. The HD-16 has everything that you could ever want in a smart irrigation system and is miles above compared to the other products that RainMachine has to offer.
It is able to be controlled from just about anywhere as long as you have the proper apps or website to control it from. The RainMachine HD-16 also uses WiFi to get the best weather forecasts from several reliable sites, such as NOAA. Even if the Internet goes down, it will rely on historical weather records to best guess what will happen. While there are countless wonderful aspects to the RainMachine HD-16, there is no machine that doesn’t have its flaws.
Because the RainMachine HD-16 relies heavily on WiFi to get accurate weather data, it can take a toll on your Internet. Of course, whether this is truly detrimental depends on your Internet plan, but it is something that you will need to consider. There are also several instances where the app for iPhone will crash repeatedly. Similarly, the information that the RainMachine has for a watering schedule can sometimes be inaccurate, meaning that your plants might be getting too much or too little water if you do not pay close enough attention. Despite this, it is hands-down one of the most capable RainMachine products you can invest in.
Here is Rainmachine’s own quick installation video for the HD model:
Next up in our RainMachine HD vs Pro vs Mini comparison is the RainMachine HD-12. This controller is the slightly less-capable cousin of the HD-16. While it is still in the same product line as the HD RainMachine products, it still has fewer capabilities than the HD-16. The most obvious is in the name. Rather than being able to manage 16 different zones, the HD-12 has a maximum of 12 different zones to manage.
his version of RainMachine is very similar to the HD-16 variant aside from the fact that it can only manage a maximum of 12 zones. The HD-12 is actually perfect for people who have smaller yards. It has the same pros as the HD-16, including that it has apps, uses weather sites as a source for forecasts, and can help you save massive amounts of money on your water bills.
However, this also means that it has the same cons as the HD-16. This includes having the iPhone app not working as it should. This can spell some serious trouble if you find yourself away from home with access to only Apple products. There is also the issue of having the RainMachine not watering your plants properly. If you do not catch and correct this in time, it can spell out the death of your plants.
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The RainMachine Pro-8
Out of the HD line, you get into the Pro line of RainMachine products. In this comparison of RainMachine Pro vs. HD, you will come to realize that the Pro line of products is not nearly as popular nor capable as the HD product line is. This is evident in the very name of the product, showing that it can only handle a maximum of eight zones instead of the 12 and 16 quite that the HD line was able to manage. This is just the beginning of the differences between the two lines.
In the Pro line, you will first realize that the physical size of the RainMachine is much smaller as well. While this can be wonderful for compact spaces, it also means that you will not be able to see as much information on the device itself and will have to rely on the apps to get most of your information. Thankfully though, it still has the same versatility of being able to connect to your Android, iPhone, or PC browser through the use of apps and websites, meaning that you can still manage your WiFi-controlled sprinkler system even when you are away from home. This device also has Ethernet compatibility, which the HD line does not have.
However, some people have issues clamping down the wires in the back, which can cause problems both for the sake of convenience and for the sake of safety as well. If you have a smaller farm, garden, or even a relatively small lawn, then the eight-zone maximum might not pose any issue for you. However, if you have a larger area that you need to manage, then the eight-zone maximum can become quite inconvenient for a number of reasons.
Pros and Cons of the RainMachine Pro-8
The RainMachine Pro-16
The RainMachine Pro-16 is what the HD-16 is to the HD-12. Basically, it is the exact same as the Pro-8 but with the added benefit of being able to manage a maximum of 16 different zones rather than eight. The biggest difference that it has from its distant cousin the HD-16, is that the device interface is significantly smaller, meaning that you will have to rely quite a bit more on the apps rather than being able to press a few buttons on the device.
This machine is very, very similar to the Pro-8 aside from the fact that it can control up to 16 zones, including the master valve. This is actually more than the HD-16 can control as the master valve counts as a zone of its own, meaning that if you want RainMachine to control your master valve, you’d have to give up a zone. Aside from that, it is the exact same as the Pro-8 in terms of both its pros and cons.
This, of course, means that it has the same issue of not being able to clamp down wires at the back of the device properly. If you are not bothered by wires that are not properly clamped, you won’t have to worry about a thing. Otherwise, this is an issue that you will want to be wary of.
RainMachine HD vs Pro vs Mini: the Bottom Line
When deciding whether to look into the RainMachine HD vs Pro vs Mini, there are a few key differences to consider. For instance, the HD product line offers a sizable touchscreen that you can use to access information and work with the watering schedule easily.
The Mini and Pro product lines do not have this option, although all of them have apps that you can work from. However, the Pro and the Mini are much easier to install than the HD product line is, which is something that you will want to think about as well. As you might be able to imagine, the Mini product line is much smaller than the Pro and HD, which can become troublesome if your eyesight isn’t the greatest like mine.
If you are on a limited budget and are ok with a barebones device that can water your lawn efficiently, the Mini product line may suit your needs. If you are looking for a device that is in between the full functionality of the HD product line, but isn’t as small as the Mini, then you will want to go for the Pro product line.
If you are looking for a device that can keep everything watered, is easy to install, and has a touchscreen to view all the information you need, then you will want to look into the RainMachine HD product line.
What Makes the HD-16 the Most Capable?
Out of these four RainMachine versions, HD-16 remains the most capable because of its innovative interface combined with the number of zones it can control. The Pro-16 is a close runner-up if you do not care all that much about being able to do everything from the touchscreen provided. If you do care about the touchscreen but not as much about the zones, then the HD-12 is going to be another notable option. Regardless, the RainMachine is a device that can help you save potentially thousands of dollars on your water, and when you run a massive garden, farm, or lawn, this is crucial.
RainMachine HD vs Pro vs Mini: What Do You Think?
I hope you enjoyed this review of the Rainmachine HD vs Pro vs Mini smart sprinkler controllers.
Sprinkler system technology sure has come a long way. My favorite feature is that some HD controllers are now smart enough to adjust based on the weather. Pretty cool, right?
Do you plan to purchase one of these handy devices? If so, which one? Are you replacing an existing controller? Or installing a new system?
Please leave a comment below and let us know. We love to hear from our readers!
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Tim Brennan, a tech blogger and host of the @TecTimmy YouTube channel, writes about smart homes at oneSmartcrib, home theaters at UniversalRemoteReviews, and AI in writing at Writeinteractive. He holds a Journalism degree from Northeastern University and has covered technology for three decades. He lives on the ocean in Nahant, Massachusetts.
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