Gen2 Installation

Hey guys…I’m new to the Rachio community just getting a Gen2 this Christmas! I’m super excited to not only start saving money but conserving water as my current system I think is super old and just for lack of a better terms eats water!!!

I was hoping someone with more knowledge of sprinkler systems might be able to help me out here and guide me in the right direction on installation. I’m fairly good with self installs (though no expert) and very techie so I think I can do it with a little guidance. I’ve put some picks below to show what I have and hope that someone can get me going in the right direction. Thanks again!!!

@Blackwolfz - The pictures show an indexing system with an Intermatic type timer which controls the master valve to switch between zones. One will need an outdoor enclosure to put the Rachio Gen 2 in. The one connection would be using the master valve and common terminals. This setup would mimic the existing setup and would not use any of the Rachio intelligence to differentiate between the water needs of different zones.

The best solution would be to replace the indexing valve with individual valves per zone so that the full extent of Rachio’s capability could be used. There are a couple of other posts that show the before and after pictures of replacing an indexing valve system with individual zones - it is not that complicated and should still be well within a very techie person’s installation capabilities (cutting and gluing schedule 40 PVC pipe and some additional low voltage (24 VAC) wiring).

See this knowledge base article for Rachio and indexing valve systems ->

Here is one of the posts (starting at 43) where the poster replaced an indexing system with individual zones (with pictures):

and starting at 4 on this one:

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Awesome I’ll check those out today!! Thank you!! Quick question @DLane one of the big issues is that it is a pain to control and i can’t stop it if it rains. Is it possible to install it in the setup now and then replace the indexing valve with the individual ones? I’d like to gain some control over the system to even manually start saving water then replace the valves this month. Thanks in advance!!

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@Blackwolfz - Yes, install the controller today and then replace the indexing valve with individual valves later one. That is the big limitation on an indexing system, the system needs to stay in synchronization between the controller and the index valve position.

Welcome to the community.

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I agree with @DLane, you can install the system today and start enjoying at least some of the benefits of smart system, with recent software changes it is easier than ever to setup the needed delay between zones to support the mechanical operation of the indexing system. The delay functionality (link) was intended for well pumps, but works just as well for your needs.

Until you setup the individual valves (worth it), you would have to essentially treat each of your zones as identical to each other (similar to the way your controller used to operate). There is some individual zone adjustments possible, as in setting one zone to run longer than the others, but should your system loose sync for any reason, the zone which needs water more would get less and some other zone would be over-watered.

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So I wanted to reply back as it’s been a little while since I first posted. There were some electrical things that needed to be handled first before I could get the Rachio in, but this past weekend I was able to get it installed and up and running with the Intermatic valve. I still need to work on getting this set up to be different zones but this is progress! I’ll post some pictures up when I get home of the setup but I had a question about the some watering tips. I’d know I can’t use the flex schedule and I plan to start with watering for the same duration to avoid if it gets out of sync but are there any tips for how long it should be watered, setting up for rain/wind skip. I live in South Florida in the Broward county area so we do get an abundance of sun and warmth throughout the winter. Is there any way that I can say in the winter water this amount, spring water this amount, summer this amount, etc? Or can the Rachio based on zip code figure that out based upon the weather condition in the forecast? Thanks again guys!!

@Blackwolfz, as a fellow South Floridian (within Palm Beach), I can say that you absolutely should use the Flex daily schedule. Granted you will not get the most out of it, without upgrading your valve setup, but it will still be much better than a simple time based schedule.

The trick is to setup all of your zones (how ever many your index valve has) with identical parameters, perhaps based on one of your zones where the plants have the shallowest roots. Flex daily setup this way may technically water some zones more than they should be, but it will not be worse than a simple time based schedule.

In order for the system to work with your index valve, do not forget to setup your master valve setting to the Well / Pump mode, this way the system will allow you to add an automatic pause between zones in order to allow your index valve to switch over to the next one.

Should you fail to find a suitable weather station within Rachio interface, check out weatherunderground.com, I’ve wrote a while back on how to find (link) a station with good rainfall data. Let me know via reply here or a PM (link) and I can help you to set it up to be usable with your Gen 2 rachio.

Cheers,
Gene

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Thanks @Gene!! I setup the schedule this morning and under the smart cycle have it set to a 20 minute delay. This should give it plenty of time to make the switch. Though under the Rachio weather intelligence it has settings for freeze skip and wind skip but no rain skip. Is that normal? Also the schedule times it has set seem off (now this is my first home with a sprinkler system as I have just moved down to FL) but it has 55 minutes for the front and 34 minutes for side and back. All have identical settings (lots of sun) and slight slope surface. Not sure I understand why as that seems a little excessive and water is surprisingly expensive down here in Coconut Creek. Any help you can give so I can understand this would be awesome. Thanks!!

Also here are some finished shots. Just have to cover the whole that was there for some reason behind the other box.

Pretty neat, will looks great after you take care of that hole. 20 minutes is an overkill for the index valve, 2 to 5 minutes will be more than enough for the valve to close and valve to switch to the next zone.

I’m curious why the system is showing different watering times for your zones, have you setup the area to be the same between the zones. Remember prior to switching to individual valves, you want to have all of your zones to be carbon copies of each other.

With all of the rain we’ve been getting lately. You can “Fill” each of your zones under soil moisture menu, more on this here (link). This would avoid the massive initial watering required to bring your system to a known state.

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I’ve gone ahead and selected the soil moisture and “filled” each one. I also took screenshots of the settings for the schedule just in case I did something incorrectly but they look the same and I didn’t mess with anything in the advanced section. Also, does rain skip show or not show on this screen. I thought it would but maybe I’m incorrect. Thanks Gene!

For now I would set the front yard to a fixed spay head setting to match the rest of your zones. This is the reason why it was giving you a different time for that zone.

Here is more info (link) on the differences between spray heads.

If you notice that your front yard is suffering prom being under watered, you can adjust the settings to increase the watering time (that is a topic for another time).

Meanwhile, considering that you have only three zones, you can upgrade your valves from parts available at your local store (like home depot), it is a worthwhile DIY project. Here are some examples: (link), (link).

I am going to read up on that. I’m hesitant to attempt that as I’m not great with plumbing and my luck I’ll end up with leaks and wasting more water than saving lol. Hopefully it’s not as difficult as it seems.