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Orbit B-hyve XR Smart Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Timer Review

Orbit's next generation of smart sprinkler controllers is designed to help you save money, as well as the environment.

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With smart sprinkler controllers, some of the biggest challenges are setting up the device, and also finding a Wi-Fi connection strong enough outside where you plan to install a smart sprinkler timer or controller. Orbit has a fairly new device, designed to address these two issues called B-hyve XR Smart Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Timer. We recently installed the system, and here's out take on how well it worked tackling these challenges.

What is Orbit's B-hyve XR smart indoor outdoor sprinkler timer?

Orbit's B-hyve XR Smart Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Timer is a smart sprinkler controller that helps provide the right amount of water to your lawn, plants, shrubs or any other vegetation in your yard based on weather conditions. The device works on a Wi-Fi connection, both 2.4GHz and 5GHz dual-band connections, as well as on Bluetooth.

You place the timer either inside or outside of your home near a power outlet as it needs to be plugged in — but there is a weatherproof case for outdoor mounting.

The timer works with an inground sprinkler system that has either eight or 16 stations. It's design is sleek, much more modern compared to the previous B-hyve Sprinkler controller which we tested a year ago. (See our review here.) It is also compatible with both water pumps and rain/freeze sensors. We think rain sensors are a good addition as they help your system run more effectively and efficiently. But they're not necessarily needed.

You control the timer either manually using the LED full color display on the unit or through the B-hyve iOS and Android app. Based on our experience, and where the timer is mounted, you will use the app a majority of the time to control your B-hyve.

screen shot of Orbit B-hyve app home screen Home screen in Orbit B-hyve appGearBrain


Orbit B-Hyve App

The B-hyve app is where you setup all of your zones, schedules, notifications and more, including alerts when watering is finished, rain and wind delays, freeze warnings and device mode change. You can also keep track of your watering history in the app, and set up four different schedules which can involve all or specific zones, the number of days to water and the start and end times. You can also select a watering budget ranging from 0-200 percent through a sliding scale.

As part of the setup process, you need to let the timer know specific information about the area it will be watering on your property, which Orbit walks you through:

  • Soil type: What type of soil is in this zone?
  • Plant type: What type of landscaping is in this zone?
  • Sprinkler type: Select three types of nozzles to choose for the zone.
  • Exposure: How much sunlight does this zone get per day?
  • Slope: What is the average grade of this zone?
  • Sprinkler count: How many sprinkler heads does this zone have?
  • Catch cups: It gives the most accurate measurement of the sprinkler systems output.
  • Advanced Details: This section shows the metrics used to water this zone, and is based on data provided and can be edited. For that reason we recommend only trained irrigation professionals edit this section. It's complicated and will be hard to review for a consumer.

Orbit will assist you with each question if you click on the "?" at the bottom of the screen. You'll pull up explanations of each feature so you determine the best selection for your system.

Answering these questions will help set the Smart Watering feature, which is how the system can help save money by reading environmental factors and then creating customized water schedules for each of your zones. Orbit will determine how much water to disperse based on soil type, vegetation, nozzle type and sun exposure. This feature is an upgrade from what we saw in the previous Orbit B-hyve controller.

Like all of Orbit's smart sprinkler timers, B-hyve XR Timer uses Smart Weather Sense and is Water Sense certified, a program designed to help protect the nation's water supply. Members have to meet EPA criteria for conserving water and protecting the environment.

Photo for Orbit XR wiring Orbit made it easier to insert wiring for your sprinkler systemGearBrain


Installation of B-hyve XR is much easier than the previous B-hyve Timer

Before installing any smart sprinkler controller, check that you have power and an internet connection at the location where you plan to install the unit. If this is the first time you are installing a smart sprinkler timer, we recommend checking the Wi-Fi signal at the installation location. If the Wi-Fi connection is weak, you might need to get a Wi-Fi extender. While you can use a Bluetooth connection to control your timer, this will limit your remote control capabilities and could affect the performance for the smart sprinkler timer. That's why we recommend you make sure you have a strong Wi-Fi connection, which the B-hyve app can help you set up correctly.


Inside Orbit XR controller Wiring fits nicely inside new Orbit B-hyve XR.GearBrain


Tips on Installation

Installing a smart sprinkler system is easy but can be tedious depending on the number of zones or stations, and therefore the number of wires you need to disconnect and connect. You need to label each wire to assure your system will work correctly once set up. We recommend you take a picture of the wiring of your existing sprinkler system, whether it's a smart controller or on a timer or not, prior to disconnecting the wires. Orbit provides stickers for you to use to label the wires prior to disconnecting them.

Once your wires are disconnected, you can remove the old timer and mount the new one. Next, you need to punch out holes at the bottom of the B-hyve XR casing in order to feed the new sprinkler's wires, which helps keep all the wires together inside the controller. The casing is rather tough so be careful not to crack it when punching out the holes.

Once your holes are punched out, feed your sprinkler wires through the hole and start connecting them to your timer. Orbit makes it rather easy to Insert the wires to their respective ports, especially when compared to the previous model's design. You don't have to loosen or tighten screws, and each port on the XR timer can be pushed in to open and allow the wire to be inserted. Once the wire has been inserted, you can release the button and your wire should be secured.

Orbit 57995 B-hyve XR 16-Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller, Black



Performance

After testing the new B-hyve XR Smart Sprinkler Timer for a month, we found it an improvement over the previous model. Setting it up was easier, especially inserting the wires into the ports, and we also liked the Bluetooth connection which helped us get the timer setup and trouble shoot any issues. The internet connection was about the same as the previous version but this timer works on both 2.4GHz and 5GHz connections which is nice. Also, setting up each zone was more intuitive than before. Overall, this was a good improvement over the original B-hyve Smart Sprinkler Controller.

Smart Home Integrations.

Orbit B-hyve XR works with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant enabled devices. You can easily setup these integrations through the B-hyve app and use voice commands to turn zones on or off, skip a station, turn your timer off or on, and also set modes. We tested both integrations using Amazon Echo and Google Nest Mini devices and everything worked as expected, plus the set up was quick and easy.

Can adjust weather settings in Orbit app. New app allows you to adjust weather settings for your XR controller.GearBrain


Difference Between B-hyve XR Smart Sprinkler Timer and B-hyve Smart Sprinkler Controller

As we mentioned, last year we tested Orbit's B-hyve Smart Sprinkler Controller finding it a good smart sprinkler controller made by a company with expertise in irrigation products and services. The device was also in its infancy stage, with the company building new features to help people save even more money and water.

What we really liked about this controller was how the system scheduled watering of zones. Instead of selecting a specific amount of time, the system breaks up watering to compensate for run off, so you don't over saturate the soil. We haven't seen any other smart sprinkler system do this. Which is what we think makes Orbit's controller better.

Over the past year, Orbit has updated it system again for the new Orbit B-hyve XR timer. The timer setup process is easier, plus we like the futuristic and sleek design of the timer, which looks better on the wall. The smart watering setup is also simpler to follow.


How to adjust your zone based on type of landscaping. Use Orbit app to select type of landscaping is majority of the zone.GearBraiin


But with all smart sprinkler controllers, there are two key issues that are still hard to get right. One is how to setup smart watering for a zone when you have multiple types of plants. And the other is do you really know how much water each zone is using?

Orbit is one of the few manufacturers of smart sprinkler controllers that gets into the weeds (no pun intended) when it comes to selecting type of plants for each zone. The new B-hyve XR timer and app provide more guidance they any other manufacturer on selecting the right type of plant but it's still difficult to get it right if your zone has multiple types of plants, such as grass, bushes and trees.

And how do you know if each zone is providing the right amount of water? You need to do a catch up test, which involves placing catch cups in specific areas of a single zone and then turning your sprinkler on for a short time so water is caught. The water in each cup helps determine what is the exact amount of water coming out of each sprinkler head, which then helps the system disperse the right amount of water for your landscape.

Smart sprinkler controllers make educated guesses when it comes to precipitation rate and water distribution because they're missing key data from your sprinkler system. In the new B-hyve app, and with your XR Timer, you can conduct a catch cup test easily during setup. You can learn more about this test by visiting our article on catch cups, the keys to a green and healthy landscape, and we highly recommend doing this test. It's easy and will save you money on your water bill.

Select soil type for your zone. Users can help their system by selecting the type of soil. GearBrain


Cost

Orbit B-hyve XR Smart Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Timer costs $149.99 for eight zones and $179.99 for 16 zones. It's available on their website as well as from Amazon, Best Buy, Home Depot and other retail outlets.

Buy at Best Buy Here.

Summary

Overall, the new Orbit B-hyve XR Smart Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Timer is a big improvement over the B-hyve Smart Indoor/Outdoor Irrigation Controller. Its design is more appealing and the setup process has been made easier. B-hyve XR works with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa-enabled devices if you want to use voice commands.

But while this is a step up, the B-hyve app still doesn't let users know how much water they're saving. The app does have a watering budget you can use to select what percentage you want to water in a particular zone or zones. However, you will need to keep an eye on your water bill to see if you are spending too much money, while some competitors will keep track of this for you in their app.

If you are looking for a good smart sprinkler controller/timer, you need to look at the new Orbit B-hyve XR Smart Indoor/Outdoor Sprinkler Timer. It's made by experts in the irrigation industry who understand what it takes to provide the right amount of watering to your lawn/vegetation that helps save the environment as well as your wallet. They make it easy for you to setup and run a smart irrigation system in minutes. And depending on how adventurous you want to be, they can show you how to get the perfect irrigation customized for your home at an attractive price.

Pros:

  • Easy setup and robust app
  • Smart watering and how watering works for each zone
  • Water Sense Certified, and works with 2.4GHz and 5GHz Dual-Band Connection

Cons:

  • Doesn't keep track of actual water used in the app
  • Difficult if you have multiple kinds of plants in one zone

Check out The GearBrain, our smart home compatibility checker to see the other compatible products that work with Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa enabled devices.

Orbit 57995 B-hyve XR 16-Zone Smart Sprinkler Controller, Black




Orbit Catch Cup How-To www.youtube.com





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