A hose timer is a simple device that connects directly to the hose and to the hose’s water faucet. Its position between the hose and the water source allows the hose timer to control the flow of water to the hose and to the sprinkler (if one is connected). However, it’s important to note that a hose timer is not a sprinkler controller, which is an electronic device designed to work with an automatic sprinkler system.
Hose timers can work with up to four different hose outlets, providing the user with total control of the exact amount of water that each zone of the yard receives. This way, plants with lower water-consumption requirements are not flooded while you water the grass. The best hose timer should be simple and effective, allowing for quick and easy watering whenever and wherever necessary. The list of top products below is a good place to start the search for a new hose timer for your yard.
- BEST OVERALL: Kazeila Hose Timer, Water Timers for Hoses
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Orbit 62056 One Outlet Single-Dial Hose Watering
- BEST MECHANICAL: GARDENA 31169 Mechanical Water Timer
- BEST AUTOMATIC: Instapark PWT-07 Outdoor Waterproof Digital Timer
- BEST ELECTRONIC: Gilmour 804014-1001 400GTD Outlet Electronic Timer
- BEST PROGRAMMABLE: Homitt Programmable Water Timer
- BEST SMART: Melnor 65031-AMZ MiniMax Turbo Oscillating Sprinkler
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Hose Timer
Before choosing the best hose timer for an irrigation system, it’s crucial to determine the type of hose timer needed, the power source (if necessary), and even whether it will connect with a smart home system. Read on to find important shopping tips and details about essential product features.
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 at all, so they won’t run out of battery power in the middle of a watering cycle. These options typically have a control dial that’s easy to use and understand. However, they don’t offer the same premium 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 will allow the timer to essentially operate on its own, watering once or twice a day as scheduled and shutting down the flow of water when the allotted watering time is complete. These hose timers also have clear, digital screens and may connect through Wi-Fi or Bluetooth to smartphones or smart home devices. However, not all electronic hose timers are capable of these advanced functions, and they are reliant on a power source to function.
Electronic vs. Solar
Hose timers that operate on electricity can vary on where they source the electricity to function, splitting them up into electronic and solar categories.
- Electronic hose timers are designed to be used with a battery. Most of these products will operate on one or two AA batteries, though some smart hose timers may require more power for regular Wi-Fi or Bluetooth communication. The drawback with these hose timers is that the batteries will eventually run dry. Consider a product that includes a low-battery warning to avoid this problem.
- Solar hose timers also feature a digital screen and may even have some programmable functions outside of simply setting the timer, but as the name suggests, this type of hose timer gets its energy from the sun. The timer is equipped with a small solar panel that should be adjusted so that it receives regular sunlight throughout the day, allowing the timer to be set without worrying about the timer running out of stored energy.
Smart technology is a rapidly growing trend among homeowners who want to outfit their home with several interconnected systems in order to automate the functions of the home. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this technology can make hose timers more 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 connect with multiple devices at the same time over a wide range so that users can set or adjust the watering schedule through their phones, tablets, or even through voice commands with a compatible smart home device.
- Bluetooth-enabled smart hose timers have a simpler functionality that only allows them to connect with a single device. This connection isn’t usually used with a smart home device, but Bluetooth is frequently used to communicate with an app so the watering schedule can be adjusted from anywhere.
When considering the water source, look at the compatibility with the hose timer, the type of water valve, and the water pressure, which is measured in pounds per square inch (psi).
- Hose timer compatibility is typically dictated by the level of water pressure, the water valve size and threading, and the functionality of the hose timer. For instance, a solar hose timer isn’t a good choice if the water valve is located in a sheltered location.
- Water valves range in type, including ball, gate, and globe valves, but the important factors to note about the water valve are the size of the outlet and whether it has male or female threading. With this information, it’s easier to determine if the valve is compatible with the hose timer.
- Water pressure isn’t often a limiting factor, but some locations have a very high psi that can damage hose timers that have only been tested at lower pressures. Always check the product details and the manufacturer’s information to determine whether the hose timer has a maximum psi or if it’s only rated for residential systems.
Grass, roses, daffodils, trees, and more can occupy the same yard. Since not every plant requires the same amount of sun, shade, or 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 an hour, a third area for two hours, and sometimes even a fourth zone for three hours, depending on the watering requirements.
The ability to control more than one zone of watering is also a good feature for larger yards where one half of the lawn may sit mostly in the shade, while the other half can quickly dry out under the direct heat of the sun. The hose timer would allow for two sprinklers to water the lawn, shortening the watering time for the shaded area.
Some hose timers that run on electricity—regardless of whether they are battery or solar powered—can be programmed for more than one watering cycle, while mechanical or more basic electric hose timers can only be set for a single period of time. Programmability allows the user to set up the watering schedule for the entire week and may even extend up to a month or a year depending on the specific product.
This is a must-have feature for individuals who live in drought-prone locations because the hose timers can be set to the exact watering schedule set out by the water-conservation regulations for the area.
While automatic hose timers are great for programming a hands-off watering schedule, automatically turning the sprinklers on while it’s raining is a bit pointless. Fortunately, manufacturers have come up with a few different solutions to this issue, including rain-delay functions, rain-sensing functions, and weather forecasting.
- Rain-delay functions are simple commands built into the hose timer that allow the user to skip the watering cycle for the day. If the hose timer connects through an app or smart home device, then this function can be activated remotely. Otherwise, the user needs to manually choose to 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 that the soil is saturated to or beyond the desired level, then the watering cycle will be canceled.
- Weather forecasting is specific to WiFi- and Bluetooth-enabled devices. This feature lets the hose timer scan for local weather forecasts so that it can take appropriate 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.
Our Top Picks
The best hose timer ensures that lawns and gardens don’t dry out or become flooded. They may be able to connect directly through a smart home system or phone app to provide the user with access to adjust the watering schedule from home, work, or even on vacation. The list of top picks below features a selection of hose timers chosen for overall quality, price, and the important shopping tips and considerations mentioned above.
Designed with flexibility in mind, this automatic hose timer from Kazeila is ideal for the user who wants complete control over the automatic lawn-watering process. Featuring a watering duration range between one second and 300 minutes (five hours) and a watering frequency range from once an hour to once every 15 days, this battery-powered hose timer is great for taking on a wide variety of irrigation needs.
To prevent overwatering, the timer features a convenient rain-delay function that allows the watering cycle to be completely skipped if needed. It also allows for a manual override and has a child safety lock to prevent unintended triggers from interfering with the timer.
This hose timer has simple electronic needs, operating with two AA batteries, and the LCD screen powers down after 30 seconds of inactivity to avoid draining the batteries. A low-battery warning sign on the display alerts the user to when the batteries need to be changed. It’s been tested at up to 140 psi and it can be used with both a ¾-inch hose faucet and a ½-inch hose faucet.
Those with smaller lawns or gardens that don’t need multiple watering zones should consider this budget-friendly hose timer from Orbit. After popping in two AA batteries, simply connect the hose timer to a ¾-inch water valve to automatically control the watering schedule of the lawn and garden. The hose timer can be set to a water duration range of one minute to 240 minutes (four hours), and it can also be programmed to a frequency of once every six hours to once every seven days, with a specific time to activate throughout the scheduled time period.
Other features include a rain-delay function that can be set to skip watering for 24-, 48-, or 72-hour periods, as well as a manual override button that allows for even more flexibility in the watering schedule. This hose timer has been tested for operation at a maximum water pressure of 100 psi, which is more than the average water pressure for most homes (30 to 80 psi).
Ensure that the lawn and garden don’t become flooded with this easy-to-use mechanical hose timer from Gardena. A simple rotary dial lets the user set the watering duration between five minutes and 120 minutes. The dial can also be set to manual operation, allowing the hose to be used freely without a time limit. Manual operation also gives the user the ability to adjust the flow of the water from closed or off to completely open.
The hose timer also comes with a quick-release connector so that the hose can be removed without having to unscrew it from the hose timer threads, allowing the user access to the faucet through the timer. Due to the simple mechanical design of this hose timer, it does not require any batteries, so it should function consistently until it needs to be replaced.
The Instapark automatic hose timer has a wide range of watering duration settings, from just five seconds up to 360 minutes (six hours). The timer can be further programmed for watering frequency from a minimum of once every seven days to a quite rapid maximum of once every 10 seconds. Once the duration and frequency are set, just choose the start time and the hose timer is ready to take over control of the lawn and garden.
A water-resistant, impact-resistant ABS plastic casing offers durability, as does a protective cover that folds down to reveal the digital hose timer screen, rotary dial, and four push-button controls. This is also where the rain-delay button is located, so the watering cycle can be skipped if it’s raining or going to rain.
With dual hose connections, the Gilmour electronic hose timer allows users to automatically control two zones within a yard or garden. Just choose between the left or the right outlet and set the watering duration, frequency, and a specific start time; then switch to the opposite outlet and repeat the process with the same or different parameters, depending on personal preference.
Made of durable, high-impact plastic, the hose timer runs on two AA batteries. It can be set to a duration range between one minute and 360 minutes, and a rain-delay function can be used to cancel the watering cycle for 24, 48, or 72 hours. A safeguard function automatically shuts the water off when the battery on the device runs low to prevent overwatering.
Scheduling the lawn’s irrigation needs is simple with this programmable hose timer from Homitt. The large, easy-to-read LCD screen display shows the current time, the scheduled watering start time, watering duration, and watering frequency, and it also shows a countdown clock to the next watering cycle. Set the watering duration within a range of one second to 300 minutes, then program the watering frequency with a minimum of once every 15 days to a maximum frequency of once every hour.
When the frequency and duration are set, choose a start time and let the hose timer automatically water the garden until the batteries need to be changed or the schedule needs to be adjusted. This device can connect to either a standard ¾-inch faucet or a ½-inch faucet, which is more common in Europe. It also has a rain-delay feature and a manual watering function so that the hose can be used regularly without a timer.
Combining the simple water-conservation effects of a hose timer with the convenience of a smart home device, this WiFi-enabled smart hose timer makes caring for the lawn and garden as easy as giving a voice command. This Orbit hose timer operates on AA batteries but connects wirelessly to the included Wi-Fi hub inside the home for instant access to weather reports, allowing the hose timer to cancel a watering cycle if it should rain that day.
The wireless connection is also used to communicate with Amazon Alexa devices for voice control over the hose timer, or it can connect to the B-hyve app so that the user can set and adjust the watering schedule with a smartphone or tablet. The hose timer also comes bundled with a Melnor MiniMax Oscillating Sprinkler that can be used to water up to 3,900 square feet of lawn and garden.
FAQs About Hose Timers
Still have questions about how hose timers work or how to properly maintain them? 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, keep in mind that waterproof generally refers to the ability to be submerged completely under multiple feet of water, which is a quality that a hose timer doesn’t really need. It only needs to be able to resist damage from a sprinkler, a hose, rain, and dripping water from the user’s hands.
Q. Do I need to maintain my hose timers?
Hose timers should be inspected weekly or monthly, depending on the frequency of watering, and replaced if there are leaks or cracks. 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 one to three years before needing to be replaced.