(Pocket-lint) - We can control our music, our heating, our lights, even the vacuum cleaner via our phone, so why not the outside tap?
In steps the Hozelock Cloud Controller, a device that fits to your outside tap and then can be controlled either via an app on your phone and scheduled to water the lawn and flowers.
The obvious question is do you really need an app-controlled water tap?
Hozelock Cloud Controller Kit review: Two-part design
The Hozelock Cloud Controller comes in two parts: a hub that sits inside and connects into your home router; and a flow control device that connects to your tap.
The former is a small black box that's easy to install indoor by your router - you just need to make sure you have a spare Ethernet socket on the back of your router and a spare power socket to plug it into. It doesn't need to be based near the tap at all, as it acts as the main controller.
The flow control device is a large black and grey box that sits in-between the tap and hose attachment. It's battery powered (via two AA batteries), comes with a simple connector button and a further manual control button to turn on the tap without the need for the app for either 10, 30, or 60 minutes.
Hozelock Cloud Controller review: Watering your garden via an app
The Hozelock app is simple to look at, but easy to use. Being connected to the internet means you can control the tap from anywhere in the world rather than just in your house (handy if you are on holiday), but also have it jump into action based on pre-set schedules. Ideal for watering the garden based on, say, sunrise or sunset. You can even have different schedules for different days.
Scheduled watering systems are nothing new, but the Hozelock system is more intelligent as it can source additional information, such as the weather. If it's not been raining for a set amount of time or there's been a hot spell then the app will let you know and you can make temporary adjustments accordingly (without changing the overall settings permanently).
If you still find yourself needing to water the plants or grass outside of the 10 different daily scheduled watering times available to set, then you can press the "Water now" button within the app to override everything. The app allows you water between one and 60 minutes and you get a countdown timer so you can see what's happening and how long remains.
For real green-fingered users, it's possible to control up to four units via the one app, with different schedules available for each.
Hozelock Cloud Controller Kit review: Possible negatives
Connecting a tap to the internet really does give you a huge amount of granular control, but won't be for everyone. Especially at the £115 asking price.
The biggest issue we ran into wasn't with the Cloud Controller, but our tap. It leaked, so it's worth checking yours before you purchase a device that will require it to be on all the time. A bit of water leakage while you water the garden manually is always expected, but this system leaves your tap on all the time, 24/7.
The other issue is that the flow control device only talks to the hub every 20 minutes (mainly to conserve battery life), so asking the system to "Water now" can mean a longer delay than you might expect - giving you the feeling that it's broken.
If watering your prized petunias is important to you then the Hozelock Cloud Controller could be just the thing to have you winning Britain in Bloom in no time. Whether you're at home or away, its schedules and weather monitoring are simple but effective.
The only thing stopping most people will be the £115 price tag, ruling out a lot of people that are more than happy to walk to the tap and simply turn it on.