August in Southern Indiana can be both hot and humid. Temperatures around 100 degrees are not unusual for us. As a result, it’s normal to see people watering their outdoor plants in the evenings, to keep them from frying to a crisp. I’ve been known to shirk my watering duties due to the fact that I hate wrestling with the garden hose. Unwinding it usually isn’t a big deal, but winding back onto the reel can sometimes be an exercise in frustration. Since I’m all for trying a product that has been designed to ease my frustration level, I was happy to review the ReelSmart Automatic Hose Reel from Hydro-Industries.
The ReelSmart is a 20.76″x14.29″x20.23″ / 53x36x50.4cm sized rectangular box made of strong plastic with a wood texture. I know you’re all thinking “Julie, we don’t care about a plastic box that holds your garden hose.”… Just bear with me for a bit ok? :o)
Lifting the lid reveals a plastic bag of items needed to set things up.
2 Wall / ground brackets
Before you can begin using the ReelSmart, you have to hook up the various hoses. This is really easy and takes less than 15 minutes. The only tool required is a Philips screwdriver for the last step.
First you turn the box so that the 2 outside connection points are facing you. The connection point on the bottom left is for the short length of hose that connects to your outside hydrant / spigot, and the connection point on the right is for the longer drainage hose. You’ll also notice a lever above the hose points. I’ll get to it in a minute.
Both connection points can swivel out to make it easier to screw on the hoses. The left side is threaded, so screwing it on isn’t a problem. The drainage hose has to be forced on to the connection point. It requires a bit of twisting and turning, but eventually, the hose settles into place.
In the next step, you attach the actual garden hose to the reel.
The ReelSmart reel is large enough to accommodate up to 125ft of 5/8″ hose or 60m of 1/2″ hose. I used a 100ft hose that I already had on another hose cart.
At this point, it is best to relocate the ReelSmart to the place where it is going to be used.
Here we see the ‘before’ picture of my garden hose area. As you can see, I tend to just leave the hose all willy nilly on the ground. You can also see a plastic hose cart in the picture. I own 3 of these carts and find them all to be pretty much useless. They don’t last very long before they fall apart because they are so cheaply made. I used to have a metal cart, but it ended up getting rusty…
Attaching the garden hose to the reel is just a matter of feeding the hose through the yellow guide slot on the front bottom of the box and around the reel. You then screw the end of the hose onto the attachment point on the reel. Like the other hose attachment points, this one also swivels to allow for easier access.
Here we have the garden hose attached and the drainage hose extended down the hill.
The last step is to put on the plastic hose stopper. You’ll need a Philips screwdriver for this task. The stopper prevents the hose from being completely rolled up onto the reel inside the box. Since I have a hand sprayer screwed on to the end of the hose, I really would not need to use the stopper…
Fully installed, we see the ReelSmart with the hose rolled up. This looks much nicer than the ‘before’ picture doesn’t it?
Now for the cool part of this product. The ReelSmart uses water to automatically rewind the hose into the reel. It doesn’t require any electricity or batteries, just water.
This is where the lever on the side of the box comes into play. When the lever is to the Right, it’s in the Rest position. Typically the lever will be in this position 99% of the time. In this position, you can pull out the hose and use it as you normally would.
When you’re done water, and ready to to have the hose rewind, you just slide the lever to the Left and the hose will automatically start rolling back onto the reel. Cool! The hose does not recoil at blurring speeds, but since I’m not cranking, I’m happy!
It works via a piston operated water engine that converts the water’s energy into mechanical power. The Yellow guide slot has an auto-sort feature that untangles and wraps the hose perfectly on the reel.
You might remember the drainage hose that we attached to the ReelSmart, during the set up tasks… Well, this is where the primary con for this product can be noticed. In order for the rewind feature to work, you have to have the hydrant turned on. When you flip the lever to Rewind, water will flow through the special piston operated engine and start the reel rotating. The water will then flow out of the drainage hose and on to the ground. The first time I used the rewind feature, I let the water just run out on the ground. Then I started wondering just how much water was being wasted during this operation, so I placed a 5 gallon bucket under the hose and tried rewinding 100 feet of hose a 2nd time. Guess what? The bucket almost completely filled. Ack! That’s a LOT of water to waste to automatically rewind a hose. I sincerely hope/ask that anyone that already owns this product or is thinking about buying one, will collect the drainage water in a bucket for another use, and not just waste it.
You also want to make sure that you flip the lever back to the Rest position once the hose is fully rewound, and remember to turn off the hydrant. That’s my other issue with this product. You have to wait for the hose to rewind before you can turn off the spigot. Some might say that if you’re just standing there waiting for the hose to rewind, you might as well be rewinding it yourself. That is a valid argument. But I can see that this product could come in very handy for elderly people or people with physical challenges.
See it in action…
The Hydro-Industries ReelSmart is an easy to setup, easy to use self-winding garden hose reel that is great for that person that either can’t or doesn’t want to manually wrap the hose on a cart. It doesn’t require any special tools or skills to setup, and doesn’t require electricity / batteries to run.
I still have the ReelSmart, but haven’t used it for the past few summers because it’s more of a hassle to use and store than the Pocket Hoses that we’ve been using for the past 2 years. I don’t have anything bad to say about it, it’s easier to use a light weight hose. Less expensive too!
Available at home improvement stores such as Lowes and Home Depot for $75-$140.