10 Best

Motion Activated Sprinklers

of September 2023

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Motion-Activated Sprinklers--A Humane Way to Protect Your Lawn

Yehudah Posnick

You may suffer from animal intruders on your property, such as deer, rabbits, foxes, raccoons, rodents, and more. An ultrasonic repeller may work indoors, by emitting a high-frequency noise that disturbs animals. But, that might not be an option outdoors. For protecting a wide area outdoors, such as your lawn or vegetable garden, there are motion-activated sprinklers, also known as “scarecrow sprinklers” or “animal deterrent sprinklers” that can do the trick!

These sprinklers are designed to deter animals or intruders from entering certain areas by spraying a burst of water when triggered by motion. You can set the range of the sprinkler, to only spray within a certain distance or a particular arc. There is also the option of using several sprinklers and connecting them in series. Each one can control a particular region of the lawn. And you can get sprinklers that are more sophisticated, which can distinguish between warm-blooded animals and plants.

We’ll go through some of the features of the best motion-activated sprinklers. They’re a great way to protect your lawn or garden from animals in a humane manner, that just scares them away without inflicting any harm!


How do motion-activated sprinklers work?

Most of these motion-activated sprinklers use infrared sensors to detect motion. When an animal or person passes within the sensor's range, the sprinkler activates and releases a sudden burst of water. Some sensor-based sprinklers also have adjustable sensitivity settings to customize the detection range and response.

How does a motion-activated sprinkler not cause flooding?

While it's possible for a motion-activated sprinkler to cause flooding under certain circumstances, the system is typically designed to prevent such issues through various mechanisms:

  • Specifying the detection range: The sprinkler system's sensors are set up with a specific detection range. This range is usually adjusted to cover the desired area, such as a garden or lawn while avoiding reaching areas where water should not be sprayed. By properly configuring the range, the system can avoid activating the sprinklers in areas prone to flooding.

  • Sensitivity Adjustment: You want the sprinkler to be activated only if animal pests enter the area. It shouldn’t be activated by something like tree branches swaying in the wind. Motion-activated sprinklers often come with sensitivity adjustment settings. These settings allow you to fine-tune the system's response to movement. By adjusting the sensitivity, you can make the system less prone to accidental activations from small creatures or non-threatening movements, reducing the risk of excessive water usage and potential flooding.

  • Timer Settings: Some motion-activated sprinklers have built-in timers that limit the duration of water flow when activated. This feature ensures that the sprinklers turn off automatically after a specific period, preventing prolonged water release and potential flooding.

  • Rain Sensors: What if animal pests enter your property after heavy rainfall? Many modern sprinkler systems include rain sensors that detect the presence of rainfall. When rain is detected, the system overrides the motion activation and temporarily disables the sprinklers, preventing unnecessary watering and reducing the risk of flooding.

Types of Motion Activated Sprinklers

There are two main types of motion-activated sprinklers available on the market: those that detect only motion, and those that measure heat of the moving body as well.

  • Motion-activated only: There are sprinklers that use Passive Infrared (=PIR) technology to only detect motion within a certain range. You can set the sensitivity of the device so that it only works if an intruder enters your property. An example is the Hoont Cobra Animal Repeller.

Hoont Cobra Animal Repeller

  • Motion and heat activated: There are also PIR sprinklers that also use passive infrared technology to detect heat signatures as well as motion. When the PIR sensor detects a warm body within its range, it triggers the sprinkler to activate. An example is the Orbit Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler (Model No. 62100). By detecting heat as well, only a warm-blooded animal will set it off. It won’t go off if trees sway in the wind.

Orbit Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler

You’ll also see that some sprinklers are solar-powered, while others rely on battery power only:

  • Solar-Powered Sprinklers: Many motion-activated sprinklers are designed to operate using solar power. They feature built-in solar panels that charge the sprinkler's batteries during the day, allowing them to function without the need for a constant electrical connection. An example is the Difu Repellent Water Sprinkler.

Difu Repellent Water Sprinkler

  • Battery-Powered Sprinklers: There are also sprinklers that use batteries only. An example is the Costway Scarecrow Motion Activated Animal Repellent. It uses a 9V battery to get its power. It has a low-battery indicator so that you’ll know when to replace the battery. Also, experts say that a 9-volt battery will last longer than the units that require 2 or 4 “AA” batteries.

Costway Scarecrow Motion Activated Animal Repellent

What reviewers say

We went over some customers’ impressions of the motion-activated sprinkler that they bought:

  • Cheaper option than fences: You’ll notice that installing a few of these sprinklers can secure your lawn or backyard from animal intruders. And it’s much cheaper than installing fencing! Also, customers noticed that fencing can keep out deer, but won’t work against the most destructive pests, such as gophers, raccoons, and rabbits, that can chew their way through. Instead, these sprinklers include a stake that you insert into the ground, wherever you find it to be most convenient. It’s a great idea to use the sprinklers in tandem with fencing, to make sure that there are no vulnerabilities!

  • Challenge not to spray humans: Some users note that setting the sprinkler to work only at night may lead to some problems. For example, it may get activated accidentally by a person making a delivery in the early morning hours, when it’s still not sunny outside. Also, it might get confused by a cloudy day, where it thinks that it’s actually nighttime. For this reason, you may prefer a set of sprinklers that are more sophisticated, for which you can specify hours of operation.

Important Features

Here are some tips about features to look for when choosing a motion-activated sprinkler:

  • Hooking them up in series: If you wish to set up a few motion-activated sprinklers, many models allow you to attach a hose-Y adapter or splitter, to send water to another sprinkler unit.

Hose-Y Adapter to attach two sprinklers

  • Number of activation cycles: If you’re using a battery-powered sprinkler, the manufacturer will have an estimate of the number of sprinkler cycles that the device can go through without having to replace the batteries. The Orbit Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler can go for 7500 activation cycles on 4 “AA” batteries.

  • Activation modes: Perhaps you don’t want the sprinkler to work during the day. For instance, maybe the animal pests that you want to drive away are primarily nocturnal. There are sprinklers that let you set them only for the night, only for the day, or for 24 hours.

  • Adjustable arc: If you only want to sprinkle a particular region of your lawn, many of these sprinklers will allow you to adjust the arc. You can place the sprinkler in the center of your lawn, and have it sprinkle a full 360 degrees. If it sprays a 35-foot radius, that means that it will cover an area of 3.14x(35)2 = 3846.5 square feet. You can also adjust the arc on many sprinklers so that they only spray over a specific region. That saves water and battery life.

  • Range: Take note of the range of the motion detector. For example, the Hoont Animal Repeller will be activated by any animal passing by within a range of 30 feet. You can adjust the sensitivity, if you don’t need such a large range of protection.

  • Don’t use it during the winter: Manufacturers warn against using the sprinklers during the winter since there is a danger that water will freeze inside the sprinkler head. This can damage the unit.

  • Vulnerabilities of certain sprinklers: You should take note of customer reviews as well, since some sprinklers may have annoying vulnerabilities that animals can learn to exploit. For example, some models may tend to get stuck and not react properly to an animal intruder. Also, animals may learn to hide under shrubs and things, so that they won’t get sprayed! You’ll have to position the sprinkler in the right location to avoid this!

Final Verdict

We went through some of the best options among motion-activated sprinklers. Customers who have vegetable gardens are pleased with this method of protecting their produce, which is both humane and easy to install. Also, you can keep your neighbor from letting his dog or cat loose on your property. Look over the list of options, and select out a sprinkler that suits your needs!

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