11 hour and 48 minute water schedule! Wow!

OK, so I have been using the Rachio for several months. I initially set it up when we were only allowed to water twice a week back in the spring and the first watering schedule was longer than I was used to, but seemed reasonable still, so I left it alone.

I did turn on water budgeting, and my watering times have been slowly creeping up and based on the last adjustment it was up to over 6 hours duration. Well, that seemed excessive, so I figured I would move to a three times a week schedule since that is allowed during the summer months.

Well, I deleted the old schedule, made some small updates to the soil type on my zones (from loamy sand to sandy loam based on that Geo Survey website I saw in another post here) and re-created a new watering schedule.

I discovered you can’t set the watering frequency before it calculates the watering times - so it ran a schedule for the every 3 day default and gave me that whopper of an almost 12 hour watering duration!! (I can’t see any smart cycle stuff going on - its turned on, but if that is what is causing the long duration it is invisible to me on the app)

I then set the watering frequency to every 2 days and none of the durations changed? So I manually turned the seasonal adjustment to like -70% to get my watering times down to something that seemed like it wouldn’t cost me a fortune in penalties from the water company since we are in tight drought restrictions here in CA. I also turned water budgeting off so it won’t creep up again.

I guess I hope the new software is more dynamic than the old one is. I want to be able to adjust the water frequency or change stuff in my zones and get a new watering duration based on what the Rachio recommends. Or maybe the new software will handle drought restrictions better than this one, IDK.

Anyway - I guess I was just surprised at the results I was getting from the default watering times. I do live in a desert - it doesn’t rain here and it has been in the 100s for several weeks now. Maybe it just doesn’t handle that reality well. Most of my landscape is drought tolerant shrubs with no grass and a few trees and a small area of rose bushes - well suited to my climate. But it still thinks I need tons and tons of water.

How many zones?

Have you set the vegetation for the zones to be xeriscape?

I have 11 zones. Mostly bubblers with a few fixed head sprayers on my slopes.

I did change most everything to xeriscape except the tree zone and the rose bush zone, and it went down to 11 hours 11 minutes. So not a huge difference (Many of the zones were already set at Xeriscape)

Bubblers, misters, etc. are very hard to provide a standard watering time since they vary so much in precip rates.

If you reach out to [support@rachio.com] they can help with any questions, dialing in your system, etc.


That makes sense. I know I can change the flow rate on the bubblers with a turn of the adjustment screw, so they are probably all set to different rates even amongst my zones right now.

I guess if I wanted to really dial it in, I could measure the flow rates with some sort of mini duct tape catch cup system - maybe a project for when its not so hot outside!

Thanks for the insight!

So I have pretty much the same concerns and questions: Why is my watering time so high?

I installed my Iro just five days ago. My gardener has always recommended that I water about 5-8 minutes per zone (on average) every other day, and have been doing that for years. But the Rachio is recommending 20-30 minutes per zone for a total watering time of almost 6 hours.

Why? I don’t see how that’s going to save me any water.

So, for now, I’ve manually set my watering times to every other day at 1am for about 6 minutes per zone (12 zones). But I know that if I set the watering times, this unit becomes no better than my old manual timer (except for the cool factor).

I would very much like to take advantage of the smarts built into this thing. I’m sure they’re there, but I don’t see them yet, and I don’t know how to get them.

Which brings me to this point…

The unit came with a very small installation pamphlet, and the video on the home page of the site got me to buy. But what I’d really like to see is an explanation all in one document (or 10-15 minute video) for what to expect (in layman’s terms). For example, “Initially you’ll see X, but over time the Y will adjust because of the Z technology. That’s when you’ll want to check the A and make an adjustment to B if you notice a C.” …and so on.

In other words, how do I live with this thing? How do I know it’s working correctly?


Smart cycle can affect your watering time total duration, but not the actual watering.


These durations are based on input gathered at installation for each zone. If you think they are incorrect [support@rachio.com] can help you dial in your system.

Next Monday we are releasing a 2.0 version of the app which will include a concept called flex schedules. Instead of watering every other day, flex schedules will modify the frequency based on current weather. This could help you with some watering efficiencies. We will have full documentation explaining this new feature and concept.

I’ll make sure the product team gets this request.

If you have any other questions regarding functionality we have some good online documentation


and [support@rachio.com] if you have any questions regarding your particular setup.


Thanks, Franz, for your quick after-hours reply.

I had read that link about the Smart Cycle just a couple hours ago. So if I’m to understand your comment and the article, a 24 minute time might actually be only 8 elapsed minutes of watering split into two cycles, with 16 minutes of wait time? Is that correct?

Given that your Smart Cycle requires a 30 minute wait time between cycles of watering of a single zone, and given that I’ve got 12 zones, why would there be any wait time necessary at all?

I have no real reason to think your watering times are incorrect. All I know is that they are longer than what I currently do. Put another (hopefully humorous) way, what I had hoped I was going to find in my Iro box was Magic.I just wanted to plug it in and wait for the DWP to call me and ask why I don’t love them any more. I didn’t expect to have to learn anything about watering, soil types, runoff rates, allowable surface accumulation, and the like…and I hope I never have to. My garden is (unfortunately) not a hobby for me. It’s a time suck.

(Send that paragraph to your marketing guys. There’s actually a good marketing concept in there for them.)

I suppose it’s possible that I entered everything totally wrong, but I wouldn’t imagine that the results would be off by 4x or 5x. I could be wrong.

I’m looking forward to it, but I have a feeling it won’t address my issues, so I’ll contact your support dept this weekend.

By the way, STILL A FAN and am hopeful this will be even more magical than I’d expected!


yes…it is a very nice feature. im willing to go out on a limb and suggest that you can most likely reduce frequency if using smart cycling. i typically water 1 day a week for my turf and every 3 days for my drip (current every day for drip as i have new plants im helping establish).

Are you sure that’s correct? I find my watering times to be crazy high, as well (3.5 hours for a small, 5 zone system), and looking at the calendar view, it’s scheduled to water for all 3.5 hours, broken down into 3 cycles of 1:10 each. I’m in the same boat as the OP, and want to figure out why it wants to water for so long, when my pre-Iro times were 10mins per zone.

i find my watering times to be what i expect, your milage may vary. when my turf runs, it waters about 2.5 hours, but only 18 minutes of that is spent watering each zone for 4 zones. my 3 drips run every day for 20 minutes, but i manually adjusted the watering time AND smart cycling is NOT used for drip/bubbler.

also, drip and bubbler irrigation is hard to estimate. the setups can vary so much so i would expect the accumulation rate in the zone settings do not match what is actually accumulating. i would verify that first, if you need help post up to the forum, the percip formula is in another thread or can be easily found via the google machine.

keep in mind, you can manually adjust the watering time on the schedule. for me, i configured my zones to what i considered correct and the default parameters were super super close to what my old controller was running, and still after a month, i found a few things i did incorrectly.

The point I was trying to make is that, from what I can tell, the watering time is the actual watering time, regardless of smart cycle.

i guess what im trying to say is that the drip/bubbler setups are very hard to prescript, so im sure manual intervention is required by adjusting the actual watering times by hand in the schedule itself.

im also trying to say that there could be other misconfigurations for each of the zones causing the high watering time. i suggest emailing support?

OK - just got my water meter reading for the May-June timeframe which is pretty much when I installed my Rachio.

In May/June I used 80 HCF units of water (don’t ask me what an HCF is, some number of gallons of water my water company uses as a unit of measure). Last year I used 53 HCF for the same timeframe. The only difference between the years is the Rachio. (Same number of people in the house, same climate - hot dry desert)

So it IS overall using way more water than my old timer. Which is a bit ironic since I got a rebate from my water company for installing this “water-saving” timer. I am very much looking forward to the 2.0 software to see what improvements it brings. I am also going to try and dial in my bubblers to be able to use the smart features again.

@Az_Rael, any chance you could post a photo of your bubblers and/or the make/model? Since they are the adjustable type, I bet the precip rate on them is 2-3x what the default is in the app. Adjustable bubblers have some of the highest outputs of all nozzle types.

@WestHillsCA, great feedback for our team. This is a tall order but something we hope to improve upon. What was the hardest setting for you to configure?

@jprice, it’s important to run the numbers on old settings and the Iro’s recommended watering times. Were you watering every day or every other day with your pre-Iro controller? 10 minutes per zone is very short unless you have high output nozzles.

@Az_Rael, I think if we get your bubblers figured out, your water usage will be cut in half :wink:

Hope this helps. Let me know your thoughts.

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Will see what I can do tomorrow. It will have to be a photo of them, I have no idea what brand the landscapers installed when we had them put in.

@emil I have two different bubbler styles. See photos at the following links:

Hi Emil. Actually, NONE of it was hard to configure. It’s a simple piece of software to run (though the UX could use some improvement). I just have no idea what loam is, whether mine is more sand or clay, and whether my turf is cold or warm (it’s just “grass”). I checked a link for the USGS survey and it says my soil is Sandy, but I am pretty sure my gardener (and the guys in the garden shop of my local home depot) have said that soil in our area is more (or entirely) clay. (I’m in the west San Fernando Valley. West Hills, to be exact.) So I’m not sure who to believe.

I guess my question is this: Assume I answered every question incorrectly. Is it possible that doing so would cause the Iro to set my watering times at 4x to 5x what they should be?


Sorry for the delayed reply @Az_Rael.

From your photos, the top photo (the one with the screw) is a bubbler. Pending how much you have them adjusted, the precip rate will vary. The lower photo is actually an emitter. Are these nozzles on the same zone?

@WestHillsCA, have you had a chance to check out version 2.0 of the app yet? I’d love to get your feedback on the UX.

Here’s a map of the common turf type by area

Here’s some good notes/key identifiers of warm v. cool season grasses as well: http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/lawn-care/lgen/what-is-cool-grass.htm

As for soil, I’d recommend using this flow diagram:

Yes, definitely. All of the zone details play a key role in the schedule creation; in particular vegetation as it impacts root zone depth.

Hope this helps.

Best, Emil

Ah, I didn’t know the difference. They are not in the same zone.