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Orbit B-hyve Smart Hose Faucet Timer review: Orbit's Faucet Timer makes a simple garden hose pretty smart

One of the first smart sprinklers for an average outdoor faucet, the B-hyve Faucet timer isn't perfect, but it's good enough.

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Andrew Gebhart
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Andrew Gebhart

Senior Producer

Andrew loves writing about cool, futuristic technology. He's reviewed everything from vacuum cleaners to beer brewing robots in pursuit of the perfect smart home. He wants the smart home to make him feel powerful, and it's getting there.

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5 min read

Assuming you have an in-ground sprinkler system at your house, you have lots of options if you want to smarten up your watering schedule. If you don't have an existing system and you rely on a basic faucet and garden hose to do your watering, your options are much more limited. Enter the Orbit B-Hyve Faucet Timer.

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7.4

Orbit B-hyve Smart Hose Faucet Timer

The Good

The Orbit B-hyve Faucet Timer is easy to install and easy to use. It works with Amazon's Alexa and monitors the local weather to help you set a watering schedule. Most importantly, it makes smart watering more accessible than its competition by working with a basic hose and faucet setup.

The Bad

The B-hyve app doesn't offer enough customization for the different plants you might be watering with your garden hose, limiting how smart it can be. It also doesn't offer any middle ground between smart and manual scheduling.

The Bottom Line

The B-hyve Faucet Timer is competent enough to make up for its flaws, given that it's one of your only options for adding smarts to an ordinary garden hose.

Like other smart sprinklers, the Faucet Timer can connect to your Wi-Fi network and monitor the local weather. You can control it with an app or with Amazon's assistant Alexa. You can set up schedules remotely, or let the Timer do the scheduling work for you based on the weather and the conditions of your yard. Unlike most other smart sprinklers, the Faucet Timer doesn't replace the controller for your in-ground sprinkler system. Instead, you screw it onto an outdoor faucet, attach a garden hose to the other end, and add smarts to any ordinary oscillator you've set in the middle of your lawn.

Orbit's Faucet Timer has its share of flaws. The app lacks customization options and smart assistance for watering vegetables. It also doesn't let you add smarts to your own schedule -- you either let it fully customize the schedule itself or you control the schedule manually. Nevertheless, it's competent, easy-to-use, and reasonably priced at $40 for the basic Bluetooth model and $70 for the sprinkler plus a hub to connect it to Wi-Fi. It's worth a purchase if you want to add smarts to a simple sprinkler.

As simple as you want it to be

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Installing the Orbit B-hyve Faucet Timer is honestly as easy as attaching a garden hose to a faucet. You twist it on your faucet and attach the garden hose to the other end. That's it. You'll also need to download the B-hyve app so you can control it, but setting up the timer in your app is pretty quick and intuitive.

We tested the $70 Faucet Timer+, which includes a hub that plugs into a wall and connects the Timer to Wi-Fi. You'll want to find a spot on an inner wall near your faucet that's still within reach of your router. Otherwise, plug in the hub, and the app will walk you through connecting it and syncing it with your Faucet Timer.

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The Faucet Timer installed outside the Smart Home. 

Chris Monroe/CNET

You can sync multiple Faucet Timers to a single hub. You can also use Orbit's indoor or 2nd generation outdoor sprinkler timer as a hub for a Faucet Timer. If you just buy the $40 Faucet Timer on its own, you'll need to be within Bluetooth range to control it.

You can buy any these Orbit smart sprinklers, including the B-hyve Faucet Timer, on the company's site. You'll also find the Faucet Timer at Lowe's, Home Depot, Amazon and Walmart. You'll pay $70 for the Faucet Timer+ and $40 if you just need the Bluetooth Faucet Timer.

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The hub for the Faucet Timer lets you control it remotely.

Chris Monroe/CNET

Orbit's planning on launching the product overseas later this year. The company hasn't announced region-specific pricing for the UK or AU, but the US price for the Timer+ converts to roughly £50 and AU$90. The price for the regular timer is roughly £30 and AU$50.

Setting schedules

Once you have the Faucet Timer set up, you'll use the B-hyve app to control your sprinkler. For better and for worse, the app's mostly the same as when I reviewed the original Orbit B-hyve last year. The original B-hyve is a replacement for your in-ground sprinkler control panel, like most smart sprinklers. The B-hyve app is thus finely tuned to help you water a wide variety of lawns.

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Manually start the sprinkler, set a schedule yourself, or B-hyve can schedule your sprinklers for you.

Screenshots by Andrew Gebhart/CNET

You can tell the app what you're watering, what kind of sprinklers you're using, the amount of sun your plants get, the soil you're in and more. The B-hyve app will take a guess at any info you don't know, and you can fine tune even further in the advanced settings if you're an expert.

The app's mix of easy-to-use basics and advanced details makes it a good fit for both beginners in need of basic help and experts looking to specifically control all the variables. The app's also a big part of why I gave the original B-hyve a great review and called it the "best budget-friendly smart sprinkler."

When you turn on smart scheduling, the app uses any info you gave it along with local weather information to plan out a perfect watering schedule for your yard. Unfortunately, the app doesn't have many options specific to a garden -- both in terms of plant types and garden-specific sprinklers like drip tubes -- so the smart scheduling for the Faucet Timer might not be that smart. 

I previously criticized the app for not having any choices between fully smart and fully manual scheduling. By comparison, Rachio's sprinkler lets you customize a lot of details yourself and will still add its own weather awareness. With B-hyve, you're either letting the system automate all watering or you need to be responsible for setting the schedule and setting rain delays. That flaw is more pronounced in the Faucet Timer because you might not be able to set the smarts according to what you're actually watering.

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Still, the app's easy enough to use that setting a schedule on your own and punching in a rain delay never takes more than a couple of seconds. You can also turn on your sprinklers or set a rain delay with a voice command using Amazon's digital assistant Alexa. The B-hyve Alexa skill carries over to the Faucet Timer.

Talk to any Alexa equipped device, such as the Amazon Echo smart speaker, and say "ask B-hyve" and Alexa will respond to a wide variety of intuitive commands. Here's the list. I actually thought B-hyve's Alexa skill offered a little more polish than Rachio's, and I'm happy the Faucet Timer gets that same advantage, especially since you might need to be a little more hands-on with the scheduling.

Later this year, Orbit's also adding compatibility with Siri -- Apple's digital assistant -- to its sprinkler with a free over the air update.

The verdict

I wish Orbit's B-hyve app let you customize smart watering schedules for specific plants you might be growing in a garden bed. I also wish the app offered a middle ground between fully smart scheduling and manual schedules. Both features would have been especially handy for the B-hyve Faucet Timer, since you're more likely to use a garden hose and sprinkler setup in a garden.

Nevertheless, the fact that the Faucet Timer lets you smarten up a basic garden hose setup at all is still an achievement. If the competition does get more stiff, Orbit will need to start polishing the Faucet Timer's flaws with updates. In the meantime, the B-hyve Faucet Timer offers unique and useful smarts at a reasonable price, so it's worth buying if you need help in your garden this spring.

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7.4

Orbit B-hyve Smart Hose Faucet Timer

Score Breakdown

Features 7Usability 8Design 7Performance 8
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