Garden & Lawn

Top 4 Best Smart Water Timers and Controllers To Automate Watering

Last updated on July 13th, 2023

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Over the years, I have used many water timers, as discussed in my water timer review earlier in the year. This does include digital and mechanical water timers as well as smart water timers, so that guide could be useful as I talk about the best smart water timers. Early last year, I decided it was time to update my automatic watering system and fitted a new sprinkler system in my raised beds and a micro drip system for my pots, containers and baskets. I have even written a guide on how to set up an automatic watering system here.

Using the LinkTap Wireless Water Timer G2-S
My LinkTap G2-S wireless water timer – I think its the best smart water timer currently available

Back to the smart water timer review, it was this LinkTap G2-S wireless water timer that was a game-changer for me. It’s such an improvement to the other smart water timers I have tried. The LinkTap G2-S has been so reliable. It’s incredibly user-friendly even if you are not into tech (I’m assuming you can use a smartphone and have one), and it’s super easy to get set up.

Gateway to connect LinkTap to the water time and then to the cloud so you can control it from anywhere in the world.

Plug the gateway into the back of your internet router. You simply install the LinkTap APP and scan the QR code on the water timer and gateway with the APP. Follow a few simple instructions and it ready to setup your water times and durations.

ECO MODE – Turns the valve on and off during watering to prevent water runoff

The App is simply amazing for setting up my watering schedules, as there are lots of choices, and is easy to get set up. It even has an ‘ECO MODE’, as shown in the screenshot above, that opens and closes the valve in the water timer during watering to prevent too much water runoff or flooding. This has proven a brilliant feature when watering my raised beds.

Then you have fault detection, as shown above, that alerts you when there is an issue such as low pressure, no water, a burst pipe, or if the water timer has fallen off the tap. (or someone has taken it off more like). I even get push notifications to my phone when watering has started and finished. It really is an amazing piece of kit.

There are alot of other very innovative and useful features such as the rain delay feature which can prevent watering if a certain amount of rain has fallen or is forcasted. It has a 7 different watering plans including Instant Mode, Calendar Mode, Interval Mode, Month Model, Odd and Even day mode and 7 day mode which I personally use. It also has low battery notifications as well as records water usage over the last 90 days. Then there the fact that it uses Zigbee instead of wifi, no this is a big advantage over any other smart water timer but more on this further down.

My LinkTap G2-S wireless water timer

This LinkTap G2-S wireless water timer really does have alot of features but I cover them in more detail in the main LinkTap G2-S wireless water timer review further down.

2 port version

Wifi and Bluetooth VS Zigbee

So, the first thing you need to know is that most of these smart water timers including this Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller, which is the next model I recommend communicate via wifi, Bluetooth or sometimes both. This obviously has its limitations to how strong your signal is and how far your device or router is away from the water timer. For some water timers, you need a home kit such as the google home kit or Apple’s version of it to use it from anywhere but your still restricted by the wifi signal. Think about how bad the wifi signal might get in parts of your garden the further away you get from your router, well these smart water timers have the same issues.

LinkTap G2-S wireless water timer uses Zigbee for better signal coverage to the gateway
LinkTap G2-S wireless water timer uses Zigbee for better signal coverage to the gateway than wifi does

This is the reason I prefer the LinkTap G2-S wireless water timer review further down, it uses Zigbee and not wifi or Bluetooth. This has twice the distance of wifi which means tha water timers can be much further away from the broadband router/gateway so is much more reliable and ou can have your water timer much further away from your router than you can with a wifi alternative model. Look at any complains about water timers, its nearly always the connecting to the water timer and controlling it with your device which is the problem. Zigbee literally fixes this. At least it has for me!

If your outside tap is close to your router in your home, this might not be an issue for you but it certainly something to consider. I think Zigbee has a distance of about 200 meters so enough for even the biggest homes and gardens

Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller that uses Bluetooth direct to your smartphone or wifi through a home home hub

Another water timer I like is this Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller and its more affordable than the LinkTap model. However, like nearly all other models, it does have its limitations. This is a wifi and Bluetooth enabled smart water timer I have just talked about. The water timer itself is very well made and reliable once setup (set and forget), and the App to schedule your watering is easy to use and fairly straightforward.

The problem for some people is that its only works with Apple iOS systems such as iPhones and apple tablets. If you have an android device, this simply isn’t an option and your out of luck which is shame. The next problem was that it can be controlled with your iPhone which is great but it uses Bluetooth which has very limited reach because of Bluetooth limitations. Basically if I wanted to turn the water on or off manually or change the watering schedule. I would need to go outside to get closer to the timer for the APP to connect to it. This problem alone was enough for me to get another model. The only way to resolve this was to connect it to a home hub, but I don’t have a home hub.

Now, if you have your home hub and your water timer is located not to far away from it (check with your smart phone and see if you have decent WIFI signal from your outside tap to your router and home network). If you do then this water timer will be a good choice and its a fair bit more affordable than the LinkTap G2-S wireless water timer which I currently use.


Top 4 Smart Water Timers and Controller Reviews

1. LinkTap G2-S Wireless Water Timer & Gateway

BEST PICK

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

LinkTap G2-S Wireless Water Timer & Gateway & Flow Meter review

The LinkTap G2-S Wireless Water Timer is actually the latest generation of the well-received LinkTap G1 + G2 wireless water timer but this time, they made it even better so I upgraded to the latest model.

I honestly think its the best smart water timer by far and from my own personal testing over the last couple of seasons. I wouldn’t swop it for any other model. No other water timer even comes close, not the ones I have come across anyway.

How the LinkTap communicates with your smart device
How the LinkTap communicates with your smart device and protection alerts

I really can’t find a fault with it. I was originally a little worried about setting it up as it has a gateway but it was super simple and was literally setup within a couple of minutes. It really is that simple but its the APP I think is amazing and the fault alerts and notification so you always no whayt happening in regarding to your watering.How the LinkTap communicates with your smart device

LinkTap gateway plugged into my Virgin broadband router
LinkTap gateway plugged into my Virgin broadband router

As already mentioned, instead of Bluetooth OR WIFI, it uses the lower-energy (and hence lower-cost) Zigbee communications protocol which most people have never heard of including myself until I purchased this. I have a friend in the tech space and he new about it and could speak highly enough about it, the Zigbee communications protocol not the water timer itself. He not very green fingered!

Zigbee has twice the range of regular wifi so it’s much more reliable. This G2-S timer comes with the gateway you need for the water timer to talk to your internet router. You can connect up to internet router and it does the rest itself.

Adding water timer to the APP by scanning the QR code
Adding water timer to the APP by scanning the QR code

Setting up simple or complex watering schedules is straightforward with the Linktap G2 water timer. First of all, select the LinkTap app on your mobile device or smartphone (Apple or Android unlike some models which are iphone only) and install it. From there you just select he cog in the top left corner to enter the setting and select ‘TapLinker/Valvelinker’ and scan the QR code and it will add your water timer.

To setup the watertimer and gateway, simply scan the QR codes on the gateway and timer

The do the same for for the gateway and it will be ready to use and setup the watering.

The 6 different watering models

There are six watering modes to choose from: instant mode to stop and start watering immediately, calendar mode lets you water on specific dates, month mode sets particular days on specified months, interval mode sets the number of days between sessions, odd/even days waters on odd or even dates, and seven-day mode lets you set a weekly schedule which is what I personally use. 

Plus add in the duration of the watering sessions from 1 minute to 24 hours minus 1 minute. And up to 100 watering cycles per day. It’s easy to get bogged down in unnecessarily complex watering timetables with all these choices, but its really easy to use and choose the right watering mode for you. Choose the schedule that’s best for your garden and the predicted weather, remember the goal of using the timer is also to conserve water as well as for convenience.

Fault notifications that it sent to my phone and highlights in the app too, it also email the alerts too

But setting up your watering session is not all that the Linktap G2-S timer does. It constantly scans its own system for problems. If there’s valve failure, if the timer has fallen off tap (more likely been stolen but at least you would know) or if the water’s been cut-off it informs you by sending an instant notifications to your phone as well as an email. It also sends real-time updates about the watering status, when it starts stops, water flow and usage.

The rain skip feature which you can see in the screen shot above that can be set to skip watering if a certain amount of rainfall has fallen or is due with a certain amount of time. I don’t really use this but I can see how it could be very useful but I assume it is only as reliable as your local weather forecast.

manual on and off button, you can also disable this button in the app
Manual on and off button, you can also disable this button in the app

There is also a instant water button on the water timer so you can water without the app too. Its worth noting you can also disable this feature in the APP. This could also be useful if you have children who like to mess with the tap and timer.

Its also worth noting that if your internet goes down or the gateway stops working or even if there is a powercut. The water timer will still water as programmed so its not reliant on the router or internet to water.

Pros

  • IP6 Weatherproof wireless smart water timer lets you schedule your watering sessions from anywhere, at any time, to suit the weather. 
  • Controlled remotely through your smartphone, mobile device, Alexa or Google Assistant for setting, for the ultimate convenience.
  • Uses a Zigbee communication protocol that’s simpler and more reliable than using Bluetooth or Wifi.
  • The app (mobile and web) lets you view 90 days’ worth of flow rate, water usage and water cost so you can modify your watering schedule to suit your budget.
  • Six watering modes give you flexibility in setting up your schedule, including scheduling by specified calendar days, days within specified months and days by intervals.
  • The Rain Skip Watering mode lets you skip your scheduled watering sessions if it has rained or is forecast to rain in a specified future period.     
  • Automatic detection of equipment problems in real-time gives you peace of mind when you’re not at home. 
  • Real-time push notifications for watering status and equipment failures are sent out to your mobile device.
  • The flow rate is a minimum of 32L/min but depends also on water pressure and the size of the pipe.
  • Two-minute assembly using the instructions in the product box.
  • A two-year warranty and two years of 4AA battery life let you rest easy.

Cons

  • No manual override button on the actual unit for immediate watering.

Our recommendation

The LinkTap G2-S Wireless Water Timer is the most fully featured of the wireless water timers you can get. From using the Zigbee communications protocol to providing its own system diagnostics as well as a multitude of scheduling options, this is a wireless timer that covers it all. Real-time push notifications let you know just what’s going on, good or bad, with your timer and irrigation system.

The LinkTap G2-S is easily the best smart water timers currently available. I like everything about it, especially that it integrates with the Alexa and Google Assistant smart home systems and works on both apple and android smartphones.

Its also worth knowing that they also have a 2 port version but you can also up to 30 water timers connected up to the gateway. This means that if you have more than one watertimer. You can just purchase the water timer without the gateway and save some money. If I was to buy myself any watertimer, this would be it. The only downside is that its probably one of the most expensive models, however, its worth every penny.


2. Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller

RUNNER UP

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller

The Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller works well with all irrigation systems as it’s compatible with all popular garden hose sizes and connections. However, it works only with Apple iOS products – iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch and Apple HomeKit. Please check out one of our other wifi timers if you’re an Android user, better still consider our best pick.

The Eva Aqua is part of the Eva range of smart products that work together to create a smart home. You control the Eva Aqua through its app, by typing, or by talking to Siri, whichever you prefer. The sleek-looking timer is weatherproof and resistant to UV rays so it sits comfortably on your outside tap. 

Your scheduling options allow you to set up to seven watering periods per day. Version 3.8 (new as of November 2020) of the Eve app gives you the ability to set six different watering zones (with their own schedules) if you have the Gardena Automatic Water Distributor. This takes in water through one inlet and splits it into six outlets. Keep plants in separate garden zones that are on different watering timetables healthy and robust.

To access the Eva Aqua – for set-up and changing the schedules – you need a hub, which isn’t included in your purchase. For this, a HomePod or an Apple TV with tvOS 13.4 or later is needed. However, once you’ve programmed the Eva Aqua, it doesn’t need to have an Internet connection anymore, unless you want to change something. The schedules are stored directly on the timer. This autonomous operation is really useful as, if your Internet goes down or something bad happens to the app, your watering schedules aren’t affected.

The manual override button on the timer itself lets you water your garden immediately without affecting the programming. Something our best pick cannot do. Plus, there’s a child lock that stops little ones from turning on the water to the sprinklers to play in on hot days.

Pros

  • Smart water timer for your irrigation system if you’re an Apple user. There is no Android version.
  • Uses low-energy Bluetooth to communicate with the internet to help your energy bills.
  • Set schedules of up to seven watering periods per day through the Eve app to suit the changing weather.
  • Autonomous operation once schedules are set that don’t need an internet connection to run.
  • The auto shut-off prevents wasting water and flooding, saving on your water bill.
  • Compatible with all well-known hose systems so you won’t have to buy a special connector.
  • The button on the timer lets you operate it manually to water right now, so you don’t have to go through the app on your phone.
  • A childproof lock stops your little ones from turning on the watering system to play in the sprinkler.
  • Needs two AA batteries.

Cons

  • Need to purchase a hub – HomePod or Apple TV – to control this timer.

Our recommendation

If you’re already invested in an Apple smart home through the Apple HomeKit or have an Apple TV, then the Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller fits right in. The watering schedule options, plus the additional ability in the app (plus an extra product) to water different garden zones on their own schedules let you build a complex and demanding irrigation system. Once programmed, the Eve smart timer works in the farthest reaches of your garden if you have a tap there because it doesn’t need to be close to a wifi source.

The Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller is the Runner-up in our review of the best wifi water timers. We like that it’s part of a smart home series of products for Apple iOS enthusiasts and that it’s not dependent on being near an internet connection for use once it’s programmed.

If you’re building up a Smart Home with Apple HomeKit or use the Apple HomePod, the Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller fits right into your plan.

Read next: Best automatic watering systems to set up with a timer to water your beds, borders and pots


3. GARDENA Smart Water Control

 Buy on Amazon.co.uk

GARDENA smart Water Control

The GARDENA Smart Water Control reflects the brand’s 50 years of experience in manufacturing premium garden watering products. This water timer is one of the products in the Garden Smart Set that enables you to create an interconnected smart environment in your garden. The smart gateway, which connects these smart garden products together and to the internet, isn’t included in your purchase. If you don’t already have a smart gateway, purchase the GARDENA Smart Water Control Set instead for both products.

Access this smart water control through your phone, iOS or Android, using the Gardena app, your tablet or laptop using the website. The scheduling options include durations from one minute to ten hours and up to 36 watering sessions per day, plus your choice of days of the week. This allows you to create very well-defined watering periods for your more delicate and vulnerable plants.

As well as on the app, you can check the status of the system on the timer box itself. The LED screen on the front of the timer shows, at the touch of a button, the status of watering, the wifi signal strength and the battery status. Perhaps make a habit of checking this essential information regularly on your trips to the garden if you don’t use your phone too often.

A useful feature of this GARDENA smart timer towards the end of the growing season is the temperature sensor. The sensor keeps an eye on falling temperatures and you’re notified through the app when frost is on the way. This gives you a prior warning to start shutting down your garden before your plants are hit by overnight cold temperatures and are unnecessarily harmed.

Pros

  • Fits into the Gardena Smart Set System which controls this and all the other Smart Gardena appliances in your garden.
  • The Gardena Smart App receives all the data from the timer and displays it for you.
  • Scheduling options include multiple watering cycles per day for closely controlled watering periods.
  • An integrated temperature sensor notifies you if frost is likely so you can protect your vulnerable plants overnight.
  • The LED screen on the face of the timer displays the irrigation status, the signal strength and the battery status. All issues necessary for the successful operation of the irrigation system.
  • Uses three AA batteries.

Cons

  • Need to already have the GARDENA smart Gateway or purchase the complete set.
  • Unclear whether the app stores historical water usage data.

Our recommendation

The GARDENA smart Water Control is an add-on product to an existing GARDENA Garden smart set network. If this is your first GARDENA smart set product, buy the smart Water Control set that also has the smart Gateway as this is the controller for the network

The water timer works with both iPhones and Android phones as well as through your computer or laptop. The scheduling options aren’t as extensive as those of our Best Pick but are enough to set up quite a complex watering timetable. The temperature sensor usefully tells you when frost is on the way so you can start to prepare your garden for the winter season.

If you’re a fan of GARDENA products or already have a Gardena Garden smart set in the making, this is the right wifi water timer for you.

Read next: How to se tup an automatic watering system


4. Hozelock Cloud Controller & Hub

Buy on Amazon.co.uk

Hozelock Cloud Controller & Hub

The Hozelock Cloud Controller & Hub comes from a manufacturer who’s well respected for their garden equipment. However, we do feel it’s not quite as good as the other systems we have looked at, but it is still worth considering.

Despite its name, this is a wireless water timer that works with a variety of irrigation equipment – sprinklers, water butts and micro-irrigation systems including soaker hoses and drippers. The hub that connects the timer to the internet is part of the purchase and controls up to four timers at once.

The app is reported as easy to use by online reviewers, and probably a little simpler than other smart timers. The usual frequency, duration and start time options are available. Alongside them is the ability to adjust these timetables and even pause them for up to 14 days if rain is forecast. And you don’t even have to keep track of the weather forecast yourself because the software gives you push notifications about upcoming changes to the weather.

If you want to immediately water your garden, you have two ways to set this in motion. If you’re in the garden and notice that it’s dry, manually push the “Water Now” button on the timer itself and if you’re away from home, use the “Water Now” function on the app. Manually, you have the choice of 10, 30 or 60 minutes of instant watering, and via the app, your choice is in increments of one minute. You can also check the status of the battery on the timer itself.

Pros

  • The smart water timer is controllable from either iPhones or Android mobile phones, so most people are covered.
  • Comes with the hub that acts between your internet router and the timer, so that’s not an additional purchase.
  • The Hozelock app lets you set custom watering timetables and set, pause and adjust these schedules.
  • The hub supports up to four timers/taps for those with complex or varied irrigation systems in their garden.
  • Suitable for use with garden sprinklers, low-pressure micro-irrigation systems and water butts irrigation.
  • The manual “Water Now” button on the timer box lets you water the garden for the chosen amount of time right there and then.
  • Takes two AA batteries.
  • Two-year warranty for peace of mind.

Our recommendation

The Hozelock Cloud Controller & Hub doesn’t mind what kind of irrigation system you have – sprinklers, micro-irrigation, water butts. It goes ahead and turns the water on and off as directed. The hub (included with your purchase) controls up to four timers and irrigation lines; so as long as you have four outside taps or have split your one irrigation system four ways, different zones of your garden can be watered to different schedules.

The Hozelock Cloud Controller & Hub gives you the ability to develop quite a complex irrigation system throughout your entire garden, regardless of whether you’re an iPhone or an Android phone user.


Buyer’s Guide

As with any appliance that incorporates apps and the internet, buying a smart water timer is a bit more complicated than choosing a stand-alone timer. Here are some of the most important considerations to think about when deciding what you want in the smart timer for your irrigation system.

Do you already have smart garden devices?

All smart water timers need to have a hub that stands between them and your internet router. If you already have smart garden appliances – perhaps your irrigation system, your lighting setup or a robotic lawnmower– then you already have a hub for that brand of devices. It makes sense to buy a smart timer that works with the hub you already have if it can handle another appliance this is often the most affordable option as you then just need the timer itself.

If you don’t have any current smart garden devices, then your choice is more, but not completely, open. The Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller, my Runner-up, works only on Apple iOS devices, so Android smartphone users shouldn’t buy this. This is the one smart water timers in my review that isn’t available with a hub to connect it to the internet. Of the other three wireless timers, the GARDENA Smart Water Control can be bought either as an add-on to an existing Gardena smart garden system or as a set that includes the hub/gateway.

How do you want to control the timer?

Obviously, smart water timers are usually controlled through your smartphone. But there are other options. Do you want to use your iPad as well? Or perhaps you rely on Alexa or Google Assistant for your home commands. If so, look for those timers that tie into your smart-home hub.

LinkTap has an manual override for watering
LinkTap has an manual override for watering

And do you want to be able to switch on the watering system manually from the timer box itself, by-passing your phone? This may seem obvious, but some models don’t let you do this. Even if you’re standing in your garden next to the timer, you still have to use the app on your phone.

How complex a watering schedule do you want to create?

Smart water timers let you establish a watering timetable from as simple as “every day at 5 pm for one hour” to as complex as “every second day for one hour in three-hour intervals as long as it hasn’t rained more than 3mm in the last 24 hours or will rain more than 5mm in the next two days”. However, not all timers give you the same range of options. The basic elements to any schedule are start time, frequency and duration and these are always available.

Smart watering system for whole garden

My Best Pick, this LinkTap G2 Wireless Water Timer & Gateway & Flow Meter, gives you the most flexibility with up to 100 watering cycles per day from 1 minute to 23 hrs 59 minutes per cycle. You have five choices of how to select the days on which watering occurs.

Rain delay setting

Some of the models we review have a rain delay option. If it’s rained recently (and sometimes you specify how much rain in how recent a period) the timer skips the next watering session. Some timers also link into the local weather forecast and, if rain is forecast, the next few watering sessions are also skipped (depending on when and how much it’s going to rain).

Read carefully what each timer offers in the way of scheduling options and think well about what your garden’s particular needs for watering are throughout the growing season. And don’t try to use all the watering choices at once.

Do you want more?

Fault notifications from the water timer sent as push notification and email

Some smart water timers give you functionality beyond controlling your watering systems. The LinkTap G2-S performs routine checks on its own system and delivers push notifications to you if anything is going wrong with the network or the water valve, or if the device has fallen off the wall.  

The built-in temperature sensor of the Gardena Smart Water Control lets you know if frost is on the way so you can immediately change your watering schedule and make plans to shut down your irrigation system for the winter season. You can also but an extra moisture sensor that you insert into the soil so it measures the soil moisture level.

What do you want your timer to tell you?

This relates mainly to the app through which you set up, control and receive information from your smart water timer. As with any technology and its associated software or app, some (often many) online reviewers have problems using the user interface of the app as well as the app not always being available. It’s a combination of the design of the app and personal taste in what the screens should look and act like.

Some of the timers in my review let you know about the water you’ve used and even the cost of that usage for a specific period of time. Others give you a status update about the planned watering session (started and then finished). My Best Pick performs checks on the functions of the timer and notifies you in real-time if anything is going wrong. Historic data is often available for you to see how watering happens over the growing season. 

Some timer boxes have lights to let you know how low the battery is or how strong the signal is. Other timers have just a smooth front to the timer, and you need to access the app for all the information.

Make sure that the timer app provides you with all the information you need to rethink your watering schedules in case your original one doesn’t provide the results that you need. 

In addition, it’s useful if the app sends all the status information to more than one address (phone number or email address). If you’re on holiday in Canada, it’s no use knowing that there’s something wrong with the water valve in your timer. But if your neighbour is receiving the same message, they can go and fix it for you with you needing to ask them, for example, if you have no phone signal.


Final Conclusion

The best smart water timers take all the worry about whether your garden is being watered on schedule as they tell you what’s going on as it’s happening. You can change the watering timetable via the app on your smartphone or other mobile devices wherever you are as long as you have a phone or Internet connection.

There’s also usually an option to temporarily override the programming and request that your garden is watered immediately. It’s not quite as the same as you standing in your garden with the watering hose, but then again you may be laying in the sun on a beach doing this garden task, and that can’t be bad!

The LinkTap G2-S Wireless Water Timer & Gateway is MY choice for best smart water timers. This works with both iPhones and with Android phones, as well as with Alexa and Google Assistant in the home. This model sends you emails about what’s going on with the watering sessions and push notifications to your smartphone if there’s anything wrong with the system. By far the best water timer.

Our Runner-up is the more affordable Eve Aqua Smart Water Controller.  However, this is only available for Apple iOS users, so you need an iPhone. Once you’ve programmed this timer, it doesn’t need to be connected to the Internet to control your watering schedule.

If you’re not convinced that you need a smart water timer, see our Best Water Timers review for alternatives.


Last update on 2024-05-07 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Welcome to my site, my name is John and I have been lucky enough to work in horticultural nurseries for over 15 years in the UK. As the founder and editor as well as researcher, I have a City & Guilds Horticultural Qualifications which I proudly display on our About us page. I now work full time on this website where I review the very best gardening products and tools and write reliable gardening guides. Behind this site is an actual real person who has worked and has experience with the types of products we review as well as years of knowledge on the topics we cover from actual experience. You can reach out to me at john@pyracantha.co.uk

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