As Needed schedule sets up absurdly long cycles

Okay, so…

I’m new here, so go easy. I just set up my Gen 2 controller and set up a basic “as needed” schedule. 10 zones, mostly rotors on grass. I have several newbie questions, but the biggest concern is that the rotor zones are set to deliver water for 47 minutes EACH. Where does that number come from? I enters warm grass with loom soil… some slope, some not slope… What did I miss? Also, if weather is being used in these calculations, it’s been raining all weekend, so why is the system assuming soil is dry?

Other questions:

  1. “Rain delay” is this automatic? I can click and pick how many days to delay, but the system doesn’t appear to know tomorrow should not water since it rained today.

  2. Is a drip line the same as an emitter when picking nozzle type? I have several drip zones and need to know how they should be assigned.

Thanks for an awesome community. Very helpful, and the principle reason I picked this system. I’m gonna start searching around for more reading on these subjects, but any help you all might provide would be appreciated.

Sounds similar to my setup. 47 minutes could be accurate… depends on the frequency. Warm season grass supposedly roots at a lower depth than other grasses so the watering duration needs to be long enough to reach the projected root depth (9 inches default if you haven’t changed it). If that is longer than you usually water, you can play with the Advanced->Root depth setting. Making it shorter, 5-6 inches will reduce the duration and increase the frequency. I took a very unscientific soil plug with a shovel and only observed 2-4 inches root depth on my Zoysia grass (sod is 1 yr old) so I dialed back the root depth and am slowly increasing it over time. The hope is that the roots will grow longer and the grass more drought tolerant. April/May in FL is not the time to underwater.

I think this is just a way to manually delay all schedules from running. If your schedule type, WAN (water as needed), flex, etc. has weather intelligence turned on then it should automatically skip based on the rain threshold you set.

I think the Rachio assumes each zone is empty when you first start it up. Ideally it would check to see what the conditions have been when you first set it up and schedule accordingly, but I don’t think it’s smart enough yet. If you’re running a flex schedule, you can set each zone to full manually and it will adjust accordingly.

As far as I can tell, there are 2 factors that are taken into account when you pick a nozzle.

  1. Nozzle Type - misters, emitters, and bubblers should be placed on separate schedules than rotors, rotators, and spray heads. Determines zone default efficiency. Also important to set/schedule properly because the presence of these nozzle types disables Smart Cycle.

  2. Nozzle Precip Rate (PR) - Determines how much water each nozzle produces in in/hr.

For my drip line schedule, I calculated each line was putting out 1 in/hr and made a custom Emitter nozzle. Hope this helps.


Rotors like the rainbird 5004 and hunter pgp blue nozzles only precipitate around .25-.35 inches of rain an hour so that doesnt sound absurdly long. I have a zone of rotors that goes 48 minutes per cycle so it seems in line. Other traditional popups like rain bird 1804 with mpr 10’s or 15’s nozzles emit water much quicker (6-8x the precip rate than rotors spraying at .3 in/hr) so thats why they have shorter cycles for those zones. Rotary nozzles like the mp rotator emit around .4-.5 in/hr.

It all depends on the brand of rotor. Each manufacturer has their rotor specifications online. Look up your rotor model specs (note brand, model and nozzle color and nozzle number) from there you will find what you need. Hunter and rain bird are the most popular rotors out there, so you are likely to have one of those.

Here is the 5004 rotor specifications:
Hunter pgp (note red nozzles have an even lower precip rate):

I ended up creating a custom nozzle for my rotors because they were precipitating at a much lower rate than the default rachio rotor in the app.

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had the same issue.