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Rain Bird ESP-SMTe Smart Controller

Outdoor / 4 Stations (Model # ESPSMTe)

This product saves water! Big Water Saver! Save 10-12% of your outdoor water use by installing a Smart Controller. This one's the smartest. Check your water district for rebates!

What is the Rain Bird ESP-SMTe Smart Controller? The ESP smart controller is a tried-and-true, professional grade irrigation system controller (also called a "timer") that has been upgraded from their incredibly popular "dumb" controller, the ESP Modular

Why the Rain Bird ESP-SMTe? We recommend the Rain Bird ESP smart controller because of its reliability, its extensibility (you can add modules for up to 22 valves), and ESP stands for Extra Simple Programming (which is why it's so darn popular).

Rain Bird ESP controllers manufactured after April 2005 can be upgraded to Smart using the Upgrade Kit available on this page. A new inside panel and a weather sensor with a rain sensor are included.

Product Video from Manufacturer

Features & Benefits of the Rain Bird ESP-SMTe

  • It's modular so you can manage anywhere from 3-15 valves from one controller, and you only need to purchase modules as you need them.
  • It's powerful as it allows you to run 4 different start times and three different programs, allowing for the cycle-soak watering need in clay soils, different seasons, or different water needs of planting areas.
  • Battery-operated Memory Backup means you don't lose your settings in a power failure, and you can reset to your original settings at the start of a new season.
More About ESP - Extra Simple Programming

If you're thinking about upgrading your irrigation timer to a smart controller, but dread the reprogramming that comes with the project, this is an excellent choice for you. Some "smart" controllers are smarter than others, and this one does a lot of the heavy lifting. It recognizes how to adjust the irrigation for ALL of these variables.

  • Local Climate data is loaded by zip code. This may not always be the most reliable data-point for micro-climates, but it covers the gaps with the rest of its smart capabilities. It even includes a rain sensor.
  • Plant Type watering needs can be specified right into the controller, so no more guesswork for you about how much water your plants need! If you have a mix on one station, don't worry, just tell the controller what the majority of the plants on that valve are.
  • Plant Density affects how much of your applied water is evaporating out into the air instead of staying in the ground where your plants use it. Rain Bird ESP-SMTe adjusts its watering schedule for plant density.
  • Soil Type affects the holding capacity and infiltration rate for the water you apply. Water passes right through sandy soils, but can sit around too long in clay soils. This controller adjusts its watering based on your soil type.
  • Watering Restrictions can be a hassle, but not with ESP. Just tell it which days you're not allowed to water and it will make sure your neighbors aren't reporting you to the utility provider!
  • Slope is so often overlooked when homeowners and landscapers set up an irrigation program. If you're watering on a slope the irrigation design should be different, but so should the watering program. ESP has you covered with the Cycle+Soak built-in application.
  • Micro-climate Conditions can drastically affect how much water you need on any station. ESP lets you tell it how sunny exposure for that is, so it can adjust accordingly. This is something that should have been addressed when the garden was designed, but often isn't, so again, if you have a mix on one station, just enter whatever the majority of the station's micro-climate conditions are.

ESP-SMTe Electrical Specifications

  • Input Required: 120VAC +/- 10%
  • Output: 25.5VAC 1A
  • Surge Protection: Primary input side has (2) built-in MOV’s (metal oxide varistor) to protect circuitry. Output side has(2) built-in MOV’s for each valve station.
  • Power back-up: Lithium coin-cell battery maintains time and date while non-volatile memory maintains the schedule.
  • Multi-valve station capacity: Up to two 24VAC, 7VA solenoid valves per station plus a master valve.

Warranty Information
Rain Bird will repair or replace at no charge any Rain Bird professional product that fails in normal use within the warranty period stated below. You must return it to the dealer or distributor where you bought it. Product failures due to acts of God including without limitation, lightning and flooding, are not covered by this warranty. This commitment to repair or replace is our sole and total warranty. This product appears to carry a 1 year warranty. Full Rain Bird Warranty.

Downloads & Resources from Rain Bird


$$ Rebate Eligibility
In many water districts, this controller is eligible for a rebate.

Rebates typically range from $25 to $200, and in some areas, like Palm Springs, the water district will give you a free one, and install it and program it for free, too.

Find Your Local Rebates
There are too many water districts and municipalities to list all of the available rebates, so the best thing you can do is search for either your water district or your city and the phrase "smart controller rebate" to find out if you have this opportunity.


Irrigation Controller Basics

  • Indoor vs Outdoor: Sometimes you want your irrigation controller outside, and sometimes you want it in your garage. The outdoor models come with a protective case and a lock. Word to the wise, landscapers often carry keys for all of the major manufacturers, so the controller is only sort of "safe."
  • Smart vs "Dumb": When they came out with "smart" controllers that left us without a good way to talk about the old-fashioned kind of sprinkler timer. Smart controllers use weather data and even local on-site weather sensing tools to optimize your water use. Most controllers can be converted to a smart controller, or you can buy a new controller that started life as a smart controller.
  • Modular: Some controllers come with a fixed number of valves they can serve, but others allow you to buy additional "modules" as you need them. So if you add a veggie garden and want to add a new valve for it, you don't need a whole new timer, just a new module.

Smart Controller Technology

A "smart" controller uses weather data—there are many ways of collecting this data—to automagically adjust your sprinklers, so you don't over water or under water. A couple of important notes about "smart" controllers:

  • There is a surprisingly broad range of ways to gather and use weather data and they're not all created equal. The most basic forms include using historical weather data, or sensors that turn off/on your irrigation based on weather conditions at your home. More sophisticated tools use a combination of these tools, but also employ a soil moisture sensor to evaluate what's happening in the ground.
  • The latest technologies in smart controllers are actually less about the controller and more about how you interact with it. You can now purchase controllers that you manage from your iPhone or computer, making them easier to program and to seasonally adjust.
  • Most old-school controllers can easily be upgraded to become "smart." There is a broad array of upgrades, both from controller manufacturers and third party companies, to allow you to add weather data to your irrigation regime.