Gen 2 Costco or Gen 3?


#1

I poked around the forum looking for a thread discussing this and was surprised I couldn’t find one. I currently have a Skydrop controller and have become fed up with it and looking for a replacement. Over on the SmartThings forum I asked for input and several people directed me to Rachio, and after doing some reading up on it, I think it sounds like a good fit for me. I especially like that there is an active forum that includes input from both users and staff. . . .that’s a really good sign in my book.

In any case I think I am choosing between the Gen 2 from Costco and the Gen 3. Since the Gen 2 from Costco has Weather Intelligence Plus, the main differences seem to be these I list below. Anyone have guidance or can point me to an existing thread discussing this?

Dual Band Support: Gen 2 is 2.4 only and Gen 3 is dual band. From reading the forums it seems some people have trouble getting Gen 2 connected to dual band routers. I have a dual band router with distinct network names which seems to make it unlikely to have a problem. That being said I will probably in the next year get suckered into getting a mesh system, likely Google Wifi, which use unified naming. Do people think that is enough of an issue to steer me away from Gen 2?

On Unit Controls: The only time the unit gets run locally is when there is an irrigation person working on the system. I can’t quite tell, does the Gen 2 have on board controls, but maybe they are just more rudimentary? Can Gen 2 both start and stop a zone? In terms of remote access, is there a safe way to give someone access to control it without having them have to access the wifi network? Not necessarily keen on opening up my wifi network to random people working on the system. If you can give them remote access, can it be only temporary?

Wireless flow meter: I don’t see my self being brave enough to install my self nor being willing to pay a plumber to install, so don’t think I would miss it.

50 bucks: 50 bucks is 50 bucks, if I don’t need the stuff that comes with the newer device, no real reason to pay the extra. That being said, hopefully this is a longer term device so spending to get the newest generation might just be worth it for longevity. I had hoped to get more than 2 years out of my Skydrop, but its just not cutting it even after a good bit of tinkering (and painful interaction with support) and costing me a lot of money from extra watering as water is very expensive where I am.

One last question, for those who have had to get support, has it been a good experience?

Thanks.


#2

Welcome to the community :slight_smile: Great community is the primary reason I think Rachio will outlast all of the other competition, If you don’t mind me asking, what made you reconsider Skydrop?

Now for some of your questions:
Gen 2 will allow you to run / stop any specific zone, Gen 3 will allow you to also pause the zone. Pausing the zone is not as needed from the front plate and Gen 2 can be paused via app. Controls of the two devices are about even.

You can give full (they will be able to adjust settings / schedule & run / stop / pause zones) or limited access (just run / stop zones) to anyone without needing to give up your wifi privacy. All of the unit interactions are done via cloud, you will only need to specify their email address via the app, they do not have to own any rachio devices themselves. Limited access is done via an email as well, either type of access can be revoked by you at any time.

Rachio support team is pretty great, warranty is solid and I’ve yet to see Rachio refuse to fix or replace the any unit that has not failed due to a deliberate user negligence.

Personally I would recommend you go with Gen 3. Even if you don’t use the water meter right away, having that option is well worth the money. Alternative flow meters, such as those supported by gen 2, can cost 2 to 3 times what Rachio is charging for theirs and you can browse the community for success stories of people saving lots of water & money with their new water meter.

Cheers,
Gene


#3

Thanks for the feedback. I’ll look more at the flow meter usage to see if I might use in the future. As for Skydrop, I just looked at my activation and it was only 5/2017. Forgot I bought around good Friday and sat on it until Spring. So only 1 good year. What I haven’t liked about it are:

  • Support is poor. I’ve never called because it lines up squarely with my work hours. Email or in app messages take days (took 4 business days this tome) for responses and the responses havent been of quality. Last year was no help and this year the jury is still out.

  • UI on the device is very slow and clunky to deal with. Not a big deal since I almost never use it. UI in app is better, but still clunky.

  • App UI can be confusing. For example if it waters this morning it will show watering the same zones tomorrow until about half way through the day, sometimes into the evening. I find I am double checking it a lot which is the antithesis of a good smart device.

  • Seems to over water a good bit even when I dialed down the range all the way to the bottom. I had to manually reset the schedule and duration baseline by a pretty wide margin. It now seems to be respecting that.

  • Weather data has always been less than accurate, but this year has been really bad. Missed 2 substantial rains and several smaller ones. Yesterday morning it ran 2 zones even though it was predicting an inch of rain during the day. . . . which we easily got. Part of this is that you can only set a zip code and not address. I think my town has pretty varied weather patters based off looking at weather underground stations. This is my critical issue. If it’s not countining the benefit of the rain, it’s use drops significantly. I’m not sure how well it reacts to the weather data it does have, but seems ok to me.

  • It has no user forum. Last year during setup I had questions on settings and when I reached out to help, didn’t really get any. Would have been great to poll a user base.

  • It can’t do my towns water restrictions which are twice a week. I don’t think Rachio can either, but I haven’t come accross one that can yet. To handle this I try to manage settings so that each zone won’t run more than every 4 days which means it won’t run more than once in a given calendar week. Not quite the restriction since each zone is independent, but I figure it’s in the spirit of the rule. I actually was going to write the town to suggest this, but figured I wouldn’t draw attention to my self.


#4

I went with the Gen 3 on the hope that they will add more RF accessories down the road.


#5

Because of this restriction, I would probably set up a fixed schedule with a daily interval of every 3 days. With your restriction, flex daily is probably not going to be a good choice. But you will still get good benefits from the Rachio.

I think you will really like the Rachio for this. You’ll be able to see if there are some PWS’s near you that record precipitation like you are getting.

I doubt you will EVER say this about Rachio. How many other companies do you see that the CTO (Thanks @franz!!!) is on the user forums daily interacting with customers? And the support team listens to customers and their needs. They don’t always get everything out and done that people want, but no company can afford to do that. They do a darn good job of addressing the majority of needs, even the ones that may take them some time to develop.

I agree with @Gene. Go with the Gen 3.


#6

Thanks for the feedback. If I setup a schedule like this, will it still benefit from skipping waterings if it can make it to the next cycle? I also assume even if it can’t it will adjust the watering time down so as only to bring a zone up to required level of water and not just do a full cycle?

As for the station, I have a pretty good one within about half a mile I use on Weather Underground for my forecasts (and lux readings in SmartThings) that seems pretty accurate to my house.


#7

Support has been excellent on these forums. Never placed a phone call. Very quick response and great help.

I’ve got a gen 2 I’m selling.


#8

Yes, if you make sure the weather intelligence features are on.

No, I don’t believe that the fixed schedule is going to adjust the watering time down, unless something changed that I’m not aware of, and that’s always possible. I’m a flex daily user, and I just use fixed schedules for my overseeding schedules in the fall. It will however do seasonal adjustments.

Another option for you might be to try one zone on the flex schedule (while the others are on fixed) and see just how often it’s going to want to water. Are the water police strict on the not more than twice a week restriction? or could you water 3 times in one week and then once in the next? A suggestion you might make to your town would be to handle smart controllers differently. Here in Charlotte, we have to have an inspection once a year of our SmartWater System by a certified person (to make sure that it’s working correctly and that I’ve actually got it set up for smart watering). With that in place not only do I keep my water usage cost at the lower tier, but I’m also not subject to water restrictions until we get to a Stage 4 drought.


#9

Seasonal shift actually does adjust minutes on fixed schedules. We back into minutes based on user chosen watering frequency. We don’t adjust frequency on fixed schedules just duration. On flex monthly we adjust frequency and duration. :wink:

:cheers:


#10

@Farlicimo wrote: It can’t do my towns water restrictions which are twice a week. I don’t think Rachio can either, but I haven’t come accross one that can yet. To handle this I try to manage settings so that each zone won’t run more than every 4 days which means it won’t run more than once in a given calendar week.


I’m in Central CA near ground-zero for the recent drought crisis. Our town was lucky, we had similar restrictions to you with extremely heavy fines for violations leading to total shut-off. The next step was no watering, and water delivery in tanks like E. Porterville roughly 33 mi from us.

I put in a Rachio Gen II 16-station and set a fixed schedule (not Flex) because Flex is not designed to function with those sorts of restrictions – it needs more… flex. (Yes, I said it!). Even with a fixed schedule Rachio’s AI kicks in. It’s not like a dumb system that just runs. CalWater had a very nice rebate for it.

The result was spectacular. My lawn became green and lush, my water use dropped by nearly 50%. The City loved it.

That said, this year I’m having challenges since the roll-out of the new software, but that’s not the hardware’s fault and it will settle out.

Gen II vs. Gen III – it depends.

  1. If you’re just curious how much water is flowing the flow meter might be worth it.
  2. If you have n-a-s-t-y restrictions like we do that will get you a heavy fine or worse if a sprinkler head pops off, then absolutely YES, the Gen III with Flow Meter is a must.
  3. If #1 is not really worth that $50 and #2 is not your reality then the Gen II is a great and still-current (as in not obsolete) product.

Costco is kicking in a Google value-add if you’re into that.

The Rachio is a high quality product with high quality (and when needed) personal support. The phone app is simple and easy to use. Some things are a bit nested for my taste and I think they could use some UI tweaks to compensate for visual issues.

All in all, not only do I recommend it, I have done so to many friends, I am buying another for a different property, and I have spoke to my city about codifying new-builds to require intelligent irrigation systems.


#11

So far it doesn’t seem my town is all that hard on actual enforcement. I have not met anyone in town who has gotten in trouble at all. Says first time is a warning then second time is like 50 bucks. I am mostly just trying to do the right thing and follow the rules. If I actually got in trouble I would go ahead and pursue my suggestion for them to come up with better rules for smart irrigation. . . .I just didn’t want to go that route to draw attention to my self. I think I have decided to just go with the Gen 3. I don’t see my self using the flow meter but I think the dual band support will be worth it as well as I like the suggestion that there might be more addons for future usage. I don’t bank on future addon/update type stuff, but wireless soil moisture sensors would be awesome.


#12

Ours was 1st time warning citation with photos! Second time, $2,500, third time $5,000, 4th time: NO MO WA_WA. What’s worse was the popped sprinkler head. If your system fritzed and you were out of town – tough cookies – you’re still fined!

I’d forgotten about dual band. I run a pretty hot dual band Wi-Fi and everything is happy on 2.4 or 5.

Wireless moisture sensors powered by ET of moisture about the sensors would be awesome!!!


#13

Flow meter will help with the popped sprinkler head :wink:

:cheers:


#14

Just thought I would give people an update. Skydrop support ended up being able to assign me to a weather station closer to my home (no idea where though as I can only see zip code) which has substantially improved the tracking of rainfall. It also seems to have subsided with random double runs. They didn’t answer any of my other questions or respond to a few suggestions, but its back to doing mostly what it is supposed to do. I also hemmed and hawed at ordering the Rachio long enough that I realized with the delivery time I would run into my vacation and didn’t want it stolen off my front steps. So with that being said I think I am going to ride out this year as is and probably swap it out (Rachio 3) for the start of next year. Even if performance was the same (I suspect will be better) as what I have today, this community and the engagement of staff alone are worth the switch. Thanks to everyone for all the feedback!