Trying to find a the best water timer for the garden was a pretty un-exciting event, I essentially wanted to find an irrigation timer that:
- I could trust with my water bill.
- That would be easy to set up and use – no lengthy instructions please!
- Wasn’t going to cost a lot of money.
As a result of my usual lengthy research habits, I have rounded up EVERYTHING you need to know in an easy to follow guide, showing what each of the best water timers does and their excellent features and the downsides to each different model.
This Hozelock sensor irrigation controller is one of the more advanced timers on the market, but it is not in the top price bracket like the Gardena advanced timer.
What can it do for me?
This clever little gadget mounts to your outdoor tap using a standard Hozelock connection.
- It has a day light / night time sensor so will automatically select the best time to water based on the sunrise or sunset. It even adapts to the changing seasons so you don’t have to reprogram it for when the sunset time changes.
- Tell the timer to water for 2, 5, 10, 20, 30 or 60 minutes.
- Really easy to adjust without loosing your settings incase you don’t need to water one day because the weather changed.
- There is a button to tell the timer to do an immediate water now, for a selected number of minutes.
- The sensor works even if your tap is situated in a shady spot.
- Easy to use – simple minimal settings
- Easy to set up – compact design and works with all Hozelock products.
- No digital screen – easier to see in bright sunlight
- Can be used with a two or three way splitter, to tackle different areas of the garden at once.
- Robust and hard wearing plastic
- Needs 2 AA batteries – these need changing, hopefully not too often – maybe once a year. There is a built in battery status indicator.
- Can’t be used with a water butt – then again, most timers cannot be used with a water butt.
- More expensive than the basic models available.
This is most budget friendly electronic water timer that I have chosen to include.
The Kingfisher timer costs under half of the price of the Hozelock timer plus. But is it any good?
The functionality of this timer is pretty basic, for considering the low cost, you can’t really ask for much more.
Set the frequency of how often you want to water, from once every hour to once a week.
Next, set how long you would like the timer to run for each time it is on, from 1 minute to 120 minutes.
- It is the cheapest decent timer on the market.
- The Kingfisher is compatible with most brands of hosepipes including Hozelock.
- Very easy to set up, barely need to even look at the instructions as it is pretty self explanatory.
- Takes two AAA batteries – make sure you use good ones, so that they don’t run out and the water is left trickling out.
- Have the screw on the plastic water cover perfectly to avoid water damage inside. (Some timers do not need a protective cover at all.
- Feels a little flimsy.
This Orbit water timer looks pretty basic on the surface, but it actually does a fantastic job and suits all type of irrigation needs, from basic beginner to semi pro gardeners.
What can it offer?
- The large LCD screen makes it really easy and simple to read, even in the sunlight.
- The wheel dial makes it easy to change settings if you have trouble moving small buttons and knobs.
- Set the start time, the duration of the watering and how often you would like it to water your garden.
- Set the frequency from every 6 hours to once a week.
- Set the minutes of watering from 1 minute to 240 minutes.
- Use the manual override setting to water instantly – this won’t mess up your usual set programme.
- It has a built is manual ‘rain delay’ setting – so if you know it is going to rain you can tell the timer to skip the next water cycle.
- Very well built robust design, will withstand the British weather.
- Easy to programme and easy to manage controls.
- No fiddly lid or cover to put on – device is weather proof.
- Manual rain delay setting.
- More expensive than many other digital timers for the same features.
- No weather sensor or daylight sensor – the timer works on the time you set it to turn on.
The Hozelock automatic water timer is battery powered and can be set to automatically water your garden.
The dial programming is simple and uses manual dial turning to set. Many people are more familiar with this sort of timer setting dial and would prefer to manually see the numbers and dial than a digital screen,
Is it any good?
The Hozelock Simple timer does everything you would expect a water timer to do.
I like that it can be set for a full 24 hours in advance and repeat every day.
You can set the timer to water anything from once per day up to four times a day, which means if you forget to water your prized dahlias, this Hozelock timer has your back.
You can override the timer if you want to manually water too.
I really like that this timer is compatible with different brands and can be connected straight to your water butt. I am definitely in support of saving water wherever possible and using recycled rain water from a butt without having to stand there filling a watering can is music to my ears!
- If you’re clueless about how long the grass or your pots really need watering for, this timer would be ideal for you, you can follow the preset programmes and avoid overwatering for too long. Simply adjust the programme based on if your garden seems to be too wet or too dry.
- Simple one dial control – not screen or digital buttons. Ideal for the elderly.
- Trustworthy Hozelock name and reputation – with something like a water timer, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t feel totally comfortable leaving a cheaply made timer in charge of my water bill whilst on holiday – I would however, feel happier knowing that the timer in charge was made by Hozelock.
- Sturdy and robust model, – easy to handle set up and use.
- Can be used on a water butt.
- Needs 2 AA batteries, need to keep an eye on when they are likely to run out.
- I personally like have a screen or a way to know instantly if the timer is on or off. I hate the thought of relaxing in the garden and the sprinkler suddenly comes on! There is a audible notification to tell you when you have successfully set the timer.
Another entry from Hozelock, this is one of the cheapest water timers in this post.
It is definitely the cheapest Hozelock irrigation timer available.
On first glance this timer looks pretty basic, so how does it differ to the other water timers?
How does it compare?
It is important to note that this water timer from Hozelock operates purely as a countdown of watering time with an auto shut off to the water supply at the end of the number of minutes you select.
(Set any time from 5 minutes to 120 minutes.)
There is no programmable feature on this water timer, so it is not suitable if you are looking for a water timer to take care of watering whilst you’re on holiday.
It is however, very suitable and useful if you have a sprinkler or water dripper system set up and just want to let the system work for a limited amount of time without having to remember to turn off the tap!
(The number of times I have seen our next door neighbours grass sprinkler going for what seems like ages – thinking has he forgot to turn the tap off?)
The Hozelock auto off controller would also be ideal when you are doing things such as filling a pond or garden pool with water – a time when you really need to remember to turn the tap off to avoid wasting water.
- Very easy to use, the device clips onto the tap, turn the dial like an egg timer and that’s it.
- Large dial is easy to grasp and turn.
- No complex features to confuse.
- Secure water cut off to avoid wasting water.
- Cheap – costs around a third of some of the other Hozelock water timers.
- Basic limited functionality – cannot set timer in advance or programme it to start at a certain time.
- Wont take care of watering whilst you’re on holiday.
This is the most expensive irrigation timer in my list and the most advanced.
Apart from feeling very well made and the more advanced features what else can the the Garden timer offer?
Is it worth the extra cost?
I would say that if you are a passionate gardener or if watering the garden gives you pride and joy, then the Gardena timer is perfect for you.
Aside from the timer functions, I love that this is the only water timer I have found where you can lift the control panel off the main unit to change the settings.
Many outside taps are positioned at an awkward height to be being for a period of time to set the time functions. – Being able to lift the panel off and walk around the garden with it or perhaps sit on a bench is such a simple but useful feature.
It might look a little complex to understand how to work, but I assure you, Gardena have made is very easy and once you have had a look at the instructions, and realised what the symbols mean, you will have no problem in reprogramming the timer.
This water timer has a clear digital LCD screen, to make it easy to read even in the sunlight.
There are two buttons and on dial – so minimal number of controls to master.
I appreciate and I’m sure you will too, the days of the week that are permanently on the screen – the current day is underlined.
There is a clear digital battery display to ensure that you won’t accidentally run out of battery (the battery for the Gardena is a 9V battery – most take AAA or AA. The battery lasts around a year.
The settings are the usual – select number of days or with the Gardena – you can select specific days of the week.
Select frequency of watering and for how long.
One final thing that makes the Gardena irrigation timer stand out for me above the rest (for the more serious gardeners).
This timer can be connected to a range of Gardena accessories including ‘Gardena Rain’ and ‘Soil Moisture Sensor’.
Both of these sensors help you to not only conserve water and your water bill if it rains, but to avoid over watering if not needed and avoid drowning your plants if the soil is already damp or wet.
- Advanced functionality – perfect for serious or even professional gardeners.
- Ability to use rain and soil moisture level sensors to avoid over watering.
- You can take the settings screen off the main unit and adjust settings without having to bend down.
- Easy to read screen and easy to understand buttons and control wheel.
- Will easily take care of your watering whilst you’re on holiday or at work.
- More expensive than other water timers.
- Maybe not suitable for people who struggle with new technology and screens with small text.
- Would be nice if it had an optional second water port built in – for the more serious gardeners with multiple dripper loops set up as well as sprinklers.
This Orbit tap timer is very similar to the other Orbit tap timer that I mentioned earlier.
They are quite similar in price too, the main difference is the design, and the slightly better digital screen
What does it do?
Choose how often you would like to water, from every 6 hours to every 7th day.
Then choose how long you want to water for, from 1 to 240 minutes.
You can also use the manual watering function to keep your set programme but to water immediately. Or, if the inevitable rain starts, you can use the delay button to skip the next watering session to save wasting water.
- Very easy to set up and to change programmes without having to consult the instruction manual.
- Large digital dial is easy to see, even in sunlight.
- Compatible with all major hose brands.
- In the higher price bracket of water timers, £30-£40.
- Slightly more tricky buttons to navigate, especially if wearing gardening gloves.
- Have to bend down to the level of the tap to adjust settings.
This Orbit Buddy II is a slightly more advanced version of the Buddy I timer.
It has two ports which means you can set up two different programmes for the two water feeds.
This helps you to take your watering to the next level and to set up multiple sprinklers or drip feeders.
What does it do?
Pretty much the same as the other Orbit Buddy water timers.
Use the dial and the simple buttons to set the start time, how long to water for and how often. It’s really simple.
The good thing is that you can isolate one of the water feeds, or programme them both to a separate time pattern.
- Two water feeds, with independant timer settings to water more of your garden more quickly.
- Doesn’t cost much more than the Orbit timer with only one water feed.
- More advanced ‘rain delay’ feature – delay the next watering for 24 hours, 48 hours or 72 hours without disturbing the preset programmes.
- Screen is quite small and basic.
- No battery life indicator.
- Have to bend down to adjust the timer settings.
Best Luxury / Advanced Irrigation Timer
They both rank highly with me. The Gardena I think just had the edge over the Hozelock, thanks to its ease of use.
The Gardena dial controls can be lift off the unit that is attached to the tap to make it easier to tinker with the settings without having to bend down for a period of time.
The screen is also a good quality easy to read LCD screen – however if you struggle reading small numbers, go for the Hozelock instead as the numbers are bigger.
The features of the Hozelock Sensor Controller mean it is also one of the best luxury buys in water timers.
The daylight sensor is clever and means you don’t have to preset a time to water, it will water based on the light levels.
Best Budget Hose Timer
The reason I would choose the Kingfisher timer over the Hozelock one is the functionality.
They are quite similar in price, both can be bought for around £15.
The Kingfisher timer can do all of the things that the more expensive timers can do, like set the time to water, the frequency and the length of time to water for.
Whereas the Hozelock timer is simply an egg timer style, so when the time you have set runs out, the water cuts off.
If you’re going on holiday or want to not have to think about setting the timer each time you want to water your garden, go for the Kingfisher timer.
I hope this Top 8 Irrigation Timers post was useful to you. When I first decided to get one, I thought they would all be really complicated and annoying to set up.
Having done my research as to which one is the best to which needs, it has become clear that they are actually really easy to use set up and do not cost a lot of money.