I have a somewhat complicated irrigation system with drip in three zones and rotary heads in one zone. The drip feeds stone fruits, citrus and a japanese maple (all in their own zone). Managing these zones with the hard buttons on the Orbit controller was a nightmare… especially making the schedules NOT overlap each other. The fact that Rachio doesn’t allow any overlap when it figures out the ultimate irrigation times makes the expense worthwhile. It also felt rather convenient to switch on the irrigation while looking at them instead of running to the garage first! (and I hate manually actuating the valves because, invariably, they prove difficult to fully close and the act of opening and closing them stresses the wiring).
Of course, being a home orchardist I already had a spreadsheet that told me what the square footage of each irrigated tree is and my emitter configurations. It was a simple matter to convert from gallons per hour over a given area to inches per hour for application and adjusting the crop coefficients for stone fruits, citrus. After a little bit of tweaking I ended up with a smart schedule that I like and made sense to me based on last year’s watering. But this time I don’t have to monitor the ET on a daily basis to determine if I need to up my watering (e.g., excessively hot summer days) or lower it. The soil moisture deficit feature is fantastic and is one of the key ways real orchards save water – love it. I couldn’t begin to estimate this before.
I do have a lawn and the default smart schedule looked startling like the one I had created on the old system – but now it knows when to start watering (a few weeks from now) instead of me having to remember “oh, it’s been a few weeks since rain, better start watering!” The built in cycling feature was something I did before too but now is automatically determined without my having to create multiple run times as on the old system. Wind skip is key here because north winds are killer in the summer and I often had to turn off irrigation because of wind. Hooray!
Having said all of that, nothing has been irrigated yet by the 2nd gen Rachio but I’m looking forward to it and will keep a close eye on how my plants react to the smart watering schedule.
I should have gone to Rachio a few years ago! (although, looks like with the 3.0 software update more of my needs are met so maybe it is good I waited til now?