Fixed Schedules are Unsatisfactory

I am a former RainMachine user. I switched to Rachio because my RainMachine broke and the company is out of business. My area has water restrictions and I can only use fixed schedules.

I remain unsatisfied with Rachio. With RainMachine, I could set different programs for different parts of the year. With Rachio, this has to be done manually several times a year.

With Rainmachine, fixed schedules were automatically adjusted for short-term temperature and precipation conditions, saving water when possible.

Rachio cannot do this. It can only make general “seasonal shift” adjustments to fixed schedules which do not work well (or predictably) in my experience.

In general, Rachio does not provide users with flexible, effective options for fixed schedule watering that save water based on real-time weather conditions.

Let’s hope Rachio will listen and strive to make a better product.

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You can create as many schedules (fixed or flex) as you need to handle the particulars of watering for a year (or longer) - see Schedule definition of Start/End Dates, Interval, Times, Watering Duration (adjustable!), as long as they don’t overlap in time. If you provide good Zone information, including Advanced settings - some of which require some effort to provide, like Nozzle Inches Per Hour, Area. Then, with a good source for weather conditions (a nearby PWS or Weather Network), watering just about becomes fool-proof and at least as effective as any other controller you’ve worked with. If you can eventually grok the Flex Daily schedules, you begin to not worry about schedules at all - they’ll handle some “restricted” cases too.

You’ve elected (or been forced) to use Fixed schedules to accommodate restrictions. That is an inconvenience, but certainly Rachio didn’t fail to provide you with reasonable methods to handle it.


Like @JBTexas said, you can create 2-3-4-5 schedules that you can enable/disable throughout the year. Yes, it requires you to jump into the app for about 15 seconds a few times a year, but it is a pretty simple process.

BTW, RainMachine is still around. They just put a lot of the features of Rachio behind a paywall…

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Yes, you are 100% correct @MichaelS that the product should allow you to create a schedule for each season, for instance. The comments that say just turn it on and off by hand crack me up. If I have to manually turn on/off my schedules 4x a year, why do I need a product to automate my schedules? lol.

This was something I also requested on the forum because you do occasionally get actual employees of Rachio, like product people or even a founder who will read posts.

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I’m a bit confused by the statement above. Rachio uses actual precioitation at your location (or a nearby pws) plus forecast weather in your hyper local area to determine when a scheduled run can be skipped - mine skipped 47% of runs last 10 months - and once a month or so it makes a seasonal adjustment (season specific schedules?) - so if I’m understanding what you’re missing, it’s the chance to do seasonal adjustments manually, a year in advance, without the benefit any actual precipitation data? isn’t this is manual control with a blindfold? Convenient but not ”intelligent” as I understand the process?

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And I may be missing something like the desire to have the ability to set zero irrigation in some months, or switch from 3 to 2 days in certain months. It would be nice if some more of the flex schedule features were available with fixed.

What exactly is the fixed schedule for your area? Is it days or times or what? Because unless you just planted something new and want to water exactly a certain amount regularly till it’s established I see no reason you still shouldn’t be using flex daily. When you create a flex daily you can choose what days it can water and then it’ll do the rest adjusting time lengths as needed as you are wanting it to do. It also will know to skip the days it can water but doesn’t need to. Fixed is really meant to overuse the smarts and water only as you tell it.

He basically wants to have FIXED seasonal schedules that automatically switch based on pre-determined dates set up in the schedule. Then they would usually come back on in fall complaining that the extended summer heat spell is killing all their plants because Rachio didn’t delay the seasonal schedule change to account for the heat wave.

What features would you like from Flex schedules that aren’t in fixed? Literally the only thing you don’t have is seasonal adjustments (Flex Monthly) or live, real time, ever changing schedules (Flex Daily). If you want those features, why not just used Flex schedules?

All I’m saying is it would be nice if Rachio could implement real-time weather conditions with fixed schedules for people who are required to use them. Rainmachine could do that - you could set a fixed schedule for a certain amount of time on certain days, and it would vary the amount of watering on those days based on recent temperature and precipitation conditions - perhaps reducing the time up to 1/3 if weather had been cool or if there had been some precipitation recently. If the recent weather had been warm and dry, it would water the full amount of time. Rachio does not seem to be able to do that with fixed schedules.

Not a bad idea in my opinion. Certainly, the most basic operation sounds like it could be a little smarter.

I guess that is where Rachio and others differ. The correct way to water isn’t to adjust duration, rather adjust frequency. Just because it is cooler, warmer, windier, whatever doesn’t change the depth of the root zone for the particular vegetation. So cutting water duration by 1/3 or more can mean that most of that water misses the root zone of the plant. Similarly, adjusting duration up can just waste water as the excess water drains past the root zone of the tree (or in the form of runoff) Adjusting frequency always make sure that the root zone is watered each time, it will just adjust how often based on how quickly the soil dries out.

You are correct. That is what Flex schedules are for.

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Good point @tmcgahey, I backtrack my last comment. Frequency instead of duration.

But again, we are talking about people who are required to only water on certain days and have to use fixed schedules, therefore, you can’t really change the frequency or days of the week watered very much but you can change the amount of water delivered on the fixed days according to weather conditions (less if recently cool or wet, more if not). So flex isn’t an option here - smarter fixed schedules that adjust to weather conditions are needed. It can be done.

I’m with @tmcgahey on this one. If you ran shorter runs on a zone, then you would play into the hands of shorter roots, whereas, for the best lawn, you want the complete opposite.

I have all drip. What MichaelS wants to do is exactly what I am doing, currently using the RainMachine. I’d like to switch to Rachio, but it seems to be geared towards spray irrigation only and doing drip requires a lot of work. AFAIK, on the Rachio you still can’t enter flow in GPH. I’ve seen suggestions of how we should be able to just use Flex Daily for drip, but I don’t understand how that would work. Certainly there must be other users with all drip, but where are they?

My system is also totally drip, and I tried Flex Daily for the first several months before switching over to a fixed schedule. The fixed schedule doesn’t take advantage of all the fancy technology, but it serves my purposes quite well. My garden looks beautiful, and I enjoy being able to control everything from my phone.

What problems did you have with Flex Daily on drip?

My landscape guy helped me set up everything, but the system was still underwatering. The fixed schedule is just less of a hassle.

Got it. That’s why I use the RainMachine. I can set the fixed schedules and they repeat every year, forever.

I have a mix of grass (12,000sq ft) and 6 drip zones (hundreds of plants from small shrubs, to massive trees) and Flex Daily has been working great for me for over 6 years in the Arizona desert. Yes it takes a bit of effort to set up (by effort, I mean having a little knowledge about your yard and irrigation system), but once you have your settings entered accurately, the system works extremely well.