Rain8Net VS Ocelot


Active Member
I am currently install an underground irrigation system for my home. I am renting a trencher today, to dig the ditches. When it comes to controllers, what would you guys recommend? Should I get the Rain8Net (Don't want to deal with X10) or an Ocelot with an SECU-16? Will an Ocelot even be able to automate my sprinklers?
By far the most advanced control of sprinkler stuff is being written by M McSharry. It is an app that can run standalone or integrated with Homeseer. It uses the Rain8Net hardware, not the Ocelot. I has the Rain8Net and am very happy with it. Very fast reaction and 2 way control.
Search for mcsSprinklers at Homeseer's forum for lots more info.
The Ocelot can do sprinkler control. One thread devoted to this application, and I'm sure there are many other threads on the ADI forum also.


I have not had any first hand expierience with the Rain8, but have heard lots of good things about it.

I always try to keep my Ocelot busy first! :)

EDIT: you could also have the SECU-16 monitor moisture sensors so the sprinklers would only turn on when needed.
Isn't an Ocelot with a SECU-16 about three times the price of a RAIN8?

Isn't the RLY8 reccomended over the SECU16 for sprinklers because of current ratings of the relays?
All good points rocco.

I "assummed" the Ocelot would be used for other things also. if he already has one. If irrigation control is the only application. then the RAIN8 would be more ecomonical.

Just answering his question "Will an Ocelot even be able to automate my sprinklers?"
Another issue is that the Ocelot can control the sprinklers directly, through CMAX. No need for a computer to control it, as with the RAIN8. So my price comparison above is not very fair, especially when you consider all the other things the Ocelot can do. But a CMAX program could never get as sophisticated as MCSprinklers, if you want intelligent control.

So we really have an apples and oranges comparison. It depends on what you already have, and what you want to do.

Does anyone know if the SECCU16's relays are hefty enough for typical sprinkler valves? Do you really need the RLY8?
Hmm, okay. I think I will go the Rain8net route. Sure it needs a computer, but I think it would be reliable. I have not yet purchased an ocelot, but plan to do so in the near future. Thanks for your opinions!
I have a stand alone RAIN BIRD 6 zone, with battery backup, that turns on 24vac water valves. I paid around $50 for it at LOWES HARDWARE.

I would trust the Ocelot to do the job just as well as the RAIN BIRD. I have the X10 coupling, blocking and ampliflying for the X10 stuff, I'm sure that helps

Better is not always what it seems to be, in our quest to make it better.we make it more complicated, but by making it more complicated we have not made it better by doing so.

WOW, if only I can remember that :)

All very good pro and con comments concerning the Ocelot and Rain8net! I would just like to add some comments.

One is the Rain8net requires a computer to send it the commands via a software package such as Homeseer. I don't leave critical tasks to be run from a PC based command system (and in Las Vegas, sprinklers are deemed "critical").

Also, mcsSprinklers seems like a great program, but it is a little to expensive for what I need, plus I can always add a moisture sensor to my SECU16I (may need an external voltage comparator, but that wouldn't be a problem).

The Ocelot is a bullet proof controller, but it requires and external device such as the SECU16 or RLY8-XA modules for sprinkler control. I would suggest if you go this route to stay away from the SECU16! Even IF you are under the current capability of its relay contacts, it may or may not be useable depending on the inductance of the load you are switching. I have had nothing but problems with mine and sent it back to get a RLY8-XA unit (I already had an SECU16I unit, so I didn't need additional inputs). If you do go with the RLY8-XA you may want to also purchase an SECU16I so you have some inputs as well.

This is very expensive setup if you are purchasing this system for "just" sprinkler control.

You can get additional info on expansion modules for the Ocelot HERE.

Here is what I recently did to control my sprinkler system.

I came upon the brand new Relay8 unit from WGL Design. This unit is a lot like the X-10 controlled Rain8 except is has eight single pole double throw relays (controlled by X-10). An internal timer can be set for the maximum time the relay is ON once it is triggered by an X-10 ON command (good backup in case the "OFF" signal is never received).

So, since I already had my Ocelot, and finally got a reliable X-10 system (got all my signal sucks blocked) I used this Relay8 to control my sprinkler valves and use the Ocelot to send the X-10 commands at the time intervals for my watering cycles. I had a 24 VAC wall wart from the old sprinkler timer I was using so I just connected this to all of the relay "commons" or "swingers" and also used an in-line fuse as well.

Since this unit has "two-way" communication, I look to see if a channel is "ON" three seconds after I send an on command. If it is not ON, I send the command again. (I also do the same for the OFF commands).

All of this programming is accomplished via the CMax code in the Ocelot.

I then have Homeseer/Main Lobby "log" when the sprinklers are turned on and off. I can look at this file to make sure everything is running as it should.

I plan on adding a "wind detector" and hooking it up to one of my SECU16I inputs so I don't water if the wind is to strong.

Also, I have an appliance module (with status) control the 24 VAC wall wart which supplies the valves so I can "disable" the sprinklers if I would like. This is controlled and monitor via a Main Lobby scene. You can also manually turn the sprinklers on via the Main Lobby scene, or via a Palm Pad remote (great for trouble shooting or testing the system).

You can view the Main Lobby scene (as well as all my other scenes) HERE. If there is enough interest I can do a "How-To" on this showing the CMax code as well as the Main Lobby/Homeseer interfaces & scripts.

Again, not saying this is the perfect way to accomplish this task, just the way I decided to do this! :)


Hmm, okay. I don't really want to get more x-10 stuff, because I am not sure how reliable it is. However, I am running 11 zones, the sprinklers use up a lot of water...
There is a bit of a price difference though....2 RLY8-XAs and an Ocelot comes to $407.99 while a Rain8Net and an expansion module gives me 184.98. About $200 difference. So, I need to think about this, more expensive, but more reliable, or less expensive, web access, but less reliable due to being connect to a computer. The choice might seem obvious, but I am planning to buy an ocelot soon.
Like easytim - I have 2 stand-alone controllers to control my 11 zones - from Lowes. Much less expensive, very simple to use... and it works every time. It comes on early in the morning (starts around 5am and works through about 7) only when scheduled and when we haven't got rain recently (inexpensive rain guage from Lowes).

I have a hard time understanding what value it is to connect it to my automation system - it would take longer to wire and program, would be significantly more money... and I can't come up with a single benefit (other than being able to review a history on my PC, but it's really not needed - it works when it's supposed to...)
Some reasons for PC automation of sprinklers:
Using mcsSprinklers control software as background - one can use a RF palm pad during shutdown of the system to air purge each zone without having to run back and forth.

mcsSprinklers uses local weather reports to trigger when and when not to water - no need for maintaining your own rain collecting device.

The plugin can calculate based on shade, soil porosity, rain, sunshine, temp when and when not to and how much to water a particular zone. All dynamically adjusted based on real conditions.

I suspect it would be relatively easy to automate the complete winter shutdown process by adding an air solenoid to the sprinkler manifold. As I am always one to procrastinate this ritual, one slip can cost a $600 pump and is worth it. Not to mention the couple hours to fix a broken water line in the ground.

I suspect that the detailed timing of watering is a little overkill for most houses, but essential for a commercial property like a golf course.

I also use the Rain8Net devices to control my ponds and water features, which is an added plus to the automation. One click of a button for "Outdoor" mode and things are turned on appropriately.

Of course the primary reason is because we can!
I just replaced two standard controllers with my system described above. I was tired of standing in a hot garage trying to program the stupid things, plus when I wanted manual control they were a pain. That plus the fact that I couldn't get a log of when my sprinklers turned on and off plus I could not get the programming versatility that I have now.
Do you really need a $70 application, a $300-$500 computer, a $100 rain8, and a ton of time to know when to and when not to water? I could afford to over/under water a few zones based on these prices for a long long time. The Automatic Rain Sensor is only about $20 and this is the biggest cost savings device you can buy. I wonder if anyone will ever get the MCSSprinklers tweaked enough to really use and then only to have the web site be unavailable and it waters anyway. Sounds to me like How to Make Watering Your Lawn Really, Really Complicated 101. But hey we all need a good summer project right? :)
I have a sprinkler system controlled by the timer the irrigation company installed and I am in the middle of setting up a home automation pc that will someday takeover thise function. IMHO, you DON'T need a HA PC to control your sprinkler system but if you have a HA computer anyway than the added controls & convenience are worth the cost of the add-ons.

I had a $20 rain sensor installed with my sprinkler system and it worked for about 2 weeks. I guess you get what you pay for ;-)