I’m a new user as of a couple of months ago. I set up with FIXED 1st, as I found FLEX a bit intimidated, and wanted to try AS NEEDED first, hoping for an easier experience. Here are my impressions. Keep in mind that I’m not one that had a pre-disposition to FLEX as I hadn’t even set it up, and my comments are truly meant to be constructive. I believe in what you guys are doing, and can comprehend the difficulty of doing it well without complicating the process.
- I ran FIXED for a couple of months. I just replicated my Hunter PRO-C setup.
- I set up AS NEEDED the day it came out.
- I gave FLEX a try tonight, after having played with AS NEEDED for the last week.
AS NEEDED was more complicated than I was expecting. I still had to set up nozzles, soil type, slope, etc. Once I did that the intervals came out as expected, which was great, but setting the duration that I needed has been a problem due to the max. duration limits currently imposed. Since I live in the desert, my duration needs to be much larger than the 59m cap in the app., and larger than what 3hr cap. in the web interface. Although I’ve since been shown how to override them, it took quite a bit of investigating into what my target duration should have been, since the cap. in the app. was masking it. I can see the need to cap. so people don’t inadvertently flood their yards if they put in bad data, but some sort of message to the user on what the existing settings are suggesting would be helpful, with the allowance to override the cap if the user agrees it’s OK. If I had blindly accepted the 59m duration in my app. I would have had a lot of sad looking vegetation.
Desert watering of shrubs with 1GPH emitters is common in Arizona. The associated run times are anywhere between 3h 45m to 8h for my yard, depending on who you listen to. As needed gave me initial run times of 59m every 6 days (see #1 above), and FLEX suggested 1h 55m. I adjusted to the max. duration possible in web app. for FLEX, but the highest I can get to is 2h 53m. How can I push this higher ?
Per #1 & #2, perhaps a button in the user settings that removes or increases caps if users select ‘desert’ or ‘arid’ climates ?
Living in a place with fairly predictable weather patterns, I like the idea of using historical data if it can help your algorithms. It provides a nice baseline. However, in the desert, as in many climates, extremes can be had in the short term and in unpredictable ways. As I mentioned in another thread, we’ll almost certainly have streaks of 10+ days over 110F, but which week in a 3-month span those spells will hit is not predictable. Furthermore, one summer may have more of them than others. If AS NEEDED doesn’t adjust accordingly, but FLEX does, my preference is FLEX.
I needed to go through the trouble of figuring out the right soil type, nozzles and slope, setup on AS NEEDED to see intervals and durations (caps excluded) that I expected for our climate. Once I did that for AS NEEDED, FLEX was no more difficult than AS NEEDED. I see the barriers to entry of the correct setup to be equivalent on each.
The problem is complex for the average consumer and being an engineer, I sympathize with the challenge of Rachio developers in trying to simplify it. I think that’s the Holy Grail here. Putting aside the differences between AS NEEDED and FLEX, perhaps a step-by-step GUI that leads the user through picking nozzles, soil type, slope, etc. is the answer? If the data entry was easier for me with a step-by-step guide, and I didn’t have the cap. issue, it would have been quite a bit more straightforward regardless of AS NEEDED or FLEX. Without users entering the right data you’ll always be facing a support nightmare. On that note, this is an example of what I’m talking about (http://wateruseitwisely.com/100-ways-to-conserve/landscape-watering-guide/plant/). It’s missing the soil type, but if you could somehow include the soil survey info. into an engine like this you’d have the data that could be fed into the zone setup. I’m sure that it’s not an easy feat!
Again, my comments are intended to be constructive, and not critical. From what I can easily tell you guys care about your customers and are working quite hard to do your best and do what’s right. For now, I’m sticking with FLEX mostly because of it’s apparent ability to adjust quickly to our temperature patterns here (#4 above). Thanks, by the way, for providing us that option! I could use some help, however. How can I push my shrub duration higher than the max. I seem to be able to get on my setup (#2 above).
Thanks for your time!