Add-on for Rachio for cell service?


#1

Is there an add-on available on the market that could create a wifi hot spot and make this product viable for HOAs, light commercial or other spots where there is no wifi from a home? Rachio, this would be a huge market for you. There are companies out there like HydroPoint, Weathermatic and ET Water that charge obscene prices for cellular cloud service. I would do some pilot studies and installations if I were Rachio.


#2

Hey @robertokc-

I would not be surprised if there were some solutions available on the market currently. While I would say right now our focus is mainly on the homeowner, we are always interested in making our product suitable for commercial markets as well! What are you application are thinking when you say light commercial?

McKynzee :rachio:


#3

Light commercial includes anything non-residential that is 16 zones or less. Locations are without WiFi in most cases. Examples include: restaurants, HOAs, churches, strip malls, offices, center medians, small parks, etc. The majority of these are maintained by landscape companies and they are responsible for an enormous amount of water waste.


#4

@robertokc - An option would be to use a mobile WiFi hotspot and put it in the locked sprinkler controller box with the Rachio. As an example ($199) - https://www.verizonwireless.com/internet-devices/verizon-jetpack-4g-lte-mobile-hotspot-ac791l/. I believe I’ve seen comments where home owners used these until their internet service was hooked up without an issue. The power adapter for the mobile WiFi hotspot would also have to be plugged into AC power along with the Rachio unit. The downside, is that it will be broadcasting a WiFi connection - yes, one maybe able to restrict access to a specific MAC address (ethernet card id - Media Access Control address) and put a nice long passphrase on the network to prevent unauthorized use (but miscreants will try to get free internet) . An option might be to create a faraday cage inside the sprinkler controller box to prevent the WiFi signal from going out and to use an external antenna for the mobile hotspot to get its cellular signal. Previously owned units would be less expensive than the brand new price I listed up above. Also, if the installation had two controllers that were close enough to share a mobile hotspot that could be a savings, at the expense of being able to use a faraday cage to limit WiFi range. Finally, if the same entity had multiple controllers that weren’t close enough to share a single hotspot, the hotspots could be put on a shared data plan as I don’t think Rachio pulls much data to reduce the monthly cellular service charge.


#5

This is it. Brilliant. Rachio could make official recommendations or sell as an add on. This is an untapped market for Rachio. The missing link is getting the cell service to the controller.


#6

This was discussed before here http://community.rachio.com/t/mobile-hotspot/958. I think it worked for a few people and a few that it didn’t. It would be nice to see an official add on for this.


#7

Think it needs to be much less expensive.


#8

@RobertOKC - In looking at commercial IoT cellular modems they were about $200 also, and without WiFi, so I don’t see getting remote coverage for much less than this for new equipment.

If one wanted to do it on the cheap, then previously owned hotspots are available on eBay for around $40 - depending on the carrier. And then there would be used cell phones that can provide a WiFi signal, but phones will typically be charged more per month from the cellular companies because of the voice capability than a pure data device (although voice is now data too).

Not speaking for Rachio, but if they were going to offer a commercial solution that they would support and stand behind they would want a consistent product - not the cheapest used item on eBay.

So if commercial and HOA users really waste a lot of water and if a Rachio can pay for itself in a residential setting versus a dumb controller, then the payback (my MBA professor is yelling that payback is the incorrect measure and it should be net present value) is just lengthened - maybe by a factor of three considering the cellular service.

Ever wonder why the two way commercial sprinkler systems are so expensive? It may be the communications equipment. The hotspot solution with a Rachio is still cheaper than the Hunter ACC-1200 that I just Googled.

Just my $.02 as I don’t have a horse in this race.


#9

Good information. I was not aware of the cost. There are a few products out there with a cellular cartridge like Rain Bird’s commercial unit with the iq3.0 software. I know with that product it is 120.00 per year for at&t cell/cloud. My thought is there could be a way to harness the cloud at a Rachio - say installed at the common area of an HOA. I know a few HOAs that use 4 million gallons a year and they have multiple controllers typically with less than 16 stations. Just kicking around ideas.