A New Schedule Type - Cruise Control

Okay, I made up the name, but here’s the idea: First, use Flex Daily, IMHO the only automatic system possible (the only one Rachio has that varies watering based on actual temperature and rainfall conditions). Use the same basic zone questions and such that you have - they’re all just fine. The main difference, is how they get changed.

Right now, if we want more or less water on a zone during any given day, we can vary Available Water, Root Depth, Allowed Depletion, Efficiency, Nozzle Inches per Hour and Minutes of irrigation. All will change how much it waters on a given day, some will modify how often it waters, some won’t. But it’s all calculated based on those variables, a value for inches of water is calculated, and from that the time. Keep that value, like you normally do. That’s variable one, Water At Once.

The next variable is how much water is applied over time, usually a week or so, which varies with Temperature, Humidity, Wind, etc. (you’ve got all those nailed with ET) and Crop Coefficient. How often the system waters, on average, is simply the water applied at one time, divided by the calculated ET. Crop Coefficient matters, of course, but that should be set with type of crop or grass. Anyhow, for a given week, you will water the value of ET (daily) x 7.

You do all that now. My proposal, for Cruise Control, is to allow the user to, as an alternative to Advanced Settings, simply move two sliders, one for each of the two calculated variables above:

Water At Once: Less…^…Recommended…More

Water per Week: Less…^…More

There is no need to enter any Advanced value. All of them change one, the other or both of these two variables. Many of the variables are not all that fixed. Certainly Nozzle Inches per Hour is extremely difficult to determine. And even if it’s absolute, is everything else right? With too many variables to change, good results can be difficult to obtain.

But everyone that uses every irrigation system can tell you if: The system puts too much water on the yard at any one time, creating puddles or overflowing. Or the system doesn’t get enough water for its needs over time.

Just a slider for each of those two variables, which are applied to the internal variables for these that your program uses. You wouldn’t have to touch ANY advanced settings, because those two do it all. If a person wants to water more often with less water, they’d only change the Water At Once slider. The reverse for more water, less often. The Water per Week slider is only for long term.

You would, probably, have to have both sliders for each zone. And it would be best if you had an overall slider that affected all of them. But that’s it. You’d move the general sliders, unless a zone varied significantly, then adjust the sliders for that zone.


Fully agreed. We are moving much closer to this watering paradigm, more to come next watering season! Thanks for taking the time to address this issue and thoughtfully present your ideas! Great simplicity.


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Sounds more intuitive from end user perspective. For majority of users who don’t want full control of the knobs, they just want to provide some feedback based on how the grass is responding to watering. Water more or less days; water more or less each time. It would be also nice to incorporate visual feedback into the system. My grass is soggy, or browning in this zone, or there are a lot of mushrooms in that zone, etc…

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Great suggestion!

An alternative to your slider variables could be

  • Watering duration (the length of time watered each scheduling)
  • Watering frequency ( ET amount between schedulings)

The biggest difference aside from terminology is - if you change the watering frequency, do you (or the system) change the watering duration to keep the same overall (weekly) watering amount.

I’m not sure which approach would be simplest for most people.

Watering duration depends, and would depend with my plan, on the amount of water you want on the zone at one time (Water At Once). Increasing one, would increase the other. But I think time should be calculated, not entered, because that voids the effect of other variables.

Watering frequency would vary, depending on the amount of water applied at one time, and the days’ ET, and would vary throughout the year.

I think most people, before Rachio, are more familiar with constant watering days, with the amount of water applied each day varying throughout the year. That’s what I expected Rachio to do, and was upset at first that it didn’t. I’d always heard you should water grass 2-3 times a week, and that varies with Rachio.

Rachio’s method, using Field Capacity and Allowed Depletion, was foreign to me, and misunderstood by many. The idea is that you fill up your grass “tank” about all the way, as much as it will handle. Then you don’t water again until the “tank” is about half empty. At that point, the surface grass is dry, but the roots remain damp, and the grass roots grow more vigorously and deeper, allowing the grass to better withstand high and dry temperatures. I accept that, but that will mean watering only once a week or less as the weather cools. While foreign to me yet, I am coming around to thinking that is still the better way.

If I were Rachio, I’d have two methods of watering, to accommodate both thoughts of watering: 1) Flex Daily but with Cruise Control sliders to adjust water per time and over time, and 2) Fixed Frequency, watering on user-selected days only, and adjusting the amount of water/time depending on ET & temperature throughout the year. I’m afraid some will never accept the Flex Daily method and want something more “fixed”, and building in the “Budget” factor, using ET, would be simple for Rachio, as that information is all already available in the program.

I am /completely/ convinced that Rachio’s use of ET is the only correct way of watering a lawn that properly takes into account actual local conditions, and both the above could use that. Flex Monthly does not.

With my Cruise Control, like Flex Daily, when you change watering duration (water at once), frequency automatically adjusts to keep, on average, the same amount of water per week. Those two sliders need to be separate, one not affecting the other. Flex Daily works that way now, it’s just more difficult to know how each variable affects them both. Two sliders makes it simpler.

Great idea. I look forward to new ways to control individual zones and their health.

I didn’t realize when I wrote this that Rachio does kind of have #2 already: the Fixed Schedule with Seasonal Shift. I hadn’t realized that that option would change the minutes of watering each month based on temperatures, which isn’t bad. It does use historic data, rather that ET which would be preferable (although confusing, as minutes would vary daily), but I now realize why many people have been satisfied with Fixed. It’s because it isn’t Fixed! :wink:

Am totally onboard for this. To paraphrase Picard… “make it so.”

:star2: for the TNG reference!