Filling our fountains with the B-hyve hose faucet timer
When we first moved into our home and landscaped our garden, we included two fountains, one on the front porch and one outside our back window. Our development uses recycled water for landscaping, so there was no safe way to fill these fountains through the recycled water system and we needed to use the potable water from the hose instead.
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At first we filled the fountains manually whenever they were empty – a routine of going outside, turning on the faucets, coming back in five or ten minutes to check on the progress, and eventually turning them off when the faucets were full. Most of the time this was just fine – but there were times we got distracted and came out to mini-floods in the front or back yard. We were not only wasting precious California water – it was hitting our pocketbook – our non-recycled water is expensive! We needed to find a better solution.
We started out with timers from our local home improvement store – a simple, reliable solution. When we started automating our home, however, we naturally started looking for technology solutions to allow us to fill our fountains from the comfort of our couch.
Thankfully for us we found Orbit connected sprinkler timers at Lowe’s to pair up with our Lowe’s Iris system. We could use the Iris app to run the faucet and fill the fountains whenever we needed, and we could set the duration and set timers. These worked great for a couple of years, but only with the Iris hub.
After using Iris for a couple of generations and comparing it to other hubs, we decided it wasn’t for us and slowly started migrating to other platforms, but we still needed our Orbit timers. For many months these were the only smart devices running on our Iris platform.
At CES this year we were happy to discover the new Orbit B-hyve line of smart yard products and the updated B-hyve hose faucet timer. The timer looks very similar to our original Orbit, but it now uses Bluetooth and WiFi and is controllable with its own app as well as through Amazon Alexa.
With the cheaper Bluetooth version, you will need to be within range of the faucet (about 150 feet) in order to run the water or set schedules with the included B-hyve app. If you get the version with the separate Wi-Fi hub, you will be able to program the B-Hyve from anywhere and connect to the Internet to access weather forecasts and adjust the watering schedule accordingly.
If you want to have multiple faucet timers in your yard, you should only need one Wi-Fi hub – and the timers will mesh together to help extend your Wi-Fi around the yard to make sure you get good coverage. We bought two B-hyve faucet timers, one for each of our fountains.
To set-up our faucet timers, we started by downloading the B-Hyve app that guided us through the entire process.
The Bluetooth to Wi-Fi hub needs to be installed inside first. After the hub was up and running, it was pretty straightforward to install the two hose timers and connect to them to be able to turn on and off the water. Rather than install the faucet timers outside, we set up everything inside the house first.
Running the Faucet
Now that our two B-hyves are installed it is simple to fill our fountains through the app. Open the app, pick the faucet you want to control, and adjust the timer and press the
start button. We usually use them manually when we notice our fountains are low, though B-hyve does offer a scheduling feature and connection to the Internet for weather. This would be nice for watering the plants, but we already use our Rachio for our connected sprinkler system.
The B-hyve hose faucet timers have a heavy-duty, weatherproof case and run on two AA batteries. We have had mixed results with the battery life, in general our batteries last about three months, better than our previous Orbit timers, especially as they got older, but still less than we would like. Our climate is really hot so that may have something to do with it.
After the remaining battery gets under 20% or so, the faucet gets a little flakey and loses its connection until we install new ones. Sometimes the battery life indicator is also off – even though it says battery life of zero we can still run the faucet. To get the battery indicator to reset we sometimes need to re-connect via Bluetooth to the individual timer.
We have had some connectivity issues occasionally with with our B-hyves and had to have support push a firmware update in order to get our devices up and running. Phone and email support is available mountain time 7am. To 6 p.m., Mountain Time, Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to 3pm Saturday.
Integration with other platforms
While we were happy to retire our Iris hub, our new B-hyve hose faucet timers only work with the B-Hyve app and with Amazon Alexa. According to the B-Hyve website, Apple HomeKit integration is coming soon but it doesn’t appear any other integrations are planned.
Our B-Hyve hose faucet timers are a definite upgrade from our previous Orbit timers in terms of battery life, durability and ease of use and the integration with Amazon Alexa works well. While it is great to be able to stop using the Iris for this one application, unfortunately we had to add yet another stand-alone app and Wi-Fi bridge that we need to manage.
The app can be hard to use and a bit complex but it is still an improvement over the Iris interface. It has a lot of different powerful and customizable settings that can help save time and water in the rest of the garden. If you have fountains (or ponds, or pet watering bowls or something else you want to keep full from your couch), we would definitely recommend it.