Review of the RainCommander RC1200 Wi-Fi enabled automated sprinkler controlling system
The RainCommander RC1200 is a small Wi-Fi enabled sprinkler controller that lets you control the sprinklers of your lawn or garden using a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop. It uses the existing wiring of your sprinklers. The idea behind the RainCommander is to give you the comfort and convenience of controlling your sprinklers no matter where you are.
Design and features
The RainCommander RC1200 has a simple but attractive design. It is a small box (approximately 5" W x 4" L x 1" H) with 12 LED indicators for the 12 separate zones that it is capable of controlling. There is a switch on top of the box that allows you to select from three modes: User Schedule, Default Schedule, and Off. The RainCommander logo is appealing and relates to the manufacturer's slogan, "Water from the Cloud". "The Cloud" fittingly evokes the idea of cloud Internet technology, since you control the RainCommander RC1200 sprinkler system via Wi-Fi.
The RainCommander RC1200 allows you to name zones, set watering schedules, and turn individual zones on or off. It cannot be attached to an existing sprinkler control box but rather replaces the original box entirely. However, replacing your existing sprinkler control box with the RainCommander is quite easy, as we discuss below. The RainCommander lets you control multiple RC1200 controllers under a single account. Thus, if you have more than 12 zones or you have controllers in different locations in your home, you can configure and manage each controller under the single account.
You can configure 24 custom watering schedules to run in different zones at different times on different days using the RC1200 controller. In case of a Wi-Fi connection drop, the RainCommander will continue to run on the most recently configured schedule. It will also send you an e-mail notification that your RC1200 is offline.
The RainCommander does not have a keypad or display.
Installation of the RainCommander RC1200 can be divided into two steps. Step 1 consists of replacing the old controller. This requires you to remove the zone wires from your old controller and connect them to the corresponding zones of the RC1200 controller. Step 2 consists of connecting the RC1200 to your Wi-Fi network. I was able to complete the first step in about 18 minutes with a little help from my colleague, on whose lawn we tested the controller. I had no previous experience with sprinkler controllers, as I live in an apartment. My colleague, on the other hand, said he could have done it in about 10 minutes or so. If, like my colleague, you are familiar with traditional sprinkler controllers, you should not need to call on a technical person to do this job for you.
Next, I powered on the device, and lights started blinking, indicating that it was ready for action. It was time to connect the RC1200 to my colleague's Wi-Fi network. In order to connect the RC1200 to your existing Wi-Fi network, you need to go to the company's website at www.raincommander.com/controller
. After you register on the website, you simply need to follow the on-screen prompts to complete the setup process. It took me about four minutes to connect the RC 1200 to the Wi-Fi network.
Putting it to the test
Configuring schedules for different zones was easy and did not take much time, thanks to the user-friendly UI of the web app. We configured schedules for Zone 1, Zone 3, and Zone 6 for two, four, and five minutes in advance of the current time to test if the device would work. We set the watering duration for 10 minutes. Sprinklers at Zones 1, 3, and 6 started automatically according to their schedules. We intentionally dropped the Wi-Fi connection after a minute of watering and then reconnected the controller to Wi-Fi in order to verify that the device would resume its action. It did, and sent us an offline status notification via e-mail. So, in case of a Wi-Fi connection drop, the RainCommander does work. Not only can it prevent you from wasting gallons of water during rainy season and save you from having to visit your basement or garage to turn the controller on or off, but it also lets you control your sprinklers even if you are on holiday, thousands of miles from your home.
The RainCommander RC1200 is easy to install. Most users would not need technical help for installation. You can operate the RC1200 from your Wi-Fi enabled devices, setting different schedules and controlling up to 12 separate zones. If you have more zones, you can connect additional RainCommander RC1200 controllers and manage them with a single account. The Wi-Fi capability of the RC1200 makes life easy, and can save a few gallons of water that might otherwise be wasted by a sprinkler turning on during rain. HomeGear Lab gives the RainCommander RC1200 sprinkler controller its highest rating of 4 Lights On: Excellent and Highly Recommended.
•Handles 12 watering zones. A LED indicator for each Zone.
•Master valve and a rain sensor.
•Multiple RainCommanders could be used if you have more zones to handle.
•Enables sprinklers to be controlled from anywhere with your smart phone, tablet, laptop or computer.
•Programmable scheduling system that saves water and money by pausing sprinklers for one to seven days when it is raining.
•Schedule picks right back up after the paused time period.
•Easy to install and use. Existing sprinkler wires could be used.
•All features are configured on the computer or mobile device.
•Intuitive user interface. You can name zones so they make sense to you.