Best Hose Timer: Top Mechanical and Digital Timer Picks For 2020

Timing is everything, or so the old phrase goes. Are you a business person who’s constantly on the go? Or are you a mom who’s juggling housework and kids and a job, and you just want a time saver? Either way, you need a hose timer.

We’re going to go over the top choices in hose timers that are available right now. Whether you need one or multiple areas watered, something mechanical or something digital, there’s something here for you. So read on for everything you need to know about the hose timer and discover your best option!

Best Hose Timer Picks For Specific Needs:

Other Good Choices:

Why Do You Need A Hose Timer?

There’s quite a few reasons why a hose end timer is a good idea for you. Here’s some of the biggest reasons you need one now!

Avoiding Water Waste

I’m in California, where we’ve spent most of the last decade enduring a nasty drought. Here, water conservation is key, and in fact it’s the law. Most communities have put into place water conservation standards and requirements. You might only be able to water 3 days a week during a certain set of hours. If you’re not home then, your timer will be!

Also, while it doesn’t seem like there’s a lot of wasted water in hand-watering, there can be. Carrying around your hose, you’re spilling out precious resources onto the lawn or along your pathways in the garden. A hose timer paired with a good drip irrigation system can ensure that you water only as long as you need to, and that not a single drop is wasted.

Different Ecosystems, Different Water Needs

Most gardeners don’t grow just one type of plant. In fact, there’s a wide and varied spectrum of plants in the average person’s yard, and they may not all need the same level of moisture. Furthermore, you’re watering from the top with a hose, which means you run the risk of diseases like powdery mildew. It can be a hassle.

Using a hose timer that has multiple outlets means that you can run one hose to your succulents and another one to your tomato patch, and set the timers for different schedules and different levels of water. It’ll automatically handle it from there.

Home Security… Sprinkler?

When you’re taking that much-earned summer vacation, you don’t want your lawn to turn brown. Setting up a lawn sprinkler on a timer makes sense then. But it has an added benefit: it deters thieves.

The average thief casing a neighborhood will see the sprinkler on and assume someone is home. They’ll skip right past your house. While a lot of people think of automatic timers for their lights as a security measure, your hose timer can be a pretty decent one too. It might not have been designed to be part of a home security system, but it certainly has its benefits!

Ease and Simplicity

Did I mention that hose timers make life incredibly easy yet? Because I really mean it! Hose timers are great time-savers.

If you take long trips out of town, your water timer can eliminate the worry that you’ll have a wilted wasteland when you return. Even if you’re home, your garden hose timer can be really beneficial. There’s no worry that you’ll miss a watering, and you can do garden maintenance while your plants are having a drink.

There’s even some advanced models out now that can be controlled via the internet. Just tell it when to start or stop using your phone or other device. You won’t have to rush out into the heat of the summer sun!

Garden Hose Timer Features

While there’s not a whole lot of difficulty to water hose timers, there’s still some possible features you might want.

Watering Zones

Large yard? No problem. You can pick a hose timer that has multiple outlets for multiple hoses. While a single-valve outlet will work just fine on its own, you will need to move the hose from location to location. With a timer that has multiple zones, you can program the time you want it to supply water to each hose. Your timer will handle the rest!

Mechanical vs. Digital

Water hose timers come in one of two versions: mechanical, or digital.

Mechanical hose timers don’t use batteries. With these devices, you walk up to the hose, turn a dial to set it for however long you desire the water to be on, and walk away. It’ll start the water immediately and cut it off when that time is done.

Digital timers have multiple settings for watering options. If it’s the peak of the summer and your veggies need water both at sunrise and sunset, for instance, that’s doable. These do typically require batteries, which means you’ll need to replace them regularly. Easy to program, these water timers can be reset for different times of year and different watering needs.

Watering Duration

Depending on your garden needs, you can vary the duration. A mechanical device is very simple, you just turn the dial and it begins the watering cycle. But if you have a multiple-outlet digital model, it’s very easy to set one hose for 30 minutes at dawn and another hose for 50 minutes mid-day if that’s what you want.

Most mechanical models go to 120 minutes of consistent watering time as a maximum. Digital models have an even longer time, which is great if you’re deep-watering grapevines or small trees once or twice a week rather than daily.

Rain Delay

Clouds have formed, and rain is coming. That’s not a problem! All you have to do is to tell your timer to do a rain delay for the anticipated amount of time. Now, with a mechanical model, you just don’t turn the dial, but digital models vary in how this is done. Usually it’s as simple as pressing a delay button or entering in how many days you want the water to be off for.

Sturdy, Waterproof Construction

While it may seem silly, some cheaply-made hose timers aren’t waterproof. While this won’t hurt a mechanical model, on a digital hose timer it can destroy the whole unit. Be sure that your control panel and battery access port are fully waterproofed. It also helps if your unit is made out of heavy plastic or metal, as it will hold up to the elements better that way.

Other Features

If you want your garden to use wireless technology to determine when optimum watering schedules should be, there’s now devices that can do that for you. With a wireless soil moisture tester, a wireless hose timer, and a base station to coordinate it all, you can let your garden go fully automatic!

For those of us who still want to maintain control over our watering frequency, there’s also an app for that. Let’s say that you realize while you’re out of the house that it’s the perfect time for your sweet potato vines to get a drink. You can use your phone app to turn on the water from afar, and tell it when to turn off. Just a few taps and it’s done.

Top Hose Timer Reviews

Best High-Tech Digital Hose Timer

Melnor RainCloud Internet Controlled Smart Water Irrigation Timer, 4-Zone

Melnor 16043-RSC Raincloud Internet Controlled Smart Water Irrigation Timer, Kit, Basic
  • Control your watering from anywhere you have...
  • Setup is a breeze with a simple plug and play...
  • Water up to 4 different areas or zones with 1...

Have you ever wanted to say “Alexa, turn on the water for zone 4”?

The Melnor RainCloud is a smart, WiFi-enabled system that has four valves for hoses. When paired with an AquaSentry soil moisture sensor, it can actually detect when your soil needs to be watered and automatically do the job. On its own, it can be operated on a standard timer system, by app, or via your Amazon Echo unit.

It’s not the cheapest hose timer on the market, but if you want something that you can control from your phone while waiting for your next business flight, this is perfect. Knowing that you can water your garden from anywhere with an internet connection is priceless.

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Best Single-Valve Digital Hose Timer

Orbit Single Outlet Programmable Hose Faucet Timer

Orbit Single Outlet Programmable Hose Faucet Timer. E-Commerce Packaging
  • Oversized features for ease of use
  • Rain delay for water conservation; Heavy Duty...
  • Requires two AA alkaline batteries (not included)

Extremely simple to program, the Orbit hose timer is a digital unit with a manual interface. To set the time or the watering settings, you turn the dial to the right section and then use the + and – buttons to set times. Single-outlet, this unit is good for setting up an automatic sprinkler for the lawn or running a drip hose for your prized flower garden.

If you find you need to use the hose to wash the car or do other tasks, there’s a manual override button. You can set a period of time up to 240 minutes, and then simply push that button to use the hose at your leisure. It’ll turn off when it’s done!

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Best Dual-Valve Digital Hose Timer

Gideon Dual-valve Hose Irrigation Water Timer

Gideon Dual-Valve Hose Irrigation Water Timer Sprinkler System – Battery Powered; Easy Hose...
  • EASY TO USE – Features a swivel coupling for...
  • MAXIMUM FLEXIBILITY – Allows setting your...
  • 2-PROGRAMMABLE VALVES – Features two separate...

Dual outlets make this the perfect size for someone who’s watering a small lawn and a garden bed separately. With a pair of hoses attached to the bottom, you have two zones of coverage. Attach one hose to your raised bed garden pipes, the other to your lawn sprinkler, and the watering will take care of itself.

The Gideon unit also has a rain delay option. Simply tell the unit how long you want it to hold off, and once the delay has ended, it will resume its normal watering schedule. It’s fully waterproof and rainproof, and can hold up to extremes in weather. This unit does require battery changes, so be prepared for that.

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Best Triple-Valve Digital Hose Timer

Orbit 3-Outlet Programmable Hose Faucet Timer

Orbit hose timer

Much like Orbit’s single-valve setup, this 3-valve unit is easy to operate. The timer will save its programming even as you change the batteries, and it houses up to three different settings. Do you have multiple spaces you need to water? This unit’s perfect for that.

From this unit, you can have sprinklers set to automatically water both your front and back yards on a timer, while still having a third hose for raised beds or drip hose use. If you’ve got a large front lawn that requires a couple of sprinklers, this can handle that as well. Alternately, use this to stagger your watering sessions for your raised garden beds and you’ll never have to worry about water pressure issues again.

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Best Mechanical Hose Timer

Instapark MWT-08 Outdoor Automatic Shutoff Mechanical Water Timer

Instapark MWT-08 Outdoor Garden Hose End Automatic Shut Off Mechanical Water Timer
  • Mechanical water timer automatically shuts off...
  • Compatible with any garden hose faucet with a...
  • Features manual bypass setting for faucet use...

Set this mechanical hose timer and walk away as it runs your hose for you! Unlike a digital hose timer, this mechanical unit will need to be started by hand for each use. However, you can put your sprinkler on the lawn or hook it to your drip system, walk over, turn the dial, and walk away. It’ll automatically turn off when it’s finished the watering time you set it to, up to 120 minutes later.

Just remember, a mechanical unit is great for someone who’s home to turn the dial, but it isn’t going to work while you’re out of town. You’ll need a digital unit for preset times when you can’t be there.

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Other Good Choices

Orbit 62034 Mechanical Watering Timer

Orbit 62034 Mechanical Watering Timer
  • Timed watering up to 120 minutes
  • Durable high impact construction
  • Oversized dial with comfort grip for easy use

Like the Instapark model, the Orbit hose timer works like an egg timer. Turn the dial to the time you want it to water, and simply walk away. It’ll turn the water off when it’s done. This means that also like the Instapark, you have to be home to start it. But for a basic model which frees you up for other tasks, this is a great little unit.

The only reason I rate it lower than the Instapark is because it doesn’t look as streamlined. Otherwise, it’s nearly identical in function.

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Instapark PWT-07 Outdoor Digital Single Outlet Hose Timer

Instapark PWT-07 Outdoor Waterproof Digital Programmable Single Outlet Automatic On Off Water Faucet...
  • Single-station digital programmable faucet water...
  • Weather-resistant, impact-resistance, premium ABS...
  • Bright, vivid, and easy-to-read large 2.1” X...

Slightly more complex to set than some of the other digital units, this Instapark hose timer is waterproof and weather-resistant. Its single-outlet design makes it useful for basic watering tasks, but doesn’t enable multiple-zone watering setups. Still, it’s a sturdy little unit and would work well both inside a greenhouse or outside in the yard.

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Raindrip R675CT Analog 3-Dial Water Timer

Raindrip R675CT Analog 3-Dial Water Timer, 1, Multi
  • Easy-to-program and attaches to any outdoor...
  • Solenoid and diaphragm valve on/off control
  • Low battery indicator

Raindrip’s hose timer is actually an older style of timer, but it’s still good. Half manual, half-automatic, it is designed to be set for the first time at the time that you want your garden to be consistently watered at. As an example, if you want your garden to be watered at 6am and 6pm every day, you need to set it for a 12-hour cycle at either 6am or 6pm the first time. It will then run every 12 hours thereafter. You can turn on a rain delay or a manual override without changing your settings.

It does require batteries, but it comes equipped with a very visible low-battery light that you can easily see. There’s no LED screen on this model, nor buttons to push. While it’s not completely covered with a faceplate like LED models, it’s both waterproof and rainproof, so can survive outdoors. All in all, for a very basic model, you can’t go wrong with this one.

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Rain Bird 1ZEHTMR Professional Grade Digital Timer/Controller

Rain Bird 1ZEHTMR Professional Grade Electronic Digital Hose End Timer/Controller, One Zone/Station,...
  • Professional grade easy-to-use 7-day digital hose...
  • Convenient extra-large dial and readout screen for...
  • Instant override buttons for "Cancel Watering"...

Meant for use with hose-end sprinklers, drip irrigation systems, or soaker hoses, the Rain Bird hose timer is a solid unit. Still, I both like and dislike it.

I like it because it can handle up to five impact sprinklers chained in sequence, which means that for complete coverage of your lawn, you have a serious option. I also like that it shows when its next watering cycle is scheduled, and that it’s easy to program.

What I don’t like is that in many ways, Rain Bird’s system seems like overkill for most. They offer up to six hours of watering time, and you can schedule a watering sequence up to twice per day. I just can’t see any reason to water for six hours straight for the average home gardener. I suppose it would be useful for someone who’s running a misting system to cool down their patio or backyard gazebo. But most of the time, you’d be there when it was running, making the timer unnecessary.

If you have a Rain Bird irrigation system setup, this definitely will fit with your components. And it’s a good unit, even if it has overkill-level settings. It’s just not my pick for the best hose timer overall!

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Hopefully I’ve helped you to find a hose timer that will fill all of your needs. Whether single outlet or multiple, tech-savvy or mechanical, there’s a hose timer out there for you. What would you use your water timer for? What’s the longest amount of time you set yours for? Let me know in the comments!


The Green Thumbs Behind This Article:

Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime Gardener

Kevin Espiritu

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Last update on 2020-01-15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API