If you want to see someone who is living trouble-free amongst nature without using animal spray repellents and poisons, it is me. The secret of my success is in understanding that technological advances and wildlife can actually go hand-in-hand together. I will tell you more, this is a perfect combination! I have become an ardent advocate of this idea after starting using motion-activated sprinklers in my yard.

In this guide, you will learn how a motion-activated sprinkler works and what types of this devices are commercially available. Below, you will also find a selection of tips and recommendations made by scientists on how to install motion-activated sprinklers and use them properly. A detailed motion-activated sprinkler review will serve you as an excellent guide to choosing the right device for your particular case.

What you will learn from this Guide:

How Does A Motion-Activated Sprinkler Work?

A motion-activated sprinkler is a frightening device that shoots a stream of water and simultaneously emits noises. So it chases the intruders away by a sudden burst of water and startling sounds. Actually, the device kills two birds with one stone as it scares away varmints and waters the garden at one stroke.

Infrared sensors. When an animal wanders into the protected area, it is detected by special infrared sensors designed to react both on heat and movements. As a rule, unwanted intruders come onto the radar of a motion-activated sprinkler when they approach at a distance of about 30-40 feet.

Protected area. As a rule, a good motion-activated sprinkler protects an area amounting to about 1,000 square feet. However, such devices are not intended for the large agricultural area since you will need a huge quantity of them to protect it. So many motion-activated sprinklers, let alone batteries that should be regularly changed, this would cost the owner a fortune. Whereas installing them in small areas is a cost-efficient and effective solution. So experts from the University of Kentucky suggest using motion-activated sprinklers to deter animals from small gardens or landscaping.

Now, how to install a motion-activated sprinkler?

  1. The device should be attached to a garden hose, if it is not a hose-free option.
  2. Then, put the appropriate batteries in the device and insert its pole into the turf.
  3. Position the sensor and sprinkler so that they are looking toward the direction of where the animals come into the yard.
  4. Set sensitivity of the sprinkler and test it by means of the indicator light.
  5. When everything is ready, turn on the hose.

How Effective Is Using Motion-Activated Sprinklers?

A motion-activated sprinkler is good in every way: it is safe, free of chemicals and does not harm animals. Modern sprinklers are typically fully automated so they do not require human participation. What you need to do is mount the device and customize settings. The bulk of the work will be done by the device and you will not even have to monitor its functioning!

You might ask why motion-activated sprinklers have not replaced all other repelling methods if they are that great.

What are the drawbacks?

Well, the problem with motion-activated sprinklers is that they produce only a short-term effect and never eradicate the source of the trouble. Another disadvantage common to all frightening techniques lies in the fact that some animals eventually become accustomed, especially when they see that no real danger follows those startling noises and bursts of water.

This is especially the case for strongly motivated animals that suffer the lack of food. They are willing to risk and eventually learn that they can get away with it.

How to choose the right device

But these potential disadvantages pale in comparison with what you can achieve using a motion-activated sprinkler in a proper way. Moreover, you can take measures to prevent the animals from habituating themselves to these repellers and avoiding them.

To this end, you need to choose the right device. First of all, this means using motion-activated sprinklers made by trusted producers only. JoEllyn Argabright from Kansas State Research and Extension names Contech, Orbit, and Havahart as trusted brands that have quite similar features.

Then, you should opt for technologically advanced products. Feature-packed motion-activated sprinklers offer a wider range of options, enhancing the device’s performance.

How do you benefit from using motion-activated sprinklers?

In fact, this is about details but it is nuances that determine the result. A sophisticated device is more sensitive, more selective and “smarter”, which is important because the wild animals you are going to repel are inherently crafty, otherwise, they could not survive.

A strong point of all modern motion-activated sprinklers is the possibility to adjust them. The sensor is usually moved so that you can adjust the device either for smaller or larger animals. You may set modes for the sprinkler to operate at night or during the day only. Apart from that, there also such features as setting a timed watering as well as adjusting the device for a shorter or longer distance.

Types of Motion-Activated Sprinklers: Which One Is the Best?

Motion-activated sprinklers can be divided into different categories depending on a number of features. Now, let’s have a look at them.

  • Power source. Motion-activated sprinklers operating on batteries and solar-powered ones. The main criterion here is a power source. Solar-powered devices are often preferred because they are environmentally friendly and cost-efficient since you do not have to change batteries. Moreover, batteries can damage motion-activated sprinklers, which is not the case with solar-powered devices. The only weak point of units running on solar energy is that they can be installed in a sunny place while some yards can be predominantly shady.
  • Source of water. Most motion-activated sprinklers are connected to the garden hose but there is also a hose-free option. This feature affects the price, by the way, making the product more expensive. Hose-free items operate using gallons filled with water designed for several dozens of sprays per fill. The idea is that you can mount the device anywhere in the garden or yard without bothering about connecting it to the hose, which is sometimes impossible to do.
  • The range of spraying. A sprinkler can spray in a 120-degree or 360-degree range. Needless to say that the latter is a better option. This is an important characteristic feature because the wider the range is, the better the device repels. The idea is clear: you never know from where intruders would arrive and how many animals would be there. Therefore, a wide spraying angle ensures maximum protection for the yard. By the way, a spraying angle should not be confused with a viewing angle. The latter is about detecting the movement in the area and can differ from the spraying angle.

TOP 6 Best Motion-Activated Sprinklers

Below, you will find six different models of motion-activated sprinklers in the price range from less than 50 dollars to 100 dollars. Some of them cover a smaller area while others can protect up to 1,900 square feet. There is a model capable of spraying 360 degrees, moving in a full circle, and a model mounted on a tripod so that the sprinkler can be extended up to 54 inches. A motion-activated sprinkler powered by a solar battery is an example of an environmentally friendly solution.

Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler

Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer Motion-Activated Sprinkler: photo

This sprinkler covering an area of 1,600 square feet is in the price range between 50 and 100 dollars. Now, let’s see whether it is worth this kind of money. What is clear from the product’s description is that it is a “smart” device based on advanced technologies. This allows you to make setting depending on your needs and preferences.

You can adjust the sprinkler so that it detects targets only at night or in the daytime as well. Its sensing technology is really intelligent, with such features as water conservation and efficient use of batteries. This is a very important quality characteristic, making the product much cheaper in use and saving your money in the long run.

An extremely robust and durable construction

The sprinkler with a length of 35 feet is adjustable. It is equipped with a 120-degree arc motion sensor and allows you to set timed watering. The device can be used for various purposes, not just to frighten off animals but also for irrigation.

Apart from technological advantages, this motion-activated sprinkler has such valuable features as durability and ruggedness. Also, this is the tallest device in the review, with the height exceeding 24 inches. This is good particularly for scaring larger animals.

Operated on batteries, the device can be activated more than 7,500 times, which is quite a lot and is enough for several seasons. And you will not have to worry about the device being under the rein or other unfavorable weather conditions as it is made of metal and brass and is really robust.

Orbit 62100: Check the current price

Orbit 62120 Garden Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler

Orbit 62120 Garden Enforcer Motion Activated Sprinkler: photo

This is another variation of Orbit motion-activated sprinkler, more convenient and functional one that covers an area of 1,600 square feet. The device has the same features as a regular Orbit, including a 120-degree sensor, intelligent sensing technology and timed watering settings.

A metal tripod — what’s the advantage?

The key characteristic property of this modification is a metal tripod that can extend the device up to 54 inches. This is a beneficial feature for areas with tall grass or in places where for some reasons you cannot insert the stake into the soil. When mounted, Orbit sprinkler with the tripod will be over 32 inches in height.

What is particularly essential is that the tripod is really stable and cannot be easily overturned. This version will cost you an extra 20 dollars but I think in some cases, it is worth it. Separately worth noting the possibility of adjusting the tripod from 28 to 54 inches. So choose the height you need, depending on what is your target animal and what kind of plants surround the device.

Orbit 62120: Check the current price

Havahart 5266 Motion-Activated Sprinkler Animal Repellent 2.0

avahart 5266 Motion-Activated Sprinkler: photo

This device is a bit more expensive but has plenty of useful features. There are nine sensitivity settings so that you can adjust the device for smaller or larger animals — from deer to squirrels. They also allow you to choose the distance that should be reached and adjust an arc of the sprinkler. No other motion-activated sprinkler has such a variety of settings!

The maximum range it covers amounts up to 1,900 square feet, making the product exceed the performance of many other devices. The sensor detects an animal as far as 35 feet away and frightens the intruder off with a burst of water as well as startling noise and motion.

Havahart vs Orbit: choosing the best of the best

Like the previous product, this one is efficient as well, consuming at most three cups of water per spray. When the battery is running low, you receive an alert, so you can be sure that the area is protected day and night. The unit is a bit lower compared with Orbit — 22 inches, but it is quite bulky as it is larger in width.

However, there are some downsides. So the step-in stake designed to be inserted into the soil is made of plastic, which raises questions about its durability. Some people complain that the device was leaking. This may happen for a number of reasons. For instance, small rocks may get in and keep the diaphragm valve open. In this case, you should take the device apart and clean it thoroughly.

Havahart: Check the current price

ScareCrow Motion-Activated Sprinkler

ScareCrow Motion-Activated Sprinkler: photo

This option will cost you some 20 dollars less but the area it covers is significantly smaller compared with the previous product — no more than 1,200 square feet. The unit is smaller in size, about 12 x 7 inches, so you should better use it against medium and small-sized animals like rabbits, raccoons and birds.

What is wrong with ScareCrow device?

On the other hand, there is a problem related to the distance at which the device can operate. If you need it to work at a close range, this motion-activated sprinkler will hardly cope with the task. It is angled to shoot upwards about 45 degrees to reach a distance, therefore, if the intruder passes in front of the device within some ten feet, it will not be hit by the water spray.

In general, the device works the same way, driving unwanted animals out of the area by a sudden noise and jet of water. It also consumes a small amount of water for sparing and targets all sizes of animals, from critters to deer. There is also “at night only” option so that you can adjust the sprinkler depending on your needs.

ScareCrow: Check the current price

Hoont Motion-Activated Sprinkler

Hoont Motion-Activated Sprinkler: photo

Hoont motion-activated sprinkler will save your money in two ways. First, it is simply the cheapest product in the review, available at a price of less than 50 dollars. Secondly, this item has a 360-degree water spraying angle that can be adjusted. How can it save my money, you may ask?

Well, when a motion-activated sprinkler does not entirely cover the area around it, you should better buy one more or a number of such items to mount them close to each other but towards different directions. So you will avoid “gaps” in the protected area. Hoont product solves this problem, spraying in a full circle.

And yet, this item has noticeable downsides. The major one is that the device covers an area only within the range of 650 square feet. The sensor detection range is also compared poorly with that of the previous products, reaching no more than 30 feet. Other disadvantages are related to the product’s durability. It is made of plastic and will not last long enough, especially if water leakages occur.

Hoont: Check the current price

Solar-Powered Motion-Activated Sprinkler

Solar-Powered Motion-Activated Sprinkler: photo

Approximately for the same price, you can buy a solar-powered motion-activated sprinkler. A clear advantage of this option is energy and cost efficiency as a solar energy battery comes with the product. The device does not consume energy, nor does it cost you extra money since there is no need to purchase new batteries.

However, the coverage area is quite small compared with the other items in the review and amounts to at most 1,000 square feet. The other weak point is the plastic design that is not durable and can break.

Solar-Powered: Check the current price

Comparison Chart of Motion-Activated Sprinklers Effectiveness

Motion-activated sprinkler Advantages Area coverage Effectiveness

Orbit 62100 Yard Enforcer

The biggest device with a metal durable structure. It has an intelligent sensing technology. 1,200 square feet 10

Havahart 5266

It has nine sensitivity settings for adjusting the device to the size of a target animal, as well as a spraying distance and an arc of the sprinkler. Detects animals as far as 35 feet away. 1,900 square feet 10

ScareCrow

ScareCrow Motion-Activated Sprinkler min: photo

It is compact and is good for medium and small-sized animals like rabbits and raccoons. Adjustable and has a “night only” mode. 1,200 square feet 9

Orbit 62120 Garden Enforcer

The product has an intelligent sensing technology and timed watering settings. Its peculiarity is a metal tripod extending the device up to 54 inches. 1,600 square feet 10

Hoont

The device has a 360-degree adjustable water spraying angle. This is one of the cheapest options. 650 square feet 8

Solar-Powered

A solar energy battery comes with a product 1,000 square feet 8

Rules On How To Use Motion-Activated Sprinklers

  • Before mounting the device, inspect the yard or garden to find out all the places where damage was caused. These are places where you should set up your motion-activated sprinklers.
  • Direct the device towards the area from where the intruders are coming. This is crucial because you should better drive the animals away before they get closer to the plants and damage them. 
  • Be sure that the sensor has a clear view of the target area and no objects such as tree branches obstruct it. In addition, leaves and similar items may make the sensor trigger accidentally, something that should be avoided as well.
  • Locate the device in a shady place as if it is a predator lying in wait for its victim. Keep in mind that the burst of water and sound should come out on a sudden to frighten off the animal.
  • When the unit is launched for the first time, make enough time to monitor its operation. Sit somewhere is a hidden place and watch whether the device repels passing animals well enough or maybe it sprays areas you do not want to be sprayed.
  • Brooke Edmunds from Oregon State University Extension Service warns that some animals are smart enough and may try to outwit the device. For example, cats may figure out how far the water goes and move around it while raccoons may join forces and knock down the sprinkler. To avoid this, install several motion-activated sprinklers at one time and not far away from each other.

How To Make a Motion Activated Sprinkler

If you have enough patience and diligence as well as basic knowledge of electricity, you may want to make a motion-activated sprinkler yourself. A clear advantage of this approach is the low price of the device. Experts from PennState University offer the following instructions:

First, take a with a small motor powered by wires. Take it apart and cut the wires. Use additional wire to make them longer and leave the wires outside. After that, take a small tubing to have the sprayer draw liquid from a larger bottle.

Building the circuit

Then, you will have to build the circuit. Here you will need Arduino, which is a platform for building interactive electronic objects. Start with the PIR Motion Sensor, connect the ground pin on the Arduino to that on the sensor. Match up the sensor’s +5V pin to pin 13 next to the ground pin on the Arduino. Then, connect the sensor’s signal pin to pin 12 on the Arduino.

Install the transistor to the breadboard and connect Arduino’s ground power pin to the transistor’s left pin. Connect Arduino’s pin 3 to the transistor’s middle pin. Place the diode in the breadboard with the transistor’s left pin connected to the right one. The other end of the diode should be installed a few rows down the breadboard.

Connect the ground wire of the sprayer motor to the transistor’s right pin as well as the diode’s left end. Then, connect Arduino’s 5V power pin to the diode’s right end by means of the breadboard. And finally, connect the sprayer’s positive wire to the diode’s right end.

What actually makes the device a motion-activated sprinkler

Now, you have to write the code and upload it to the Arduino. This will make the sprayer be activated by a motion sensor as well as a spray only for a certain period of time. Follow the instructions for writing a code prepared by researchers at PennState University. This is far from being easy but if you manage to do everything the right way, you will get acheap and working motion-activated sprinkler.

F.A.Q. On How To Use A Motion-Activated Sprinkler

Does a motion-activated sprinkler work in darkness or when it is snowing?
Sure, a motion-activated sprinklers successfully operates at night, in complete darkness. Moreover, most advanced devices have a “night only” mode intended for nocturnal intruders, such as raccoons. Besides, the atmospheric temperature is more favorable for its operation at night because the animal’s heat is detected more easily.

Whereas in snowy weather the temperature is becoming too low for the device to operate. As you can see, a sprinkler hits an animal with a burst of water, something that will not be possible in winter.

How do I know that it is time to change batteries in my sprinkler?
Many modern motion-activated sprinklers are equipped with a LED light indicator showing whether the battery is running low. However, if your device does not have such a feature, then you should simply check it from time to time. When bursts of water become weaker, it is time to change the battery.

Can a motion-activated sprinkler be used for garden irrigation?
Most motion-activated sprinklers have this function. Just set an appropriate mode and use the sprinkler for irrigation of your lawn or garden. But be sure to check whether the product has a regular mode before buying it.

Will the motion sensor respond to humans, not just animals?
Modern motion-activated sprinklers are intelligent but not to that extend. Of course, they cannot distinguish humans from animals as all we are mammals. What makes the device detect a passing target is the heat emitted by the body. In order to avoid being hit with a jet of water, you may adjust the spraying distance.

How to install a motion-activated sprinkler?
First of all, choose the right location. The device should be mounted in the direction of where the animals enter the lawn or garden. This will allow to frighten them off before they have caused any damage to the plants and fruit.

Insert the item’s stake into the soil several inches deep. If the turf is damp, take a pot with gravel and dig it into the soil. After that, insert the unit into the pot. Then, adjust the spray range and sensor sensitivity. For small animals, sensitivity should be high while for larger ones, it should be low.

Can the motion sensor be too sensitive to detect the wrong target, leaves for example?
Motion-activated sprinklers sometimes respond to a wrong target. What you need to do to prevent this from happening is to locate the unit in the right place. Be sure that branches of the tree, as well as other objects in the yard, cannot accidentally contact the sensor. If you want to get it right, spend some time in front of the device and watch how it operates. This will help you adjust the sprinkler so that it can respond only to target animals.

How long does a battery last for motion-activated sprinklers?
The battery’s service life is determined by the intensity of its exploitation. The more often the device is activated, the sooner it will run out of the battery. And again, much depends on a particular model. Advanced devices are energy efficient and their intelligent technologies prevent them from being activated in vain. This extends the battery life and conserves water.