Smart Lawn & Garden Watering: Eve Aqua Review

Elgato's Eve line of HomeKit-enabled home automation products has expanded to cover a variety of situations. In addition to the usual collection of light switches and power outlets, Eve has ventured into temperature monitoring and motion detection. The latest addition to the Eve product line is Eve Aqua ($99.95), an electronic water valve that connects to an outdoor water spigot and provides HomeKit-connected autonomous lawn and garden watering.

Related: Smart Home for Renters: Best 8 Renter-Friendly Home Automation Gadgets

Master your iPhone in one minute a day:

Sign up to iPhone Life's Tip of the Day Newsletter and we'll send you a tip each day to save time and get the most out of your iPhone or iPad.

The Eve Aqua enclosure is rather bulky compared to other Eve products, likely due to the force required to close the water valve due to the pressure of the water running through the unit. Aqua requires two AA batteries to operate. Caution should be used when installing the batteries. The small operating booklet should do a better job of alerting customers of the four important wires connecting the two halves being separated by the battery installation process. When I initially popped open the container, I did so with such unexpected and unintentional force that the wires were taut nearly to snapping. After checking the soldering points to make sure nothing was damaged, I reassembled the enclosure and was relieved to discover that the unit powered up as expected.

Pairing the Aqua to the Eve app works the same way it does with the other Eve products; simply tap the Settings sprocket icon in the app's bottom toolbar and then the plus symbol in the upper right of the screen.  Assuming the batteries are charged and have been correctly inserted into the Aqua, it should be automatically discovered by the Eve app. Selecting the device brings up the camera to scan in the HomeKit QR code found either on the mini-manual in the packaging or the sticker affixed to the side of the Aqua unit. Once paired, you can name the Aqua whatever you prefer (this is the name that you will ask Siri to control the device with) and optionally assign the newly paired device to a room or location. I named the Aqua "Water" and assigned the it to the "Front Porch" location. Before attaching the Aqua to the front outdoor water spigot, I tested it by flipping the toggle switch for the device in the Eve app on and off. Doing so produced a gear winding sound followed by a clunk in the Aqua, which was obviously its internal water valve opening and closing.

Attaching the Aqua to a spigot is a straightforward affair, and Elgato has included adapters in the package to fit the various popular water spigot sizes. Turning on the faucet while keeping the Aqua's valve shut fortunately didn't spring any leaks in either the spigot attachment or the water hose attached to the bottom of the Aqua unit. With everything connected, I was finally able to test the device successfully. Operating the Aqua is quite straightforward.  Simply toggle the Aqua-assigned switch in the Eve app on or off to allow or halt the flow of water. You can also do this by asking Siri to turn the water flow on or off as well. This in and of itself is pretty cool, but the real utility of the device comes in its ability to schedule watering times and have Aqua estimate the flow of water through the unit to help keep an eye on your water bill expenses. The estimates are not entirely accurate however, since water flow is calculated based on how long the Aqua valve is open rather than the actual rate and quantity of water passing through the unit.

While the ability to schedule watering times is very useful, the Aqua could have been enhanced to do so much more as a truly smart home automation appliance. I would have preferred an automatic shut off after a certain duration in case I flipped on the water and forgot about leaving the water running. It would have also been an impressive coup if Elgato were able to link local weather forecasts into a HomeKit Event Trigger to postpone a scheduled watering if it were expected to rain. While you can use Eve Degree ($69.95) to trigger watering conditions based on humidity readings, those don't accurately identify rainfall (for example, does 100 percent humidity indicate rain or just a really hot, humid day). Even so, such a trigger can't be used to interrupt a predefined timer script, a capability that Apple should consider adding to HomeKit scenes in the future.

Finally, since the Aqua is a mainly hard plastic shell enclosure protecting delicate electronics inside it, the device isn't designed to withstand harsh temperature extremes. I can't imagine it surviving a brutal Midwest sub-zero winter, so its probably best to detach it from the spigot when the lawn-watering season ends. 

Pros

  • Water your lawn and/or garden from anywhere at anytime
  • Easy installation and configuration
  • Seamlessly integrated into the Eve Home Automation app
  • Intuitive to use

Cons

  • No alert trigger for excessive water use
  • No smart link to local weather status
  • Not properly weatherized against harsh conditions
  • Expensive

Final Verdict

Overall, the Eve Aqua is a good first attempt at controlling an outdoor utility that would normally cost hundreds of dollars more (and not even be HomeKit-capable to boot). Perhaps future Aqua versions can include a soil moisture sensor to close the loop on watering just the right amount while still saving more money than the initial Aqua investment in the long run. In the meantime, those who want to play with outdoor watering HomeKit-capable automation, the Eve Aqua is the best game in town.

Master your iPhone in one minute a day: Sign up here to get our FREE Tip of the Day delivered right to your inbox.

Mike Riley is a frequent contributor to several technical publications and specializes in emerging technologies and new development trends. Mike was previously employed by RR Donnelley as the company’s Chief Scientist, responsible for determining innovative technical approaches to improve the company’s internal and external content services. Mike also co-hosted Computer Connection, a technology enthusiast show broadcast on Tribune Media's CLTV.