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Most of us saw the clever use of a motion-activated sprinkler as a theft deterrent for protecting the items in the back of the pickup truck.
While this clip is humorous, it also demonstrates the functionality of these sprinklers. These serve as excellent animal repellers with no pesticides or chemicals. And these are more effective than many of the other “scarecrow” or “scare owl” types of devices.
Originally designed to help you deter pests without using animal repellents or poisons, these sprinklers served the dual purpose of protecting your garden with an environmentally friendly solution.
Here is a discussion on how motion-activated water sprinklers work and what to look for when buying one.
There are a lot of cheap options, but many of them are the identical product sold under different brand names by different importers. My goal was to find the few sprinklers that appear to be of high-quality and are supported by a better company.
The Top Best Motion-Activated Water Sprinklers
1. Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler
This heavy-duty water sprinkler might be one of the most menacing options on the market. With a 120-degree angle of detection, and the carefully shielded infrared motion sensor has better sensitivity from the sun and rain, which often confuses lower-end products.
It also covers around 1600 square feet, which is large are when compared to the other models.
You are going to get a lot of settings and features on this model that the other sprinklers won’t offer. For one, it offers a day only or night detection only mode (or you can leave it armed for 24/7 protection). This can be handy if you are fighting skunks, deer, and rabbits that are mostly coming into your garden at night. The intelligent sensing technology also saves on battery life and keeps you from accidentally getting sprayed when working in your yard during the day.
There are a few options. I like the two spike options since they offer greater stability. However, with the spikes, you are giving up a lot of visibility for the motion detector. The “Garden Enforcer” with its metal tripod stand lets you easily move it from spot to spot while offering visibility over the tops of your taller garden bushes. The tripod can adjust from 32 inches up to 54 inches, which offers greater detection of varmints. The tripod also seems relatively stable.
It uses four alkaline batteries (AA-size) that provide 7,500 activations. The energy-sipping technology helps you to stretch that performance to get some of the longest battery life.
Finally, it offers intelligent sensing that helps it distinguish between trees and animals. This can help prevent those false triggers in the event of a storm.
With many sprinklers, you need to use splitters to connect them. This one has a through-flow feature that allows you to directly connect one sprinkler to another.
This makes it easier to build a network of defenses with fewer hoses.
Finally, this one has an adjustable line of sight with the ability to tilt it up or down to help improve the accuracy of the sensor.
It also offers a continuous spray option with a 30-minute timer so you can use it to water your lawn. The low water consumption is easy on your monthly water bill, even if you need to use it for watering.
With a 1-year warranty, the Orbit Enforcer Motion Activated Pest Deterrent has earned a top spot in my book.
2. Hoont Cobra Solar Powered Jet Blaster
The Hoont Cobra is a fun competitor for the motion-activated sprinkler market. Its aggressive water jet is terrifying, especially since it sprays when animals least expect it.
The low profile design makes this one quite inconspicuous, and it blends into the hardscape better than most other models. Simply stake it into the ground, and it will shoot water and make a loud clicking noise when it detects motion.
With this sensor, you get a 30-foot range of spray. You can adjust this up or down to get the coverage you need. That is lower than both the Havahart or the Orbit, but it also helps to prevent false positives.
As with the Orbit, this one has a splitter in the ground stake. This will allow you to run a hose from one sprayer to the next, and daisy chains them to get the coverage that you need.
The link above is to the solar-powered model, which is my preference. If you need to use this in the shade or need a lot of protection at night, there is also a battery-powered model to consider.
The Hoont Cobra comes with a small u-clip that you can use to narrow the spray width. Thanks to the jet of water it creates, it is easy to get the spray pattern down to about 4 feet wide, in case you are just trying to cover a narrow footpath without excessive overspray.
3. Havahart 5277 Spray Away Motion Activated Sprinkler
If you’ve dealt with raccoons before, you have undoubtedly used a Havahart trap to remove them from your property. Setting the Havahart live traps was something that all of us kids were fluent in, and our wildlife ranger got weekly calls from us, asking them to come to remove the live raccoons that we had caught.
Where Havahart excels in live traps, it appears that they may not do quite as well with their sprinkler technology. The Havahart 5266 seems to possibly struggle with sensitivity. It is either too sensitive and sprays non-stop, or it doesn’t trigger when it is supposed to.
The 5277 model seems to have fixed most of those problems. With this sprinkler, you are getting an extremely straightforward model.
The infrared sensor has a detection range up to 60 feet away. The settings on the back will let you adjust the sensitivity, or to set it up to spray non-stop so you can use it as a sprinkler unit. There is also a dial to let you adjust the spray distance so that the spray can reach up to 100 feet away. This is handy if you are trying to keep from spraying the sidewalk or neighbors fence. The spike keeps it firmly in place until you are ready to move it around to the next spot.
The loud “shhh!” that it makes when activated is enough to startle the most water-loving raccoon. It also works great on deer, and the high sensitivity makes it good for squirrels, too.
4. Scarecrow Motion Activated Animal Repellent
With a name like “scarecrow,” you would expect this one to be an extremely effective sprinkler animal repellent for protecting your yard and garden.
The coverage on this is similar to the Hoont model. It will spray up to about 30 feet away, giving you about 1200 square feet of ground coverage. It is advertised to only use about 2-3 cups of water time to help conserve water when used in arid climates. When triggered, it uses five activation cycles to thoroughly scare away all unwanted critters.
This is a smaller device that is great for working on smaller animals. You can tuck it into narrows spaces and have an excellent defense against rabbits and raccoons.
Keep in mind that this sprinkler is a little different. It is angled upwards at a 45-degree angle, so it does not spray as heavily in the area near the sprinkler. You’ll want to set it up so that the spray hits your intended target at about 10 feet in front of the sprinkler.
Similar to the Orbit, this one also has a night-only option. The low battery option helps you identify when it is time to replace the battery to keep from flooding your yard. This one is unique in that it uses the 9-volt battery instead of the AA batteries that are common in the other models.
The Scarecrow used to have a lot of followers. They sold a good, cheap, model and everyone wanted one. However, now there are a bunch of sellers with a product that looks identical to the Scarecrow design.
I’m making a guess here, but I think maybe a Chinese manufacturer stole the patent and started producing a cheaper knock off. Costway sells this one, and Contech is another common brand it is sold under.
This has me more inclined to go with one of the three options above.
How Does A Motion-Activated Sprinkler Work?
A motion-activated sprinkler combines two common fears to create an effective mammalian deterrent. Most mammals have at least some dislike for water. Water is difficult to identify and can be dangerous. Wild animals are cautious around it.
Secondly, all the animals hate being startled. We rarely stick around to identify whether it is a predator. We just want to get away.
A motion-activated sprinkler is going to suddenly deploy water and noises. This startles the intruder and chases them away while simultaneously watering your garden or yard.
Infrared Sensors. Thanks to infrared sensors, the sprinkler is able to identify heat and motion. Similar to how a motion-activated light is turned on, the motion-activated sprinkler uses a similar infrared sensor to identify animals from about 30 feet away. A higher-end model will offer a better sensor that is less likely to be triggered by the wind.
Battery or Solar Powered. Most of these are going to require either a battery source or a solar panel as an energy supply for the infrared detector. Don’t forget to turn the sprinkler off when you are in the garden. Even if you have the water supply turned off, your movement can trigger the sensor and wear the battery down.
Protect Range. Most of these sprinklers are going to advertise a range of 1,000 square feet. However, a handier measure is how far the sprinkler is going to spray. Most motion-activated sprinklers are going to shoot a water stream that extends 30 to 70 feet away. This is a large enough range to scare critters and deer away long before they get close to your garden.
Water Supply. Most of us want to put these on the edge of the garden for the best protection. The challenge is that it will require an intricate connection of hoses and splitters to fully cover your garden. You might try using a couple and see how they work. If there is a narrow chokepoint leading to your garden, you can use one of these sprinklers to protect the entire area. Otherwise, you will want to purchase some additional splitters and garden hoses.
Doubles As A Sprinkler. Now that you’ve gone to the hassle of installing these throughout your garden, you might as well use them to water your garden. Most of these models offer a timer option where you can use them to water your vegetables or yard for 30 minutes.
How to Install A Motion-Activated Sprinkler
1. You will need to attach it to a water hose. If you plan on using your water spigot for other reasons, buy at least one splitter.
2. If it requires batteries, you will want to install the batteries.
3. Decide where it is going to go based on the areas of the worst damage. You will want it to have a clear view of the varmints, and in a garden full of tall plants, you may need to mount it above the plants and aim the sensor downward.
4. You need to sink it deep enough into the ground to keep it from blowing over in the wind. Another option is to use a large flower pot and sink it into that flower pot to keep it in place. This also makes it easy to move from place to place in order to optimize your defenses.
5. Run your garden hoses from the motion-activated sprinkler back to your spigot. Figure out the best route that minimizes yard damage.
6. Turn on the water and observe the sprinkler function. Adjust the sensitivity knob as needed.
Effectiveness Of Pest-Deterrent-Sprinklers
These are a fairly new option, but they have a massive advantage in that wild animals don’t seem to become accustomed to it. There are no animals who want to be sprayed with water (except cats. Cats are weird).
Granted, it is a short-term solution in that you have to keep it installed. As soon as you take it down, the unwanted animals will come back into your garden.
It also has a drawback in that the motion sensor needs a clear line of sight to the animals.
Depending on the quality of the sprinkler, you may not have good detection at night. If you are having problems with raccoons and other nocturnal animals, it might be worth spending more on a good detector.
The final thing to be concerned about is the durability of these sprinklers. Many are made in China and sold by importers that provide no after-sale support. It’s worthwhile to spend a little more and purchase a high-quality sprinkler.
Battery Versus Solar Powered Water Blasters
I prefer the solar-powered sprinklers. Most of these have a small battery that is good for a couple of days. Even on cloudy days, these tend to last a long time. However, if you want longer battery life, you can go with one that uses aa batteries.
Another reason to consider a battery-powered sprinkler is when you are installing one in the shade. Battery-powered sprinklers work better in the shade.
If you have a battery-powered sprinkler, remove the batteries at the end of the year, so they don’t corrode and ruin the sprinkler.
Hose Free Versus Hose-Powered
Most of the sprinklers are going to use a hose to power them. However, if you can’t get a hose to your garden, you could try to rig up a water pump. However, most of these will need a minimum water flow of 30 gallons per minute in order to create a reliable stream. The advantage of connecting a reservoir and a water pump is that it will make an added noise when activated.
Angle Of Spraying
Most motion-activated sprayers will offer a 360-degree of spraying path. In some rare cases, you’ll only find some that offer 120-degrees of spraying.
Keep in mind that the motion sensor will have its own viewing angle. If you have a 360-degree spraying path, it will spray water in a complete circle, but may only detect intruders from one angle.
Will A Motion Sensor Sprinkler Spray Humans?
As we see in the opening picture, these motion-activated sprinklers will respond to human movement just as well as they will to other animals. This means that you will want to turn the sprinklers off before working in the garden.
I ran across a story of one person using their motion-activated sprinkler to help keep folks from letting their dogs poop on their lawn. It probably won’t help neighborhood relationships much, but it can help keep your lawn poop-free.
Adjusting A Motion-Sensor Sprinkler’s Sensitivity
The real challenge is in keeping the wind from moving branches and triggering the motion sensor. Anyone who has had their motion-activated lights come on in a storm will recognize just how sensitive these are. A lot of times, you’ll need to trim branches out of the way or move the sensor away from items that move in high wind.
How Long Does A Battery Last?
The battery life is going to be determined by how often the device is triggered. High-end devices are designed to be more energy efficient to extend battery life.
Some of the top models can get up to 7,500 triggers.