With the best price in its class, Orbit’s 12-Zone B-Hyve WiFi sprinkler controller is poised to be a strong competitor in a crowded field of smart devices.
This is the first smart sprinkler offering from one of the established names in irrigation. Orbit, RainBird and RainDrip are late to the party and have to play catchup. The MSRP for the 12-Zone version is only $129.99, nearly half the price of competing smart sprinklers. But, if you’re comparing to the Rachio or RainMachine devices, they are EPA WaterSense certified and eligible for significant rebates. The B-Hyve is not WaterSense certified.
It’s too early to judge, but after hitting some bumps during my setup of the B-Hyve, it’s not looking great for Orbit’s first try.
INSTALL & SETUP VIDEO
The B-Hyve has a hole on the back to hang from a screw and then requires you to drill through the plastic if you want it to be firmly secured against the wall. I wasn’t a big fan of this setup, as the section of the unit where I drilled was bowed out towards me instead of having a divot for easier penetration.
Wiring up the device was really easy and smooth, especially since they included a mini screwdriver in the box.
The manual controls and screen are a nice touch, and it’s not something all smart sprinklers offer.
The B-Hyve comes inside of a weatherproof enclosure, which is also rare among the WiFi sprinklers.
Getting the B-Hyve paired up with my phone and logged on to my home network was easy and smooth. But once I started setting up my zones things started to fall apart. The setup wizard wasn’t able to get my zones going, so I had to quit and add them manually.
Setting up a watering schedule just led me down the path of the old school “20 minutes for each zone every other day” setup that I want no part of. My #1 reason for buying a smart sprinkler is so that it schedules itself based on the info I give it.
I finally was able to kinda sorta figure out smart watering. I had to go into each zone individually, fill out the various components (soil type, slope, sunshine, etc) and enable the smart watering toggle. But from there it still didn’t show that smart watering was going to happen.
I emailed support on Saturday and went to bed. When I woke up the next morning my kitchen sink water pressure was low and I looked out the front window to see my sprinklers going. I checked the app and smart watering had started. Apparently the smart watering figured itself out and scheduled a run without me knowing. That’s good, I guess. But when I look at the smart watering schedule it currently has no more watering scheduled. Will smart watering always be a surprise?
Otherwise the app is pretty nice, when watering is going it has a really cool visualization of how much time is left watering. The app also lets you take photos of your zones and rename them, all cool features.
The marketing material touts web control, but I can’t find a website to log in to my B-Hyve. bhyve.orbitonline.com lands on a store page.
I’ve gotten off to a rocky start with they B-Hyve. I’m not a fan of the way the unit is mounted, which required me to drill through the plastic to get it to feel solid. The app is not ready for prime time. The biggest gripe is the weirdness of smart watering in the app. It’s a mystery as to when it will be smart watering and that’s no good.
The price is a huge selling point for the B-Hyve, and I think people are willing to put up with some grief if they can pay $100 less than the competition. I have an open mind, and will reserve final judgment until after I’ve used it for my normal review period of 2 weeks.Check it out on Amazon