When it comes to irrigation controllers and finding the correct one for your system, the options for controllers can seem both endless and overwhelming. Luckily, there are ways to find the perfect controller for your project the first time. If you take the time to figure out what it is your system needs before placing your order, you can save yourself both time and money by skipping the trial and error of selecting the correct controller for your system. 


Gathering Information

    Just like every other element of your system, you will want to gather the necessary information you will need to know before selecting a controller for your system. If you have not yet installed your system or are in the early planning stages, this would be the perfect time to begin by sketching your system design. 


    You will want to include all important information on where the locations of your equipment will be going, as well as any important factors such as bends, or areas you will need fittings. Since you are looking to include a controller in the system, you will want to include the area in which your valves will be housed, as well as the location in which you plan to keep your controller mounted. 


Asking Questions

    Taking time to ask yourself what you are looking for in a controller is probably one of the most significant steps to finding the correct controller for your system, as controllers are not a “one size fits all” ordeal. Some questions you may want to consider asking yourself are: 


  • Will you be using AC or DC valves for your system? 

  • Arguably, one of the most important questions in the controller buying process. Just as all other elements of irrigation, you cannot use AC and DC components interchangeably. Determine the valve type you will be using first to ensure you select the correct controller for the valve you have.


  • Is the controller you are interested in compatible with the manufacturer of your valves? 

  • You want to ensure you are purchasing a controller that you not only like, but it is compatible with the existing components of your system. 


  • How many zones are you looking to water with your controller? 

  • Not all controllers are able to handle large zone quantities, and some controllers have fixed stations, which only allow you to use up to the amount of zones the system can support. Checking the required number of zones you will need to irrigate your system can save you both time and money in the long run. 


  • Will you want to expand your system in the future? 

  • This question and the one previously mentioned go hand in hand. Depending how many zones you have, you may want to expand your system to meet the needs of your growing landscape.  You will want to find a modular controller that can be expanded as you need. As a note, when making your initial controller purchase, it is okay to select a controller with more zones than you currently have. All zones do not need to be in operation for the controller to operate.


  • Are you interested in an indoor or outdoor controller? 

  • Not all controllers are meant to be installed outdoors. Some controllers are considered indoor-only controllers. The biggest indication of whether you are looking at an indoor or outdoor controller is the casing the controller is kept in. If the controller you are interested in does not have a protective casing, or has a case without a lock, it is more than likely an indoor controller. Outdoor controllers have a weather-proof protective case with a keyed lock or lockable latch or hasp.


  • What features are you looking for in a controller? 

  • Take the time to sit down and consider what it is you are looking for in a controller. Do you want a controller that is compatible with rain and freeze sensors? Do you want a controller that can handle propagation? What needs do you have for your controller?


    With these questions in mind, you will most definitely be able to find the correct controller for your system’s needs the first time, with as little strain possible. 


Making Your Selection

    With the aforementioned questions in mind, you will be able to begin the process of selecting your controller. 


    The quickest way to rule out options that will not work for you is to determine whether you will be using an AC or DC controller based on the valves you have chosen. 


                                        What is the difference between AC and DC valves? 

    Just as you cannot use different threading with irrigation components, you cannot use AC and DC valves and controllers interchangeably. A DC valve solenoid can only operate with a DC controller just as an AC solenoid can only operate with an AC controller. 


    Both AC and DC describe types of current flow in a circuit. In direct current (DC), the electric charge (current) only flows in one direction, whereas electric charge in alternating current (AC), changes direction periodically.

    Helpful Tip: You can usually tell the difference between alternating and direct currents by the color of the wire seen on both. If both wires of your solenoid are a solid, single-color, your solenoid is most likely an AC solenoid. If the two solenoid wires are two different colors, such as red and black, your solenoid is more likely a DC solenoid.



    For more information on the relationship between your controller and valve, as well as situating yourself with a manifold, check out our Introduction to Irrigation Controllers, Valves, and Manifolds article.

    To help simplify your controller search, here are some manufacturer attributes you may want to keep in mind when making your selection: 


Manufacturer

AC or DC Controllers

Propagation  Programming

Accessories

Hunter

Both

No

  • Freeze sensors, Rain sensors, weather monitoring sensors

Rain Bird

AC

No

  • Rain sensors, freeze sensors, Wifi hub

Orbit / Hydro-Rain

Both

No

  • Wifi hub, mobile application

Toro

AC

Yes

  • Soil sensor probe, weather sensor, handheld remote

K-Rain

Both

Yes

  • Rain and freeze sensor 

Irritrol

AC

No

  • No accessories of their own, but accessory compatible

DIG

DC

No

  • No accessories

Galcon

Both

Yes

  • No accessories


    Once you have selected the valve type for your controller, you can begin to make your selections based on the functions you are looking for in a controller, and the operating specifications your system will require to run. Here are all of the controllers we currently carry grouped by manufacturer:


AC Controllers


Hunter

    Hunter as a manufacturer offers a large variety of online resources for your controller. If you like a manufacturer who will have written manuals for you, ready to go and easy to access via their website, Hunter may be a good choice of controller for you.


Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones 

Start Times

Modular (Expandable)

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

Hunter Pro-C Controller

Outdoor

6 or 12


-  Up to 4 starts per program


- 1 min up to 4 hour run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Solar Sync compatible 

  • Rain Clik compatible

  • Rain/Freeze sensor compatible

#4463

Hunter X-Core Outdoor Controller

Outdoor

2, 4, 6, and 8


- Up to 4 starts per program


- 1 min up to 4 hour run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Solar Sync compatible 

  • Rain Clik compatible

  • Rain/Freeze sensor compatible

#4452

Hunter PRO-HC Outdoor Wi-Fi Controller

Outdoor

6, 12, and 24


- 6 start times per program


- 24 hour maximum

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Touchscreen display

  • Hydrawise cloud software

  • CE, UL, cUL, C-tick, FCC, EPA WaterSense & Smart Watermark Approved

#10377

Hunter Indoor PRO-HC Wi-Fi Controller

Indoor

6, 12, and 24


- 6 start times per program


- 1 minute to 

24 hour run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Touchscreen display

  • Hydrawise cloud software

  • CE, UL, cUL, C-tick, FCC, EPA WaterSense & Smart Watermark Approved

#12400

Hunter Pro-C 4 Station Modular Controller

Outdoor

4


- 4 start times per program


- 1 minute to 6 hour run times

Modular - can be expanded

  • Solar Sync compatible 

  • Rain Clik compatible

  • Rain/Freeze sensor compatible

#13805

Hunter I-Core 6 Station Controllers

Outdoor

6


- 8 starts per program


- 1 minute to 12 hour run times

Modular - can be expanded

  • Solar Sync compatible 

  • Rain Clik compatible

  • Rain/Freeze sensor compatible

  • Quick Check feature alerts you of wiring issues.

#4460

Hunter HC Indoor 12 Zone Smart Irrigation Controller

Indoor

12


- 6 start times per program


- 1 minute to

24 hour run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Sleek plastic enclosure design for indoor installation

  • Two general purpose sensor ports for use with any Clik sensors and HC Flow Meter

  • EPA WaterSense approved

  • 24-hour maximum station run time provides flexibility for low-flow zone

#4665

Hunter X2 Controller

Outdoor

4, 6, 8, and 14


- 4 start times per program


- 1 minute to 24 hour maximum run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Solar Sync compatible 

  • Rain Clik compatible

  • Rain/Freeze sensor compatible

#16159


Rain Bird

    Rain Bird is an incredibly well-known company that offers online resources for its customers as well. Founded in 1933, Rain Bird has continuously shown their efforts in being innovators of drip irrigation. Their products are compatible with many modules and sensors, so if you are someone looking to add to their controller with different accessories, Rain Bird may be a good manufacturer choice for your controller.  


Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones &

Start Times

Modular (Expandable)

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

RainBird ESP4Me Wi-Fi Compatible Irrigation Controller

Available models for both

4 up to 22


- 6 start times


- 1 minute to 6 hour run times

Modular - can be expanded

  • Rain Sensor input with override capability

  • Delay watering up to 14 days

  • Water saving one-touch seasonal adjustment from 5% to 200%

#8529

RainBird ESP-TM2 Controller

Both

4, 6, and 8


- 4 start times per program


- 1 minute to 6 hour run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • 3 available programs (A, B, C) with up to 4 start times for each program

  • Simple one-touch manual watering

  • Bypass Rain Sensor for any station gives you the ability to customize which stations react to a rain sensor

#9720


Orbit / Hydro-Rain

    Hydro-Rain is the commercial division of Orbit Irrigation so when you purchase a Hydro-Rain product, you will get all of the same reliability and product confidence you have come to expect from Orbit. Whether you are a first-time user, or an Orbit fanatic, many users find the reliability of these products brings them back time and time again. 


Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones 

&

Start Times

Modular (Expandable)

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

Hydro-Rain Bhyve Pro Wi-Fi Controller

Outdoor

8, or 16


- 4 start times


- 1 to 240 minutes per zone run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi app access via smartphone, tablet or PC

  • EPA WaterSense approved

  • Rain sensor bypass allows manual or automatic rain delay of 24, 48, 72 hours, or 4 to 32 days

#9026

Bhyve Indoor Wi-Fi Controller

Indoor

4, or 8

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Indoor Controller can act as a hub to control Bhyve hose faucet timers

  • Rain/Freeze sensor connection input

  • Smart and/or manual control

  • Compatible with Amazon Alexa

#13226

Bhyve Smart Sprinkler Controller by Orbit

Both

6, or 12


- 3 start times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Functions with and without Wi-Fi connection

  • Bluetooth 4.0

  • Built-in fault detection and surge protection

#15308


Galcon

    Galcon is a reliable brand that is known for quality products that are simplified and easy to follow. If you are someone who wants an AC controller without all the bells and whistles, this may be a good fit for you.


Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones 

&

Start Times

Modular (Expandable)

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

Galcon Propagation Controller

Outdoor

4, 6, 9, or 12


- 4 start times per day per valve in weekly mode


- 1 minute to 12 hours run times


- 1 second to 12 hours in models 6S, 9S and 12S for misting or propagation

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Operation of 2 valves simultaneously

  • Integrated sensor input with ability to assign to individual valves for flexibility

  • Independent programming for each valve

#3320


Toro

    Many irrigators find themselves drawn to the reliability and simplicity of products manufactured by Toro. Although a simple design, Toro includes many additional features for their controllers that allow you to get the most use out of your controller possible. 


Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones 

&

Start Times

Modular (Expandable)

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

Toro Evolution AG Series Controller 

Outdoor

Up to 16


- 4 start times 


- 1 second to 24 hour run times

Modular - can be expanded

  • Runtime range from 1 second to 24 hours

  • Non-volatile memory holds program up to 5 years

  • Can be controlled wirelessly via the Handheld Remote Control (sold separately)

#8585


K-Rain

    K-Rain is one of the most reliable newer manufacturers on the market. Many people find that K-Rain products are both reliable, and in many cases, compatible with other manufacturers on select components of their products. Despite being a “new kid on the block” in comparison to their competition, K-Rain offers high quality products for almost all aspects of irrigation. 


Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones 

&

 Start Times

Modular (Expandable)

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

K-Rain Pro EX 2.0 Wi-Fi Enabled Controller

Available models for both

4


- 4 start times per station


- 1 second to 6 hour run times

Modular - can be expanded

  • Flexible operation with manual or remote operation

  • Non-volatile memory saves program during power outages

  • System test allows a full system check of valve operation

#8631

K-Rain RPS 46 Mini Controller 

Indoor

6


- 4 start times


- 1 minute to 12 hours 59 minutes run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Seasonal adjustment function for quick adjustment of watering durations in 25% increments, from 25% to 150%

  • Rain sensor compatible

  • 6 Zone Indoor Model with External Transformer and Plug

#7549


Irritrol 

    Committed to growth and innovation, Irritrol is a very reputable brand that has been around for many years. Irritrol is a company known for its commitment to bettering well-known products that people have grown to know and love. They, as well, have many compatible elements to their products, as many older manufacturers have since been bought by Irritrol. 


Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones 

&

 Start Times

Modular (Expandable)

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

Irritrol Rain Dial-R Series Controller

Outdoor

6, 9, and 12


- 3 start times


- 1 to 59 minutes in 1-minute increments or 1 to 5.9 hours in .1-hour (6 minute) increments

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Rain Sensor compatible

  • Meets the odd/even date watering mandates often used for landscape water restrictions

  • Water well recovery delay option

#4437

Irritrol KwikDial Outdoor Series

Outdoor

6, 9, and 12


- 3 start times per station


- 1 to 240 minutes (4 hours) in 1-minute increment station run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Climate Logic® compatible

  • Self-diagnostic, electronic circuit breaker: Identifies and overrides an electrical short in a valve or in valve wiring and continues to water operable stations

#4432

Irritrol Rain Dial-R Series Indoor Controller

Indoor

12


- 3 start times per program


- 1 to 59 minutes in 1-minute increments or 1 to 5.9 hours in .1-hour (6 minute) increment run times

Modular - can be expanded

  • Remote Control and Rain Sensor ready

  • Electrical surge protection on both input and output lines

  • Self-diagnostic circuit breaker

#14298

Irritrol Total Control Series

Outdoor

6, 9, 12, and 24


- 16 total starts assignable to any program


- 1 minute to 10 hours in 1-minute increment run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Rain Sensor ready

  • User-friendly, 10-position programming dial with large, easy-to-read display

  • Electrical surge protection on both input and output lines

#4477


DC Controllers


Hunter

    Hunter as a manufacturer offers a large variety of online resources for your controller. If you like a manufacturer who will have written manuals for you, ready to go and easy to access via their website, Hunter may be a good choice of controller for you.


Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones

&

Start Times

Modular (Expandable)

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

Hunter Node

Both

Up to 6


- 4 start times per program


- 1 minute to 6 hour run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Maximum station run time: 6 hours

  • Waterproof body is IP68 rated

  • Easy to program LCD screen

#14033

Hunter XC-Hybrid Controller

Both

Up to 12


- 4 start times per program


- 1 minute to 4 hour run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Operates DC latching solenoids (only) 9-11 VDC

  • Simple rain sensor bypass operation

  • Station delay feature allows time for slow closing valves or pressure tank recharge

#4457

Hunter NODE-BT Battery Operated Controller w/Bluetooth

Outdoor

1, 2, or 4


- 4 start times per program


- 1 minute to 6 hour run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Bluetooth control from up to 50 feet away (line of sight)

  • Waterproof enclosure seal protects against water ingress

  • Two sensor ports for rain/freeze sensor and soil moisture sensor

#16178


Galcon

    Galcon is a reliable brand that is known for quality products that are simplified and easy to follow. If you are someone who wants a DC controller without all the bells and whistles, this may be a good fit for you.


Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones

&

Start Times

Modular (Expandable)

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

Galcon 3 Zone Controller and Valves

Outdoor

3


- Up to 4 starts per day in weekly mode


- 1 minute to 12 hour run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Watering duration from one minute to twelve hours in one minute increments

  • Waterproof IP-68

  • Irrigation can be suspended via the controller to prevent unnecessary irrigation during rainy weather (rain mode)

  • Battery life is up to two years

#2093


DIG

    Simple and to the point definitely seems to be a DIG motto. Their reliable products paired with their dedication to quality service over time is one of the many reasons why customers of ours have come to love DIG. If you are someone who wants a simple DC controller that will give you full control over your system, DIG may be the manufacturer for you. 


Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones

&

Start Times

Modular 

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

DIG Solar Powered Controller with 3/4" FPT in-line Valve

Outdoor

1


- 5 start times per day


- 1 minute to 5 hours and 59 minutes in 1 minute increment run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Environmentally friendly with no backup battery or AC power necessary

  • Programmable run times from 1 minute to 5 hours and 59 minutes in 1 minute increments

  • Completely waterproof (IP68)

#4974

DIG ECO1 ASV Ambient Light (Solar) Powered Irrigation Controller 

Outdoor

1


- 5 start times per day


- 1 to 5 hours and 59 minutes in 1 minute increment run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • No backup battery or AC power necessary - uses clean solar energy

  • Rain off/delay option with automatic restart up to 99 days

  • Programmable run times from 1 to 5 hours and 59 minutes in 1 minute increments

#1747



Orbit / Hydro-Rain

    Hydro-Rain is the commercial division of Orbit so when you purchase a Hydro-Rain product, you will get all of the same reliability and product confidence you have come to expect from Orbit. Whether you are a first-time user, or an Orbit fanatic, many customers find the reliability of these products brings them back time and time again. 


Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones

&

Start Times

Modular 

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

Hydro-Rain HRC 990 DC 

Controller

Outdoor

4


- 4 starts per day per program


- 0 to 240 minutes in 1-minute increment run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • Unique watertight, plug in system requires no splicing or wire connectors

  • Universal - compatible with: Hydro-Rain® HRB, HRJ, HRV, Rain Bird® PEB, PESB, DV, Irritrol 205 Series, and more with proper adapters

  • IP-68 Rated: Withstands long periods of immersion 3' under water

#10477


K-Rain

    K-Rain is one of the most reliable newer manufacturers on the market. Many people find that K-Rain products are both reliable, and in many cases, compatible with other manufacturers on select components of their products. Despite being a “new kid on the block” in comparison to their competition, K-Rain offers high quality products for almost all aspects of irrigation. 



Controller

Indoor/Outdoor

# of Zones

&

Start Times

Modular

Additional Features

Item SKU/Parent SKU

K-Rain BL-KR Battery Powered Bluetooth Controller

Both

1, 2, 4, and 6


- Up to 8 start times per program


- 1 minute to  12 hour run times

Fixed stations - no expanding

  • IP68 certified 100% waterproof and fully submersible

  • Works with 9V DC latching solenoids

  • Rain/freeze sensor ready. Compatible with most normally closed sensors

#6950


I want a hose end controller, but there are none listed here. What do I do? 

    Controllers are not hose-end products. If you are looking for something that will water your plants on a repeating cycle that attaches and is used directly from your spigot, you will want to review our Hose-End Timer Buying Guide for more information on finding the correct timer for your drip irrigation system. 

    

    If after reading this guide you have any questions about the controllers offered by Drip Depot, or need assistance with figuring out if you have an AC or DC valve, please contact us at support@dripdepot.com with your questions! Our Happiness Heroes are more than happy to assist you in finding the information needed to select the right controller for your system.