Gen3 flow meter: Where would I put it?

Need to understand where this would go before I buy. All the docs say after the backflow preventer and the pics show a nice neat installation above ground.

But I don’t have a backflow preventer and all my supply lines are below ground.

I took a video showing the reclaimed water line, which starts at the street and somehow makes it around the side of the house where the controller and the zone valves (?) are located.

Any advice on how/where I can get this thing installed would be appreciated. Thanks!

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I have similar questions. The main line for my sprinkler system starts just after the water meter, which is in an underground box out by the street…about 80 feet away from my Gen 2 controller (behind a brick wall, in the garage). The Gen 3 flow meter would be installed by the street in a new valve box. I hesitate to purchase the new system until others report reception successes or failures with a flow meter installed underground. I’m also unsure if we have a backflow preventer. If there is one in the system, it’s underground and I have no idea where it’s located. Like yours, all our supply lines are underground.

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@franz @emil Any help from the pros on this? Gen3 is in my cart, just need some more info before I order.

@kevmcgrath @johnny2678

I’ve reached out to our Director of Hardware who will be able to help answer these questions.


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@johnny2678 and @kevmcgrath At this time, we are not recommending underground installs. It may be coming :wink:

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@brad ok, as long as we get a holdover on the intro pricing :wink:


@Brad, FYI - most of the sprinkler system installs that I’m aware of in Texas are fully underground, i.e. no above ground backflow/vacuum breaker. So I’m in the same boat as the others. My main line is very close to the Rachio, so it might work - but I know dirt is tough on wireless signals. I’ll need to go wireless as the field wire runs under concrete to get back to the controller.


Agreed, same here in FL.

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Not one home in the 8,000+ in my SC community has above ground irrigation lines. It seems to me you could run one zone at a time (with no other use going) and watch your meter for 15 minutes and get a good idea of the use for that zone. Then just by giving you a way to put in that info could convert any schedule to estimated gallons. I realize it would take awhile, but you’d only have to do it once unless you changed something. So if Rachio would just add that, it would benefit all who want to enter their own numbers.

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Can’t argue with you there. But in addition to having underground supply lines, not one home in my 8000 acre Florida community has their own reclaimed water meter:-)

Which is why a flow meter that will work underground would be ideal.

My system does not have a master backflow preventer, rather it has six valves each of which has a built in anti-siphon valve ( It would be easy to install the flow meter on the above ground pipe that feeds the six valves. Is this supported?

You insert the meter near the bank of valves in the main line that is feeding the valves. You don’t “cover with dirt”. You put this flow meter in a plastic irrigation box, just like the underground valves tend to me mounted in, so you can remove the cover of the box for access.

These plastic boxes should allow wireless signals to reach the flowmeter provided the controller is not far away from the bank of valves. Common place to put the controller is in a garage on the other side of the wall near the bank of valves that is just outside the garage wall.

If the wifi signal is insufficient, can use a repeater just as you would to extend the range of the wifi inside your house.

You can test the ability of the flow valve to communicate with the controller by connecting it to a garden hose and placing it the same distance from the controller that it will be when it is in the main line inside a plastic irrigation box below ground level. Once you can confirm the communication link works, then you can break the main line to insert the flow valve without wondering if the thing will communicate or not.

This all makes sense, but will it be supported by Rachio?

cc: @emil @franz

I also remember @franz mentioning they might have something to announce regarding underground installs?

@MarkSanDiego - The wireless flow meter doesn’t use WiFi for communication back to the controller. The flow meter uses a 900 MHz radio in the US and Canada.

The flow meter will work fine underground. The only issue is if the radio communication will be reliable between the controller and flowmeter if the flowmeter is under a layer of wet dirt. By placing in a plastic landscape box, the radio waves will not be impeded to the extent that would happen with a “buried under wet dirt” transmitter. Radio waves go through plastic just fine, unless the box became flooded with water.

By keeping the controller and flow valve in relatively close proximity to each other, you can ensure the radio communications will work. You can test this BEFORE you do the final installation by setting up the controller and flowmeter in their proposed locations, and running water through the sensor with a garden hose.

If you do not have the flow meter close to the controller and you find it does not communicate reliably, there is still something else you can try. Wrap a wire around the flow meter, and then run that wire to the controller. This wire will NOT be electrically attached to either the flow meter or controller. However, it should work as an accessory antenna to bring the radio signal from the flow sensor to close proximity to the controller, and may allow the sensor to communicate despite being a further distance from the controller than otherwise possible.

Here in Houston it’s code to have an above ground vacuum break. Maybe because of elevation and likelihood of flooding.

Being the flow meter is using 900Mhz to transmit, I would feel comfortable installing the flow meter underground as long as the distance between the flow meter and Rachio is 300’ or less. Shorter is better obviously.