The Best Hose Timers, Tested and Reviewed

We tested several hose timers to bring you the best options for perfectly hydrated lawns and gardens.

Best Overall

Melnor AquaTimer 2-Zone Digital Water Timer on a white background

Melnor 63100 AquaTimer 2-Zone Digital Water Timer

See It

Best Bang for the Buck

RainPoint ITV105 1-Zone Mini Digital Sprinkler Timer on a white background

RainPoint ITV105 1-Zone Mini Digital Sprinkler Timer

See It

Best Mechanical

Gardena 31169 Mechanical Water Timer on a white background

Gardena 31169 Mechanical Water Timer

See It

We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs. Learn More ›

A hose timer is a simple device that connects directly between a hose and a water spigot. The hose timer’s position allows it to control water flow to the hose and the sprinkler (if one is connected). However, it’s important to note that a hose timer is different than a sprinkler controller, which is an electronic device designed specifically to work with an automatic sprinkler system. 

We wanted to know which of today’s top hose timers really deliver on their claims of simplifying watering, so we tested them ourselves. We selected the most popular and highest-rated models and tried them out in our yards and gardens. Our favorite was the Melnor AquaTimer, boasting a durable design and easy-to-program settings with a large digital display.

To be effective, a hose timer should be simple to use, allowing for quick and easy watering whenever and wherever necessary. Ahead, learn what to look for when shopping for a hose timer and find out why the following models earned a spot on this lineup of the best hose timers for most yards.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Melnor 63100 AquaTimer 2-Zone Digital Water Timer
    Jump to Review
  2. BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: RainPoint ITV105 1-Zone Mini Digital Sprinkler Timer
    Jump to Review
  3. BEST MECHANICAL: Gardena 31169 Mechanical Water Timer
    Jump to Review
  4. BEST EASE OF OPERATION: Orbit 62056 One Outlet Single-Dial Hose Faucet Timer 
    Jump to Review
  5. BEST DUAL-HOSE: Gilmour 804014-1001 Electronic Water Timer
    Jump to Review
  6. BEST SMART: RainPoint Smart Wi-Fi 2-Zone Sprinkler Timer
    Jump to Review
  7. ALSO CONSIDER: Instapark PWT-07 Digital Programmable Water Timer
    Jump to Review
Instapark hose timer connected to hose reel
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

How We Tested the Best Hose Timers

Before conducting hands-on testing of hose timers, we researched more than two dozen brands and models to identify the ones most highly rated and recommended by experts and consumers. We scoured online reviews and analyzed product specifications and features to decide which timers to include in our tests.

When testing hose timers, we started by attaching each one to a spigot and connecting it to a hose (or two, if applicable). Then, we reviewed the programming features, testing the timer’s ability to set watering schedules and adjust watering duration and frequency. We also tried additional features, such as rain delay or manual override, and assessed how easy the timer was to program and use.

We scored each timer using a rubric. The better a timer performed in each test, the more points it received. Overall, our goal was to comprehensively evaluate each timer’s performance and features to help you choose a hose timer for your own needs.

Testing Stats
Products tested 7
Time spent testing Roughly 5 to 6 hours, plus monitoring
Tests performed8 to 10
Price range$30 to $100

Tips from a Pro Gardener

We also interviewed Troy Smothermon, a fellow gardener with 20 years of experience and founder of StartOrganic in California, who shared some advice. 

He suggests using “flexible lines, ideally with metal connections, to connect the timer to the hose outlet. Adding the timer directly onto the end of a hose bibb can be a breaking point.”

He added that “flexible lines allow the timer to move, reducing accidental breaks and bumps when relocating the hose. Also, it’s not a bad idea to install a splitter or “Y” so you can still use your regular garden hose from the same hose bibb while your timer is installed.”

Our Top Picks

A good hose timer helps ensure lawns and gardens don’t dry out or accidentally flood. The following models vary in type, price, and standard functions, but each earned a spot on our lineup by performing well in our hands-on tests. We included the pros and cons of each model to help you determine which one will best suit your watering needs.

Best Overall

Melnor AquaTimer 2-Zone Digital Water Timer

See It

Our Ratings: Ease of Use 5/5; Performance 4/5; Durability 5/5; Value 5/5

Product Specs

  • Number of hose outlets: 2
  • Watering duration: 1 minute to 6 hours
  • Digital or manual: Digital 

Pros

  • Easy to program and adjust with a large digital display and intuitive buttons
  • Rain-delay function can pause watering for up to 7 days
  • Dual watering zones can be individually programmed—ideal for those with differing watering needs

Cons

  • Batteries are not included and may require frequent replacement
  • Water flow is not adjustable per zone—both zones will have the same water pressure 

Topping our lineup is the Melnor AquaTimer. It features two hose outlets and is an excellent option for watering more than a single zone. 

In testing, we attached the AquaTimer to an outdoor spigot and connected two hoses to the bottom outlets. The fitting that connects to the spigot twists independently of the timer, which makes it simple to attach. 

We found programming the AquaTimer to be self-explanatory. A central button in the middle of the control panel allowed us to scroll through the functions, and we used the plus and minus buttons to set the time as well as select when watering would begin and how long it would last. Watering duration is adjustable from 1 minute to 6 hours. 

We created custom watering programs for each of the two zones. The first zone ran to a sprinkler in a flower bed, and we set the timer to water twice a day for 30 minutes each. For the second zone, we ran the hose to a large drinking bowl in our dogs’ play yard and programmed the water to come on twice a day for 2 minutes—just long enough to fill the bowl with fresh water. Having dual zones will be a boon for anyone with multiple watering needs, just as it was for us in our tests. 

Once set, the AquaTimer runs the same watering schedule daily, but it also has a rain-delay function that allows you to pause the watering schedule if you don’t need to water that day. It also features a manual override function that allows you to water anytime. 

The AquaTimer runs on two AA batteries (not included) and features a large easy-to-read LCD screen. Its primary downside is that flow strength is not adjustable per zone—if we wanted full-blast water for Zone 1, we also had it for Zone 2. For many, that likely won’t be a big issue. Overall, this little hose timer saves time and ensures the garden or pets always have a source of fresh water. 

Read our full review: Melnor AquaTimer 2-Zone Digital Water Timer

Get the Melnor hose timer at Amazon, or Walmart

Best Bang for the Buck

RainPoint ITV105 1-Zone Mini Digital Sprinkler Timer

See It

Our Ratings: Ease of Use 3/5; Performance 4/5; Durability 4/5; Value 4/5

Product Specs 

  • Number of hose outlets: 1
  • Watering duration: 1 minute to 3 hours and 59 minutes
  • Digital or manual: Digital 

Pros

  • Compact design; this small hose timer is designed to fit in tight spaces
  • Clear, easy-to-see LCD screen with large numerical display
  • Offers manual override and rain-delay functions for versatility 

Cons

  • The words on the dial and the buttons are small and can be challenging to read
  • Compact size offers only 1 hose outlet, which limits use in larger yards or gardens

One of the biggest complaints from those with water spigots in hard-to-reach spots is that most standard hose timers are too large to connect. There’s always the option of attaching a short leader hose to the spigot, then attaching a timer between the leader hose and another garden hose. However, if you want a compact timer to use in restricted areas, the RainPoint Mini timer is a great option. 

The RainPoint Mini uses two AAA batteries (not included) and has the same features as most larger timers. As a mini unit, it does only have one hose outlet, but for many watering situations, that’s enough. You can choose a watering duration between 1 minute and 3 hours 59 minutes. You can also adjust watering frequency to as often as once per hour or as little as once every 7 days. 

We found the words on the RainPoint Mini’s dial on the small side, so rather than attach the timer to a spigot where we might struggle to read the dial, we opted to connect the unit between two hoses. This process was quite simple thanks to the RainPoint Mini’s easy-attach fitting. Unfortunately, this model’s plus and minus buttons were also small—it was easier to simply memorize which was which rather than trying to read them. Even though this tiny timer has a small dial and buttons, its LCD screen’s digital numbers are large and easy to see, even in bright sunlight.

To achieve the compact size, RainPoint does compromise on some features, such as separate buttons for manual override and rain delay (up to 72 hours). This small hose timer requires you to use the plus and minus buttons and set the dial to “On” to activate those features, whereas other timers have dedicated buttons for those actions. 

Get the RainPoint Mini hose timer at Amazon, The Home Depot, or RainPoint.  

Best Mechanical

Gardena 31169 Manual Mechanical Water Timer

See It

Our Ratings: Ease of Use 4/5; Performance 4/5; Durability 4/5; Value 5/5

Product Specs 

  • Number of hose outlets: 1
  • Watering duration: 5 minutes to 2 hours
  • Digital or manual: Manual 

Pros

  • Super simple to set the timer—just turn the dial to the desired watering time
  • No batteries required; the timer runs off an internal spring
  • Budget-friendly and can be set to water for 5 to 120 minutes 

Cons

  • Strictly manual—cannot be preprogrammed to water on a schedule 

Sometimes less is more. We didn’t have to worry about batteries running down with the Gardena mechanical hose timer because this model is spring-loaded—no batteries are required.    

Nothing could be simpler than turning the rotary dial to set the watering duration between 5 and 120 minutes (2 hours). As soon as we set the time, we heard a faint ticking sound from the timer—similar to a kitchen timer that works on a spring-loaded system. The timer is also accurate. We set it to 15 minutes, and after 15 minutes of watering, it shut the water off. 

We could also leave the timer on the spigot but opt for manual operation by turning the dial to water-only mode. This allowed us to turn the water on and off as we pleased without using the timer function. 

The Gardena timer doesn’t come with any bells and whistles, and it doesn’t offer preprogramming. Every time we wanted to use the timer, we had to set the dial manually, but it shuts the water off, and that’s its saving grace. Those with busy lifestyles who tend to turn on sprinklers but forget to turn them off don’t have to worry about flooding the yard and running up the water bill. When you set the Gardena timer, it’s OK to forget.  

Get the Gardena hose timer at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Wayfair.

Best Ease of Operation

Orbit 62056 One Outlet Single-Dial Hose Faucet Timer

See It

Our Ratings: Ease of Use 5/5; Performance 4/5; Durability 5/5; Value 4/5

Product Specs 

  • Number of hose outlets: 1
  • Watering duration: 1 minute to 4 hours
  • Digital or manual: Digital 

Pros

  • Programming is simple—turn the dial to select the function and use the buttons to fine-tune the settings
  • Rain-delay option allows you to pause the watering program
  • Manual override makes it easy to turn the water on or off when needed 

Cons

  • Timer’s LCD screen can be challenging to read in bright sunlight 

After popping in two AA batteries (not included), we connected the Orbit timer to our outdoor spigot, attached a garden hose, and started testing. We immediately noticed how large and clearly marked the dial functions were—it was very easy to read them. 

Using the dial, we could set the hose timer to water for as little as 1 minute to as long as 240 minutes (4 hours), and we were able to change the watering frequency anywhere from once every 6 hours to once every 7 days. Programming was simple: The Orbit timer features a six-function dial and plus and minus buttons for setting the clock and selecting how long and when to water. The Orbit timer also includes a rain-delay function and a manual override. 

Overall, this hose timer is an excellent performer, but we didn’t love its digital screen. While the dial is large, the screen is on the small side, and it was challenging to see the readout in bright sunlight. Plus, it only has one water outlet, which may not be enough for some yards and gardens. We feel it’s best suited to small gardens or perhaps a drip irrigation system that runs off a single garden hose. 

Get the Orbit hose timer at Amazon, The Home Depot, Orbit, or Walmart.

Best Dual-Hose

Gilmour 804014-1001 Electronic Water Timer

See It

Our Ratings: Ease of Use 4/5; Performance 5/5; Durability 5/5; Value 5/5

Product Specs 

  • Number of hose outlets: 2
  • Watering duration: 1 minute to 6 hours 
  • Digital or manual: Digital 

Pros

  • Can select from multiple start times per day for each of the 2 zones
  • Programming watering is simple thanks to the dial and buttons
  • Features an override and rain-delay function for versatility

Cons

  • Rain-delay function comes with a slight learning curve 

With dual-hose connections, the Gilmour electronic hose timer allowed us to control two separate watering zones automatically. It runs off two AA batteries (not included) and comes with an easy-attach spigot connector. We ran one hose to a traveling sprinkler and another to a drip system in a perennial border. 

Programming each zone was easy—the Gilmour timer features L (left) and R (right) buttons for selecting each zone. We used the dial and the plus and minus buttons to set watering duration, frequency, and a specific start time for each zone. We could choose watering durations between 1 and 360 minutes and a watering frequency of every 6 hours, 12 hours, or up to 7 days. 

This hose timer comes with a manual override for watering anytime and a rain-delay function that disables the timer for up to 72 hours. However, the rain delay function could be a little more user-friendly. To engage it, you must first select the “Run” feature on the dial and then press the plus button. It’s not intuitive, and we had to read the manual’s fine print to figure it out. Once learned, however, it’s unlikely something you’ll forget. 

The digital screen is on the small side but is still easy to see and features a battery-charge indicator, which we appreciated. 

Get the Gilmour hose timer at Amazon, Ace Hardware, or Walmart.

Best Smart

RainPoint Smart Wi-Fi 2-Zone Sprinkler Timer

See It

Our Ratings: Ease of Use 4/5; Performance 5/5; Durability 5/5; Value 4/5

Product Specs  

  • Number of hose outlets: 2
  • Watering duration: 1 minute to 11 hours and 59 minutes
  • Digital or manual: Digital (on smartphone) 

Pros

  • Wi-Fi enabled and can be controlled remotely from an app
  • Watering programs are easy to set and change using intuitive controls
  • 2 watering zones that can be individually programmed for versatility 

Cons

  • Costs about twice as much as a non-smart digital version
  • You must have a home Wi-Fi network and smartphone to use the connected features

Those looking to program or adjust a water timer remotely need look no further than the RainPoint Smart hose timer. We’ve tested dozens of smart products, syncing them to our Wi-Fi network and controlling them via smartphones, so we were excited to test this timer. 

Physical installation begins just like other timers—simply insert four AA batteries (not included) and attach the dual-zone timer to an outdoor spigot. In testing, the RainPoint Smart’s easy-twist connector made this a snap. We then connected two hoses—one to a drip system and the other to a sprinkler in a flower bed. 

That’s all we could do from the unit itself. To finish installation and set the watering programs for each zone, we then plugged in the included hub, downloaded the app on our smartphone (which required scanning a QR code on the packaging), and followed the instructions to sync the timer to our router. The sync process was easier than expected since the app walked us through the settings. 

This is quite the hose timer! We could preprogram each of the two zones for specific durations from 1 minute to 11 hours 59 minutes and select particular days of the week for watering. In addition, we could program up to three separate watering plans for any given day. The app connected with local weather forecasts and notified us if rain was on the way so we could pause watering for up to 72 hours. As if that wasn’t enough, we could set watering modes by the amount of water we wanted to dispense—from 1 gallon to 2,641 gallons. 

The innovative features on this hose timer add so much versatility. The RainPoint Smart can also be used with a soil sensor that registers when the soil is dry or saturated and notifies you to adjust the watering programs. However, we didn’t have that sensor, so we couldn’t test that function. 

This is the Cadillac of hose timers, but there is still one manual function: If you want to water without the timer, simply push the unit’s left or right button to turn the water on or off. 

 Get the RainPoint Smart hose timer at Amazon, or RainPoint.

Also Consider

Instapark PWT-07 Digital Programmable Water Timer

See It

Our Ratings: Ease of Use 5/5; Performance 4/5; Durability 5/5; Value 5/5

Product Specs 

  • Number of hose outlets: 1
  • Watering duration: 10 seconds to 6 hours
  • Digital or manual: Digital 

Pros

  • Timer is easy to program using a dial and selection buttons
  • Comes with a manual override function that allows watering without using the timer
  • Schedule up to 4 watering sessions per day with durations of up to 6 hours 

Cons

  • Having only 1 hose outlet may be insufficient for those with multiple watering areas 

Those with smaller lawns or gardens that don’t need multiple watering zones might want to consider this budget-friendly hose timer from Instapark. The Instapark hose timer has a wide range of watering duration settings, from 10 seconds to 360 minutes (6 hours). The timer can be further programmed for watering frequency from just once every 7 days to as often as every 10 seconds. 

We installed two AA batteries (not included) and connected the timer to a hose reel (yes, most timers will connect to reels as well as spigots). We then attached a hose to the outlet on the timer. We experienced a significant leak the first time we turned on the water—it sprayed forcefully out of the reel fitting. Somehow the washer had fallen out of the fitting. We replaced it, reattached the timer, and had no more leaks. 

Once we set the watering duration and frequency, we chose a start time, and the hose timer was ready to take over watering. We liked that the Instapark has a flip-down cover to protect the LCD screen, dial, and buttons from wind, rain, and harsh ultraviolet rays. It was easy to program by selecting a watering function with the dial and fine-tuning the setting with plus and minus buttons. 

This timer also comes with a manual override for on-demand watering and a rain-delay button, which pauses the watering cycle if it’s raining or going to rain. While the Instapark has only one hose outlet, it offers the same features as more expensive brands—at a bargain price. 

Get the Instapark hose timer at Amazon, or The Home Depot.

Jump to Our Top Picks

What to Consider When Choosing a Hose Timer

Before choosing the best hose timer for a lawn, garden, or irrigation system, it’s crucial to determine the type of hose timer needed, the power source (if necessary), and whether you want to connect it to a smart-home system. Also consider whether you want a hose timer that allows for multiple hoses and different zones to get total control over watering. Those wanting to prevent flooding of plants with lower water requirements but still give the grass a good drink will especially want to look for such features.

Yellow Rainpoint dual zone hose timer connect to spigot next to a smartphone app screen
Photo: Glenda Taylor for Bob Vila

Mechanical vs. Automatic

The first factor to decide on is whether the hose timer should be mechanical or if the lawn and garden would benefit more from an automatic hose timer.

  • Mechanical hose timers have the benefit of simplicity. They don’t use electricity, so they won’t run out of battery power during a watering cycle. These options typically have a control dial that’s easy to use and understand. However, they don’t offer the same preprogramming benefits as automatic hose timers.
  • Automatic hose timers are designed for the set-it-and-forget-it lifestyle. They can typically be programmed with a basic watering schedule that allows the timer to operate on its own, watering once or twice a day as scheduled. These hose timers also have transparent digital screens and may connect to smartphones or smart-home devices through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. However, not all electronic hose timers are capable of these advanced functions.

Electronic vs. Solar

Powered hose timers vary on where they source the electricity, splitting them into electronic (battery) and solar categories.

  • Electronic hose timers are designed for use with a battery. Most of these products will operate on one or two AA batteries, though some smart hose timers may require more batteries for Wi-Fi or Bluetooth communication. The drawback with these hose timers is that the batteries will eventually run down and need replacing.
  • Solar hose timers feature a digital screen and may even have some programmable functions outside of simply setting the timer. As the name suggests, this type of hose timer gets energy from the sun. Solar timers are not as common as battery-powered timers, and we didn’t test any, but for those with spigots on the south side of the house, they offer another option for watering. 

Smart Technology

Smart technology is a rapidly growing trend among those who want to outfit their homes with interconnected systems that automate appliances. Even hose timers can harness this technology to be accessible through Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections.

  • WiFi-enabled smart hose timers connect to a smartphone or smart-home device using the home’s Wi-Fi. This allows them to communicate with digital devices so you can set or adjust watering schedules through your phone, tablet, or via voice commands with a compatible smart-home device.
  • Bluetooth-enabled smart hose timers also function through a connection with a digital device. Using Bluetooth, you can communicate with an app to adjust the watering schedule from a smartphone or table. However, this technology typically requires the device to be within about 150 feet of the timer.  

Water Source

Residential hose timers are made to connect to standard outdoor spigots. Despite the diameter of the actual hose, such as ½ inch or ⅝ inch, the valves and fittings should all be compatible. Unless the hose timer specifies that it only fits a larger or smaller connector, there’s no need to worry about it fitting your home’s spigot.  

Likewise, water pressure—measured as pounds per square inch (psi)usually isn’t a limiting factor, as hose timers are designed to withstand pressure exceeding most residential water-delivery systems. To be safe, it’s smart to check the product details and the manufacturer’s information to determine whether the hose timer has a maximum psi. Also note that commercial water pressure may be too much for a residential hose timer.

Zones 

Grass, roses, daffodils, trees, and more can occupy the same yard. Since not every plant requires the same amount of water, some hose timers are designed to work with more than one hose to separate the yard into watering zones. This kind of categorization and individual control can allow the hose timer to water one area for 30 minutes, another area for 1 hour, a third area for 2 hours, and sometimes even a fourth zone for 3 hours, depending on how many outlets the timer offers. 

Smothermon says that “it’s important to remember that not all plants need the same amount or frequency of watering. Fruit trees, perennial herbs, and organic vegetables should all be on different zones because they all have different watering requirements. Pick the type of plants or trees and set up a system specifically for each one.”

The ability to control more than one watering zone is also a good feature for larger yards where part of the lawn is in the shade while another part dries out quickly due to direct sun. In an instance like this, you could use a dual-zone hose timer to shorten the watering time for the shaded area and conserve water.

Programmability 

Most hose timers that run on electricity—regardless of whether they are battery- or solar-powered—can be programmed for more than one watering cycle. In contrast, mechanical or spring-loaded timers can only be set for a single time. Programmability allows you to set up the watering schedule for the entire week and may extend up to a month or longer, depending on the specific product. 

This is a beneficial feature for individuals who live in drought-prone locations because the hose timer can be set to a precise watering schedule abiding by water-conservation regulations for the area.

Rain Technology 

While automatic hose timers are great for programming a hands-off watering schedule, automatically turning the sprinklers on while it’s raining is pointless. Fortunately, manufacturers have devised solutions to this issue, including rain delay, rain sensing, and weather forecasting.

  • Rain-delay functions are simple commands built into the hose timer that allow you to skip the watering cycle for the day. This function can be activated remotely if the hose timer connects through an app or smart-home device. Otherwise, you must manually skip the watering cycle at the hose timer.
  • Rain-sensing functions are much more intuitive. A moisture sensor is embedded in the soil and connected to the hose timer. If the sensor detects saturated soil, the watering cycle is automatically canceled.
  • Weather forecasting is specific to WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled devices. This feature considers the local forecast and adjusts the hose timer’s action based on the weather for the day. However, this is only as accurate as the local weather forecast, so it may not be reliable 100 percent of the time.

FAQs 

Still have questions about how hose timers work or how to maintain them properly? Read on to find the answers to some of the most common questions about these handy lawn-care tools.

Q. Are all hose timers waterproof?

All hose timers are water-resistant, but they are not all fully waterproof. However, remember that waterproof generally refers to the ability to be entirely submerged under multiple feet of water, a quality that a hose timer doesn’t really need. Hose timers only need to resist damage from a sprinkler, hose, rain, or water dripping from your hands.

Q. Do I need to maintain my hose timers?

Hose timers should be inspected weekly or monthly, depending on the watering frequency, and replaced if leaks or cracks occur. Beyond this simple inspection, hose timers should also be removed before cold weather begins to avoid freezing and cracking.

Q. How long do hose timers last?

If a hose timer is properly maintained, it can last from 1 to 3 years before needing to be replaced.
Smothermon says that “As long as the rubber inserts/gaskets inside the timer and inside the hoses are replaced every year or so, the systems typically remain leak free”

Meet the Tester

Glenda Taylor is a product tester and writer specializing in the construction, remodeling, and real estate industries. She and her husband own a general contracting company, and Taylor is experienced in both residential and commercial building applications. She tests a wide range of power tools as well as other home improvement, household, and lawn-and-garden products.

Additional research provided by Timothy Dale.

Share
Timothy Dale Avatar

Timothy Dale

Contributing Writer

Timothy Dale is a home improvement writer who has been in the industry for several years. In his work for BobVila.com, he has written a number of how-to articles related to yard maintenance, vehicle repair, and home renovation, not to mention a wide variety of buying guides and articles on DIY projects. He always ensures readers get the information they need to tackle their next project.

WHY YOU CAN TRUST BOB VILA