Complete irrigation systems are complex and expensive, and in today’s drought-stricken environment, it may not make sense to invest in one. If you have a smaller garden, or just flower beds, and want to automate your watering to ensure healthy plants without wasting a valuable resource, a water tap timer offers a simpler and cheaper way to do it. work.

Pipe faucet controllers have made their way into smart home territory, just like their cousins ​​in the ground. Priced as low as $ 35, Orbit’s B-hyve XD is a low-impact way to add smart functionality to a simple outdoor sprinkler system, be it hose sprinklers or drip sprinklers. drip (the latter is an easy DIY project that gives you the flexibility to bury most pipes and tubes).

This review is part of TechHive’s coverage of the best smart sprinkler controllers, where you will find reviews of the competitor’s offerings, as well as a buyer’s guide to features to consider when purchasing. this type of product.

The B-hyve XD is available in three versions, distinguished only by the number of outgoing hose connections. The single-pipe version reviewed here costs $ 35, the two-pipe model costs $ 50, and you can get four connections for $ 80. Other than a few slight physical design changes needed to accommodate additional pipe fittings, the fixtures are essentially the same. The plastic cased system connects smoothly to the faucet fittings and it did not leak in my testing.

xd product photo 1 Orbit

The B-hyve XD smart hose faucet timer gets a display that the first generation product did not provide.

Out of the box, the B-hyve XD is a Bluetooth device powered by two AA batteries (not included) and it pairs quickly and easily with the B-hyve mobile app, much like the B-hyve XR for the buried irrigation systems we looked at earlier. Here, setting up zones (although you can only have one if you have a one-port timer) and watering schedules is easy, if a bit awkward. There are two programming modes: simple basic mode and more complicated advanced mode.

orbit b hyve xd app 2 Christopher Null / IDG

B-hyve’s main screen provides a quick overview of upcoming waterings.

The XD also includes B-hyve’s weather intelligence functions, allowing watering schedules to be skipped if rain, high winds or freezing conditions are expected. This information is obtained from a weather station near your location. Orbit’s smart sprinkler feature, which adjusts the flow up or down based on weather conditions, is also available, but this also requires the installation of Orbit’s second-generation B-hyve WiFi hub. .

Using Bluetooth alone limits you to controlling or programming one device at a time, and you will need to be within a few tens of feet of the timer, although any programs you create will be stored in the timer’s built-in memory. and will operate without further intervention. .

Add Orbit’s B-hyve Gen 2 hub, a Bluetooth to Wi-Fi bridge, and you can program and control multiple B-hyve XDs from anywhere you have internet access. This $ 30 device only caused me trouble at first, first not finding any Wi-Fi network, then choking on trying to connect to the network once it was found. After I finally managed to connect the bridge, I discovered that it would not connect to the XD. It ended up taking two days of troubleshooting to get everything to work seamlessly.

If your phone is not available, manual watering sessions can be initiated through the built-in hardware controls. This solution is a lot less fancy, but it’s pretty easy to get things going if you just need to sprinkle some water on your withered plants. That said, using the B-hyve app with the bridge is immensely easier and more powerful. It also adds support for Amazon Echo and Google Home smart speakers and displays, and also allows the system to interact with Flume smart water valves.

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