The 4 Absolute Best Solar Powered Irrigation Timers & Controllers

By Kami Turky

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There are dozens of solar-powered irrigation timers and controllers available on the market, each promising to bring convenience and efficiency to your gardening routine. 

But with such a diverse array of options, it can be difficult to determine which product is the best fit for your specific needs.

To simplify your search, I’ve tested over 35 models and narrowed it down to the top devices that excel in performance, reliability, and efficiency. 

In this article, I will provide in-depth insights into each product’s features, advantages, and potential drawbacks,  so you can decide based on your specific irrigation needs.

The Best Solar Powered Irrigation Timers & Controllers Selection

Editor’s Choice: Gardena 13300-20 AquaBloom Irrigation Timer & Controller

Features

  • Material: Plastic
  • Irrigation Type: Drip irrigation
  • Dimensions: 19.69 x 23.62 x 3.94 inches

The Gardena AquaBloom Irrigation Timer & Controller is my Editor’s Choice. It can water up to 20 plants automatically and evenly. 

My garden has various plants, including roses, hydrangeas, tomatoes, and a small herb garden. 

And, of course, each type of plant has different watering needs.

Since the device has 14 preset watering programs, I can customize the frequency and volume of water each plant type receives. 

For instance, my tomatoes require frequent, deep watering, while my rose bushes prefer infrequent but thorough watering. 

I set the AquaBloom accordingly, and it takes care of the rest. This has taken the guesswork out of watering and freed up much of my time.

The device also boasts a highly flexible system. I’ve redesigned my garden several times, and adjusting the device setup was a breeze each time.

For instance, when I decided to expand my herb garden, I could easily extend the drip irrigation system to accommodate the new plants.

I love the high-quality micro-drip components that ensure even water distribution through pressure-equalizing drippers, regardless of how I reconfigure my garden. 

It comes with a ready-to-use set, which includes all the necessary components for setup and doesn’t require any tools, simplifying the installation process.

I remember setting up the AquaBloom in my garden; all I needed was a reservoir for the pump to draw water from, and it was good to go in no time.

One shortcoming I found during my personal use is the plastic threads on the connectors. 

While the system is quite robust, I noticed the plastic threads can wear and tear over time, especially with frequent adjustments or exposure to harsh environmental conditions.

Despite this minor issue, I strongly recommend the Gardena AquaBloom Irrigation Timer & Controller for its flexibility, automation, and ease of use.

What We Like

  • Automatic and even watering for up to 20 plants
  • 14 pre-set watering programs for customization
  • High-quality micro-drip components for even water distribution
  • Ready-to-use set for easy installation

What We Don’t Like

  • Potential wear and tear on plastic threads of connectors

Runner up: DIG ECO1ILV.075 Solar Powered Irrigation Time & Controller

Features

  • Irrigation Type: Drip irrigation or sprinkler system
  • Dimensions: 6 x 4 x 5 inches

The DIG ECO1ILV.075 Solar Powered Irrigation Timer & Controller stands out due to its adaptability to different irrigation systems. 

The device is compatible with both drip irrigation and sprinkler systems, demonstrating a high degree of flexibility.

To test both, I decided to implement this device in my home garden, which features both systems.

Initially, I set up the device with my drip irrigation system. This system is particularly useful for the variety of vegetables and flowering plants I have, requiring specific watering amounts at regular intervals. 

The controller seamlessly took over, providing reliable and accurate watering schedules.

Months later, I expanded my garden and installed a new sprinkler system for my growing lawn and a few larger plants. 

I was keen to see how the DIG ECO1ILV.075 would handle this change. 

Remarkably, it adapted to the new system without any hitch. The transition was as simple as reprogramming the device for the new watering schedule. 

The compact design of the DIG ECO1ILV.075 is another feature that I appreciate. 

Measuring just 6 x 4 x 5 inches, it hardly took up any space in my garden. I installed it discreetly near the hose connection without it becoming an eyesore.

However, I have a problem with the interface of this model. The settings are difficult to navigate, and there isn’t a clear “back” button.

Additionally, I faced issues with the inlet and outlet sizes. As advertised, one side was a 3/4″ universal hose thread, but the other was a 3/4″ universal pipe thread

This necessitated a trip to the hardware store for extra fittings.

Despite these initial hurdles, the DIG ECO1ILV.075 performed post-setup reliably, providing consistent and efficient watering for my garden.

What We Like

  • Works with drip and sprinkler systems
  • Compact and easy to install
  • Precise watering schedule settings

What We Don’t Like

  • Confusing user interface
  • Inlet and outlet sizes are different

Best Bang for the Buck: Ancnoble GG-005C-1 Irrigation Timer & Controller

Features

  • Material: Plastic
  • Irrigation Type: Motion sensor based-irrigation
  • Dimensions: 9.5 x 7 x 3 inches

The Ancnoble GG-005C-1 Irrigation Timer & Controller revolutionizes garden care with its motion sensor-based irrigation system. 

It detects movement, such as the gentle swaying of plants in the wind, to determine watering needs. 

The first time I used it, I noticed how it adapted to weather changes, adjusting the irrigation level according to the intensity of the plant movements. 

It was during a particularly breezy afternoon that I saw it in action for the first time. 

As the wind caused the plants to sway more than usual, the device took this as a signal to increase the watering level. 

This ensured the plants remained adequately hydrated even under windy conditions, which sped up evaporation.

The controller screen provides a clear view of the watering schedules, system status, and other essential settings, making it easy to customize the irrigation plan based on your garden’s needs.

What I appreciate even more is the screen’s anti-glare feature. 

It allows me to quickly make necessary changes without the screen being washed out by bright sunlight. 

I don’t need to shield the screen or move to a shaded area to view or adjust the settings.

The sleek design of this model, with its compact dimensions of 9.5 x 7 x 3 inches, makes it blend seamlessly into any garden setting. 

I don’t have to keep trying to find a discreet spot for it, as it effortlessly integrates into my garden without drawing attention.

However, I have some issues with this model’s mini solar power panel. 

Firstly, no assembly bracket is included, so you must find a way to securely attach it to the wall, fence, or any other desired location.

Secondly, while the built-in panel cord is not excessively short, it would be better if it was 1 or 2 feet long

This would provide more flexibility in positioning the controller and allow for better placement of the solar panel to maximize exposure to sunlight.

Lastly, the unit does not indicate whether the solar panel charges the batteries. 

This missing feature can create uncertainty about the device’s operation and maintenance needs.

Regarding the low price point, the Ancnoble GG-005C-1 Irrigation Timer & Controller offers a cost-effective solution for motion sensor-based irrigation with its user-friendly screen and sleek design.

What We Like

  • Motion sensor-based irrigation system
  • Easy customization of schedules and settings
  • The anti-glare screen even in bright sunlight
  • Sleek and compact design

What We Don’t Like

  • No assembly bracket for the solar panel.
  • Short built-in panel cord.
  • No charging indicator for the solar panel.

Best for Smart Home Integration: Netro Pixie Solar-Powered Irrigation Timer and Controller

Features

  • Material: Plastic
  • Irrigation Type: Smart hose
  • Dimensions: 7.28 x 5.35 x 2.36 inches

The Netro Pixie Solar-Powered Irrigation Controller features a smart hose irrigation system that directs the water precisely to the intended areas in your garden. 

This ensures water is delivered directly to the plants, minimizing runoff and effectively nourishing the root zones.

I installed the device in a flower bed with various delicate plants to test this model. I wanted to ensure accurate and targeted watering without overwatering or causing damage. 

Once I set up the controller and customized the watering schedule, I witnessed how the smart hose system efficiently directed the water to each plant’s root zone. 

This device also works according to weather forecasting, allowing it to adapt and optimize watering schedules based on upcoming weather conditions. 

For instance, during a week of heavy rain, the device automatically adjusted the watering schedule, reducing the frequency to avoid overwatering my plants.

I appreciate how it eliminates the need for an additional hub, as it connects directly to WiFi 2.4G

This direct connection makes installation hassle-free and avoids cluttering my smart home system. 

With a simple tap on my smartphone, I could initiate watering sessions even when I wasn’t physically near the controller. 

Additionally, the delay feature, allowing a delay of less than 60 minutes, provides flexibility in adjusting watering times to fit my specific needs.

The Netro Pixie also has a UV-resistant exterior and waterproof design making it resilient against harsh weather conditions. 

It has handled various challenging weather situations, from scorching heat waves to heavy rainstorms, without any hitches.

One drawback is the plastic material used in the construction of this controller. 

While lightweight and durable, I noticed that the plastic housing could be prone to scratches and scuffs over time.

Despite this minor concern, the Netro Pixie’s performance and smart features far outweigh this drawback, making it an excellent choice for efficient and convenient garden irrigation.

What We Like

  • Precise and targeted watering
  • Adaptability to weather conditions through weather forecasting
  • Hassle-free installation with direct WiFi 2.4G connection
  • A UV-resistant and waterproof design

What We Don’t Like

  • The plastic construction is prone to scratches and scuffs

What Are Solar Irrigation Timers?

Solar irrigation timers are devices used in irrigation systems that use solar energy to measure and control the time and duration of watering. 

They are usually integrated into a sprinkler system or drip irrigation setup. 

These devices help reduce water waste and promote efficient water use, which benefits both the environment and the gardener’s or farmer’s water bills.

How Do Solar Irrigation Timers Work?

Solar irrigation timers work by harnessing the energy from the sun and converting it into electricity to power their operations.

Their operation can be broadly categorized into three main parts: solar energy collection, storage, and irrigation control.

The primary component of a solar irrigation timer is the solar panel which collects solar energy based on the photovoltaic effect. 

When the sunlight hits the solar panel’s surface, the energy from the sun triggers the movement of electrons in the semi-conductive material within the panel. This motion of electrons results in an electric current.

After solar energy collection, we move to energy storage’s second crucial stage. 

The electric current generated by the solar panel doesn’t go to waste; it is utilized to charge a rechargeable battery within the timer. 

This battery serves as a reservoir for the harvested solar energy. As a result, the device can sustain its operations even during periods without sunlight, such as at night or on cloudy days.

The third and most vital function comes into play – irrigation control. 

The irrigation timer uses the energy stored in the battery to automate the irrigation process based on user-defined parameters. 

You can input your desired watering times and durations through a simple interface. 

Some advanced models even allow for zone-specific scheduling within a garden or field, further enhancing their utility and water conservation effectiveness.

Moreover, many modern solar irrigation timers incorporate smart technology features, bridging the gap between green energy and high-tech functionality. 

For instance, some models can connect with moisture sensors embedded in the ground. 

These sensors relay real-time data on soil moisture levels to the timer. 

When these levels drop below a user-defined threshold, the timer activates the irrigation system, ensuring that plants receive water exactly when needed. 

Finally, during an irrigation cycle, the timer sends a signal to the irrigation valves, prompting them to open. Water then begins to flow through the system. 

Upon reaching the user-set watering duration, the timer signals to close the valves, halting the water flow.

How to Choose the Best Solar Irrigation Timers?

1. Irrigation Type

When choosing the best solar irrigation timer, your irrigation type is the first factor to consider. 

There are several irrigation methods, each with unique needs that your timer should accommodate.

For instance, if your garden uses a sprinkler system, the solar irrigation timer you choose should be equipped to manage the high water flow rates typical of this system. 

Sprinkler systems distribute a large amount of water over a broad area in a short period, similar to rainfall.

This makes them ideal for watering lawns or large garden beds such as our pick DIG ECO1ILV.075 Solar Powered Irrigation Timer & Controller

However, your needs will differ if you use a drip irrigation system in your garden. 

Drip irrigation systems deliver water slowly and directly to the root zones of plants. 

This makes them excellent for vegetable plots, flower beds, or other plantings that benefit from targeted watering. 

A timer like the Gardena 13300-20 AquaBloom Irrigation Timer & Controller would be a good fit for these types of systems. 

This is why I’ve included various examples of timers suited to different irrigation systems, so you can select the one that aligns with your gardening and irrigation needs.

2. Flexible Timer & Controlling Function

Flexibility refers to the ability of the timer to adapt to various watering schedules, allowing you to customize when and how much water your plants receive. 

A flexible timer is crucial if you have a diverse range of plants, each with unique watering needs. 

The controlling function refers to how the timer is managed and operated. 

Traditional timers require manual operation, meaning you’ll have to adjust the device’s settings physically. 

This can be time-consuming and not always convenient, especially if the timer is in a hard-to-reach area.

On the other hand, modern solar irrigation timers often come with advanced features such as WiFi connectivity or Bluetooth compatibility, allowing you to operate and adjust the device remotely. 

This means you can manage your watering schedules conveniently from your smartphone or tablet.

 A good example of such a timer would be the Netro Pixie Solar-Powered Irrigation Timer and Controller, which can be controlled remotely via its mobile app.

3. Material & Quality

The material of the timer determines its durability and ability to withstand different weather conditions. 

Solar-powered irrigation timers must be robust and weather-resistant due to frequent exposure to various outdoor conditions. 

Typically, the best timers are those made of high-quality materials like metal.

Metal timers can withstand extreme temperatures and are less susceptible to accidental bumps or impact damage.

While plastic models might not have the same level of durability as their metal counterparts, they have certain advantages.

One of the key advantages of plastic timers is their lightweight nature. This makes them easier to handle during installation and allows for more flexibility in positioning. 

Plastic timers are also typically more affordable than metal timers, making them a budget-friendly option for many gardeners.

Another benefit is that plastic timers are less susceptible to corrosion than metal timers. 

This can be advantageous in areas with high humidity or saltwater environments, where corrosion can be a significant concern.

I’ve tested each model on this list, and I can assure you that all of them are made of quality materials that won’t break during installation or shipping.

FAQs

Can Solar-Powered Irrigation Timers Work in Areas With Limited Sunlight?

Solar-powered irrigation timers can work in areas with limited sunlight, but their functionality may be compromised.

These timers rely on solar energy to power their operation, so less sunlight exposure can result in decreased charging and power availability.

Do Solar-Powered Irrigation Timers Require Professional Installation?

Solar-powered irrigation timers generally do not require professional installation, as they are designed for easy setup and can be installed by homeowners with basic knowledge of irrigation systems.

Can I Control the Irrigation System Remotely Through a Smartphone App?

You can control the irrigation system remotely through a smartphone app if the solar-powered irrigation timer model offers this feature.

Conclusion

As promised, we’ve covered the 4 best solar-powered irrigation timers and controllers available in the market. Each device offers unique features and advantages to meet your specific gardening needs.

And I’d highly recommend the Gardena AquaBloom Irrigation Timer & Controller. Its customizable watering programs and easy installation simplifies the irrigation process and ensures your plants receive the right amount of water.

Do you still have any questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Kami Turky

Kami is a solar engineer with nearly a decade of experience in researching, testing, and reviewing various solar products. He has also provided technical consultation to several organizations on the best ways to incorporate solar energy into their operations. When he’s not busy helping others find the best solar solutions, Kami enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, camping, and exploring the natural wonders of his home state.

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