I'm begging you guys to leave the Flex Schedules in the software. Deprecate it, don't officially support it, make it intentionally difficult to find in the app, but please let us keep using it. You already developed it, no harm in letting us keep it!
On a side note, can somebody please clearly articulate why Flex Schedules are being abandoned? Are they not clearly superior to As Needed Schedules? Are As Needed Schedules not guaranteed to routinely violate best watering practices?
As Needed Schedules are fundamentally flawed because they're based on watering every X days despite the fact that we live in a dynamic world where your grass may or may not need water every X days.
We used to account for the following data and only water when we calculated that the grass was dry:
- Real time weather data for our area.
- The "shadiness" of the grass area.
- The type of grass.
- Perhaps a few other parameters.
Interval based scheduling's largest source of inaccuracy is that it doesn't account for the fact that your watering frequency should be proportional to the temperature. Rachio's bare minimum workaround for this issue is to update the interval every month, which at least ensures we're watering more frequently in the summer than in the winter. Unfortunately, this is still sub-optimal because:
- It doesn't account for unusually hot/cold weather during any given week/month, which is virtually guaranteed to happen and happen frequently.
- Weather doesn't change in finite 30 day windows so neither should our interval.
- We have to hope Rachio's predefined intervals are reasonable for our area, grass, shade conditions, etc.
Interval based scheduling's second largest source of inaccuracy is that it doesn't account for dynamic rainfall. Rachio's inadequate workaround for this is the Climate Skip feature, which is particularly maddening because if implemented slightly differently it would be perfect.
The Climate Skip is essentially a re-purposed version of the intelligence from Flex Schedules. It accounts for evapotranspiration, precipitation, watering history, etc and if it determines your grass is "sufficiently wet" then it'll skip a watering run.
The problem with Climate Skip is that it doesn't shift or modify the interval window. This has several problems but consider just this one scenario:
- You're scheduled to water every 10 days.
- It has rained just enough so that you don't need water on Day 10.
- By Day 15 your grass needs water.
Climate Skip paired with an interval based schedule means you get to choose between watering on Day 10 well before you need to or watering on Day 20 leaving your grass to dry out for a full 5 days.
...on top of that I'm guessing all of these decisions are made without considering the different sun/grass conditions of each zone.
Clearly the real solution is to simply rely on Climate Skip's intelligence all the time and water only when needed...you know a Flex Schedule!