Smart sprinkler systems will save money on your water bills

I’ve been a fan of the Rachio intelligent sprinkler controller for many reasons. Among them, it’s way smarter than the system I had, and it will save you money on your monthly water bills.

Now Rachio has just launched an even smarter system with the Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller and Rachio 3 Wireless Flow Meter.

The sprinkler controller system connects to your existing Wi-Fi network to fully manage your lawn watering, After connecting, you control watering days, how long each zone waters, scheduling (odd, even, every three days, etc.) or manually with a user-friendly app.

During the app setup, it automatically finds a local weather station, which determines the amount of rain in the area and whether watering is needed.

While watering, Rachio’s water saving feature breaks up the watering schedule by zone, so zones right next to each other don’t go off consecutively. This maximizes your soil’s absorption rate by not flooding it.

Now, the new Rachio 3 Smart Sprinkler Controller adds even more features including 5 GHz wireless compatibility (and 2.4 GHz) and a first-ever residential wireless flow meter.

When a leak is detected, you’ll be alerted via the app, and the flow meter automatically shuts down water supply, protecting against landscape damage, flooding and wasted water.

Other new features include buttons on the unit for controlling the system (Rachio 2 is button free, controlled only with the app), upgraded weather intelligence and easy press connectors for 14 and 18 gauge wiring.

As mentioned on my initial review in the summer of 2016, I’m not an electrician, and I’m not a plumber, but installing the Rachio 2 was as simple as plugging in a lamp, which I handled with ease. The Rachio 3 is exactly the same presale launch special of $50 off Rachio 3 8-zone, $80 off the 16-zone or the bundle with the flow meter. Regular pricing will be $249.99 for the 8-zone, or $379 for the 16-zone, and $99.99 for flow meter


Computer companies are starting to eliminate wired USB keyboards, which forces you into the wireless, battery-powered models. But to the rescue comes a company named, Matias.

They have launched a series of USB keyboards for Macs and PCs that work perfectly.

The RGB-Backlit keyboards are modern looking with choices of silver and space gray aluminum for Mac, and black aluminum for PC users.

Each keyboard features a Spectrum Color Dial to control the backlit colors. This was the first thing I tried on the keyboard.

One end of the dial gets the keyboard to white and turning it to the right gives you a choice of colors through the rainbow. Matias calls it a continuous spectrum of colors. I call it pretty cool.

The Matias website also pointed out an added feature when using a keyboard with the color dial. It’s known that you should reduce the amount of blue-light exposure at night since it contributes to poor sleeping, so with the dial you can easily adjust the blues out for nighttime use.

Some will say using a wired keyboard forces you to take up valuable real-estate in what could be your only USB port, but there are easy workarounds with USB hubs.

Matias keyboards have a built-in USB 2.0 port, which is perfect for plugging in a mouse or a mouse dongle.

Layouts are available for the U.S. and many other countries. The Mac version has Mac-friendly function keys. $99


Scosche’s flatOUT LED Realtree 3-foot charge, and sync cables are designed with a handy LED light built right into the cable.

The light has two functions: when it pulses red it’s charging, when you see blue the charging is complete.

Realtree has partnered with Scosche to give the cables an attractive camouflage look for outdoor enthusiasts, using natural elements to create an attractive 3D effect.

The cables feature a flat design, which stays tangle free. They are available with micro USB ($14.99) or Lightning ($17.99) connections.


Contact Gregg Ellman at Follow him on Twitter: @greggellman

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