Havahart Spray Away Elite II: Animal Repellent Product Review
This solar-powered, motion-detecting animal repellant device is intended to humanely deter pests in the garden without the use of smelly or toxic chemicals, or needing to be connected to a hose or electrical cord. The device repels animals by startling them with a strong jet of water whenever they come within the 35-foot range of the infrared sensor. While it does startle animals (and people!), performance will depend on a number of factors so read on to see if it will do the job for you.
Easy to Set Up But Difficult to Adjust
Out of the box, the Spray Away Elite II is easy to set up. Simply attach the spray head to the body using the provided plastic wrench. Next, turn the switch ON and set the sensitivity dial to ‘1’ (the lowest sensitivity level). Put it in a quiet area in full sun and let it charge for a few days. It’s hard to get that part wrong – but the rest of the set-up is a little finicky.
Be careful with the dial; it falls of fairly easily and it’s difficult to put back on properly. The dial came off when we tried to adjust the sensitivity. Unfortunately, we weren’t sure which position it was in when it fell off and so were uncertain how best to put it back on. The dial didn’t stop at ‘1’ or ‘10’ – instead, it just kept spinning. So, to be safe, don’t pull on the dial!
Once the unit is fully charged, set the sensitivity and adjust the water coverage. This is where things get tricky. Adjusting the tabs and metal wire clip on the sprinkler head takes a lot of trial and error to get the water to spray the right distance and to oscillate throughout the desired arc. The instruction manual explains the process but it’s not as easy as it looks. The spray distance and oscillation depend to some extent on battery power so you’ll get different performance depending on how often and how recently the unit has activated.
A Note About Temperature
The unit uses an infrared sensor to detect movement. However, it has a difficult time detecting animals in high heat and the sensitivity level will need to be reset to a higher level when temperatures reach 80F. We found that when temperatures reached about 95F, the sensor didn’t even pick up a person within 5 feet of the unit. So for those of you in hot climates, this may not be the best unit for you.
The company recommends emptying and storing the unit in a dry location when temperatures fall near freezing. In many parts of the country, this means that the Spray Away Elite II cannot be used during winter. Nor, for that matter, can any other water-spraying animal repellent system. So if animal pests are a nuisance during winter, look for other means of controlling them (such as using deer netting or spraying repellent mixtures directly onto plants).
Works in the Dark
The infrared sensor is particularly effective in cooler weather and, best of all, it works well at night when many animal pests are out cruising for dinner in your garden.
Solar Powered – No Batteries Needed
One of the benefits of the Spray Away Elite II is that it doesn’t need to be attached to an electric cord. That allows you to place it anywhere you wish.
However, you’ll want to put in full sun so that the solar panel can charge the unit. In a shady area, the unit doesn’t work as well and, over time, may not retain enough power to work at all. This limits where you can place it. You’ll also see reduced effectiveness after several cloudy days.
The battery drains a little each time the unit is activated. If you have a lot of animals being sprayed, you may find that the battery doesn’t recharge quickly enough to continue spraying. We recommend using the Spray Away Elite II in areas with low to moderate activity.
Keep the solar panels clean. When the unit sprays it tends to leave water on the solar panels. If you have hard water, mineral build-up will reduce the effectiveness of the panels. Fallen leaves, pollen, dust, bird droppings, etc. will also affect the unit’s ability to recharge.
Finally, be sure the charge the unit for three full days in full sunlight and with the unit turned ON and adjusted to a sensitivity setting of ‘1’, before using it. While the unit is charged prior to shipping, it may not have a full charge when you receive it and so may not work as expected.
No Hose Required But May Need Frequent Refills
Because the unit has a large reservoir in the base (it holds 3.5 gallons), there’s no need to have a hose permanently running into your garden to keep the unit working. But it will need to be refilled from a hose, bucket, or watering can regularly. Depending on the number of animals that get sprayed, you may need to refill the unit every 2 or 3 days. If you’re not home for a few days, it could end up running out of water and will then stop working. So don’t count on it to keep pests at bay while you’re on vacation.
The large reservoir makes the unit quite stable – it won’t tip over even if it’s knocked into. However, it’s also quite bulky and not everyone will appreciate looking at a large, black plastic “ornament” prominently displayed in the garden. We preferred to place it in the vegetable garden to protect the tomatoes and beans, rather than in the ornamental flower beds.
When the unit activates, it makes a loud noise as the water starts to spray from the sprinkler head. The noise, along with the jet of water, is quite effective in startling animals. Even humans have been scared by it (it’s best not to wander out into the garden after work to smell the flowers unless you turn it off first!).
Given that there’s no hose to supply water pressure, we were skeptical that the unit would spray water 25 feet, as advertised. So we measured it. And found that it does indeed spray 25 feet – actually, it went 27 feet in our tests.
Senses Even Small Animals
The unit clearly had no problem detecting large animals, even up to 35 feet away. But we wondered whether the Spray Away Elite II would pick up smaller animals, such as rabbits or groundhogs. So we borrowed a neighbor’s Chihuahua and let him run around the yard with the unit turned on at a sensitivity level of ‘8’. Oscar was soaked within 30 seconds.
Indicator Lights Tell You Unit Status
Our first thought when reading about the indicator lights for low battery and water level was “Great – we’ll be able to look out the window and see if the unit needs more water.”
In reality, the indicator lights are somewhat problematic. They are located directly under the spray head so, in order to see them, you have to stand in front of the sprayer! If you turn off the unit, the indicator lights go out. And, since you likely won’t be pointing the unit directly at your windows, you’ll have to go outside to see the indicator lights.
While it’s helpful to know when the unit needs to be filled, and to see that it’s charged, we would have preferred to see the indicator lights on the back of the unit where they can be viewed without putting yourself in the path of a blast of cold water.
It was difficult to settle on a rating for the Spray Away Elite II because its effectiveness depends on the situation.
In full sun, with temperatures below 80F (but above freezing), and a moderate number of animals to control on a smaller property, the unit is quite effective.
In shade or frequent cloudy conditions, in temperatures above 80F or below freezing, and with a large number of pests on the property, this probably isn’t the best animal deterrent to use.
Where to Buy It
Disclaimer: We received a free unit to test and review for the Gardening Products Review. There was no expectation that it would be a positive review, and we received no compensation for writing the review.
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