Help Wiring Rachio 3!


I am new to the community and a fairly new homeowner. Purchased home within the last 6 months. I am a nooby when it comes to sprinkler systems and have never had one in the past. The current system installed seemed way too complicated and antiquated as i wanted something i can control with my phone and am a very avid tech enthusiast.

The rachio 3 looked like it was for me. I went ahead and purchased it along with the outdoor enclosure as it will need to be hardwired but i am lost in the wiring department! Here is what i think i know about the current system:

  • Solenoid valve going to transformer
  • 4 zones

I am hoping to get a little guidance as i am not sure which wires are my zone wires (i think the white is common, green is ground, and red is live?) Here is a picture of the solenoid valve and the wiring to the current controller:

My initial thoughts after some research is to wire the solenoid wires to the 2 24vac spots on the rachio and wire the red, white and green into the rachio outdoor transformer but i don’t want to make a mistake.

Any guidance would be very much appreciated!

Thank you!

@ndpurgat - you have what is known as an indexing system (and I bet you live in Florida, as there are lots of those type of systems there, plus the sandy soil in the top picture). The number of zones that are in the indexing system will be the number of pipes leading out of the back topped device in the first picture, but they should also correspond to a blades on the Intermatic timer - and it only looks like there are two blades.

Here is information on an indexing system ->

As my good community friend @Gene will recommend - the best way forward is to replace the indexing valve with a gang of individual solenoids to control each zone individually.

To answer your question - yes the red, white and green wires from the Intermatic timer (bottom photo, bottom right corner) will to to the Rachio external enclosure… Just double check, they should be, that it is 120 VAC and not 220 VAC - some systems also power a pump and those can be wired either voltage.

The two black wires leading to the green solenoid would be the zone wires on the Rachio. One would connected to a COM(mon) terminal and the other to the zone 1 terminal.

Welcome to the community and feel free to ask any other questions. There are several posts (I didn’t have the time to find them) here in the community board where other users have replaced their indexing valve with individual solenoids and posted pictures to give you and idea. Very easy to do.


@DLane wow…spot on and a very thorough reply to my limited knowledge question. Thank you very much! I do indeed live in South Florida. The system is brand new. Any reason why they use these indexing valves here? Cost saving?

Attaching a shot of the voltage input on the intermatic (don’t think its 220VAC).

i counted 5 pipes leading out of the black top device from my first picture. So does that mean 5 zones?

Because you state that i have 2 blades on the timer here, that’s why there are only 2 “zone” wires to worry about (M and zone 1)? I was reading that each zone usually has it’s own wire but probably doesn’t work that way with an indexing system?

I believe that the system does indeed have a pump. So does my first assumption hold true that the solenoid wires going to the transformer in my second picture would go into the rachio 24 VAC + - leads?

Sorry for all the questions. It’s a bit confusing having no knowledge at all. Appreciate the quick response and all the help! Might look into replacing the valve like you said as it seems like this isn’t an ideal system to have especially reading that each one isn’t controllable by itself and works off of a delay.

@ndpurgat -

Looks like 120 VAC so you should be good to go. I always want to recommend to check, as I saw some cut wires on the bottom of the Intermatic.

Looks like the existing set up maybe watered one zone per day - on and then off with the blades and just kept a rotation going. Does that line up with reality?

I think four zones and one pipe is typically a dead end.

Here is one of the posts regarding replacing an indexing valve system with solenoids. Start around post 43 - the first 42 posts are about the electrical changes with the pump, etc.


The indexing valve system is not designed for this timer you have no control over your zones ,you have to convert each individual pipe into an individual valve to make it work properly I own an irrigation company in Broward County south Florida I do the conversions all the time.

Well I got it wired up and running but I see what you mean. Definitely no control over the zones and the rachio is overkill for this valve system. Though I will say that it is nice to be able to control via phone and actually use the system (I never used the intermatic controller because it seemed complicated, just left power off at the breaker).

Any idea on the cost to convert 5 zones? I’m in palm beach county.

@ndpurgat - using HD prices one is probably looking at about $200 in materials. The biggest cost will be the manifold:

All the piping is present there at the indexing valve, so it is just some PVC piping - either glued or compression fittings which should be well within your capabilities.

Off the top of my head the bill of materials would be:

  1. Valve box
  2. Manifold (1 - 3 gang and 1 - 2 gang or maybe 2 - 2 gang (if it is only four zones).
  3. Sprinkler field wire - 7 conductor by the foot.
  4. Miscellaneous elbows and connectors
  5. Pipe
  6. Water tite wirenuts
  7. PVC glue (if any glued joints)

Options could include a master valve to isolate the sprinkler system when it is not running and a backflow preventer if the sprinkler system is connected to potable water and a backflow preventer is not installed.

The link I provided in a previous post will show you how someone else did their migration. There are several other similar posts in the community also.

@DLane Thanks for the detailed break down on materials. After reviewing the linked conversion thread, i am getting more familiar with all that is needed and kind of interested in doing it as a project/challenge :slight_smile:) . Couple of questions i hope you can answer that i didn’t get a clear idea from the thread:

  • When converting, the green valve from my first picture in my first post would obviously be taken out. What goes in its place? Just a connecting pipe?

  • The black piece from the indexing valve shown in my first picture along with the 5 zone pipes leading underground, it looks like that gets taken out and just replaced with a regular pipe that leads down and connects to the new manifold which would then connect to each individual pipe coming in from the lawn. Do i have that correct?

  • I presume the irrigation field wire is to connect and extend the wiring from the new valves into the controller zones. Is there some type of conduit that these should be run through? What’s the best way to get them back to the controller?

  • Can you link or recommend a 5 valve manifold?

Thank you!

It typically cost between $400 to $600 depending on how many zones you have that should cover all parts and labor and if you’re putting a timer outside you have to make sure you get the gray Outdoor weatherproof box

And the part should not be generic Parts at Home Depot

@ndpurgat -

  1. The green valve can be designated as a “master valve” or taken out.

  2. Yes. I might go back before the green valve and have all the piping be underground to the valve manifold.

  3. Correct on the field wire. It is designed for direct burial, so no conduit needed.

  4. The Orbit manifolds can be assembled together to get to 5 zones - e.g. connect a 3 manifold and 2 manifold together (although I think you may only have four actual zones when the piping is uncovered).

@DLane Thanks for answering the questions and very quickly! I did notice the Orbit valves you linked can be pieced together as you said and they seem like they are very user friendly so this might be the way to go as you said (buy a 3 valve and a 2 valve and link them up or just 2-2 depending on how many zones i actually have once i uncover the piping). Last questions for now:

@ndpurgat -

  1. Correct on the field wire. Connect one side of each valve solenoid to the white wire and then connect the white wire to the COM(mon) port on the Rachio. The other side of the valve solenoid to a dedicated wire and the respective port on the Rachio.

  2. Here is an example of a waterproof connector that can work for underground connections that I’ve used ->

@DLane Thank you! Will post progress pictures in the coming days. Hope to get started this weekend. Maybe this thread will act as another from the community that can help somebody without any knowledge at all go from start to finish on conversion.