Advice for first time purchaser of irrigation system and potentially Rachio


#1

Hi,

I have never had an irrigation system but I have thought of installing one for several years. I was looking for advice and confirmation on a few items and saw a lot of active users in this community who seemed quite knowledgeable and was hoping for some assistance.

Below are the components being quoted for installation:

Questions:

  1. Is my assumption that all of the above items will be compatible with the Rachio correct? I didn’t see this specific rain sensor covered but presume it is in the “standard wired rain sensor” category and thus it will work with the Rachio even though I know the Rachio doesn’t need the rain sensor?
  2. How many of you feel the rain sensor is still worthwhile given weather forecasts may not be as precise compared to an actual rain sensor and using Rachio’s intelligence of predictive forecasts and all the other variables it factors in? (Live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada if that matters for weather accuracy) (assuming rain sensor plus Rachio adds the best of both worlds (predictive and reactive/highly localized)
  3. Is the above hardware solid and good quality?
  4. Any opinions on the Rainbird Wifi module? My potential installer doesn’t offer either Rachio or Rain Machine control systems so trying to understand difference and if it is worth doing it myself and not buying the wifi module from Rainbird.
  5. Any other advice you can provide (or things I should confirm with the contractor) to make the best decision for a fairly significant investment?

Original Solution:
9 – Rain Bird, 4” spray head
21 – Rain Bird, 4” rotor
9 – Rain Bird, 1” solenoid valve
1 – Rain Bird, rain sensor

Thanks in advance,

  • Sumo

#2

Some quick thoughts:

  1. The sprinkler heads and valves are compatible. I use the same valves with my controller. If you go with Rachio you won’t need the wifi link module, the controller requires a wifi connection so that is already built in. Can’t speak for the rain sensor since I don’t have one myself.

  2. That probably depends on your local area. If you are near a weather station and don’t have a weird micro climate at the installation site you can get by without a rain sensor. As a I mentioned above I don’t use one and I haven’t really had any issues.

  3. I think the hardware is solid, haven’t had any issues with the valves I’ve used.

  4. For the module, as I mentioned above it is not needed for the Rachio controller. It may not be needed for a Rain Machine controller either if it is a smart/connected controller. It looks like it’s only rain bird compatible so I think this is more for retro fitting existing controllers. If you are starting from scratch it would be best to just get a connect controller instead of a dumb controller with this.


#3

Thanks. Really appreciate the advice.

Is there any easy way to find out how close I am to a weather station (I’m in Toronto, Canada) or data sources and forecast accuracy for my location or if I should get a netatmo?


#4

@sumo try searching on pwsweather (link) and here is a writeup about how to look for a good station on weather underground (link).

I use a cheap Acurite 5-in-1 station. There is a good way to accurately calibrate them for rain, which is the most important parameter that Rachio requires. Netatmo will work as well, but it’s more expensive and harder to accurately calibrate.

Cheers,
Gene


#5

Gene,

Thanks so much for this. It helps as I continue to learn more about how to best set things up.

Regards,

  • Sumair

#6

On PWS, I too have a 5n1. And have had some reliabilty issues with my connection ( not the fault of the unit) which @Gene has given me an alternate way to that looks more reliable. If I had to do it over I might go with http://www.ambientweather.com/amws2090.html. Only about $110 and looks like an easier integration. @Gene any thoughts here?


#7

About: amws2090
I can’t see an easy way to connect it to the internet besides a constant on machine running software. Does it have a bridge?


#8

Good catch. They always get me with “wireless” in the title. Guess you would need the http://www.ambientweather.com/amws2090weatherbridgekit.html#caption about $320, includes the bridge. I could not find the bridge separate from the station.

I think I paid about $190 for the 5n1 with a bridge. PLUS additional $100 for meteobridge hardware and license. Understand the solution you have does not require the metorbridge cost. Actually saw the 5n1 and bridge on sale for $100.

@sumo, @gene is the expert here.


#9

If you are using 5-in-1 make sure to calibrate them. This is the procedure I recommend:


#10

Yes did the calibration per the manual, took about 2 hours as had to turn both screws out more than 2 full turns. Will print out your “fast” way and may try again. Good news is I bought a rain gauge for my yard and the 5n1 and the rain gauge seem very close.


#11

@tomlay Let us know how it works for you :slight_smile:


#12

I recommend you go with Rachio controller and use the internet weather forecasts instead of a local weather station.

While the local weather station might measure rainfall at your specific location more accurately, I don’t believe the local weather stations are long term reliable and would require comparing their result to the internet weather for verification of approximately accuracy.

While the 1800 series spray heads have been a very popular choice in the past, there are advantages to using a rotating micro finger head that is compatible with the Rainbird pop-ups, such as Hunter MP2000 heads. The advantage of these is a lower precipitation rate (less run off), allows more sprinkler heads on a single 3/4" or 1/2" line, reducing the cost of running the conduits, more efficient use of water saving up to an additional 15-20%, eliminates nembulization or aerosolization of the spray (loss of water carried away in the wind before falling to the ground) compared to the micro finger sprayheads, less water run-off from precipitation rates that can exceed the rate at which soil can absorb the water.

You should have a pressure regulator on your irrigation source to the valves, keeping the pressure to the valves to < 80 psi to avoid damage to the valves.

Also, commercial grade irrigation tubing an be considered when you have areas that can be conveniently fed by a drip system, such as a 2’ plantar area for scrubs/flowers that runs around the perimeter of the house.


#13

Mark,

Thanks for your comments and recommendations to help me decide on how to do a proper setup the first time.

I had a couple questions related to the original proposal by the contractor and your recommendation for hardware - my apologies for the ignorance in them.

  1. Would this increase my total cost of system? Or just increase hardware but reduce installation costs by reducing cost of running conduits? Can you please help me understand this more and if this is a net decrease or increase in cost?

  2. You mentioned having a “pressure regulator on your irrigation source”, how much does this cost? Do you have a recommendation hardware option? Why wouldn’t this be quoted by the installer originally?

Thanks so much for all your help,

  • Sumo

#15

@sumo Would you mind keeping this post around? Other people may find information here useful in the future.

Edit: I think I had a blonde moment :thinking:. I think I have confused post with topic. For a little while I thought that the entire discussion thread will be deleted. :laughing:

Thank you,
Gene


#16

I plan to. Just posted a message that was meant to be a personal message :slight_smile: No worries.


#17

Guys,

I e-mailed the contractor to ask for a quote with the MP Rotors:

I am not sure I understand the comment about “based on a spray mist head but not for a rotor system” phrase as it relates to the comment I sent him from the Hunter’s FAQ (see below) on MP Rotors.

Contractor reply:
I have costed out the installation using MP rotors instead of the 5000’s. The below statement is true based on a spray mist head system but not for a rotor system. The MPR’s will actually add more zones leading to more labor, wire, fittings, and pipe. We are very familiar with MPR systems, as I mentioned earlier we actually used them quite a few times at our Muskoka cottage jobs which we have done a lot of. To change the installation to an MPR system it will cost $500 more than the previous quote.

Hunter’s FAQ:
“Individual MP Rotators are more expensive than a standard spray nozzle, but an irrigation system designed with MP Rotators can be less expensive to install since it requires fewer valves, a smaller amount of pipe and fittings, a smaller controller, and less labor. Couple that with the water savings over the life of the system because of the increased efficiency over sprays, and the cost of ownership on the irrigation system is also lower.”

  1. Can someone explain what the contractor means as I read the FAQ as the system would cost less but he seems to state it is more complicated?
  2. Also, which system do you think is better? The originally quoted one or the rotor system one? Is it worth the increased cost? Am I adding too much complexity to the system or is it truly better to use the rotor system?

#18
  1. Install pressure regulated spray heads. Rain Bird product is 1800 PRS.
  2. DV valve is not my favorite. It is cheap and has a high warranty return rate. Install Irritrol 2400S or Irritrol 205 valve.
  3. If you are going to have Rachio, you do not want their link wifi. It is Rain Bird’s answer to smart controllers. It is not very smart.

Do your homework. Did you get 2 other bids? Make sure system is hydrozoned. Tell contractors you want Rachio. It is a fantastic product. www.irrigation.org/swat and see Rachios performance report. Rain Bird is not listed.


#19

I am not buying these responses. They are not true. Any time I hear a contractor use the term misters, i get worried. Look for an IA certified contractor. Google search hired certified irrigation association.


#20

Why dont contractors recommend pressure regulated heads? Ignorance. The differencre in cost between a standard body and pressure regulated spray body is $2 to $8. But you will recoup that difference within a year or two High water pressure creates a fine mist. The spray pattern explodes and the gallons per minute increase through the zone. Pressure regulation at 30 psi will get the water on the landscape. I recomnend you do some investigation and reading on this subject. Get quotes from an Irrigation Association certified contractor. Go to www.irrigation.org and look for “Hire Certified.” You can do a search by state, province or postal code.


#21

If you have a large turf area, then gear drive rotors are the best choice. Rotors are typically spaced 35 feet apart. If this is a narrow turf area, then sprays or MP rotators are a good choice. A great spray nozzle choice is Toro Precision nozzles. They come in either male or female thread models. Read about them https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.toro.com/en/professional-contractor/irrigation-sprays/precision-series-spray-nozzles&ved=0ahUKEwiRjtCcguPTAhUqwlQKHQTiCikQFghAMAA&usg=AFQjCNEY721mZXy54GIJLS4sBstidtU-ww