Fixed vs Flex

Continuing the discussion from Confusion on Seasonal Adjustment:

I may be missing something here, but to me flex with limited watering days would have similar result to fixed with all the enhancements. The more fixed gets modified on the fly, the more people may be confused/scared. Fixed is great as a simple solution. It is also duplicate development effort (but perhaps lots of code can be shared). More value would be achieved in optimizing flex, in my outside opinion.

How about adding the following to Flex? A simple simulator that would show “typical” watering schedule under simple conditions? For example, let user enter “average daily high temp”, “average daily low temp”, “average humidity”, possibly partly sunny/sunny/etc. Assume moisture level starts as depleted. Assume no rain. This would allow user to show “what if” and decide if they have the parameters setup best for their situation.

Why? Based on my experience setting up flex this week, it is very difficult to feel comfortable with it out of the box. The forecast has been all over the place (rain expected, didn’t happen, changing future forecast). When I first set it up, depleted all the moisture in all the zones I saw future watering. Next thing I knew the forecast changed and now no water for 10 days. Did I set it up correctly? I think so, but only time will tell.

Other possible flex improvements -

  • Table view of moisture level/graph for ALL the zones on a single page.
    • Allowing scrolling forward/backwards, similar to the current view on individual zone tabs.
    • Include expandable text detail info similar to zone tabs.
  • Add watering time to the moisture level detail info (gives people more confidence in their inputs)
  • Historical weather station data used for the calculations (makes it easy to tell if matches local conditions)

Ok, back to my real work :blush:

Thanks for all of this feedback, will share with the development team. We continually want to improve.



Quoting is not working on my ipad, sorry.
I agree with the simulator idea, at least allow it to run for the previous growing season. Now, in all fairness this is a huge data task, enormous. But, I think it’s equally as powerful as a sales or tuning tool.

Hey come in and tell us how your current shit bird controller is configured, vegetation type rough footage. Now rachio runs off and does some intergalactic stuff to build out the flex zschedule and then compare and contrast. I think you sell more units that way, at the least generate even more interest.

As a means to ease someone’s mind, I’m not convinced. Watching videos of autonomous cars driving around is super cool. Didnt do much for the first time i rode in one but that is anecdotal, I like the illusion of control.

I was super nervous the first month flexies ran at my house.

Fixed schedules are dead to me, hail to the flexies baby!


@brkaus, love this idea!

I assume you’re referring to temperatures, humidity, etc?

@plainsane, you read my mind on using historical data. I think weather station data would be limited as most stations don’t store their weather data historically.

Valid point.

Just curious, what made you nervous? What could we do to help eliminate this concern?

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i was worreid that it going to use more water than i have used historically. plus, lets face it, the behavior is a little transient, so it is hard for me to become used to the lack of pattern that i have been accustomed to experiencing.

for me, once i go over a certain usage, the municipality slams you will this huge price increase per 100 gallons of usage, which adds up very fast. put it to you this my, my neighbor used 1000 gallons more than i one month and had an additional $200 added to his bill for the month.

dont get me wrong, it is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but complete autonomy is hard to overcome when the habit of predictability has been reinforced for 7 years…the only thing that would change from my previous controller was that the system would NOT run when i thought it should (rain sensor).

even my wife whom controls the checkbook and is a practicing member of Judaism when looking at the checkbook was pretty nervous.

after a month we were both sold because we could identify times that the new system intelligently didnt run when we knew the old system would run.

it took about 2 months for our dialogue to evolve from, “is the system going to run tomorrow, it rained a few days ago, lets manually activate the rain sensory to keep it from running tomorrow” to “hey i see the system is not going to run tomorrow but i planted some annuals 2 days ago, can you schedule a run for the morning on zone 7”?

notice the subtle difference in expectation, are we about to waste versus lets reduce some savings for a moment.

it is completely psychological…it cant be quantified.

provide flow metering support so that i can reconcile the autonomous behavior with empirical data. maybe not for everybody, but for me, that would have gone a long way. basically, each evening, checking the gallons used would continue to build confidence and excitement instead of having to way for the water bill to show up…and checking the meter itself is not worth while.

dont pay attention to me, im somewhat of an outliar i think

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Yes. Anything high level that goes into the ET calculation. I did find the historical and predicted rainfall on the moisture chart per zone. If you were to take the idea of a single view for all zones AND add the ET values from the weather station at the bottom that would go a long way.

$10+ per 1,000/gal water. Moderately large lot. It can add up quick. On the other side of it, dead yard/garden.

Thinking off the cuff (as usual), if you were to build a single page moisture level view that went back 4 weeks (actual) and forward 4 weeks (based on forecast). Had it show the moisture level graph and a data table with ET stuff from the weather station/forecast, watering time, gallons used,etc. It would be a nice “what’s happening” view.

Quick test of did I get my programming correct? Do I trust the run times? Then, add a button “show impact of no rain” that would remove the future rain (if any) and show a comparison of the worst case runtimes.

Could even remove past rain and calculate savings.

Perhaps a geek view of things…

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@plainsane, wow! That’s crazy. Sounds like a water allowance could be a useful feature; set the number of gallons the Iro can use for the month and let it allocate schedules and durations accordingly.

Good point.

That’s awesome! Great example.

Just curious, would you be getting empirical data from your water bills? Or would you need to run the sprinklers on the old schedule(s) again to build some data tables to reference?

@brkaus, are you thinking something like this graph to show a single view of all zones moisture balance?

Maybe show ET/weather data behind it like the gray section in this graph?

Awesome idea! The comparison (rain/no rain/savings, etc) view would be pretty slick.

Please keep the ideas coming; we’re listening. Too bad we can’t clone the dev team…yet. :wink:

I mean, being able to monitor,the water usage after it ran each time to know how much was used begins to help establish the predictability. Yes each time this,thing just magically ran without me knowing (because the push notification comes in after I go to bed) ran for 60 minutes and the daily water usage from the flow meter backs that up. It establishes some resemblance of predictability. It’s stupid, I know it’s somewhat related to focalism.

Yes, that graph is simple and would work. With the watering symbol added on watering days.
Maybe the watering symbol could have a number in it for time or inches?

Even stacked individual graphs. Just one place I can see all of it.

Looking at text data with watering minutes (and gallons) on a text table is what shows me if it makes sense (coming from a traditional timer based sprinkler).

Regarding ET data. What I think is helpful is the data used for the calculations, so I can see if it matches my yard (since I’m picking a nearby weather station and two nearby are in different micro-climates). Don’t really care about the calculation, just the inputs to see if they match my yard. Now that I have found the precipitation in the moisture graph that helps. If other variables come into play, I’d like to see them. Humidity? Avg temp?

BTW - I’ll get my plug in again about gallons. If gallons is going to be front and center (used, saved), area shouldn’t be an advanced item.

I was also very nervous when first enabling flex schedules. When first set up, it was planning on an initial soaking with more water than I normally use in a month, followed by no water for two weeks. It assumes that all zones are depleted when first enabling flex. Perhaps the moisture level should be assumed to be higher when first starting out. I see several product reviews where users are immediately scared off by the initial watering duration. I personally only felt comfortable with flex after tweaking variables like root depth and allowed depletion until the flex schedule appeared to be close to my tried-and-true fixed schedule.

By the way, would it make sense to set the initial allowed depletion based on soil type? It seems that clay soil should default to 30% allowed depletion.

@emil: A few more thoughts -

I feel like flex schedule would benefit from a “cluster watering days” option. I’m noticing (on my bench rachio not yet connected to sprinklers) that it waters around what I would expect (this is good) but sometimes it spreads all the zones out over several days. So the four zones in my back yard get watered one per day for four days, 6-7 days pass, and it waters them again spread out over a few days. I feel like it would be better if it could cluster them on a single day (or at minimum put 2 on 1 day and the others several days later. First it gives me dry days to mow the yard. Second, if people walk by and see one zone running a day, they think I’ll be running all the zones every day - which is far from the truth.

Maybe I’ll try giving flex 3-4 days per week and see how it adjusts.

Back to the “why nervous” question you asked. Let’s say you just paid someone to come out and install a new controller. They promised you it would “just work” and save water too! They show you the web (or app) control panel and how to manually start/stop zones and leave.

With a standard controller you could walk the zones, saying which days they would water and how much time/inches. Maybe describe the rain shutoff detector and the % watering to increase/decrease per season.

Use my dashboard as an example. Quickly identify what it will be doing for the next 2-4 weeks. When is it going to water and how much? What will it cost in water and how much will it save?

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We’ve discussed this, and there are definite pros/cons in each direction.

We are listening, and are going to abstract these concepts away, so consumers don’t have to learn about these concepts (unless they want to :wink: )

We had different combinations, but at the end of the day made more sense just to be consistent. We will be making this adjustment much easier.


@emil - came up with an idea for showing usage that leverages what you have in place.

Original -
I mentioned a single view of all the moisture graphs and the text table below. That’s still ideal if the table includes the input that go into the ET calculation (temp, humidity, wind??). If it could be a nice formatted printable report that would be nice too. But I think the geek answer would be CSV or table would be fine. The casual user could view it and get confidence. The expert could even parse it and make it into a sales pitch.

New Idea -

The watering history link in the “Water” tab on the web app could be enhanced. First, allow one more level of drill down. Month -> Day -> Add ability to break into the zones when you click on the day Next, add “forecast / future” to that graph. Different color, same drill down capability. It would be an instant view of future expected watering and leverages a cool graph you already have available :smile: (and I didn’t realize it drilled down to days until today). :blush:

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